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2 Ways to Cut Onions for No More Tears, Plus 1 Bogus Way

Cutting an onion -- it's such a sob story. But an onion doesn't want to make you cry. It's just defending itself. Slice through an onion's cell walls, and chemicals are released into the breach that irritate the eyes. It's a trick that onions evolved to keep animals from eating them.

Only...tough break for you, onions: we're undaunted. And lucky for us intrepid onion eaters, there are ways to slice and dice them without blubbering too much about it.

Red Onions

Bulbs that make you blubber | Photo by Meredith

Here are two no-more-tears ways to cut an onion. The third way is ridiculous and doesn't work. We'll get to that.

But first, the two ways that do actually work.

1) Turn on a fan and blow your tears away.

Actually, you're not blowing the tears away; you're blowing away the chemicals that rise up from the chopped onion and get into your eyes, mouth, and nasal passages. Seriously, if you chop an onion in front of a fan, it blows the irritants right past you. For the most part.

2) Pop the onion in the fridge first.

In a cold onion, the molecules are chill. As NPR reported: "Molecules of any sort tend to move faster when the're hot and slower when they're cool." Chop a cold onion, and you might be able to outpace the volatile chemicals before they rise up to greet you. To chop an onion quickly (and safely), check out our simple step-by-step: How to Cut an Onion.

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And the bogus way

Wear goggles as you cut. Have you heard that advice? It doesn't work, and for the reason we addressed in method #1. The painful compounds rise up not just to your eyes but also to your mouth and nose. You can't keep a volatile compound down; the best you can do is slow it down and push it past you.

Now let's cry tears of joy as we chop onions for these top-rated, onion-friendly recipes. Check out our collection of Onion Recipes.


Related: How To Pick, Prep, and Store Onions


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Carl Hanson

About Carl Hanson

Carl will eat that. Share with him @CarlNo9 on Twitter.