How To Cut An Onion Without Crying

Tearing up over an onion again? Learn tips for how to cut an onion without crying. Plus, I’ll tell you how to slice and dice an onion properly!

Tearing up over an onion again? Learn tips for how to cut an onion without crying. Plus, I’ll tell you how to slice and dice an onion properly!

Onions add a ton of flavor to so many dishes, don’t you think? 

Not to mention you can use them in so many ways, like in soups, pico de gallo and to add a super tasty crunch to a wrap.

Red onions, yellow onions, Vidalia onions – I love them all. 

Onions are healthy, too. They’ve got vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium. The flavonoids in onions have anticancer effects, among others.

But do you ever dread cutting an onion because you know it’s going to make you cry? Do the runny nose, tears and burning eyes when slicing an onion drive you crazy?

Well, this post is like a little “slice and dice lesson,” all about how to cut an onion without crying. Read on to see how to chop an onion with a smile!

Lacey holding thin slices of red onion in her hand.

All About The Onion

Before we start, let’s learn about the onion!

Researchers agree that the onion has been around for thousands of years. They’ve been a staple – easily transported, suitable for growing in all types of soils, and not overly perishable.

  • Red Onion: Red onions are great grilled, roasted and yes, raw<–love it in a sandwich! And of course, the color adds a pop to many a dish.
  • White Onion: Gotta love ‘em sautéed, grilled, or raw. They are great in pasta sauces and potato dishes.
  • Yellow Onion: Caramelizing the yellow onion is just the best! And I like to roast, grill and eat them raw.

There are many other types of onions such as the sweet Vidalia onion (did you know they are Georgia’s official state vegetable?), Spanish onions, pearl onions, and Bermuda onions.

Fun fact: There is a new onion in the grocery stores; it’s called the Sunion and it doesn’t make you cry when you cut it. These tearless veggies are only grown in Nevada and Washington, so are not in every grocery store’s veggie section yet.

So best to learn how to cut an onion without crying here in this post! 

Why Do Onions Burn My Eyes?

When you cut into an onion, you are releasing enzymes and chemicals in the onion. Propanethial S-oxide is the main one and has naturally developed in onions as a protective component in a sense.

So without getting too technical, propanethial S-oxide protects the onion (and it’s found in other plants also). When the onion is cut, the fumes come in contact with the moisture in your eyes and then you feel the burning.

Did you know that contact lenses work somewhat as a barrier against the sulfoxides in onions (yep, there are a lot of ’em)?

Cutting board with fresh yellow onions that have been thinly sliced to show how thin to slice the onions for certain recipes.

What Part Of An Onion Makes You Cry?

It’s mainly the root section of the onion that makes you cry. The root has a high concentration of eye-irritating chemicals and enzymes. Leave the root attached and intact, reducing the chance of the release of so many irritants.

Onions are bulb vegetables, you see, that absorb sulfur and more from the ground and these compounds work like a defense mechanism for the onion. Not kidding!

How Do Chefs Chop Onions Without Crying?

Well, chefs can slice and dice pretty quickly! They also keep the cut side down on the cutting board and they keep the cut sections together not exposing them. And chefs also know this trick: keep the fuzzy root intact to minimize the release of fumes.

How Do You Properly Cut An Onion?

I’ve put instructions for properly cutting an onion in my recipe section. But did you know that onions have both a stem end and a root end? Cut the onion, staying aware of the ends and there will be less burning of the eyes.

Side by side images of unpeeled and uncut onions in a blue ceramic bowl.

Tips For How To Cut An Onion Without Crying

Here are a few onion-cutting tips to ease the chemical reactions felt by your eyes.

  • Sharp knife: A very sharp knife is key! Using a sharp knife makes the slicing go much more quickly. Also, clean cuts (as opposed to dull, shred-like cuts) will help to release fewer fumes. So remember, a dull knife is a no-no.
  • Keep exposed sides away: Like the chefs, place the cut sides down to reduce the release of the tear-inducing compound and as well, keep the cut sides together as much as you can.
  • Chill the onion: Put the onion in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill it. Slicing into a cold onion sometimes helps. Don’t freeze the onion, though!
  • Soak the onion: Peel the onion and then soak it in cold water for 15 minutes. This may make the onion milder, so if you do not want to risk changing the taste, this may not be an option.

How To Store Cut Onions

If you have peeled your whole onion or used half of it, for example, and want to keep the rest, you’ve got to keep it in the fridge. 

Store your onion in plastic wrap (tightly wrapped) or in a reusable storage bag. The onion will stay fresh for up to 10 days.

Did you know you can freeze onions? Chop them the way you like, and then put them in a freezer bag. Make sure all of the air is removed. Properly frozen, they’ll keep around 6 months. This is a great prep-ahead method for sauces and soups!

Note: Onions do not need to be stored in the fridge before they are cut. They’ll keep well in a cool and dry place for about a month. Sometimes onions get mushy faster when put in the fridge so it’s something I never do.

Overhead image of an onion face down on the cutting board being sliced.

Different Ways To Cut Onions

Different recipes call for different onion cuts. Diced onions, for instance, are often used in stews and soups. Onion wedges are perfect for adding to a sheet pan recipe for a nicely roasted veggie side. Grilled onions are tasty, too. Sliced onions are fantastic in a burger bowl!

Healthy Onion Recipes

Some people wear safety goggles to create a seal around the eyes. but I think the methods we’ve discussed should do the trick! So don’t let onions make you cry. Slice and dice your way to these delicious and healthy recipes containing onions!

How To Cut An Onion Without Crying
Prep Time
2 mins
Total Time
2 mins

Tearing up over an onion again? Learn tips for how to cut an onion without crying. Plus, I’ll tell you how to slice and dice an onion properly!

Servings: 1
Author: Lacey Baier
  1. Hold your onion on the cutting board with the stem end pointing to the side and the root end facing the other.

  2. Cut about ½ inch away from the stem, taking the stem end off.

  3. Take the fuzzy-looking root end and make a cut, keeping it shallow. Make the cut about ⅛ of an inch deep, remembering to keep the root end intact because this is where most of the fumes are.

  4. Cut the onion in half. To do this, place the onion with the stem cut side down and the root side facing up. Cut directly down the middle, to cut the onion in half. Each half will have some of the root end.

  5. Place the onion cut sides down on the cutting board so you are exposed to fewer fumes.

  6. The onion skin can now be peeled back to the root. You can leave the skin attached to the root end.

  7. Keeping the onion cut side down on the cutting board, cut from the root end to the stem end. Don’t cut through the root end. Cut at an angle, pointing your knife blade toward the middle of the onion. Thinner cuts will bring an end result of a finely chopped onion. Thicker cuts will make large pieces when done.

  8.  If you want a chopped onion, continue by making cuts in the opposite direction, crosswise. This results in a chopped onion. You can discard the root now.

This post contains affiliate links to products I use regularly and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey there! I’m Lacey Baier and I’d like to welcome you! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, as well as cleanish, my clean-eating supplement brand. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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