How to Chop an Onion

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Chopping an onion may very well be the most common kitchen task other than washing dishes. Still, it's daunting for the uninitiated.

Things You'll Need

  • onions
  • Sharpening Steels
  • Sharpening Stones
  • Groceries
  • Chef's Knives
  • Cutting Boards
  • Make sure you have a firm, clean cutting board and a sharp knife.

  • Use a knife that's at least twice as long as the onion. You'll need the length to slice through the vegetable.

  • Place the onion on the cutting board so you can see both the root and the stem.

  • Hold the onion carefully and position the blade of the knife along the onion so it will cut it in half vertically, through both the root and the stem end.

  • Start the cut and make sure the blade's lined up properly, but only get the blade started.

  • Take your hand off the onion and place it on top of the knife, so if the knife slips it won't cut you.

  • Slice the onion in half.

  • Lay each half cut-side down.

  • Cut off about 1/2 inch from the root and the stem ends and either discard them or save them for stock.

  • Peel the remaining two halves. It's easier to peel them once they've been cut and trimmed.

  • Chop the onion halves by drawing the knife through the onion three or four times horizontally, then three or four times vertically.

  • Hold the knife carefully, and hold the onion together with the tips of your fingers curled under. There's less chance of cutting them that way.

  • Separate the onion layers with your fingers before using them.

Tips & Warnings

  • To avoid tears, make sure your kitchen is well-ventilated so the sulphuric compounds released from the cut onion are quickly dispersed. Use a small fan for this if you've got one.
  • A truly sharp knife makes this process a breeze. Try not to use cheap or dull knives.
  • All onions, including shallots, are basically the same and can be cut the same way. If using leeks, discard the dark green part and wash the remaining white part well between each layer. Leeks don't need to be peeled.
  • Do not cut onions in half horizontally, so the stem is on one half and the root end on the other. Onions are difficult to work with and to keep together when cut this way.

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