How to cut onions without tears

Through the years, I’ve read all kinds of suggestions for making the process of cutting onions less tearful. People suggest everything from running the onion under cold water while you cut it (Hello! Awkward!)  to freezing it first. Some suggest slicing it only in a certain direction.

None of those methods worked for me. I really can’t stand cutting raw onions. Even when my husband’s cutting them in the kitchen while I’m in the living room, the pungent odor gives me fits. I cry, my eyes burn, and my nose hurts. I’m a wimp!

This method, though, really works! Honest and for true, pinky swear.

I first learned of it from this video. I was skeptical. But my recipe called for caramelized onions and I knew I had a lot of onions to chop. It was the perfect time to test out his claims. These were cheap, strong, yellow cooking onions…The real stinkers.

It worked!

Tonight I planned on making homemade pizza for my folks and us, this very pizza as a matter of fact:

We like onions on it, so it was to be another fun-filled, onion-intensive session in the kitchen. I didn’t want to use my old standby the food processor because it would cut them too finely. At the last minute, I grabbed my camera and set out to document the process for my blog.

To begin with, you need to work with the root end of the onion. In the center of an onion, coming up from the root end, is a bulb. It’s this bulb which contains that strong-smelling onion gas.

You want to cut the root end of the onion.

The trick is to cut the root end out, and with it, the bulb inside.

To do this, you should cut around the root end, about 1/3 of the way out from the center of the onion. Cut in at an angle so you’re making kind of a cone shape. Think of how you angle the knife when you cut a top off a Halloween pumpkin.

Cut about 1/3 of the way out from the center, slightly angled in to form a cone.

Ideally, you’ll end up with this. See that center part, joined to the roots? Throw this away. Yes, it feels wasteful. But do it, because this is one nasty, stinky little bulb in your hand. This is the cause of all that misery.  Don’t put it down your disposal, either! I’m telling you, you’ll rue the day you were born.

Ideally, you should end up with something that looks like this!

But what happens if that bulb doesn’t come out neatly in one piece? What if you chopped right into it? For the love of all things holy, what will you do? What if it looks like this one I did?

Oops, sometimes you don’t get the bulb out like you hoped.

No worries! Look deep into that rogue onion. See the little whorls that look different from the rest of the rings? Those are the parts you need to remove. Sometimes a developing bulb will split into two or three separate points. That’s what happened here. Sneaky little suckers.

No worries! See those little guys in there?

Just take the tip of your knife and gentle pry each of those little guys out of its hole. See? They come right out!

Pry those pieces out with the tip of your knife.

Ta-da! There are the troublemakers. And here they thought they could get away! This onion was way past its prime, by the way. The green you see is sprouts forming within the onion. This is not a good thing in garlic; it makes the garlic take on a bitter taste. I haven’t noticed this with onions so much, but the outer layers were beginning to go a little soft.

Those would have been troublemakers.

But I digress.

Once you’ve removed the bulb and any sneaky sidekicks that tried to hide, you’re ready to peel the outer layers off your onion and slice it up however you choose. You will be shocked at how little you smell that pungent onions smell — maybe not at all. If you do start tearing up, it means you didn’t quite get all the bulb out.

Flexible cutting mat with chopped onions

Were it not for this technique, I could not have done this without much discomfort!

But what happens if it doesn’t come out in one piece? What if you chopped right into it (like I did on this one)??picsYes, you will “waste” some onion. But if you’re like me, highly sensitive to the gas from raw onions, it’s more than a fair trade off!

I want to give a shoutout to Jack and his site The Best Sauces. He has a YouTube channel, Cooking with Jack: A Cooking Show for the Average Joe with lots of good videos about cooking!

3 thoughts on “How to cut onions without tears

  1. I wondered about that. From what I’ve read, that will produce greens and possibly set seed, but the bulb itself will not divide or grow. The bulb may end up absorbed into the onion stalk/greenery. Bummer!

  2. Great suggestion thank you and written in great humor:) You expressed my true feelings about onions! Keep up the great suggestions!

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