How to Cut Onions Without Crying

One of my favorite meals to make is onion soup.  Unfortunately when cutting onions I am usually forced to wear swimming goggles or end up with tears running down my face and feeling like my eyeballs are on fire. Somehow my onion cutting goggles went missing a while ago and making my yummy onion soup became pure torture.  The pain from the onion fumes was so horrible that I forced my husband to take over the onion cutting duties.  I figured there had to be a way to cut onions without pain and suffering. There are many methods on the internet that claim to prevent tears when cutting onions and I tried a whole bunch of them.  Now I am going to tell you what actually works.

So why do onions make you cry anyways?  Well not to get super technical but here is the explanation in a nutshell: Onions contain an enzyme that gets released when you cut them. When the enzymes combine with the acid in the onion it creates a gas. When the gas hits the water in your eyeball it reacts and creates sulfuric acid. So, no wonder it burns like hell.

Okay,  how do we get the burning to stop? Here is what works for me:

Take your onions and chop off the ends then immediately run them under cool water and peel the outer layer off  the onion.  Take the naked onions and place them in a bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes to an hour.  Rinsing off some of the onion juices will help reduce the enzymes that are being released and chilling the onions slows the chemical reaction time and changes the chemical composition of the onion.

When I am ready to cut the onions I place the cutting board near the stove and turn the fan on high before I start chopping.

Not a single tear shed!  Do you have any tips to prevent tears when chopping onions?

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8 Responses to How to Cut Onions Without Crying

  1. cc says:

    I cut the ends, rinse, peel, rinse, cut in half, rinse, and then chop quickly.

    I've been doing this since I started to cook when I was 13. My Mom still thinks I'm crazy, but it helps.


  2. Kanelstrand says:

    Great tip! I didn't know it! What I do is to cut near the sink, turn the cold water on and let it run. Since it helps, I am sure that your tip will help as well.


  3. Ang says:

    My Mom taught me a trick when I was a teenager helping in the kitchen….put a saltine cracker (I've used other salty crackers if I don't have Saltiines on hand) in your mouth when you're chopping onions. Don't chew it up, just let it sit on your tongue and dissolve. I don't know why it works but she learned the trick in home-ec class when she was in school. Magical


  4. erosan says:

    I trust my Hero's advice

    Alton Brown rocks.


  5. Good tips from Alton! I had never heard of spraying vinegar on the cutting board


  6. Catherine says:

    From the minute you start peeling, breathe only through your nose and do not open your mouth…for anything…the entire time you are peeling and cutting. Once you are through, you can talk again! It works!


  7. Anonymous says:

    Catherine! That is what my grandma always tells me and to stop herself from breathing through her mouth, she hold a spoon in her mouth. I imagine that could be why the salty crackers work as well?


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