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Onions are an excellent addition to many dishes, but cutting them can be frustrating when they make you "cry" all the time.

Does anyone know any tips or tricks to help minimise the tears when chopping onions?

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My secret: wear contacts ;) –  Brendan Long Jul 11 '10 at 5:38
contacts don't help me in the slightest –  thorncp Jul 17 '10 at 1:07
My secret: Let someone else cut it for me. Works every time! –  configurator Jul 18 '10 at 23:56
I'm protecting this question because it already has several excellent answers (including an accepted answer) and we're starting to see a lot of duplicated and/or silly responses. If you have more than 10 reputation and are considering adding your answer, please make sure that it's (a) a real answer and (b) hasn't been submitted already. –  Aaronut Oct 29 '10 at 14:17
The tears come only after you BLINK. If you get used to keeping your eyes open while cutting onions, it helps a great deal. Other trick is not to expose the the cut side of the onion by putting on the cutting board and holding the onion together. –  MandoMando Dec 3 '10 at 18:46

43 Answers 43

Buy the kind of onions that don't make you cry. Seriously. I think several regular onion kinds in US supermarkets (don't know if that's where you are though) are somehow mutated or genetically engineered to reduce the impact. I often eat and cut onions and when I buy this kind, I never cry when cutting it. But I recently bought organic onion and the difference is really noticeable and profound.

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Most 'sweet onions' are lower sulfur, so won't cause you to tear up the same way, but they also won't have the same sharp flavor that the other onions will have. –  Joe May 9 '11 at 17:17

When I worked at subway we had to cut all kinds of onions. This is what worked for us:

Wet a paper towel, fold it (hot dog style), and place it under your eyes and over your nose. You have to make sure you don't lean down too much or the towel obviously falls off. Also, it helps to have a large nose.

Then, if we either neglected to do that, or we simply had to cut too many of them, stepping inside the walk in freezer for just 30 seconds kind of re-sets your tears and buys you another 5 minutes or so of tear free cutting.

Obviously most people don't have a walk in freezer, but i imagine sticking your face in a normal one will work equally as well.

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Sit down

I simply drag a chair over to the table and sit on it. I cut the onions on the table, but now my face is not directly above it. All the gases go vertically to the ceiling without getting in contact with the eyes.

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My mother suffers terribly when chopping onions. Her solution is to chop them outdoors. It happens that there's a waist-height coal scuttle a couple of paces from the kitchen door, so she does it on that.

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A simple hack is to stick plastic wrap over your eyes. It helps if you have glasses. The poor man's version of goggles.

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My grandmother had be hold a slice of bread in mouth to form a barrioer between my eyes and the onion fumes.

It worked quite well, and I got to eat the bread afterwards.

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I've had success with cutting onions near running water.

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Wet hands works best for me, just rince your hands under a small stream of water without drying them and start choping.

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Sulfurous gas became sulfuric acid when in contact with water, so with your eyes... simple cut the onion within water and the sulfuric acid will not be volatile, saving your eyes !

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For some reason, I find that onions that have been refrigerated (either in one of those plastic "onion keeper" things, or just in a baggie or whatever) don't make me cry. :)

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Someone showed me this great trick a while back.

  1. Cut a slice off the end of the onion where the scraggly roots are
  2. Soak the onion in a bowl of water for a few minutes.
  3. Chop it normally; discard the water.

You'll see a milky liquid almost squirt out of the onion into the water. The milky liquid seems to contain most of the caustic substance. I think it mellows the taste a bit too.

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I couldn't tell you the scientific reason behind this or if it affects the flavor at all (i haven't noticed that is does), but I find that if I freeze an onion before I chop it up, It doesn't make my eyes water.

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Use white onions. Yellow onions make me tear up every time, but white onions never do. Go figure.

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protected by Aaronut Oct 29 '10 at 14:14

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