The Best Ways to Cut Onions Without Crying

  • When you chop into an onion, it releases frustrating chemical substances into the air that make your eyes water.
  • There are lots of theories about combating onion tears, however just a few are efficient.
  • Experts counsel the use of a pointy knife when slicing, refrigerating your onions, or making an investment in particular units.

It’s came about to the most productive people: you are within the kitchen, slicing up onions to your dinner, when unexpectedly, tears are flowing and your eyes are burning. 

“All foods have some defense mechanism,” says Brian Chau, a self-employed meals scientist and meals techniques analyst who holds a Master’s stage in meals techniques and society from Oregon Health & Science University.

Onions have advanced through the years to grow to be tearjerkers, however getting ready this type of scrumptious — to not point out commonplace — element does not need to be a sob tale. Once you realize why onions make you cry, prevention is fairly easy.

“Some people are more sensitive to [onions] than others, which may make them produce more tears,” says Chef Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD, FAND, and writer of The Healthy Epicurean.

Why do onions make you cry?

Close up of different types of onions in a basket.

Different forms of onions unlock other quantities of the gasoline that reasons the tears.

Lynne Daley/Getty Images

Onions’ tear-causing homes are greater than an annoyance. “Onions have developed a biochemical pathway to protect themselves from predators,” Chau says. When you chop into the cells of an onion, they unlock the enzyme alliinase in conjunction with a circle of relatives of compounds referred to as cysteine sulfoxides, Chau says.

Through a chain of next chemical reactions, a risky gasoline referred to as propanethial S-oxide is created and spreads throughout the air.

“The body’s reaction to the gas touching the surface of the eye is to create tears to flush the gas out of the eye,” says Andrews. Not all onions are similarly frustrating although: candy onions and scallions comprise much less sulfur than pink, white, and yellow onions, so they generally tend to lead to a smaller response.

4 attempted and true tricks to save you you from crying 

Person about to cut the end of a yellow onion on a cutting board.

One of the most productive tactics to forestall onion tears is by means of the use of a pointy knife.

Karl Tapales/Getty Images

Scientific answers are in the market, however a snappy on-line seek for onion treatments would possibly lead you to “hacks” which can be extra grounded in optimism than in biology. In order to chase away or scale back tears, you can want to save you the aggravating gasoline from being launched within the first position, or save you it from achieving your eyes.

These expert-approved pointers are ranked from very best to toughest, however notice that as a result of everybody has a fairly other response to onions, some ways is also simpler than others.

1. Use a pointy knife

Keeping your knives sharp is in most cases just right apply, however specifically essential when running with onions. “A sharp knife causes less damage to the onion flesh, reducing the amount of gas that is released,” Andrews says.

A lifeless knife will best make chopping and dicing tougher, and can building up the period of time you spend round risky gasoline, Chau says. Investing in a knife sharpener or choosing up a brand new set of blades would possibly not utterly save you crying, however it might stay it from turning into a complete sob fest.

2. Refrigerate your onions upfront

The best factor that this tip calls for is sufficient foresight to stay your onions within the refrigerator prior to you get started cooking. “This is perhaps the best method to try,” Andrews says, and Chau is of the same opinion: “Chemical reactions slow down under colder temperatures.” 

Place your onion within the fridge for 30 to 45 mins, and take away if you find yourself able to start out chopping. Try to paintings temporarily — as your onions heat up, you might really feel your eyes begin to sting. Note that maintaining onions within the refrigerator long run can make them wreck extra temporarily, so that you must best use this system whilst you plan to make use of your onions immediately.

3. Use eye coverage

If you are nonetheless suffering to get thru meal prep, check out making a barrier between the gasoline and your eyes. Standard eyeglasses or sun shades can assist, however Chau says that eye coverage with a seal can be most efficient for maintaining gasoline out. Specialized onion goggles are to be had and is also price it only for the laughs, however swimming or protection goggles too can paintings neatly.

4. Use choice kitchen equipment

If you have got the manner, Chau recommends making an investment in area of expertise units. “Buy a good food processor that has an attachment to dice or slice,” he says. “You reduce the chances of crying because your exposure time is lower and sometimes, the onions are in a closed environment.” A lower-cost choice is a vegetable chopper, which you’ll be able to use with virtually any form of produce and can prevent a ton of time on prep.

Debunking commonplace hacks that do not in truth paintings

  • Chewing gum. Some folks swear by means of this, however Chau says there is no medical reasoning to make stronger this hack as it does not give protection to your eyes or save you the onion from freeing gasoline.
  • Soaking your onions in water. According to Chau, water will best boost up a tearful response, and Andrews notes that tossing drenched onions right into a pan may just purpose sizzling oil to splatter and burn you.
  • Holding your breath. Breathing within the frustrating gasoline launched out of your onions does not purpose tears, Chau says — it is the response the gasoline reasons when it hits your eyes. Not to say the risks of keeping your breath whilst dealing with a pointy knife.
  • Microwaving your onions prior to slicing. Using warmth in truth worsens the gaseous response, in keeping with Chau, and may just exchange the style of your onions.

Insider’s takeaway

When you chop into an onion, it releases chemical substances that aggravate the eyes and purpose you to cry. There are plenty of phony hacks in the market, however to cut back your possibilities of tears, use the sharpest knife conceivable and relax your onion within the refrigerator upfront. If all else fails, the use of eye coverage or making an investment in area of expertise kitchen units will stay you from turning into a weepy mess.

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