How to chop onions (without crying)

Why do onions make you cry when you cut them in the first place? Is it retaliation for being cut? Perhaps in some beliefs. The science says:

When you cut an onion you break cells releasing their contents. Amino acid sulfoxides form sulfenic acids. Enzymes that were kept separate now are free to mix with the sulfenic acids to produce propanethiol S-oxide, a volatile sulfur compound that wafts upward toward your eyes. This gas reacts with the water in your tears to form sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid burns, stimulating your eyes to release more tears to wash the irritant away.

Fresh bulbs of onion

There are enough unpronounceable words in that paragraph to make you cry. So maybe we should stick with “they just do” and start looking at ways to prevent it from happening.

Other than wearing swimming goggles, there is another popular tip which involves chopping your peeled onion after letting it have a quick soak in water. It is also supposed to “enhance” the onion’s flavour, but soaking onions in water is also what you are supposed to do if you want to take out the strong bite out of a raw onion. Confusing? Martha Stewart even suggested burning a candle on the bench while you are chopping the onion. The flames are supposed to diffuse the gas that causes your eyes to water; other people try whistling, singing or drinking a glass of water. Honestly, that all sounds rather hazardous. So, let us share something with you about how to chop an onion without crying. A life hack if you will.

Throw out those ridiculous googles, blow out that candle and have your mum’s number ready because you are going to want to call her after you are done trying this.

Step one, chop the top end of your onion.

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Step two, cut the onion in half down the middle

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Step three, peel the outer skin

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Step four, cut slices into the onion towards the root end. If you want chunky pieces of onion, do less slices, or skip this step altogether.

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Step five, slice down the onion, making sure that the root end stays intact the whole time

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Step six, chop across the slices you have made, towards the root.

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The roots are the last part of the onion that you should cut off, and once you do, discard them immediately.

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It should be worth nothing that even though this technique has a very high success rate, you may still get the odd tingle in your eye, or even a slight watering over. It’s so quick, though, that you will increase your chances of finishing the chopping before the vapours do their work.

Older onions will make your eyes water no matter what you do, and obviously if you decide to chop several kilos of onion then perhaps you should have some tissues on hand, or go for the goggles. But if it’s just the one onion you need chopped then I implore you to give this method a go. We are keen to here if this method works for you!