Whether you’re new to cooking or an experienced chef, knowing how to cut an onion is a basic skill that’s super useful for making lots of different dishes.
Onions are in so many yummy recipes, from things like French onion soup to easy appetizers and tasty veggie side dishes. They not only taste good but are also good for you! Learning how to peel and chop an onion properly is a key step for successful cooking.
We’ve got some tips and tricks from the experts to help you do it right. And if you’re one of those people who cry when cutting onions, don’t worry, we’ll talk about that too.
Now, let’s learn how to cut an onion, including how to slice, dice, and mince it. You’ll be a pro in no time.
How to Cut Onion Without Crying
People have come up with various ideas to stop themselves from crying while cutting onions. Some say you should hold a matchstick in your teeth, while others recommend wearing goggles.
We think wearing goggles is the most practical suggestion, especially if you wear contact lenses, as it tends to reduce the tears caused by onions.
However, we have a surefire method that works: using a super sharp knife and working fast. This approach helps to keep the chemicals in onions that make you cry inside the onion itself.
Here are some simple steps for cutting onions safely and effectively:
- Use a sharp knife: A sharp knife is easier to use and safer than a dull one. Make sure to sharpen it when it gets blunt. You can use honing steel before you start to bring the knife’s edges back to the centre, ensuring cleaner and more precise cuts.
- Choose the right part of the blade: The sharpest part of a chef’s knife is usually about 3 to 4 inches from the tip. Start your horizontal and vertical cuts from this central area of the blade, then move down towards the pointed end. This approach makes cutting easier and more efficient.
- Protect your fingers: Use your free hand to hold the onion, but be sure to do it in a way that keeps your fingertips safe. Imagine forming a claw with your hand, tucking your fingertips in so that your knuckles run parallel to the blade but not so close that they touch the blade.
As you slice, move your clawed hand slightly backwards to maintain a safe distance from the blade for the next cut. This technique helps prevent accidental cuts to your fingers while cutting onions.
How to Peel an Onion
Here’s a simpler way to understand how to peel an onion, which is usually the first step in preparing it:
- Remove the stem ends: Begin by cutting off the top and bottom parts of the onion.
- Place it flat: Put the onion’s flat end on your cutting board.
- Slice lengthwise: Slice the onion lengthwise from the exposed end, which is the part you just cut, towards the root end.
- Peel the skin away: Now, start peeling away the outer layers of skin from the onion. This will reveal the edible part of the onion.
A quick tip: If you’re planning to dice the onion, it’s better not to cut off the top and bottom because it can make the onion fall apart into pieces that are hard to dice evenly.
However, if you’re going to slice the onion, it’s fine to remove both the root end and the stem end.
Now you’re all set to slice, dice, or mince the onion as needed!
How to Slice an Onion
Here’s an easy way to cut an onion:
- After peeling the onion, put it on your cutting board with the cut side facing down.
- Begin slicing the onion from the end where the stem used to be. Slice through the onion, creating half-moon shapes. Make sure to adjust the thickness of your slices based on your recipe’s instructions; some recipes call for very thin slices, while others prefer thicker pieces.
How to Dice an Onion
Dicing an onion is quite easy and here’s how to do it:
- Place the onion flat on the cutting board, with the cut side facing down. Use a knife to make horizontal cuts parallel to the cutting board, moving toward the root end. However, don’t cut all the way through.
- Next, make vertical cuts through the onion while still keeping the root end intact.
- Now, turn the onion so that the root end is closer to your non-dominant hand, and slice across it while holding onto the root end with your hand.
And that’s it.
How to Mince an Onion
To mince an onion means to make it into very small pieces, which works well for recipes like creamy risotto.
- Start with a diced onion. Place the tip of your chef’s knife on the cutting board and put your non-dominant hand on top of it.
- Rock the knife handle back and forth while moving it across the diced onion.
- Keep doing this until the onion is finely chopped to your liking.
Just a heads-up: It’s best to use your minced onions right away, but you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
Storing Cut Onions
Cut onions become more flavourful and aromatic over time. To keep them fresh in the fridge, follow these steps:
- Store them in an airtight container, preferably glass, to prevent their strong odour from spreading.
- For an extra layer of protection, place the airtight container inside a resealable plastic bag.
- Alternatively, wrap half an onion in foil or plastic wrap and then put it in a bag or container to keep it from drying out and making your fridge smell.
If you want to freeze onions:
- Place them in a resealable plastic bag and store them in the freezer.
- They can stay frozen for up to 6 months.
- Use frozen onions in recipes like soups, stews, or sautéed dishes without the need to defrost them in advance.
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