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Kitchen Hack: How To Chop An Onion

“Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep,” said poet Carl Sandburg. When it comes to cooking and food prep, I’m a fan of saving time and tears. The latest kitchen hack – how to chop an onion – offers a more efficient approach to a common kitchen task. 

Chopped, sliced or diced onions are a popular addition to recipes, and for good reason: Onions are highly versatile and add sharp, tangy or sweet flavors based on the onion variety and cooking method. At just 32 calories per half-cup, onions are fat-free, saturated fat-free, low in sodium, cholesterol-free and a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber.

Read on for a time- and tear-saving trick to chopping onions. 

 How to Chop an Onion

The knife: Choose a straight-edge paring knife with an easy-to-grip handle. The name brand isn’t as important as ensuring a clean, sharp blade. Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp knives, since they can slip on the food while cutting. To accomplish clean cuts, you’ll also want to avoid a knife with serrated edges.

Step 1: Chop off either the stem or root end, but not both. The remaining end will hold the onion fibers together while you continue cutting. I like to keep the end that is easiest to hold.

Step 2: Remove the skin. 

Kitchen Hack: How to Cut an Onion

Steps 1 & 2 completed.

Step 3: Holding firmly onto the intact end, make downward slices through the length of the onion. The distance between your slices will ultimately dictate how finely the onion is chopped.

Kitchen Hack: How to Cut an Onion

Step 3 – Top view of downward slicing pattern.

Kitchen Hack: How to Cut an Onion

Step 3 – Side view of downward slicing pattern.

Step 4: Rotate the onion 90° and repeat, slicing straight down to the cutting board. This makes a slice crosshatch, with all pieces still connected to the intact end. 

Kitchen Hack: How to Cut an Onion

Step 4 – Rotate 90-degrees and repeat downward slices of step 3 to form side-view crosshatch.

Step 5: Resume your normal knife angle and slice straight down through the crosshatch, releasing instantly chopped onion pieces. 

Kitchen Hack: How to Cut an Onion

Step 6:Continue cutting through the crosshatch until you reach the intact end. Discard the remaining root or stem. 

Kitchen Hack: How to Cut an Onion

Notes:

  • This chopping technique also works with garlic, peppers, cucumbers and firm tomatoes.
  • If your recipe calls for diced onions, try making a smaller crosshatch or simply cutting the chopped onions to finer consistency.
  • This requires proper knife handling. Ensure your vegetable is firmly planted on the cutting board, cut slowly and always keep your fingers clear of the blade.

Try this kitchen hack to stop chop-chop-chopping away the next time a recipe calls for chopped or diced veggies. Or take it one step further and take a knife skills course to support kitchen safety and save time better spent on enjoying your delicious meal.  

Torey Armul
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Torey Armul

Torey, MS, RDN, CSSD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics from Chicago. She serves as a national spokesperson and media consultant for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Torey works in consulting and private practice, where she counsels adults on food and fitness, performance nutrition, weight management and emotional eating.
Torey Armul
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