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How to Cut an Onion: Slicing and Dicing

An onion is a staple of many recipes. It’s versatile, affordable, flavorful, and boasts rich nutritional value, including 25 unique types of dietary flavonoids. Despite its benefits, cutting an onion can be a daunting task for some. Mastering the art of onion chopping is a valuable skill that makes cooking more efficient and enjoyable.

To cut an onion, first, cut it in half and remove the skin. Hold one-half firmly on the cutting board with the knife pointing to the roots of the onion. Allow your fingers to guide the onion as you chop into thin slices and vertically down towards the onion’s roots, then chop off the ends.

This article will teach you how to cut an onion the right way, including a step-by-step tutorial and exciting recipe recommendations.


Before cutting an onion, ensure you work on a clean surface with plenty of light. The last thing you want is to lose track of which onion you are working on or have onions rolling off your kitchen table.

Ensure the surface is flat and not slippery. It should also be large enough for you to work comfortably.

Tools you’ll need

Below are the tools you will need to cut an onion.

  • Wooden cutting board: A wooden cutting board is best because it will not dull your knife and is easy to clean. The best wood for cutting board ensures durability, does not slip and has a border to prevent vegetables from rolling off the board.
  • Chef’s knife: Use a sharp chef’s knife for chopping onions. The sharp knife ensures safe and efficient cutting.
  • Bowl: To catch the onion’s juices, place cut onions in a small bowl.
  • Plastic gloves: Gloves are helpful if you are sensitive to onion juice.

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How to clean and peel an onion

Cleaning an onion is an important step many people forget. The outside of an onion carries dirt and bacteria that you do not want to transfer to your kitchen tools.

  1. Cut the onion vertically: The easiest way to clean and peel an onion is to first cut the onion vertically in half with a sharp knife. This process prevents the pulling and clawing involved when peeling a whole onion.
  2. Remove the skin from the two halves: Use your fingers to peel away the skin from the two halves. You can also use a vegetable peeler if you prefer, but be careful not to pierce the onion’s root.
  3. Wash the onion halves: Place the onion halves under running water and wash away any dirt or bacteria. Remove any debris from the root end of the onion.
  4. Pat dry the onion: Use a paper towel to pat dry the onion halves.

How to cut an onion (step-by-step tutorial)

Your recipe will determine how you cut your onion. You can choose to slice or dice your onion. Some recipes demand an exciting presentation, so you may also want to learn how to cut a blooming onion.

We will assume the onion is clean, peeled, and cut in half throughout these processes.

How to dice onions

Assuming you have a clean and peeled onion, the next step is to dice the onion. A diced onion is perfect for recipes that call for small onion pieces. Here is how to do it:

diced onion cubes
  1. Hold one half of the onion on a cutting board with the knife pointing to the roots of the onion.
  2. Allow your fingers to guide the onion as you chop into thin slices and vertically down towards the onion’s roots.
  3. Make horizontal cuts to dice the onion. The horizontal cuts should be even in length, about half an inch apart. Ensure they are perpendicular to the onion’s root.
  4. Cut off the roots and stem of the onion.

How to slice onions

Slicing an onion is a great way to achieve larger pieces for recipes that call for slices.

To slice an onion, follow these simple steps:

  1. Position one half of the onion on the cutting board and slice vertically down towards the onion’s roots. Go as close to the root as possible.
  2. Use a sharp knife to cut thin slices of the onion. Each slice should be thin and even in thickness. Your fingers should guide the knife as you make the cuts.
  3. Repeat the steps with the other half of the onion and cut off the roots and stem of the onion.

How to cut onion for onion ring

Onion rings make great appetizers and are a staple in many restaurants. They are fast, easy to make, and always a crowd-pleaser. Cutting onions for onion rings is a technique that requires practice to perfect.

Once you perfect this skill, you can easily make onion rings at home.

To cut an onion for onion rings, follow these simple steps:

easy onion ring slices
  1. Use your fingers to peel away the skin from your onion. Try not to pull or tug because you risk shredding the onion’s delicate layers.
  2. Cut a small piece on the side of the onion to create a base. This step creates a flat surface on the onion that will help it stay stable on the board while you cut.
  3. Hold the onion firmly with your fingers and place the knife blade on top of the onion. Cut thin slices horizontally across the onion, starting from the stem towards the root end.
  4. Separate the onion slices into rings. Do it gently, so you don’t tear the onion.

To ensure you make even cuts, use a toothpick to create a guide for the knife. Poke the toothpick into the onion at the desired ring thickness and slice through the onion following the toothpick.

It’s also important to have a sharp knife when cutting onions. Dull knives can cause the onion to slip, resulting in injury. You can learn to use a sharpening stone to ensure your knife stays sharp.  

How to cut onion for stir fry

Stir fry dishes are a popular and healthy choice for home cooking. They are quick to prepare and use simple ingredients. Cutting an onion for stir fry is similar to chopping for a sauce or salsa, but it involves cutting the rings into long strips that you’ll then cut into smaller pieces.

To cut an onion for stir fry, follow these simple steps:

  1. Using your fingers, peel away the skin of your onion. Follow the steps outlined above in how to slice onions.
  2. Divide the onion into rings by separating it with your fingers. Separate the rings gently so you don’t tear them apart.
  3. Cut long strips about an inch wide from each onion ring. Make sure they are even in width and thickness across the entire ring.
  4. Stack the onion strips up and cut them into small pieces for your stir fry dish.

How to cut onions without crying

Onions are an integral ingredient in many recipes, but they can be challenging to handle because of their strong smell and tendency to make you cry. Fortunately, there are a few common-sense ways to cut an onion that prevent or minimize eye irritation.

But first,

Why will you cry cutting onions?

When you cut into an onion, its cells rupture, releasing lachrymator compounds. The compounds contain methionine and cystine, which react with the onion’s enzymes to form sulfenic acid. The acids react with the moisture in your eyes to create sulfuric acid, which creates a burning sensation.

To prevent this from happening, follow these tips:

  • Cool your onions in the freezer: If you have time, you can cool your onions in the freezer for about 15 minutes before cutting. The cold will slow down the onion’s enzymes and minimize the amount of lachrymator compounds released.
  • Wear goggles: Goggles will protect your eyes from the onion’s irritants. You can find an inexpensive pair at a hardware store or drugstore.
  • Cut the onion under cold water: Cold water will reduce the onion’s enzyme activity and minimize irritant production. Cut your onion as you usually would for whatever dish you’re making, then turn on the water so it is running at a slow trickle. Place the onion under the faucet and use a sharp knife to slice through it while it’s underwater.
  • Use a sharp knife: It will make it easier to slice through the onion without applying much force, minimizing cell rupture and tear-jerker compounds. The less power you use, the less likely you are to cry.
  • Cut near a fire: An open flame, such as a stovetop, will absorb the onion’s irritants and prevent them from reaching your eyes. Cut your onions near the cooking flame, and make sure the exhaust fan is on to suck away the fumes.

Simple onion sauce/food recipe

Onions make an excellent base for sauces and food recipes. They provide a flavorful, earthy taste that pairs well with many meals. Here are simple recipes for onion sauce and onion food recipes.

Easy onion gravy (1hr 15 mins)

Tasty beef goulash with potato dumplings. Czech cuisine

A meal with a side of mashed potatoes or rice isn’t complete without a rich gravy. This easy onion gravy is low on fat but rich in essential carbs and sugars that promote good health. It’s a simple yet hearty meal that will leave your family full and satisfied. Onion gravy goes well with pork chops, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes.

Hot dog onion sauce (25 minutes)

Everyone loves a good hot dog, but have you ever tried turning them into an even better meal by adding onion sauce? It’s quick and easy to make, and it’ll be your new family favorite. Onion sauce goes well with just about everything—try it as a bun spread for burgers or as a topping for soup.

Old fashioned onion rings (18 mins)

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned onion ring. These rings are battered and fried to perfection, then served with a side of your favorite dipping sauce. They’re perfect for parties, game days, or just a casual night. Onion rings go well with hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and French fries.

How to cut an onion (FAQs)

Is cutting onions bad for your eyes?

Cutting onions can irritate your eyes, so you should take precautions to avoid this from happening. The irritants may not be harmful, but it’s best to avoid them altogether. You can cut the onion under running water, use a sharp knife, use a plastic wrap or onion shell, or cut near a flame.

Do all onions make you cry?

Not all onions are “tear-jerkers.” Some types of onions are mild enough to eat raw without causing tears. You can test this by cutting an onion in half and taking a small taste. Raw onions that send you running for the eyewash have high concentrations of sulfur compounds.

How do you chop onions quickly?

To chop onions quickly, ensure you master your knife skills. A good knife and a steady hand will slice the onion with ease. You can also cut away from your eyes, use a plastic wrap or onion shell, and wear safety glasses. To prevent the onion vapor from reaching your eyes.

How do you cut onions without a knife?

If you don’t have a knife, you can use an onion slicer or grate the onion. You can also use a vegetable peeler to make long, thin slices of the onion. Other alternatives include using a cheese grater, shelling the onion first to remove the tough layers, or using a food processor.


It takes lots of practice to get the angle and force just right to minimize cell damage when cutting an onion. Understanding how to cut an anion is the first step. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to dice, chop, and slice onions with ease, but remember to use a sharp knife and take precautions to protect your eyes.

Visit our store for high-quality kitchen knives to make your onion cutting experience easier and safer.

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