How to Dice and Onion and Walk Away Without a Tear

Cooking often begins with dicing an onion. And, unfortunately this root vegetable doesn’t play nice when you attempt to cut it.

No more crying. Here's how to dice an onion and walk away tearless.

It won’t sit flat on the cutting board. Its papery skin can be difficult to remove. And, we all know how the little bugger likes to sting our eyes like shampoo if we take too long to chop it.

To dice an onion quickly (before it has a chance to mess with your eyes), and safely, check out the steps below.

Start with a Sharp Knife

Sharp blade glides through onion. Dull blade slides off onion and towards fingers. Why me write like caveman? I’m not entirely sure.

Choose the right knife for the job

But if I was a caveman, AND I had to choose which knife to dice an onion with, I’d go with a chef’s knife. I once saw a guy attempt this task using a paring knife. It wasn’t pretty. Red eyes and tears running down my…I mean…the poor guy’s cheeks. And, it takes FOREVERRR!

Cut Onion from Root to Stem

To keep the onion stable on the cutting board we need a flat surface. To get one, cut the onion in half from root to stem.

The first step to dicing an onion quickly, safely and neatly. Here's how it's done.

Slice off the Stem and Peel

Remove the stem (leave the root end intact) with a slice of your chef’s knife, and peel away the papery skin.

The second step to dicing an onion quickly, safely and neatly. Here's how it's done.

How to dice an onion quickly, safely and neatly.

Parallel Cuts

With the tip of the blade, make parallel cuts towards the root leaving the root intact.

The third step to dicing an onion quickly, safely and neatly. Here's how it's done.

As you can see in the awesome photo above (taken by our crack team of amateur photographers at the cafe) the root holds the onion together as you make your cuts.

Time to Dice

Turn the onion, and cut across the parallel incisions you made. To make the chopping easier, let the curve of the blade do the work for you. Keep scrolling down and I’ll explain… 

How to dice an onion and walk away tearless.

Set the tip of the knife blade on the cutting board, with the middle of the blade hovering over top the onion. Keep the blade in contact with the cutting board as you push down and through the onion below. To reset for the next cut, rock the knife back towards you so the tip of the blade is once again on the board. Then push down and through again to make your second cut.

With practice you’ll develop a rhythm of rocking the blade back and forth. Continue cutting until you meet the root end.

How to dice an onion quickly, safely and neatly.

Learn how to you get here without a tear.

You just showed that onion who’s boss! And, hopefully you didn’t shed a tear (you know how I hate to see you cry). Like any cooking skill, the more you do it the easier it gets!

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Brent Garell testing the food at College Recipe CafeBrent Garell – is the guy behind College Recipe Cafe. He visits local colleges to teach cooking 101 skills, and is the author of the digital cookbook 15-Minute Money Saving Meals for Students: Cup of Recipes for When You Need Food NOW! Available now on Amazon.

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