Posted by Stephanie Simpson on
Whether your goal in the kitchen is to go pro or get in and out as quickly as possible, this is something you need to know how to do!
Because this super-speedy professional technique is going to save you loads of prep time. And that means you’ll have more time to get on to more fun things, culinary or not!
It’s also going to make your food taste better. Because this technique is designed to give you an even dice - that is, an army of evenly-shaped and -sized pieces of onion - your onions are going to cook more evenly. So long, sad medley of soggy, raw and burnt bits!
It’ll save you a lot of stress! We think of onions as being pretty simple vegetables, but between being round and full of loose layers, onions can be a nightmare to navigate with a knife. This technique makes it super-easy to produce wonderfully-predictable results every time!
Finally, it should also take some of the punch out of those pesky irritants that bring on the onion tears! (Check out the end of the post to find out why!)
So do like the pros — because if there’s anyone who needs to bust out awesome food, fast, it’s a professional chef — and get your dice on!
How to Dice an Onion like a Pro
Note: When you dice an onion, you should use your free (i.e. non-camera-wielding) hand to keep the onion in place. To see how to hold the onion stable and keep your fingertips safe, check out the hand-modeling photo near the end of the post!
1. Grab an onion (that bit’s crucial).
2. Cut onion in half, root to tip. Peel off the skin and any not-so-nice-looking layers.
3. Place one half cut-side down, and cut off tip. Leave the root end - the end with the roots - intact!
4. Starting at the tip, make evenly-spaced horizontal cuts in the onion. End cuts close to the root, but don’t cut all the way through the root!
5. Again, starting at the tip, make several evenly-spaced vertical cuts. And again, end cuts close to the root, but don’t cut all the way through!
(The goal with Steps 4 & 5 is to make your cuts carefully so that your onion is held together in one piece by - you guessed it - the root. Do that, and the next steps will be super-easy!)
6. Cut the onion width-wise, top to bottom, starting at the tip end.
7. Repeat until you’ve reached the root end. Discard the root and marvel at your even dice!
To change up the size of your dice:
Simply adjust the number of cuts you make in Steps 4, 5, & 6! For a coarse (larger) dice, make fewer cuts; for a finer (smaller) dice, make more!
The cuts you see below produced a fine dice, while the cuts you see in the main instructions produced a coarse dice. To really get a sense of the difference in size, check out the photo at the top of the post!
Oh, onion tears:
- The tear-inducing irritant in onions is released when the cells of the onion are damaged. According to Wikipedia, the root of the onion holds the greatest quantity of these potential irritants. If that’s true, the root-avoiding technique above should help reduce the potential of running into those pesky irritants! (And I’ve got to say, I didn’t shed a tear in preparing this post!)
- According to Alice Waters, the dicing method shown above does less damage to onions than chopping. (Not sure what the difference is? Dicing is all about making precision cuts that produce pieces of an even shape and size, while chopping is a rougher method that produces pieces of irregular shapes and sizing.) And less damange means fewer tears!
- You’ll also do less damage - and keep the tears at bay - if you use a super-sharp knife. (And a sharp knife will make prep in general a whole lot easier!)
- Still not satisfied that your onion won’t wreak havoc on your eyes? Well, there are always onion goggles.