How to Chop an Onion

How to chop an onion, safely, easily, and with minimum tears! Video plus step-by-step photos.

  • Prep time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 chopped onion


  • 1 onion


1 Slice 1/2 inch from stem end, barely slice root end: Onions have two ends—a stem end, and a root end. Place the onion on a cutting board with the stem end pointing to the side.

Hold the onion firmly with one hand, and with the other hand, cut about 1/2-inch from the top of the stem end of the onion with a sharp chef's knife.

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Then, turn the onion around and make a shallow cut (maybe 1/8-inch) off the root end, cutting off the stringy roots, but leaving the hard root core intact.

2 Cut onion in half, top to bottom: Place the onion large-cut side down on the board (with the shallow root cut side on top). With the onion stabilized on the board, position the chef's knife directly over the root end of the onion and cut straight down to cut the onion in half.


Place the onion halves cut side down on the board to minimize exposure to the eye-hurting fumes coming from the cut sides of the onion.

3 Peel back onion skin: Peel back the onion skin of one of the onion halves. There is no need to pull it all the way off if it is still attached to the root end.

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4 Make lengthwise cuts, angled toward center: Place the onion half large-cut-side down on the cutting board. Make lengthwise cuts into the onion, from root end to stem end, with the knife tip almost all the way to the root end (but not cutting through the root end).

Cut at an angle as you go around the onion, with the blade aimed toward the center of the onion.

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The number of cuts depends on how big a chop or slice size you want, fewer cuts for thick slices or roughly chopped, more cuts for thin slices or finely chopped.

5 Make cross-wise cuts: Once you are finished making angled lengthwise cuts, make cross-wise cuts. Hold the onion firmly with your fingers curled so that your knuckles press against the side of the knife as you cut the onion (this protects your fingertips from getting cut).

As you make cuts from the end of the onion, scoot your hand back, using your knuckles a guide for the knife.

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