A Spicy Perspective

How to Finely Chop an Onion

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Check out our Tutorial on How to Chop an Onion Neatly, efficiently, and with few tears. Here are a few pro tips accompanied with a step by step guide to chopping an onion. 


High Demand For This Tutorial

In the last couple of years, I’ve received more emails about chopping onions than anything else.

Everyone wants to know how to cut even diced onions without mascara stripes running down their face. (At least that’s what the women want to know!)

Well, let me tackle the tears first and then we’ll talk about chopping.


Tip #1

Onions release gases when you cut into them. Those gases rise into the air and that is what causes your eyes to water. 

I’ve tried many methods for tear-free onion chopping from putting a fan in the kitchen, to turning on the downdraft to suck up the vapors, to wearing special goggles for onion chopping.

Some people forgo chopping altogether and put their onions in the food processor, although you lose control over what the onion pieces look like.


Tip #2

What I’ve discovered is that if you know how to chop an onion properly, and only have one to chop, you can usually get the one onion chopped and in the pot without all the waterworks.

However, if you have several onions to chop, my favorite no-tear trick is to put the onion in the freezer for several minutes before chopping.

I simply place the onions in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes, while I pull out all my other ingredients and set up my work area. Then I pull them out of the freezer one at a time, to chop them. This is not long enough to actually freeze the onions. However, the bit of chill causes the gases to release from the onion slowly and my eyes stay smudge-free.

Finely Chopped Onion

Tip #3

How to Finely Chop an Onion 

Now onto chopping. This is the easiest method I’ve found for how to chop an onion quickly and evenly.

Finely Chopped

How to Chop an Onion:

  • Cut off the onion top, then cut the onion in half through the root end. Leave the root intact, so it holds the onion halves together.

  • Peel off the outer layers until no remaining peel is left. Lay the onion halves, flat-side-down on the cutting board. 
    • It’s better to take off an extra layer than to try to salvage more of the onion and end up with papery peel in your dish–the peel does not soften while cooking.
  • Make a horizontal cut through the middle of the onion, up to the root. This ensures all the lower pieces are small and even.

  • Then make several even cuts downwards, towards the root. I usually space them 1/4 inch apart.


  • Finally, cut across the onion in 1/4 inch slices, perpendicular to the last cuts. The diced onion will drop to the cutting board.

Repeat the process with the other onion half.

Once you get the hang of it, chopping onions will be a breeze!

How To

Finally, cut across the onion in 1/4 inch slices, perpendicular to the last cuts. The diced onion will drop to the cutting board.

Repeat the process with the other onion half.

How to Chop and Slice an Onion

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24 comments on “How to Finely Chop an Onion”

  1. Thanks for all the helpful tips! I hate it when onions make me cry!

  2. This is how I chop my onions! It’s pretty much fool proof!

  3. This is the only way I add onions to recipes..finely chopped! Great tips!

  4. One of the easiest ways to finely chop onions, changes the onion cutting game! 

  5. Dear Sommer, there is a very easy (and scientific proven) method for avoiding the tears and the running mascara for the ladies: take a gulp of water before you begin cutting the onion and keep it in your mouth all the time: IT REALLY HELPS!

  6. Thank you for publishing this “How To” series! It has already answered a few of my queries and I look forward to more tutorials! I just discovered your site and I can’t wait to explore it for recipes!

  7. Have you ever tried Alton Brown’s method of coming in at angles instead of straight down through the onion so that it cuts the concentric layers of the onion evenly? It seems to work but it is a little harder so I end up doing straight like you do.

  8. Nice tutorial. That is also the way I chop onions and you’re right that, if you dispatch it quickly, you won’t tear up.

  9. I always put my onions in the freezer too, it really works!

  10. I’ve never heard of the freezer thing! So going to try it next time.

  11. Ahhh! I can put my ski goggles away! Thanks for the tip!!

  12. Great tips!! Thanks, Sommer! Now I really want to go and put onions in the freezer! :-D

  13. Love this! I’ve never heard of the freezer trick before. Do you have any tips for getting the onion smell off of your hands once you’re done chopping?

    • Hey Caroline, baking soda does pretty well, but some kitchen stores sell onion/garlic hand scrub that has a lot of mint in it.

  14. Great post! I always try to put my onions in the refrigerator before chopping them to help alleviate the tears. Speed works well too!

  15. Great post! I hate cutting onion!s!! I make my Husband do it for me if he’s home!!

  16. No tears!
    This is how I chop onions.

  17. Chewing mint gum while chopping has worked for me before.

  18. I’m totally going to try the freezer trick! I saw the cutting trick on Rachel Ray one day – it’s hands down the best way!

  19. That’s so funny that you get so many emails about that!! I am totally trying the freezer trick!

  20. Wow – I’ve never heard the freezer tip! Totally trying that today. :)

    Beautiful post!

  21. Yup the freezer or frig always works! Love your cutting board!