Cooking 101: How to Chop an Onion

How to Chop an Onion (A Seat at the Table)

As requested in a reader comment, this post is all about how to chop onions.  Mastering knife skills is definitely the hardest part of cooking.  My top tip for better knife skills is to always make sure that your knives are sharp!  Dull knives are more likely to slip, require more force, and are much harder to control.  Check your local hardware store to see if they’ll sharpen your knives for you (Strosniders in Maryland offers this service, so do William Sonoma stores–the first knife is free and just $5 after that).

Now for chopping onions, there are many ways of doing this, but this is how I was raised.  My first step is to put on my trusty onion goggles.  I cry like a baby when I’m even near chopped onions, but the onion goggles not only make me look like I’m about to go skiing, but they’re also terrific at keeping onion tears away.  (To be fair some of my family with higher nose bridges do not find the goggles very effective, but I’ve also heard that wearing contacts acts as a buffer too.)

Do onions make you cry?  Would you wear onion goggles?

How to Chop an Onion

Cut off both ends of the onion.

How to Chop an Onion 1 (A Seat at the Table)

Cut the onion in half.  Then remove the dry, papery outer layers and rinse the onion.

How to Chop an Onion 2 (A Seat at the Table)

With the cut side down, cut the onion into slices (following the direction of the black line below, NOT the red–this helps keep your slices together so they don’t fall all over) perpendicular to the end cuts.How to Slice an Onion (A Seat at the Table)

If all you wanted were sliced onions then you’re done!

For diced or chopped onions, rotate the onion (or the cutting board) and cut across your previous slices.

How to Chop an Onion 4 (A Seat at the Table)

Repeat on both halves, and you have yourself a chopped onion!

A rough chop means big chunks, so depending on the size of your onion, you may cut it 3 or 4 times in each direction.

A fine chop or a dice means you want your slices to be as thin as possible.  This will get easier the more you practice.

And the most common form is just a chopped onion, which is what you see above.  On the smaller side, but not tiny.

What other skills would you like me to cover in a cooking 101 post?

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