Knife Skills 101: How to Chop, Dice, & Mince Onions Like a Pro
A lot of people hate chopping onions, and understandably so. Their shape and layers make them difficult to handle if you don't have much practice, and even if you know exactly what you're doing, it's a task that usually ends in tears.
Like most other vegetables, there's a method to dicing an onion that makes it much quicker and easier. Bridget Lancaster from America's Test Kitchen breaks down the process in the video below.
This method seems hard at first, but once you get it down, it makes chopping onions much quicker and less painful. Not to mention, it looks pretty impressive when it's done right. Before getting started, make sure your knife is sharp. Trying to chop an onion with a dull knife is slow, frustrating work, not to mention a really good way to end up cutting yourself.
Before removing the peel, cut your onion in half pole-to-pole (through the root and tip), then remove the ends. Alternatively, you can peel it and remove the ends before cutting it in half, but in my experience the peel comes off much easier once it's halved.
Take one half and slice it horizontally into planks. How far apart they are depends on what kind of dice or chop you're going for. Sometimes a recipe will specify an exact size, other times it will just give a generic term like "small dice" or "rough chop," which can sound pretty ambiguous. There's no need to bust out a ruler, but here are the general guidelines for each type:
- Rough Chop: large uniform chunks, no specific size
- Large Dice: ¾ inch
- Medium Dice: ½ inch
- Small Dice: ¼ inch
- Brunoise: 1/8 inch
- Mince: as small as possible
You can find a much more in-depth explanation of different types of dices and chops over on The Kitchn.
You want to slice almost all the way through, but not quite, so that the onion stays intact while you chop it. Lay your hand flat across the top to hold it in place while you make your cuts.
Now, cut the planks into "sticks" by making vertical cuts about the same size as your horizontal ones. Again, make sure not to slice all the way through so you have a piece to hold onto.
This is the fun part. Slice across the onion, starting at the tip and making your way towards the root. Keep your cuts about the same size distance apart as your previous ones and watch those beautiful, uniform pieces pile up. Use your knuckles to guide the blade down.
Again, this will probably feel pretty difficult the first couple of times, but with some practice you'll get much faster. To make the process even more painless, be sure to check out Yumi's guide to chopping onions without crying.