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Kitchen Basics: How to Cut an Onion

Onion

Because onions are used in so many recipes, knowing how to properly dice them will save you time and motivate you to get in the kitchen more often.

I know, I know. You’re likely thinking, “I already know how to cut an onion!” And while you may be right, what you might not realize is that the method that most of us use to cut an onion leaves our diced pieces in uneven sizes and shapes. This will affect cook time, texture and even flavor. So maybe we should call this “How to dice an onion” instead. Better? Excellent.

Unfortunately, I’m not here to explain to you the miracle that will prevent the tears from shedding during your next onion-cutting mission (though there are many tips and tricks to avoid the tears). What I am here to do is make your life a whole lot easier with a different technique. What many of us call “dicing” is really just chopping the large onion chunks into smaller bits and calling it a day. At long last, you will happily know just what your recipe means when it says “diced”. Uniformity is incredibly important to get an even cook time resulting in an all around better flavor.

Remember that old habits can die hard. You may find that the first few times you try this technique it will slow you down a tiny bit. Don’t give into your old ways! The good news is that before you know it, this method will become second nature and you will have beautifully diced onions prepared in no time. Patience is key. All you’ll need is a sharp knife and cutting board.

Knife & Onion

A sharp knife is an important tool to have in the kitchen.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Onion1

1.) Cut the onion in half from root to top.

Onion 2

2.) Lay the onion flat side down and cut a small part off of the top. Peel back the first layer to the root. Keep it attached to the root so that you can use it like a handle.

Cut Onion

3.) Cut down through the middle of the onion, from the newly sliced top to just before the root.
Note: If the onion is very large, you may have to do two slices.

Vertical Cuts

4.) Next cut small slits (all the way through) vertically from the top to just before the root.

Diced Onion

5.) Finally, cut in even slits (all the way through) in the opposite direction from the top to root.

Complete

6.) Repeat with the other half & admire those beautifully uniform diced pieces.

Ready to put your master dicing skills to work? Check out all of the great recipes at the Nutiva Kitchen.

So what did you think? Was this technique difficult or easy for you? Did you get nice, uniform pieces? What kitchen basics are you interested in learning?  Let us know in the comments.

Comments

  1. For a kitchen dummy, these are excellent and thorough guidelines. Excited to try this method. And thanks for the step by step photos! I’m a visual person so that is extremely beneficial.

    • Ana Victoria says:

      So glad to hear it B. Seeing is learning, so we’re glad that the photos helped you out. Let us know how this method works for you!

  2. Great tips! Mismatched sizes pieces of onions always drive me crazy. Loved the photos – great work.

    • Ana Victoria says:

      I hear you Michelle! This method not only gets those lovely uniform pieces but it is also so fast once you get it down. Cooking with onions is a breeze now. Glad you enjoyed the photos, don’t forget to let us know how it turns out for you. Happy cooking!

  3. Mandy McGaugh says:

    This article is making my inner OCD so happy!!! I can’t stand cutting onions all willy-nilly, I’ll be revisiting this article again. Thanks!

    • Ana Victoria says:

      You and I are on the same page Mandy! So glad you enjoy it – let us know how it goes for you. We’ve got more tips on easy ways to cut garlic, round veggies and more coming too, so keep an eye out. :)

  4. I usually dice several onions at a time. I have a bowl of cold water, and keep the onions in it between each step. I do not shed a tear!

    • Ana Victoria says:

      Great tip April! I know many of us would love to save those tears next time we cut an onion. We’ll be sure to add the cold water technique to our next onion dicing endeavor.

  5. Phillip says:

    I first cut mine into slices (6-7), then stack a few slices (3-4) and cut them in half. Then I take each half of the stack and cut at about 20° from the center line (almost parallel), but at one end of the half-circle stack (usually the right) and work my way towards the center and continue on to the opposite end. This isn’t the same as cutting like a pizza, which can leave teeny tiny pieces.

  6. I love the instructions but if it weren’t for the photos I wouldn’t be able to understand what you’re saying.. the wording is confusing to me.

    • Ana Victoria says:

      Thanks for the feedback Mary! Most of us are visual learners, so I’m glad you liked the photos. Let us know how your onions turn out. :)

  7. I’ve never cut an onion using a horizontal cut. I’ll try it out but just using downward cuts has worked for me so far.

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