How to Chop an Onion

Chopping onions is one of those kitchen tasks that is detested by many. Here are some tips to make this task easier and less tearful.
Tastessence Staff
As we all know, onions are among those versatile vegetables that are almost unavoidable in a whole lot of dishes. This vegetable is used extensively in all regional cuisines. As in case of other vegetables, onions too are cut in different shapes and sizes, or are minced or grated, as per the requirement of the recipe. Whole onions are rarely used in cooking and so, cutting onions is an inevitable task. Even though it is easy to cut onions, the worst part is that these vegetables can make you cry. Cut onions release an enzyme that reacts with the sulfur compounds in this vegetable, thereby releasing a volatile gas that reacts with the moist surface of the eyes, stimulating tears. Otherwise too, some people find it difficult to cut onions. If you are one among them, go through this article for some useful tips and guidelines about chopping onions.
Tips to Chop an Onion Properly
  • The basic requirement for chopping onions is a sharp knife. Apart from that, you need a clean cutting board and of course, onions.
  • Take the onion and trim its top end, from where shoots develop. It is better to retain the bottom end with hairy roots.
  • A small part of the root end along with the roots can be removed. Once done, place the onion with its top end facing you. Cut the vegetable vertically into two halves.
  • The next step is to peel the onion halves. Make sure to handle the onion halves with their cut side facing down. This will reduce the burning sensation in your eyes.
  • Place the onion halves on the cutting board with their flat side facing down. You have to make vertical cuts through the onions, from the top end till the root. Avoid cutting through the root parts. Retain the root, so that onion slices stay together while chopping.
  • Once the vertical cuts are done, you can make horizontal cuts that run perpendicular to the former. Make sure to start the horizontal cuts from the top end of the vegetable, so that the vegetable can be cut easily, and the last cut ends with the root part, that can be discarded.

In short, chopping onions is an easy task that can be mastered with practice. However, avoid making horizontal cuts (from top end to root part) that may cut your fingers, if not done properly. You may remove the root and top ends of the onion halves, and make horizontal cuts followed by vertical ones. In this method, you have to hold the onion pieces together, for making vertical cuts. Apart from that, cutting root ends may cause burning of the eyes.
So chopping onions is not a difficult or daunting task. If you want to save your tears (for better use!), you may resort to the following techniques. Soak the onions in plain or salt water for some time, before chopping. Freeze the onions, before cutting. Even breathing through the mouth and sticking out the tongue, may prevent tears, while cutting onions. You may also use a food processor or an onion cutting container for chopping onions. And, if you are a beginner, make sure to handle the knife properly.
Slicing Onion