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How NOT to cut an onion

Max Nobel
|
3 November 2020

Or how to murder a vegetable. Let’s start with some onion-crushing basics. The utility knife. But not the nice 'cheffy' sharp one. This isn't cut an onion the easy way. No, we mean the plastic one pictured below. Feel free to use the edge or spine, makes no difference really.

In our quest for the worst onion-cutting-experience possible this is our weapon of choice. Preferably get one with a blade length smaller than the diameter of the onion you’ll be cutting with it. That way you will have to make each cut twice. Double the work: double the fun!

"knife"

This excuse for a knife must have been banged around in your kitchen drawer for at least five years. If not, we recommend taking the blade to a brick wall. Get ‘r nice and blunt. We would not want to be able to cut ourselves, or anything else.

Cutting technique

Time is money. And we want to get the most bang for the buck. So, let’s find a way to maximize effort and risk of injury whilst minimizing usable end product. Grab the onion with extended fingers. No bear-claw-safety-first-proper-technique here. Avoid rock chopping. Rather, stab the knife point-first into the onion as that’s the only sharp part left. Then rock and crunch. Try to get the onion to expel as much juice as possible. Crying is mandatory. It’s supposed to be hard. Sheer force of will and character should net you about 1 ‘chopped’ onion every 15 minutes. Cooking is fun.

if only there was a better way...

If you have done any of the above and thought: “If only there was a better way!?”. We are happy you found us! Because cutting an onion properly is so much more than just learning how to cut an onion. It is the gateway to proper cutting technique. And with that it can be the first step towards learning how to cook. Or learning how to cook better.

Now we will not give advice on proper onion cutting technique on this page. The internet is full of it. Just try the first 5 YouTube results for “How to chop an onion”. You’ll be rocking rock-chopping in no time. There’s only one thing we would advise you:

Walk before you run

If you have just picked up your first Chef’s knife: go slow. Or if your knife skills could use a polish: go slower! This does 2 things for you:

  1. You can try to perfect the technique with slow controlled motions. Don’t start out with the wrong technique. It’s harder to unlearn something than it is to learn something fresh.
  2. You’ll be safer. There’s no point in trying to dice an onion sliver-fine under 5 seconds like Gordon Ramsey. He’s had decades of practice.

The good news: you can practice knife skills and cooking for years to come. We promise you: that’s enough to get good at it. We have listed some basic knife techniques for you here.

Knife!

How did you know?

That “How to chop an onion” is one of the more popular cooking-related search terms? As is “How to cut an onion without crying”. Goes to show how fundamental a skill chopping a simple onion is. About that crying situation we have good news! All it takes is a sharp knife. A sharp knife will damage less of the onions cells releasing less 'tear jerking oxalic acid'. Secondly, by being able to cut an onion faster, you'll spend less time crying. Last tip, try not to cut to closely to the stem of the onion. If you still let out a few tears: it’s okay. We all cry sometimes.

So, what is the right way?

You didn't think we would just leave you hanging right? Cut an onion in half and lay one half flat on your cutting board. Then, slice the onion starting at the root.

Rotate the onion 90° and make one or two horizontal cuts. Take care to ensure the safety of your fingers.

Finally, in a chopping motion cut the onion into small pieces. The result should be equally sized cubes of onion.

Have we gotten you curious about our chef's knife? Have a look at our 8'' Chef's knife

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