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Wondering how to cut an onion? Here’s a step by step guide and video that shows you how to dice and how to chop an onion.

Video: How to cut an onion

Are you wondering how to cut an onion but not sure the best way? Alex and I have a great method that’s even easier than the traditional way to chop an onion! It avoids the horizontal cut towards yourself and instead leverages the natural layers of the onion. We use this method all the time, like when we dice an onion for soups like our wild rice soup, finely chop it for our black bean pico de gallo. We’ll also show you how to thinly slice an onion, like for our quick pickled onions. Using this method really changed the game for us, and we hope it will for you too! Here’s our step by step guide for how to cut an onion, including a video of me cutting an onion in our kitchen.

Related: 20 Knife Skills Videos: How to Cut Everything!

How to cut an onion step by step

How to Cut an Onion | Natural layers

Before we start: this method for how to cut an onion is a little different than the standard method. An onion is naturally formed into layers, so why not leverage that? This method is quick and easy, eliminates the need for a horizontal cut towards yourself.

Step 1

How to Cut an Onion | Cut off top and bottom

With a large chef’s knife, cut off the top and root end of the onion.

Step 2

How to Cut an Onion | Slice in half

Stand the onion on the flat cut side, and cut it down the center.

Step 3

How to Cut an Onion | Remove paper

With your fingers, remove the paper and outer layer of the onion.

Step 4

How to Cut an Onion | Cut slices parallel to root

Place the onion half on its flat side, then cut slices parallel to the root end, leaving room at the end so that the slices stay attached. (Make the slices the size you’ll need for the recipe; wider for diced and narrower for minced / small diced.) 

Step 5

How to Cut an Onion | Slice following curve of onion

Then cut slices in the other direction, following the curve of the onion (making larger squares for diced and smaller for minced). When you’ve cut halfway through, flip the onion down onto the flat cut side and continue slicing. When you get to the end that didn’t have the slices, give it a few more chops. See the video for this part!

And there you have it: how to cut an onion in 5 easy steps!

Let us know if you try our method for how to cut an onion and tell us how it goes in the comments below.

How not to cry when cutting onions

Wondering how not to cry when cutting onions? Well, it’s all about cutting it properly! Here are a few tips (via The Kitchn):

  • Use a sharp knife. Cutting an onion with a sharp knife causes less damage to the cell walls, which releases fewer irritants.
  • Keep exposed cuts of the onion away from you. Once you’ve cut the onion in half, place the cut sides down onto the cutting board. Leave the side that you’re not chopping unpeeled. After you’ve finished chopping one half, transfer the chopped onion to a prep bowl, then chop the other side of the onion.
  • Cut the onion properly. By following our method in the video above, most of the exposed onion cuts will be against the board.

There are all sorts of other “tricks” people use: freezing the onion, using an exhaust fan, and so forth. But we’ve found using the simple steps above helps us to not cry when cutting onions!

Best chef knife & cutting boards

Alex and I are often asked about the best kitchen tools. And every time we answer, “A good sharp chef’s knife!” A good knife can drastically improve your time in the kitchen, and lasts for years (we’ve had our chef knives for 10 plus years). Here are some of the knives we recommend, as well as cutting boards and the best knife sharpener. These recommendations are perfect for outfitting your own kitchen, or great gifts for a wedding registry or someone who loves to cook!

Video: Knife Skills, Gear, & How to Hold a Knife!

Looking for recipes with onions?

Now that you know how to cut an onion, here are some of our favorite onion recipes for you to try:

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How to Cut an Onion

How to Cut an Onion


  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: About 2 cups diced 1x

Description

Wondering how to cut an onion? Here’s a step by step guide and video that shows you how to dice and how to chop an onion.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium onion

Instructions

  1. With a large chef’s knife, cut off the top and root end of the onion.
  2. Stand the onion on the flat cut side, and cut it down the center.
  3. With your fingers, remove the paper and outer layer of the onion.
  4. Place the onion half on its flat side, then cut slices parallel to the root end, leaving room at the end so that the slices stay attached. (Make the slices the size you’ll need for the recipe; wider for diced and narrower for minced / small diced.)
  5. Cut slices in the other direction, following the curve of the onion (making larger squares for diced and smaller for minced / small diced). When you’ve cut halfway through, flip the onion down onto the flat cut side and continue slicing. When you get to the end that didn’t have the slices, give it a few more chops. See the video for this part!
  • Category: Knife Skills
  • Method: Cutting
  • Cuisine: N/A

Keywords: How to cut an onion, How to chop an onion, How to dice an onion, How to not cry when cutting onions

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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3 Comments

  1. This will get messy when you get towards the end. I’ll try to explain how my ancestors do it for many generations. Soak it in water until it’s time to cut it so the outer layers softer. Remove the « beard » part, remove the outer layers, then cut it horizontally once, from tip to the end. Attention, both halves need to have a part of the queue attached. Next, hold the queue of one half and cut fine slices perpendicular to the central axis.
    If you want to make cubes, hold the queue with one hand and cut through the half onion in lines parralel-ish to the central axis. The idea is to keep everything linked together at the queue so it doesn’t go anywhere in the next step, when you hold the whole thing and cut through perpendicular to the main axis.
    It sounds more complicated than it is but once you try it, you’ll never go back.

  2. Thank you so much for making our onion-slicing lives so much more efficient and effective.
    Great tips! Wonderful idea to keep onion intact while cutting – thanks so much!

  3. If you leave the root attached, you can peel the paper back towards the root and have handy handle to grip.