how to chop an onion (a video)

So, it has been awhile since we put up a video here. We’ve been wanting to do one. Truly.

But life just kept crowding in.

No more. Here we go.

Long ago, Danny and I did a photo post on how to chop an onion. A number of you have said how helpful that post was to you in the kitchen. (It was for me, too. I can’t tell you how many times I sneaked back to that post to look at the photos before I chopped an onion. My chopping skills are more sure now, but it took me all this time to feel confident about it.) And a number of you have written over the years, asking if we could do a video, so you could see it in action.

We listen.

This is also part of our new series for Wednesday posts: chef technique videos.

When we have done videos in the past, we have shown you how to make recipes. But now, Danny would really like to demonstrate technique. Interspersed through the essays and recipes in our cookbook, Danny teaches basic techniques that chefs know but home cooks might not. But we can’t wait a year to start sharing.

So we’re going to share here. We’ll start with the fundamentals and move onto more exotic techniques as the year goes on. Do you have something you would like to learn? Let us know.

We’ll be back every Wednesday.

So let’s start at the beginning. How to chop an onion.

And if you would like to watch the entire process, without our commentary, here’s a video of Danny cutting an onion in silence.

See you next Wednesday with another video.

p.s. a technical question for you. We put the first video on Vimeo, the second on YouTube. A number of you have complained in the past that the audio and video start to lose sync on Vimeo. Is that true here? (If so, does anyone know what to do about this? I sure don’t!) Is the quality okay on YouTube? We’re neophytes at this one. Help us out.

29 comments on “how to chop an onion (a video)

  1. hausfrau

    Enjoyed seeing the chef chop his beautiful red onion. For what it's worth, I couldn't make the one with sound work at all.

  2. tigress

    wow! ok, here's my chance. something i embarrassingly enough, have wanted to know how to do and have not been able to get it clearly from a read: how does one get to the heart of an artichoke?

    now that would be heaven to watch that process on video!

  3. Margot

    vimeo video seemed fine to me

    thanks! knew about 90% of the technique, but had never had the "keep the root" relayed to me before; huge difference!

  4. Meadow

    Great vids, but I don't think I will ever get to be 'chef speed'!

    The sound was good on the Vimeo, no issues. It almost seemed like the sound was off a bit on the youtube version…go figure! I am a newbie to vids too, so hopefully others have advice on that.

    I have always liked the 'look' of the Vimeo videos in posts, its very clean, no boxes, looks great in a blog. The up side for youtube though, is that others will find your videos out in youtube land more often, which could be helpful to folks in that environment :). Sort of a mixed bag from that approach.

    ps…no onions for doggies unfortunately, toxic 🙁

  5. Casey

    I think chopping an onion is something everyone should know how to do!

    I watched the youtube (second) video and the quality was just fine.

  6. Danielle

    Oh, I'm excited for this! I am always chopping onions and would love to know how the chef does so!

  7. Shelly!

    What a treat to watch and listen to you both in action! Having never met either of you it is fun to put your voices now to the words.

    I'll have to see if I can chop an onion without crying now – but usually I stick a small piece of bread in my mouth and that soaks up the scent. I look funny…but that's ok. Maybe Danny's method will make it so I can chop without looking funny 🙂

  8. mtlion

    Thanks for the great demo. You make it look so easy. Some tips for the videos. In the vimeo vid, a little less camera movement would be good. Stay focused on Danny's face when he's talking. Then stop video. Move to hands. The YouTube is better quality, but the voice over is important. And last but VERY VERY important: do NOT feed onions to dogs. Could be fatal. Google "dogs and onions" and you'll get the idea.

  9. Sho


    Thanks for the tip from Danny about breathing through your mouth while chopping an onion.

    This video is a reminder to me that I finally need some good kitchen knives.

    I love onions. What a superfood they are.

    So much is happening on your site. I am still catching up. You guys seem to be soaring, with so many good things happening to you. I am overwhelmed just reading about it all.

    Take care,


  10. Cove Girl

    They are right about the video & sound not matching up sometimes, but that is not the case wit this one. Finally, I know what I've been doing wrong. Thanks Chef?

  11. Cove Girl

    They are right about the video & sound not matching up sometimes, but that is not the case wit this one. Finally, I know what I've been doing wrong. Thanks Chef?

  12. Cove Girl

    They are right about the video & sound not matching up sometimes, but that is not the case wit this one. Finally, I know what I've been doing wrong. Thanks Chef?

  13. RJF

    Thanks for this.

    Cutting the hairy roots off of the end while leaving the root in tact is a great tip! I can't count how many times I've ended up with a few stray roots poking around unwelcome in my saute pan. For a perfectionist like me, it's great to hear that it's just fine if some of the onion gets away during chopping– It wasn't meant to be– perfect. It was also great to hear that it's OK to chop slow. I'd probably have much better technique if I hadn't tried to get up to Jamie Oliver speed imediately.

    The video looked and sounded great on Vimeo, and I'm on a dinosaur of a laptop.

  14. Playin_d_fiddle

    Hooray! Eagerly awaiting each week's video now!

    (question on my mind: What did you use all those delicious chopped onions for after the videos?)

  15. Swiss

    Thanks. I keep telling the Grandkids; I am 61 and still learning something new constantly. The problem I have is when I am slicing across, keeping it from falling apart then. I am hoping when I try the technique of leaving the root on that will help as well as losing the need of being perfect- I would have thought I was a failure if little pieces popped out- now I can just call them a popper!

  16. Anonymous

    I wish I could do that! My knives seem to be dull right after I sharpen them. I actually have knives that don't cut through fresh tomatoes. 🙁

  17. Tina B.

    GREAT video! I am always impressed with technique, especially since I lack any! 🙂 Thanks for the lesson, I will try it out.

    Also, any chance you can caption the videos for my Deaf friends who love to cook?

  18. Kerrie

    Thanks, you guys make a great team.
    My question for the chef, is how do you dice a tomato? Mine always turn to mush.

    Thanks, Again

  19. Darina

    Thanks so much for posting this! I know my knife skills suck, even after cooking for years, because I never really learned them. Who wants to admit that this far into the game…but really…I need to learn. The last time I chopped an onion I also chopped off a bit of my finger and fingernail. Now I know I won't be doing THAT again.

  20. Allison

    You two are so adorable, and such a pleasure to watch. Great videos (both worked wonderfully for me, no sound issues!), my knife skills can definitely use some improvement, and the video definitely gave some great tips.

  21. JennC

    The video worked fine for me. Thanks for the tutorial and for sharing. I love your site, your book and your posts!

    I'm not the first to mention but the ASPCA lists onions on the toxic food list for dogs, and it's even worse for cats. (you can go to aspca dot org and look up people foods to avoid)

    I'm sure it takes time to get a book from editing to published but did you say a year before we can buy it? Very sad for us!

  22. Anonymous

    I cut onions the same way except once I get to the onion half, I make cuts radially. Then I slice it. I've never liked how the onion splays out when you try to make those couple of cuts parallel to the plane of the cutting board. (I also get nervous I'm going to slip and stab myself!) Leaving the root end on is a must.

  23. Annie Speicher

    I really would like to learn how to make homemade tortillas. I know it's really easy, but it's a lot trickier than it looks.

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