how to chop onions

This is the fastest, easiest, and safest technique I have seen to chop onions.

The technique described is like what many chefs do. The main difference is that I keep the stalk end, rather than the root end, which seems more common. I have found it easier to remove the papery outer layers this way.

You must use a sharp knife. A sharp knife is safer, as it is much less likely to slip than a blunt one. It is also less likely to bruise the onion, which will reduce the release of the aromatics which make your eyes water.

You will notice that the technique keeps the cut sides of the onion down, which again reduces the exposure to these aromatics. This will stabilise the onion whilst you prepare it, reducing the risk of cutting yourself.

You should make sure you have a damp cloth under the chopping board to stop it from slipping.

the method

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  • damp cloth
  • chopping board
  • chef's knife


  • 1 onion


  • Place the chopping board on a damp cloth. Remove any loose papery skin from the onion to stop your knife from slipping when making the first cut.
    An onion on a chopping board
  • Cut off the root end of the onion.
    An onion on a chopping board showing the root end removed
  • Stand the onion on the cut root end and slice the onion in half downwards from stalk to root end.
    An onion on a chopping board showing the cut to halve the onion.
  • Take one onion half and carefully peel away the papery outside layers.
    An onion half on a chopping board after peeling paper skin
  • Place onion cut side down on chopping board and make several cuts downwards from just short of the stalk end to the root end. The uncut stalk end will help keep the onion together. Adjust these cuts to the fineness of the chop you require.
    An onion on a chopping board showing first cut from stem end to root.
  • Now slice across these cuts, from the root end back to the stalk end. Hold the onion whilst you do this with your fingers curled under and using your second finger knuckle to guide the blade. Again, adjust the slicing to the fineness of the chop you will require.
    An onion on a chopping board showing second cut across the first cut
  • Discard the last part of the stalk end and repeat for the other onion half.
    A mound of chopped onion with stem end shown at side


  • Always put a damp cloth under the chopping board to prevent it from slipping.

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