My relationship with The Onion is one filled with pain and love. Onions are delicious, and I love adding them to onion-appropriate recipes when I cook. However, there is one small problem. When I chop them, I cry to the point of wondering if my eyeballs might shrivel up and turn into something resembling white raisins. If you would have asked me how to cut an onion before I learned a few tear-reducing tricks, I would have said, "Easy! Have your husband do it!" Because that is what I did for years.
If you, too, are brought to tears when chopping onions, here are a couple of things that help. Put on a pair of sunglasses! If you have goggles, even better! But before you don your shades, place the soon-to-be-chopped onion in the freezer fifteen minutes before you intend to chop it to bits. Doing these two things greatly reduces the onion-flavored tears that flow from my eyes.
The first thing I do when chopping an onion, after preventative crying measures have been taken, is cut off the top. Do not cut off the end, the part that once was rooted in the ground. This is very important!
Cut the onion from top to bottom, right down the middle.
Remove the outer skin and place the onion halves flat on a cutting board and cut small slices, from top to bottom of onion, all the way across without cutting all the way through. If you look really closely at the lower right side of the onion in the below photo, my cuts go almost all the way through the onion but not quite. This, and the intact root, helps to hold the onion together quite nicely while chopping.
Turn the onion 90 degrees clockwise (counterclockwise for lefties) and cut into it from the side. And again, I cut as far in as my knife will go without going all the way through. I make three of these cuts along this edge, spaced out fairly evenly from one another.
Starting at the edge of the onion, chop straight down, all the way through, in small rows and watch the beautifully shaped chopped pieces of onion pile up! Once I reach the end, I chop off as much onion surrounding the root as I can and then toss it in the garbage (the root, not the onion).
Repeat the chopping parts of this process with the other half, then take a step back to admire your pretty pile of chopped onion! And go wash your hands before you rub your eyes or feed your baby. Or remove your contacts.