I Tried 6 Ways to Cut Onions Without Crying—This Is What Worked

Believe it or not, there are a few ways to chop onions without crying, and you don't even need to don ski goggles.


Anastasiia Tretiak

Onions are an essential ingredient in so many recipes, and while we love them, they somehow always leave us in tears. Why do onions make us cry? If your eyes are burning, you're on the verge of tears, and you're not watching an episode of This is Us, blame science. This allium veggie contains sulfoxides that are a natural irritant to the eyes. Fresher onions are less likely to make you cry than old ones, but it's often hard to tell the difference. Look for onions with tight, intact peels versus flaking, papery skin sans a bright green bulb.

A sharp chef's knife will make it much easier to cut onions without shedding a tear. But is there anything else you can do? We put several internet hacks to the test to find the best method to cut onions without tears.

01 of 07

Method #1: Chewing Gum

The cooling effect of mint gum is supposed to counteract the burning sensation. Plus it forces you to breathe through your mouth, which will draw in the irritant before it hits your eyes. I chose Extra peppermint gum, since they're longer sticks, and I thought a bigger wad might help prevent the waterworks. Cutting the first half of the onion went okay—despite a potent smell right off the bat, I didn't feel the need to grab a tissue. When it came time to dice the second half, I felt every symptom—burning, itching, watery eyes. However, the tears were more "oh, there's just something in my eye" rather than the bawling I experienced when Justin Bieber announced his engagement.

The Verdict: Let gum be gum. Save it to freshen your breath post-dinner.

02 of 07

Method #2: Chewing a Piece of Bread

I love bread and any excuse to eat it, so I was happy to try this one. Similar to the chewing gum theory, chomping on bread forces you to breathe the chemical in through your mouth–rather than absorb it through your nose or eyes. Unfortunately, this trick did absolutely nothing. I felt every awful physical pain that is a result of cutting onions. Unless you want to multitask by combining snack time and meal prep in one, skip this method altogether.

The Verdict: Eat all the bread you want, just not while chopping onions.

03 of 07

Method #3: Chilling the Onion in the Refrigerator

Full disclosure: I was eating a double stuff Oreo while dicing this onion, so I can't say for sure if the cold onion or the Oreo did the trick here. (While I'd like to say it was the Oreo, my gut tells me otherwise.). I left the onion in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then peeled and chopped it like usual. No tears! No burning! I cut the entire onion without needing to grab a tissue. While I felt a slight irritation in my eyes towards the very end, overall it was painless. I was surprised this method worked so well since onions aren't a produce item that generally need to be refrigerated. However, if it helps prevent blubbering, I'm all for it.

The Verdict? Totally worth it.

04 of 07

Method #4: Leaving the Onion Stem Intact

Rumor has it that the onion stem has the most concentrated amount of sulfur, aka the stuff that makes you cry. You're releasing those chemicals in the air and into your eyes by cutting the stem off immediately. If you leave it intact while chopping, there shouldn't be tears. My eyes felt irritated the second I cut the onion in half, but then the feeling subsided a bit. While there was mild burning the entire time, it never escalated to full-on sobbing.

The Verdict? Not great, not terrible.

05 of 07

Method #5: Cutting the Onion Under Cold Water

This method is as awkward as it sounds—I placed my cutting board in the bottom of my sink and ran a light stream of the coldest water possible on the board and my onion. My sink is about 7 inches deep, so it was difficult to reach down and get an even dice. Additionally, some of the water collected on the cutting board, which caused a bit of flooding and washed some onion pieces down the drain. The cold water was also a bit, well, cold and uncomfortable as I chopped. However, no tears! This isn't the easiest method, but it certainly did work.

The Verdict? Yes, but…see Method #6 for my even better, DIY solution.

06 of 07

Method #6: Running Your Arm Under Cold Water

I devised this method on my own while working at a French restaurant and slicing 100 onions several times a week for French onion soup. Anytime you feel your eyes start to burn or well up, head to the sink and run your forearm under cold water until you feel better. (This usually takes about five seconds.) While it's not the most convenient method, it definitely takes the pain away regardless of how many onions you're cutting.

To be clear, I'm not saying that cooling your arm will stop your eyes from burning, exactly. But the act of standing over the sink and thrusting my arm into that cold stream of water led to relief. Maybe just bending my face toward the water reduced the amount of irritant reaching my eyes? I don't know, but I do know that it worked!

The Verdict? Roll up your sleeves!

07 of 07

Best Onion Recipes

Once you're able to prep dinner without a box of tissues by your cutting board, try our favorite recipes that let onions take center stage. These caramelized onions with thyme are delicious atop burgers or update grandma's meatloaf with a bacon-gruyere meatloaf with roasted carrots and onions. For a sweet and savory dish that looks as good as it tastes, try a caramelized onion and sour cherry tartine.

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