How to Chop an Onion Without Crying – Kitchen Trick

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on March 1, 2011

So this has happened to every last one of us.  At least once I imagine!

After just one slice into one of “those” onions, and we beeline it out of the kitchen hoping to keep the tears at bay. But alas, it’s too late! That pesky onion juice has done it again and the waterworks are a-flowin’. With just one slice.

How in THE world am I supposed to finish chopping that onion if I can’t even slice through it?!

So this doesn’t happen with every single onion out there, but it can. And it will.

And when it does…

1. Rinse the pesky onion juice from your hands and step away from the onion.

2. Find a cutting board that fits into the bottom of your sink.

3. Quickly clean the sink (if you can see through the tears).

4. Move the pesky onion to the cutting board in the sink.

5. Turn on the cool water in as slow of a stream as you can.

6. Reach down into your sink and slice away.  It may seem awkward, but at least you can see what you are cutting. And you’ve stopped crying. (And your spouse can be rest assured that you are not in fact having a nervous breakdown. It was just the onion.)

7. Once all chopped, move the cutting board onto the counter and pat the chopped onion dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

(Why this works…the stream of water keeps the onion juices and particles from flying into the air and your nose and eyes.)

Declare victory over the pesky onion, and be on your way to preparing the rest of your meal.


See more $5 Dinners Cooking Tutorials here

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah March 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

And here’s a good tip to get the nasty onion smell off your hands: rub them on stainless steel. After I’m done handling an onion, I’ll wash my hands with soap & water and then rub my hands all over the kitchen faucet. Something about the stainless steel totally counteracts the onion smell. Try it! You might be amazed! :)


Robert November 19, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I gotta say the stainless is just a myth. It just doesn’t work people.

Pour some lemon juice on your hands and rub them a bit and rinse. Onion smell gone.

That’s all it takes. Seriously


krupa March 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I love this tip and Sarah’s tip. I have also noticed that the waterworks don’t happen when I have my contacts on. So I have resorted to no meals containing onion unless I have contacts on.


Karen Hiebert March 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I make my husband do it. :P I hate doing onions. but thanks for the tips. I will have to try that. he also “sweats” the onion for the flavor, so maybe that helps. :0


treegoddess March 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I’ll put on sunglasses or safety glasses to avoid the streaming, stinging eyes. They really affect me quite a bit! lol


Dana March 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Or, just burn a candle while you are doing it :-)


Tammy March 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

freezing the onion helps, too ~ that HAS to be how all those chefs on TV chop them without crying!!!! =)


Amy March 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I cut and freeze about 10-12 onions every couple weeks so I don’t have to cut them every single time I need a single onion! (I posted a comment on it below)


jaidi March 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

This is actually how the chefs on TV do it! :) I have watched closely many times!


Jan March 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

i use all of the cold water tricks and using cold onion. Leaving the root end seems to help and having a votive candle burning next to me helps hugely.
This draws the fumes away.


Deborah March 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Tammy is right – they refrigerate the onions. One of the chef’s on the Food network – I think the lady from Simply Delicioso – gave that as a tip one day. The cold makes the active compounds dormant.


Amy March 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I will give this a try! I usually make my husband cut them but often he isn’t home when I need onion cut. I have resorted to buying a bunch of onions (usually about 10-12) and then using my food processor to cut them up. I then freeze all the onions so whenever I need them I just pull them from the freezer instead of cutting one each time I need an onion!


Kristin March 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I cut the ends off, cut it in half, and stick it in the freezer for 5-10 mins… works every single time! Oh, and I also do a bunch at a time, so I can have them on hand from the freezer. {I am also one of those crazies that keeps a bag each of diced, sliced, and halved. ;) if they freeze together, I just hit the bag on the counter or with a mallet.}


Jan March 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm

The chemical compound in the onion that makes your eyes water is hydro-philic meaning it is drawn to water- like in your eyes! Wearing my glasses helps, refrigerating or freezing the onion helps, and just running the water in the sink next to where you are chopping the onion helps (not necessarily over the onion). Be careful the knife doesn’t slip in your wet hand.


Sandy N. March 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm

My son did a science project on ways to cut an onion without tearing up. If I can remember, I think goggles worked.


Heidi J March 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I wear my old swim goggles whenever I chop up an onion. It works great.


Sidney March 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm

If you don’t open your mouth at all when cutting your eyes won’t water. My eyes would tear up every time until my sister gave me this tip. It has worked so far.


Catherine March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I think this must be the premise behind the tip I read recently – to hold a mouth full of water in your mouth while chopping. I tried it and it totally worked. I don’t know if I can keep my mouth shut for that long without the water in there to remind me. :-P


jaidi March 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm

The link above shows a really SIMPLE way to chop an onion, on the counter top. I haven’t shed tears cutting onions in months! This is the way Anne Burrell on the FOod Network cuts onions, and also if watch the others chefs on the network, you will see them do pretty much the same thing!


Natalie @ Will Jog For Food March 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Good tricks!

The one good thing about wearing contacts is that it’s an automatic onion repellent! ;)


Food on the Table March 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Hi Erin!

Great tip! I could’ve used this last weekend when I was chopping an onion with a pair of sunglasses on (in a very dimly lit kitchen, I’ll have you know). Another tear-fighting trick I’ve heard is to put a piece of bread in your mouth: Haven’t tried this one yet though.

Next time, I’ll be sure to try your trick!

-Food on the Table


T. Meeks March 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

This can also be avoided by putting the onion in the freezer for a short time before cutting into it. It doesn’t have to be frozen. Try it.


Alicia March 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm

The one thing that has worked for me lately is to breath through my mouth ONLY. It kinda burns my throat with the onion fumes, but I dont cry at all I just look kinda funny, haha. I had never heard of some of these other ideas, so Im glad to know I can just look cool with sunglasses instead of having a gaping mouth! :D



Janice March 1, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I love all the tips that everyone is giving. I also refrigerate my onions. And when I peel off the skin, I give it a good rinse right before I chop it. It works great. Also, there is this really old trick, that works great. You’ll think it’s nuts but it totally works! My grandma does this and I thought she was crazy till I tried it. It really works! Stick the end of a match in your mouth and suck on it, not the part that you actually light, just the wood end. You smell the sulfur part of it, and for some reason it counteracts the smell of the onion and your eyes never water. Weird, but totally works. You have to try it just to see! good luck.


Mary E.S. March 2, 2011 at 12:37 am

I agree with those who say put it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes,then cut it up. If I forget to do that,I put my cutting board on the stove and turn the vent fan on high then cut it up. The fan pulls the fumes away so I don’t cry.


Gail Becker March 2, 2011 at 5:08 am

When I cut onions,I cut in half & put in strainer run under cold water then cut on plate. When I notice my eyes bothering me & put onion back in strainer & run more water on. I don’t have a cutting board that would fit in my sink. I like your tips!


Brandis @ Stir Crazy March 2, 2011 at 9:49 am

Hehe… I wear my swim goggles when I have to chop more than one onion:) But I discovered once, while chopping a 5lb bag of onions, that if you somehow shield your eyes long enough the fumes will eventually start to irritate the other sensitive areas… like your nose and lungs.


LeShelle March 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Chewing a piece of gum will make you not cry.


jan March 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

if I chop onions to freeze, I always triple bag. That way, the ‘onion fumes’ don’t get stuck in the freezer (or the ice cream). (I rinse and re-use freezer ‘ziplocs’. If they’re on their 3rd or 4th ‘go-round,’ they’ve done their share)


Radhunionline December 7, 2012 at 3:38 am

onion gives me so pain when i cut it :( But here i get more tips together. I like all tips. Thanks


Cristina September 14, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I got a trick off of a TV show one day I think it was on The Chew, and it has always worked for me you just hold a piece of bread in your mouth while cutting the onion and the bread absorbs what normally makes your eyes water. If you taste the bread after it tastes just like onion, lol. This is great to keep from wasting bread ends.


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