How to Chop an Onion Like a Pro Chef

Steal our pro-worthy tips for chopping (and dicing and slicing) an onion.

Restaurant chefs and contestants in TV food competitions make mastering how to chop an onion look so easy (and fast!). So how do you cut an onion like these pros? Consider this your ultimate guide to all of the best ways to chop an onion—and to mince it and wedge it. Once you know the basics of chopping an onion, you'll be just minutes away from giving a flavor boost to salsas, salads, stews, and stir-fries. Plus, we share how to store chopped onions if you prefer to meal prep a big batch to save time and tears later in the week.

Red onion cut into slices
Jacob Fox

How Do You Cut an Onion?

A bit of care, a sharp knife ($40, Target), and a cutting board ($18, Walmart) are all it takes to slice and dice most vegetables. Our step-by-step guide shows you how to make quick work of dicing the tear-jerking bulb.

Chopping onion with chef’s knife on wood cutting board
Kritsada Panichgul

How to Chop an Onion

While it takes some practice to get super speedy at cutting finely chopped onions, it doesn't take long for even beginner cooks to ace this basic chopping method.

  1. After washing and peeling off the papery outer skin of the onion, place the onion on its side on a cutting board. Slice off the top of the onion.
  2. Turn the onion so the newly cut flat side sits on the board surface and slice the onion in half through the root end.
  3. Place an onion half, flat side down, on the cutting board. Cut the half into thin wedges by making ½-inch slices lengthwise through the onion, cutting up to, but not through, the root end. (This keeps the onion from falling apart.)
  4. Turn the onion and make ½-inch slices that are perpendicular to the previous slices (crosswise on the onion). The onion will fall apart in neat ½-inch pieces. Repeat steps with the remaining onion half. Once you reach the root end, compost or discard it.

Now that you have chopped onions, you can forge ahead to even smaller cuts if desired. To create finely chopped onion pieces, simply proceed from here: Run your knife back and forth over the pile of more coarsely chopped onion pieces until they reach approximately ¼-inch cubes. For minced onions, keep chopping until the pieces are about ⅛ inch.

Test Kitchen Tip: You can chop onions in a food processor ($45, Bed Bath & Beyond) if you're trying to save time or are seeking a way to chop onions without crying, but the pieces will likely not be as uniform in size. To chop onions in a food processor, install the "s" blade. Peel and quarter the onions, then press the "pulse" button about 5 to 7 times until the onion pieces reach your desired size. Start with just a few pulses to avoid overprocessed onions that can taste a bit off or end up with a too-wet texture.

Now that we've covered the best way to chop an onion, here's one of the worst: making horizontal cuts in the onion. Slicing sideways through an onion toward your own fingers is more dangerous and puts you at greater risk for kitchen injuries. Plus, an onion naturally grows with horizontal "cuts" already intact, so following the method above will save you time (and possible medical bills) down the road.

Cutting halved onion into thin wedges
Kritsada Panichgul

How to Chop an Onion into Wedges

You'll start this process the same way as you did chopping.

  1. After peeling off the papery outer skin of the onion, place the onion on its side on a cutting board. Slice off the top of the onion.
  2. Turn the onion so it sits on the newly cut flat surface and slice the onion in half through the root end.
  3. With the flat-side down, cut halved onion lengthwise, angling toward the center, until you've cut the entire onion into wedges.
  4. Trim off the root end.

How to Store Chopped Onions

Feel free to quarter, wedge, coarsely chop, mince, or finely chop an onion in advance, then store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Plan to use it within 1 to 2 days.

How to Buy Onions

When buying or harvesting onions from your vegetable garden, choose one that's firm, unbruised, and unblemished, and one that's covered with tight, dry skin. Yellow onions tend to be the most versatile, although red onions, white onions, sweet onions, and shallots all have their place too. Avoid using onions with any soft spots, sprouts, or signs of decay or discoloration.

No onion on hand? Try our Test Kitchen's ingredient substitution: For every ½ cup of chopped onion, swap in 2 tablespoons of dried minced onion or ½ teaspoon of onion powder.

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