How to Chop Onions

Overhead Chopped Onion
Onion, Chopped. Molly Watson
  • 01 of 08

    Start With a Firm, Smooth Onion

    Onion Ready to Chop
    Whole Yellow Onion. Molly Watson

    There are times when evenly chopped onions are key to a recipe's success: stir fries and sautées, tarts and quiches, and other dishes where the pieces of onion will be visible in the final dish or where even cooking is key. The following method is the classic chef technique for evenly chopping onions. It may take a tiny bit of practice, but it's worth mastering—it will make future cooking endeavors all that much easier.

    Onions are great storage vegetables, when they're stored in a cool, dark place. When exposed to heat or light, they spoil quicker. Look for onions with smooth skins, that feel heavy for their size, and that are very firm.

    (If you just need sliced onions go here.)

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Trim the Onion

    Trmming an Onion
    Onion, Trimmed. Molly Watson

    Use a very sharp knife to cut off and discard the root and stem ends of the onion. The onion doesn't have a flat side to set it on yet, so exercise extra caution and hold it steady. 

    And yes, you want a very sharp knife. The cuts are cleaner and it's safer. Yes, safer. The sharp blade will cut right through the onion, whereas a dull blade is likely to slip and cut you.

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Cut the Onion in Half

    Halved Onion
    Onion Cut In Half. Molly Watson

    Set the trimmed onion on one of the flat cut ends and then cut it in half lengthwise through the root end, which will hold the halves together.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Peel the Onion

    Onions, Halved and Peeled
    Peeled Onion. Molly Watson

    Peel the onion, removing any and all of the papery skin and the external layer of onion if need be to get all of the skin off. (Doing this under running water can make getting all the papery bits off easier and reduce tears in the process if you're sensitive to onions.)

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Make Horizontal Cuts Into Onion

    Cutting an Onion
    Onion, Horizontal Cuts. Molly Watson

    Hold the onion steady by pressing down with the palm of your hand or carefully by the root end. Using that same very sharp knife, carefully make horizontal cuts into the onion, leaving the root end intact.

    The horizontal cuts you make will partially determine how small the final chop is, so make as many horizontal cuts as far apart as the size chop you want in the end. When you get to the final, top cut, hold the onion by the still-intact root end.

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Make Vertical Cuts Into the Onion

    Cutting an Onion
    Vertical Cuts in an Onion. Molly Watson

    Keeping your finger tips at the root end to hold the onion steady and to keep your fingers out of the way, use a very sharp knife to make cuts into the onion lengthwise, again being careful to keep the root end intact (and thus holding the onion half together).

    Like the horizontal cuts, the number and spacing of the lengthwise cuts help determine the size of the final chop, so make them accordingly.

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Cut the Onion Crosswise

    Onion Cutting
    Chopping an Onion. Molly Watson

    Hold the onion by the root end and cut the onion crosswise—resulting in a perfectly evenly chopped onion!

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Chopped Onions

    Overhead Chopped Onion
    Onion, Chopped. Molly Watson

    Marvel at the beauty and evenness of your chopped onions! Then use them in the recipe of your choice, knowing they will cook evenly and look fabulous.