Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kitchen Tip: Onions

It was not until about a year ago I learned the best way to cut an onion. Unless I want onion rings, this is now my go to way of cutting onions. It works like a charm! I'll talk about slicing first and then chopping.

First we start with a whole onion.
Then take the knife and wedge it into the middle of the root end. Cut down the center.
Cut down the center.
 Next take off the outer layers of the onion.
Discard these layers.
Cut off the tip of the onion.
Leave the root end alone. This binds the onion together so it does not fall apart while cutting.

Using the knuckle of your middle finger as a guide slice the onion.
You can slice as thick or thin as you like. These bad boys are going into fajitas. Yum.
If you cry while chopping onions, I've heard a few different solutions. The one that works for me most consistently is to place a tortilla chip in your mouth while cutting it. It is a little awkward, but it works pretty well.
When you're finished slicing one half, move on to the next. Or if you're like me and only need one half, I place the other half in the fridge for use - you will need to use it within a day or two because it dries out very quickly.
 If you want to chop the onion, start with the onion cut lengthwise as above,
make lengthwise cuts leaving about 1/4 inch away from the root.
Space these cuts according to how fine of a dice you want.
Continue across the onion.
I do tend to slant the knife as I cut down the side of the onion.
Your onion should look like this more or less. Like anything the more you try this method the better it will turn out - I had falling apart onions the first few times I tried it, so don't feel bad if it happens to you!
So please ignore how I am holding the onion in these next photos - it is not the best way, but it works for me because I make these cuts very carefully.
To continue the chopping, cut parallel to the cutting surface.
Cut until you get to about 1/4 inch from the root end.
And yes in case you are wondering that knife is almost touching my pinky, no I did not cut my pinky.
Next make another cut parallel to the cutting surface.
This cut may be higher than where the root holds the onion together so you may not cut it as far back as you did the first cut.
Once cut remove knife. (You did not really need me to tell you that, I promise!)
Using your hand to hold the outsides of the onion closer and the knuckle on your middle finger to guide the knife, chop the onion.
This is proper knifing technique... You make sure that all of your fingers are curled back and that the blade of the knife only touches your knuckle.
It works great and you don't have to worry about chopping off your finger. Or slicing it open.
Continue cutting until you reach the end of the sectional cuts in the onion. You can either carefully chop the rest of the onion or keep it to use in a vegetable broth.


  1. Here's some other things to consider. The shorter/squatier the onion the sweeter it will taste. Also, if you keep the roots intact on the half you are saving it will keep longer in the fridge.

  2. I keep the ends and outer layers of onion (not the paper, just any actual onion bits that would otherwise be discarded) and throw them in a tupperware in the freezer to make veggie stock with. I chuck all the otherwise thrown out odds and ends of vegetables and herbs in there and they make magic together.

    Also, my favourite thing about cutting onions - well, actually, the only thing I like about it - is that they are a radial vegetable! So you only need to cut them twice; the third cut is already made for you - hooray for ease of use!

  3. Food network mythbuster type show proved that chilling them in ice water or a few hours in the freezer eliminates the tears altogether.


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