How to Chop an Onion




Introduction: How to Chop an Onion

About: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Since then I've done work for Mart...

The full title of this Instructable is "How to Chop an Onion Without Crying Like Your Prom Date Just Stood You Up on Your Birthday". FYI.

Chopping an onion safely and without tears isn't as hard as you'd think! With a little bit of research and testing I've devised the perfect way to chop onions in any size, and in serious style!

Step 1: The NO TEARS How To's

For a 'NO TEARS' onion chopping experience do these four things:

1. Put your onion(s) in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to getting started.
2. Get yourself some rad looking goggles that give you a full seal to your face. (swimming goggles work great!)
3. Once peeled, soak your onion for 5 minutes in cold water.
4. Place your cutting board on your stovetop (make sure it's not on first) and turn the hood vent on.

Onion tears are caused by the fumes that are released as the onion is chopped. All of the above help keep the fumes from reaching your eye balls.

Step 2: Finger Safe Chopping Technique

SAFETY FIRST! To keep your fingertips intact, while holding your onion (or any veggie) curl your fingers over so that your fingertips are tucked in and your knuckles act as guides for the knife. (see pictured)

Step 3: Let's Get Chopping!

Once you've chilled your onion(s) in the freezer for 15 minutes, donned your goggles and turned on the hood vent:

1. Cut off the top end of your onion(s).
2. Peel the onion(s) so there is no papery skin left.
3. Soak in cold water for 5 minutes to reduce onion tears.

Step 4: Half It!

Cut your onion(s) in half.

Step 5: Chop Chop!

One half at a time, follow the images above to make your vertical cuts.

*A map for chunky chops is at the end of this Instructable.

Step 6: Get Horizontal

Now turn your onion half 90 degrees counter clockwise and do your horizontal chops. Stop when you feel you can't make any more cuts safely (aka without the knife slipping).

Step 7: End Bit: Part 1


To keep your fingers safe, the best way to cut the end piece is to flip it down onto the cutting board before doing a few more horizontal cuts.

Step 8: End Bit: Part 2


Turn what's left of your end bit and cut until you are close to the root. Compost that last little end nub along with the top bit. And you're done! Finely chopped onions without bloodshed or tears. A major kitchen victory!!!

Step 9: The Chunky Chop

*Map for Chunky Choppin'



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    125 Discussions

    Cut a Lemon in half rub on hands works great or Lemon juice then wash hands

    Yes. If you buy a stainless steel odor remover you can rub it over your hands in running water and that will solve your problem. Anything stainless steel will do this. I am braver than most and simply use the same knife I used for the cutting and rub the knife blade backwards over my hand in cold running water. Works fantastic.

    rub your hands on some stainless steel. my sink is stainless so i can do it there. maybe u have a spoon or another utensil to use.

    A couple of drops of lemon juice rubbed around kills the onion (and most other) odors and leaves your hand smelling of fresh lemon. Any open cuts are going to burn, but a quick rinse under running water takes care of that. Also works well on fish and seafood odors on your hands.

    gojo mechanics hand cleaner removes garlic and onion from your hands then you can use good smelling soap for the go jo...

    gojo mechanics hand cleaner removes garlic and onion from your hands then you can use good smelling soap for the go jo...

    Surprised no one has mentioned salt for removing garlic, onion or other smells from hands!
    Simply rub some table salt in hands and fingers and rinse with water.

    I rub my fingers on a big stainless steel spoon under cold running water. Amazon also sells a stainless steel 'soap' shaped odor remover that I've heard works great!

    Jessy! You always deliver and in a fun, informative and useful way.


    I got here from the cooking class and through the first 2 lessons I'm right in step with you. I'm a home cook who likes to learn. Though I'm rarely bothered by onion off-gassing because I prefer sweet onions for the most common foods, one thing that I've read - and it works for me - is to never chop the root end of the onion off until the very last cut.

    Thank you so much! I hate having to chop onions because of what they do to my eyes. Thank you for saving me the trouble of having to take a break to leave the room every ten seconds of chopping.

    Very Nice 'Ible! I do this almost exactly the same way, and have been doing so for years. The only exception is that I store my onions in the veggie bin in the fridge (seems they keep longer) and I don't soak the onion in water, which is still a great way to minimize the fumes. But the absolute best suggestion I can make is to keep your onion knife as sharp as a razor! I mean like you could shave with it if you chose. For years I used original French Sabatier kitchen knives, which are made of carbon steel, and fairly easy to sharpen to a razor edge. But the onion juices turn the blades all shades of nasty black and blue. Yuk. Sharpening stainless steel knives is much harder to do properly, but the sharper the knife, the less likely it will be that you will "crush" as much of the flesh of the onion, releasing more of the noxious sulfurous fumes! Great job. Thanks for the post!

    6 replies

    Not sure how to get back to you regarding your request that if I ever had the opportunity to go to Martin Yan restaurant to say you said hello, well I probably will be going to his MY China restaurant in May so if he happens to be there, who should I say says Hello" Pilgrimm and would he know you by that name?

    Oh! If you'll be going there in May, how about if I met you there, and we can share some DimSum? If you get there before me, make a mark on the sidewalk with a piece of chalk, and If I get there before you, I'll erase it! OK?

    If you still have any of those knives around a green scotchbrite pad will shine them up nicely. Just remember to clean them after every use.

    Thanks for your reply. However, a green scotchbrite pad will quickly ruin the surface of any good knife. The material is much too coarse. There are finer grades of the scotchbrite material available through industrial materials suppliers. But even those are too rough. The method I used to clean these knives (remember they are carbon steel, not stainless) is to slice a flat surface on the side of an old wine cork, wet the blade, make a thick paste out of Bon Ami or 'Zud' powder cleanser, and rub the surface of the blade with that mixture. It does the job, but is a lot of work, and dangerous too, if one is not extremely careful working near the edge. Much easier to buy a stainless knife! Thanks again!

    Before the advent of stainless knives, scotchbrite was the cleanser of choice in commercial kitchens, because it was quick, effective, and the green scotchbrites were in every kitchen for the dishwashers to use. I remember when the first stainless knives came out. The steel was extremely hard and difficult to sharpen compared to the softer carbon steel knives. They quickly improved to where they are today, where sharpening them is just slightly harder than the old carbon steel knives. I have an old carbon Dexter french knife bought new in the early seventies that is almost a boning knife now. Great for butchering whole chickens, because little nicks from the bones are easily taken care of on a hand stone. For a good everyday knife nowadays I would recommend Forschner as being very god value for the money. I buy for function over looks. Some of the custom knife makers make some beautiful Japanese steel knives, like Murray in Oregon. Gorgeous to look at, and probably sharp nearly forever, but I find it hard to justify $600.00 for a kitchen knife. YMMV

    I agree that in commercial kitchens they use a lot of scotchbrite to clean EVERYTHING. I ran such a kitchen for a time, and we did the same thing. But we didn't buy Forschner, or Henckels, or Japanese knives for our work either. We mostly bought whatever Sysco had to offer in the catalog. Stainless steel isn't really so hard, it's just a great deal more ductile because of the chromium that is added to the mix. I wouldn't think of using green scotchbrite on any knife except those that might have heavy rust on the blades. And I don't think I have anything in common with anyone who can afford to spend $600 for a Japanese damascus steel cook's knife, beautiful though it may be!