Introduction: How to Dice an Onion Like a Pro!

20090808 Dicing an onion from Roger Shealy on Vimeo.

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How to Dice an Onion from Roger H. Shealy on Vimeo.

Dicing onions without crying isn't a difficult task. All it requires is sharp knife and slicing the onion in a specific way without crushing the cells to release less amino acid sulfoxides. By following these instructions you can keep your eyes drier and safely produce beautiful diced onions in as tiny or as coarse of a dice as you desire. It is easiest, safest way I know of to get beautiful diced onions.


HeyJD (author)2010-06-01

 When the video was loading I got an error saying that this video no longer exists...

stienman (author)HeyJD2010-09-13

When you see an instructable that is incomplete, flag it as incomplete and it will be reviewed.

Lowney (author)2009-10-31

 Congratulations! First prize!

zilcho (author)2009-10-25

This is so easy! No tears at all!

Poelite (author)2009-10-05

Remove the head and feet from the beastie, leaving part of the root end so as to keep it together. Skin it, lay it with the root end up and half it. Lay the half on the fresh cut side and with a sharp knife and your hand on top parallel to the cutting board (No loose fingers unless you're looking to be rid of them) to hold it down as you cut parallel from the bottom, upwards. (Towards the root, stopping 90% of the way through)(1/8 in, 1/4 in, 1/2 in gaps between cuts depending on how big a dice you want.) Then cut equally spaced gaps perpendicular going down the same side you just cut, forming a grid pattern that will result in even cubes when you make the final slices as demonstrated in the video. There are many ways to skin a cat.... errr... onion, just make sure you're being careful, and personally I'd use a bigger knife. Great submission.

engineeringnerd (author)Poelite2009-10-06

Poelite, Thanks, and I agree with the bigger knife. Normally you'd use a 10" or 12" chef knife, but it blocked the camera's view too much. I like the smaller knife too, so not a big deal either way. If you ever make a video of the technique you describe, I'd like to see it.

mthibeault88 (author)2009-10-03

Um you only diced a quarter of the onion in 30 seconds and a pro doesn't cut an onion like that.

Deathstick (author)2009-10-01

'Congrats on winning!' I have yet to try this but it is something that I find useful none the less! My relationship with onions is definitely love/hate!

laxap (author)2009-09-17

Great trick. I'm using it and have a slightly better life (not joking ;-) and for this you have my vote.

engineeringnerd (author)laxap2009-09-17

Great laxap. The knife I'm using is a $7 knife that I keep razor sharp. I could have used a 8 - 12" chef knife, but it blocked the view too much. I also have Cutco knifes that I like very much, but more times than not, I reach for one of these rubber handled jobs and hit it on a steel or diamond sharpener about twice a week.

laxap (author)engineeringnerd2009-10-01

Congratulations for winning, it was well deserved!

iectyx3c (author)2009-09-20

Excellent. Like how you can mod the onionels (like a pixel but made of onion) by changing either the meridian or parallel cuts. Got my vote.

sarahfish (author)iectyx3c2009-10-01

great use (and creation) of onionels!

engineeringnerd (author)iectyx3c2009-09-22

Bruce, "onionels"! LOL Thanks for the vote. Give the technique a whirl and see how it works. The sharper the knife, the better.

Dearimasu~ (author)2009-09-25

Awesome I always have problems with onions! While this looks like it may take a little longer but much safer and It'll cut smaller.

Give it a try. For me it's faster than the other methods I have tried (in order to get nice, even dices).

Zaphod Beeblebrox (author)2009-09-11

Youve earned a subscription!

jakerobinson (author)2009-08-21

Really like the technique... I cut onions on a cutting board as I ran a very small stream from the faucet and this eliminates any chemicals to the eyes... adding your technique will make it easier... nice work...

dievinity (author)2009-08-19

Your way of slicing and dicing that onion is so totally awesome. I have always done it in a very similar fashion although it does appear that your way is better. I do it the almost identically. The only difference is I didn't cut my onion into quarters and I just did it by the half. From now on I will be a follower on this topic and do what it says on the instructions.

Aerospaceman (author)2009-08-18

The idea of cutting onions in the manner illustrated worked out amazing well and was used on chili-dogs that very night. It's much easier than trying to get through dynamics, thermo, or fluids LOL! Thanks for the good cut on video! P.S. I have completed fours of coursework in aerospace engineering.

Fantastic Aerospaceman, glad it worked for you. If you don't separate the onion slices like I did in the video (to show off dice quality), there is almost no chance for the chemicals to escape. This method also minimizes the cross sectional area of the onion that is cut by letting you cut perpendicular to the onion's rings so less chemicals escape even if you do spread out the dices and fan the air a bit. P.S. I'm an Industrial Engineer by degree and work in R&D;, machine design, and process design. Used to be in microwave electronics R&D; for defense back in the late '80's and worked in tire manufacturing in '90's.

chibiusa (author)2009-08-17

wow!! I have never seen such a technique!!
I usually use two techniques:
1. breath through the mouth when I dice an onion
2. take some water in the mouth when I dice an onion.
I'm gonna try this out. definitely _

WVSundown (author)2009-08-13

Great, I need to try this method. Thanks for the well presented video!

My pleasure. Tell me how it works for you!

frollard (author)2009-08-13

Wonderful trick! Definitely good to know!

zascecs (author)2009-08-12

YES! now i know all the secrets!

yokozuna (author)2009-08-11

This is a most excellent method, but Vince from Slap-Chop also guarantees that we would be in a good mood all day! (You'll be slapping your troubles away!)

engineeringnerd (author)yokozuna2009-08-11

If you chop you won't "look" happy as the tears roll down your cheeks!

libed91 (author)2009-08-11


doc_howell (author)2009-08-10

That's a pretty slick technique. Think I'll use it in my classes--thanks!

sgsidekick (author)2009-08-10

I'm for any way of chopping that will reduce my tears! Evidently I am VERY susceptible to the gasses of onions. I've discovered that slicing them next to running water works pretty good, but is a waste of water. This method is nice and quick, and I like it. Thanks!

jalsirt (author)2009-08-10

As a FACS teacher I have been teaching How to Dice and onion for years. Thought I had the best approach down to an art. I was wrong! This technique is my new best technique! Thanks!

engineeringnerd (author)jalsirt2009-08-10

Fantastic jalsirt. I hope it proves to be a good technique for you and your students. Thanks for the high compliment. As you probably know, it would be better to use a 8 - 12 inch chef's knife but it obstructed the view for the video too much. With that change and drawing the knife through the onion in one pass, you're good to go.

jalsirt (author)engineeringnerd2009-08-10

Good to know!

ODDJOBS (author)2009-08-10

Thanks. No problems for me now. :-)

Deathstick (author)2009-08-10

Thank you!!!! My wife messes me up every time she slices onions. Your voice is very professional sounding, how about an Instructable on how to sound like that!!!

Thanks. The best advice I can give on the voice is to let go of your inhibitions and inflect your voice until it hurts. Then double it. You will feel silly at first, but keep trying. Monotone never works.

elleadnih (author)2009-08-09

haha thnx I like cooking but not the type to be a pro but enjoy making my meals but I always slashed them as i see fit know i know thnx

dZed (author)2009-08-09

What's the purpose of the high/low switchoff when making the cuts? Also, this is the method that Julia Childs teaches in the basic techniques section of The Joy of Cooking -- which probably means its what she learned at the French cooking school she was at. It's not identical --- the high/low switchoff is different, which is why I'm asking. Nice simple video, though! Thanks.

engineeringnerd (author)dZed2009-08-09

Thanks dZed, I think I know the difference. I had the opportunity to take a few classes at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) which teaches French cooking. They teach you to lay the onion quarter down flat with the stem on one end (same orientation as my final position) and cut with the knife horizontally towards the stem - and your hand - before slicing down across the horizontal cuts to create the dices. I couldn't get comfortable cutting towards my hand, so I worked out the radial cut method demonstrated here. I think it is faster and also creates very pretty, consistent dices. The horizontal method also results in some irregular dices whereas this method creates nearly perfect Icosceles trapezoids:

I alternate high and low on the radial cuts to prevent two radial cuts touching or getting too close to one another. If two cuts touch, a wedge will fall out from the onion and you have to either hold it in place (not easy) or cut the wedge separately. Even if the cuts don't touch, you will have tiny dices at the tip of the onion if your cuts are too close. Not a big deal, but it does help you go a little faster without having to be quite as precise with the knife.

dZed (author)engineeringnerd2009-08-09

I can see how cutting horizontally through an onion, towards your hand, would not be the safest thing, and I sure do appreciate the mathematical references! To correct my own comment, Julia Childs most definitely did not write The Joy of Cooking. I was referring to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and on p. 30 of that book (in my version -- near the end of the Dicing, Cutting, etc section), she does indeed lay out the method you've described in your video, quartering, laying horizontal w/ stem, then cutting slices, starting with the point close to the stem and moving away, then cutting perpendicular to that. Still no high/low variation on where to start the cut, but I see the value in that after your explanation. Still, as I said before, a nice video. Julia, I'm sure, would be proud of your initiative.

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