How to cut an onion quickly

Cutting onions is a dread for the person cutting them and anyone who is in the room. As a home economics teacher I would have to demo dishes sometimes three times a day which on occasion included onions. One day, one of my students asked “are you immune to onions?” since my eyes weren’t watering. Seeing this as a wonderful opportunity to tell my secret, I replied “yes. It’s my superpower as an X-Men.” Bless her heart, she believed me.

While teaching and cooking regularly I heard a variety of strategies to keeping your eyes from burning while cutting onions. These suggestions included putting your face into the freezer, leaving the root ends on the onion, chewing gum and wearing goggles (which a few of my students would actually do). I didn’t find any of these suggestions useful.

Two things worked for me: making sure the onion is refrigerated and not at room temperature and to cut it quickly. Review the steps below to see how to cut an onion quickly. Feel free to thank me later 🙂


1. Start with a whole onion on a cutting board with a sharp knife.


2. Cut the root ends off of the onion.


3. With the flat cut side of the onion on the cutting board slice the onion in half down the center.


4. Remove the skin and first two layers of the onion. The skin is inedible and the first two layers of the onion don’t cook down. These layers are very stretchy and have a terrible mouthfeel. You will surely pull these pieces out of your mouth when someone forgets to remove these layers. In addition it makes the onion slippery which can cause injury when chopping.


5. Once again place the onion on the flat half that was just cut. Slice the onion along the curve of the onion. Try to make 1/4-1/2″ slices.


6. Turn the sliced onion 45 degrees.


7. Holding the end of the sliced onion together, cut 1/4-1/2″ slices until the onion half is cut. Be mindful of where your fingers are and be sure to keep them at a safe distance away from the knife.


8. Repeat with the second half of the onion of you need it and you’re done.


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