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How To Cut An Onion

Don’t Be A Cry Baby!

Love onions but hate the tears?
Learn to cut an onion right, and you can avoid ’em!

CCKC Executive Chef Jill Garcia Schmidt says it’s all about your knife skills…

Make sure your knife is sharp. If you hack through the membrane with a dull knife, you might as well reach for a hanky.

Keep the root end intactFirst step, peel off the first layer of skin. 

Cut your onion in half from top to bottom, leaving the root end intact.  That’s where you’ll find much of the chemical that causes you to cry.  When mixed with certain enzymes in the onion, a sulfur gas, Propanethiol S-oxide is released, and this gas irritates your eyes.

Set the flat surface for both pieces onto your cutting board.  Keep your finger tips away from your blade. Cut an onion with no tears!Try making a claw with your hand holding the onion. Then with the tips of your ‘claw’ holding the onion, you’ll be guiding the knife along the backs of your fingers – and you’ll end up with all your digits safe!

Using the tip of your knife, follow the ‘petals’ of the onion to cut lines through your onion in the long direction, not quite all the way to the root end so that when you’re done, the onion half is scored, but remains pretty much in one piece.

Onion slicesTurn the onion so that you can work perpendicularly across the lines you have already cut, and slice nice, even rows that will give you even-sized pieces.

You did it! Onion cut. No tears.

Drop the knife.   Drop the mic

Want to take a Knife Skills 101 class at The Culinary Center of Kansas City? Click the class title to view the class description and register online for our upcoming class on Sunday, Nov 10.

Other tricks that some folks claim help to fend off the onion tears (but why bother once you learn the proper cutting technique?)

  • Chill the onion in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it.
  • Cut the onion under water.
  • Cut the onion near hot running water or a cloud of steam.
  • Breathe through your mouth and stick out your tongue (seriously?)
  • Soak the onion in water before cutting it.
  • Wear onion (or swim) goggles while you’re cutting the onion.

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