How To Cut Onions Without Crying - Pro Tips and Tricks You Didn't Know

October 24, 2022 5 min read

How To Cut Onions Without Crying - Pro Tips and Tricks You Didn't Know

Cutting entire onions and crying seem to go hand in hand. However, did you know you can actually cut onions without crying? It’s totally possible! Today, we are going to share how you can accomplish this task. And honestly, it is easier to cut onions without crying than you think. So, read on and be amazed at how you can avoid the tears when cutting onions in the future.

Why Do You Cry When Cutting Onions?

minced red onions

Before we get into how to cut onions without crying, let’s get into why this happens. All onions have a chemical called syn-propanethial-S-oxide. This chemical is known to trigger tears when it is airborne. This is a tear-inducing compound and cutting a raw onion, sweet onion, or yellow onion with sharp or dull knives will get the onion-induced tears chemical into the air. So Air Method is not going to help in preventing tears.

How to Cut Onions Without Crying

There are a few different convenient methods you can try to see if you can manage to cut onions without crying. We would love to tell you there is one effective method that works for everyone. Unfortunately, there is not one method that will prevent tears when cutting onions. So, you will simply need to try the methods we mention until you find one that works for you.

Freeze or Chill Your Onions

Some people find relief when they start cutting frozen onions that are cold or submerged in cold water. You can place your onions in the freezer for 15 minutes or let them sit in the refrigerator until you are ready to cut them. Another option is to place the peeled onion in a bowl of ice water bath for a little.  Some simply call this onion in water or onion under water.

Since the onion is nice and onion cold provides less of the syn-propanethial-S-oxide will be released. And a lesser amount of that chemical means fewer tears for you.

Cut the Onion Under Cold Water / Water in Cold Temperatures

This is a slight variation from the method we mentioned above. When you slice your onion under cold running water or submerged it in cold water or in a bowl of water, the chemical will not reach your eyes. Instead, it will be directed towards the drain.

This may sound like a wonderful method of cutting an onion without crying. However, it can be difficult to slice and dice under running water.

Use a Fan to Remove the Fumes

Just as the water will direct the syn-propanethial-S-oxide away from your eyes, a fan will have the same result. Simply point the fan so it takes the fumes from the chemical away from your eyes and face.

Use a Sharp Knife

sharp knife cutting red onion

Using a sharp knife is key for cutting an onion without crying. If your serrated knife is nice and sharp, it won’t damage the cells within the onion. Those undamaged cells won’t release as much of the syn-propanethial-S-oxide. 

Might we suggest our ultra sharp high-carbon stainless steel chef knife that's 100% made in USA?

Related: Read here to learn how to sharpen your serrated knife the right way.

Practice Your Cutting Skills

Sometimes you need to work on your cutting skills a little bit before you can cut an onion without crying. If you can quickly cut an onion, your eyes won’t have time to capture the tear-inducing compounds and create tears.

This may be why you may find you don’t cry when you create bigger onion slices, and you do when you dice an onion.

Slice Off the Top of the Onion

cut off top of red onion

It is thought that the top of the onion, where the root is located, is where most of the syn-propanethial-S-oxide can be found. So, slicing off this section may result in less of the chemical getting into your eyes.

Cut the Onion Near an Open Flame

Open flames are supposed to capture the chemical in onions and burn it off. The result is supposed to be most of the chemical never reaching your eyes.

Wear Goggles

People who wear glasses are supposed to have an easier time cutting onions without crying than people who don’t. However, that is not always the case.

With that being said, many people do find success when they wear goggles to cut onions. Maybe it is because the entire eye is surrounded, so air and the syn-propanethial-S-oxide cannot reach the eyes.

Methods that Won’t Work to Prevent Crying When Cutting Onions

There are a few methods that some people swear by when cutting onions. However, they are all myths and don’t really prevent crying when it's either sliced onions or diced onions.

Placing Bread in Your Mouth While Cutting the Onion

It is a myth that placing bread in your mouth while cutting an onion will prevent the chemical from reaching your eyes. This myth definitely won’t stop the tears from flowing.

Microwave the Onion

microwave the onion

At one time, people thought they could microwave an onion to remove the chemicals. This won’t happen. What will happen is your entire kitchen, and probably a house, will onion smell for a week!

Place a Spoon in Your Mouth While Cutting the Onion

Holding a spoon in your mouth while cutting an onion is not easy. And guess what, the chemical from the onion will not stop at the metal spoon. So, you will still cry.

Chew Gum

Chewing gum is supposed to make you breathe through your mouth more, which means the chemical won’t reach your nose or eyes. However, once the chemical is in your mouth, it can still make you cry.

Breathing Through Your Mouth

This is the same as the myth we mentioned above. Breathing through your mouth is not going to change anything when it comes to crying when cutting onions.

You probably can see why all these myths have never worked. Thankfully, you have options with the tried-and-true methods we mentioned above.

Choose a Tear Free Onion

different types of onions

If you can’t manage to cut an onion without crying using the methods above, you do have another option. You can purchase a tear-free onion. The Sunion is one of the types of onions onion that was cross bred by scientists. If you cut into a Sunion right after it is harvested, it would still make you cry.

But most of these onions without tears are kept in storage until the chemical is practically gone from the onion. This is different than other onions, because in regular onions, the chemical gets stronger in storage the entire time.

Due to the storage time needed for Sunions, it may not be easy to purchase these onions just yet. But keep your eyes open, because they should be more readily available in a few years.

In Short

As you can see, there isn’t one tried and true method to cut onions without crying. Even the exposure time is long before you chopped onions. We warned you! We recommend trying the methods we know work for some people to find out which one is best for you. Then you may finally be able to cut an onion without crying for the first time ever.

See Virginia Boys Kitchens 8-Inch Chef Knife - Made in USA - With Wood Handle. Perfect for slicing these onions without crying! Or see our entire collection of knives here.

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