Kitchen Basics 101: How to Cut an Onion Without Crying

This week on Kitchen Basics 101 we will learn How to Cut an Onion Without Crying.
They add delicious flavor to any recipe.
Most everyone you know loves them, but ask them if they enjoy cutting onions  
and they will likely tell you “No!”  Because, onions will make you cry when you slice into them.  
But, why do onions make us cry?
I found the following answer on
When you slice through an onion, you break open a number of onion cells. Some of these cells have enzymes inside of them, and when they are sliced open, the enzymes escape. The enzymes then decompose some of the other substances that have escaped from sliced cells. Some of these substances, amino acid sulfoxides, form sulfenic acids, which then
 quickly rearrange themselves into a volatile gas. 

The gas reaches your eyes and reacts with the water that keeps them moist. This changes the chemical’s form again, producing, among other things, a mild sulfuric acid, which irritates the eyes. The nerve endings in your eyes are very sensitive and so they pick up on this irritation (this is why our eyes sting when we slice onions). The brain reacts by telling your tear ducts to produce more water, to dilute the irritating acid so the eyes are protected. Your other reaction is probably to rub your eyes, but this will actually make the irritation a lot worse, of course, 
if you have onion juices all over your hands. 

Oddly enough, this volatile compound is also responsible for a lot of the great taste in onions, as well as the pleasant aroma when you cook the vegetable.
So there you have it…that’s why you cry when you cut an onion.
Here are a few tips to cut an onion WITHOUT crying.
Use a very sharp knife. The enzymes are released more often when the onion is “crushed.”  
Using a sharp knife will prevent the onion from crushing. 
Chill the onion for about 15 minutes before cutting.  This will help reduce the amount 
of enzyme that is in the onion.
Cut the onion under water.
Cut the onion near steam.  Steam from a boiling kettle will work.  
What are some ways YOU have tried
 cutting onions without crying?
Check out my party page to see where I am linking up to this week!


  1. says

    I stick a spoon in my mouth, sideways like a spanish dancer would have a rose (except everso slightly less glamorous!!!) and that always works for me. I can’t remember where I first learnt that but it was years ago. I look ridiculous but never mind! Do you watch Modern Family at all? I remember an episode where Phil used goggles for this.

  2. Jeanne says

    Martha Stewart says to have an open flame nearby (like a candle) and that will burn away the fumes before they reach your eyes.

  3. leslie says

    I cut onions on the patio table outside, OR make my hubby cut them. My eyes are soooo sensitive- they burn for hours and my whole face swells up. It’s pretty bad!

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