How to Chop an Onion

Share on FacebookGoogle+Pin on PinterestEmail to someone

Welcome to the New Year! 2015 is sure to be an exciting year. To kick off the year, I thought I’d start with the most requested “How to cut stuff” tutorial.

Chopping onions

Cutting onions is perhaps the most important cutting skill to have. Onions are cheap, delicious and belong in so many dishes. But chopping onions is also perhaps one of the most avoided food chores.

Onions are a little tricky to deal with. Not only because of the way they are put together, but also because you run the risk of ruining your mascara every time you venture into cutting one.

I suggest you wear some waterproof mascara (because I don’t think any “home remedy” for onion cutting really works) and get to it. More than once, the Strongman has come home to me chopping onions and walked immediately out of the room wondering “What the heck have I done?!?” Crying makes men nervous.

There are two basic ways to chop onions.  There is the correct and proper way to do it, to ensure all of your chopped onions are more exact in size. Then there is the way I do it. It is easier, but not as precise. I will go over both.

They both start in the same way.

1. Shave off the squiggly hairs of the root end, but make sure to keep the root intact. I only do this because those little hairs tend to shed little bits of dirt that are hard to clean off the cutting board.

How to chop onions

2. Slice off the opposite end or the tip of the onion off. Don’t worry about keeping anything intact on this end.

How to chop onions

3. Cut the onion in half from root to tip.

How to chop onions

4. Peel the skin off. And peel away any layers that are fairly thin. When you cook those up, they will just turn tough and yucky.

Chopping onions

At this point clean off the cutting board. Remove any stray onion paper or those little hairy things.

Something to keep in mind with both methods, is that you will make a series of cuts, but these cuts should not extend through the whole onion. Your cuts will start just in front of the root. Leaving the root end intact keeps the onion from falling apart and helps you keep your sanity. Notice how the little lines stop before the root end?

how to chop onions. keep root intact

Notice the “x” of death? It tells you not to cut through the root!

how to chop onions don't cut through

This is where the methods diverge. We’ll first look at the way I normally do it. Then I’ll show you the “proper” way of doing it.

The Practical, Faster Way

5. Place the onion with the large cut side down. The tip end facing you.

You are going to make a series of cuts in the following pattern. (Remembering not to cut through the root end.)

How to chop onions

The actual number of cuts you will make will depend on how big you want your chopped pieces to be. More cuts, smaller pieces. (Do you see how the pieces from the center will be cut smaller than the outside pieces. This is a big deal to some people. But isn’t to me.)

Here’s what it looks like in real live action! Notice all the techniques learned in the Knife Skills series?

How to chop an onion

7. Turn the onion about 45 degrees and chop parallel to the cut tip end. Like ‘dis.

How to chop onions

Continue the cuts until you can’t go further without cutting your own fingers off.

And you are done.

The “Proper” Way

(Follow steps 1-4 as above)

5. Place the onion with the large cut surface down. The cut tip end facing you. Cut first in this pattern. Horizontal slices, then switch and make vertical cuts.

chopping onions

how to chop and onion

Again. The number of cuts will determine the size of the chop.

Be very careful not to cut through the root and also not to cut through your fingers. See how my fingers are out of the way? (I would actually prefer to have a flat hand pressing down on the top of the onion, but that made taking a good picture hard.)

Here’s the real life version (sorry I didn’t get pictures of many of the vertical cuts.)

how to chop onions

6. Turn the onion 45 degrees and chop.

chopping onions

And you are done again.

Chopping onions

I fully suggest that you give both methods a try and see which ones works better for you.

See, onions aren’t that scary! I dare you to chop one today!

Happy New Year!

Share on FacebookGoogle+Pin on PinterestEmail to someone


  1. says

    Thank you! This is a really helpful tip! I’ve just tried it and it is easier! I cut onion all the time and I’ve always did it the wrong way! Thanks for this ! Greets, Leytonstone Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>