See Sister Cut an Onion and Not Cry (Much)

It may sound silly, but I believe I have learned the ultimate way to cut an onion.  And it involves little tears.


Don’t know about you, but I have always hated this part of cooking because it makes me weep copiously.  I’ve already discussed my obsession with mascara, so of course I hate ruining a good make-up job during my dinner prep. It used to be so bad that I would have to stop mid-onion because I couldn’t see well enough to cut safely. But now I know a few secrets and just in case you are still stuck in the weeping-while-cutting-boat, I wanted to share my tips with you.


The technique that I have used for the past five years came from Real Simple TV. Anyone else remember this program? It was on the air for a brief period around 2007. I used to watch it online whenever Fix was busy writing a sermon. And the night they showed me how to cut an onion I was blown away. It was so simple! So quick! So tearless!



1) Put your onion in the freezer for 5-7 minutes depending on the size of your onion. I completely forgot to take a picture of this step so instead I included this one of me looking like an onion-killer-axe-murderer. Anyway, putting your onion in the freezer totally helps with the whole enzymes-that-make-you-teary-thing. Set a timer when you put it in there because if it goes too long you will have a frozen-solid onion and while a frozen-solid onion won’t make you cry, you also won’t be able to add it to your meal. And when it thaws it will be mushy and useless. Trust me. I speak from experience.


2) Using a very sharp knife (less struggle = cleaner cuts), cut your onion in half and immediately lay those cut halves flat on your cutting board (keeping the juices out of the air = fewer teardrops).


3) Cut off the top of the onion on one side and peel back the outer layer. Do this as quickly as possible and try not to break it in pieces as you go – that’ll release more enzymes in the air. Get that peel in the trashcan and your onion half back on your cutting board ASAP.


4) Slice your onion horizontally working from bottom (closest to your cutting board) to top. Depending on the size of your onion you should be able to cut it anywhere from three to seven times. Do not cut all the way through the other (stem) side of your onion or it will all fall apart and falling apart onions = tears.


5) Slice the onion vertically working from one side to the other (I always go right to left but perhaps you are a lefty and it would work better for you to the opposite way?) as quickly as possible. Once again, you want to get the tip of your knife as close to the uncut end as you can without breaking the onion apart. I hope that makes sense. When you are done, it should look like this (except if you are holding the onion with your left hand while cutting and not stopping to take a bunch of pictures, your onion will stay more intact and not have those little pieces already breaking off the end):


6) Rotate your knife and slice from the top of the onion down to the cutting board like so…


Work from the cut end towards the uncut end and watch your perfectly chopped onion pieces appear!  Chop ’til you have about 1/4″ left of uncut onion.  Discard that stem piece.


7) Repeat steps for the other half of your onion and add it to your recipe or cover it up with Saran Wrap ASAP. If you’re looking to make a fabulous side dish for your loved ones, I highly recommend adding your onion to Bobby Flay’s Red Cabbage Slaw. And if you need a main dish to go with your slaw, I recommend this Slow Cooker Sloppy Joe recipe. YUM!


And that, gorgeous ladies and gents, is how I cut an onion with minimal tears.  Now it’s time for you to try it out.  If you find that you are hyper-sensitive and none of these techniques help, you can always purchase a pair of onion-cutting goggles. Can you believe these really exist? Hilarious.

Onion Goggles

So tell me the truth, are you blessed enough to wear contact lenses and so this isn’t a big issue for you? If so, I am jealous of this one highlight of your blind life. If not, share your tips with the rest of us who have perfect vision!


3 thoughts on “See Sister Cut an Onion and Not Cry (Much)

  1. zuni says:

    I had some organic onions recently that seemed EXTRA potent. I definitely wore my swimming goggles to cut a few of those.

  2. Melanie Brockman says:

    Thanks for the tip–the bag of onions I bought most recently is particularly potent.

  3. Katie says:

    I’ve been cutting that way for a long time, but I hadn’t heard the freezing tip. Thanks! Here’s another – did you know that washing your hands with stainless steel will remove the onion smell from your hands? I’ve seen fancy soap-bar-looking pieces sold in catalogs but I always just grab a spoon out of the silverware drawer. Works for garlic, too.

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