The onion is a huge staple in the kitchen. It is the base to many dishes around the world. And a lot of people don’t know how to cut an onion! Or at least properly.
I have to say that my all time biggest culinary pet peeve is seeing people cut an onion with a paring knife. They never seem to get the size pieces they want so then they try to chop the onion with the paring knife… Oh I hate it so much. If you do that, it’s ok! I still like you. But now you have no excuse to do that again!
Dice: Method 1
There are two main ways to dice an onion. The first way is the most common way I have seen. With this method you cut the onion in three different directions to get a dice.
In my last blog post I showed you what exact French knife cuts look like. To get a large, medium, and small dice, and brunoise, adjust the length between the knife cuts you are making to get the desired sized piece. Keep the distance between each cut the same for all directions.
This method is OK. It’s not my favorite. I find the first, horizontal cut to be difficult and awkward. And the onion wants to break apart into a bunch of different pieces (you can even see this happening in the video).
Dice: Method 2
This is my favorite way to dice an onion. It was a little tricky to wrap my head around at first, but it is the only way I dice onions now. With this method you cut the onion in two different directions and use the natural shape of the onion to get more even pieces.
I find this way to be so much faster and with a lot less hassle. The trickiest part is the first cut you make radially. You have to go in at a pretty steep angle. But with a little practice it will become much easier. What helped me is to focus on the center of the cut side. Use that point as a guide as you make your way across the onion and always end your cut in that point.
To properly slice an onion you need to cut radially across the onion. This way you get even pieces all the way around. Uniformity is key with knife cuts. If your knife cuts are even, your food is going to cook evenly.
This method is similar to the dicing method 2 above where you are cutting radially across the onion.
Sliced onions are perfect for caramelizing, stir-frys, or pickling.
Cutting onion rings can be a little tricky. I would always tell my students that no piece of food is worth your fingers. So with this knife cut, towards the end when the onion becomes unstable, stop when you don’t feel comfortable cutting anymore and then save the rest to throw in a stock or stew.
This knife cut is also great if you want to grill onions. Onions in rings are much easier to grill.
Bonus: Chopping an onion for a stock or stew
I wouldn’t call this dicing or even rough chopping. But for a stock or stew where your food is going to be cooking low and slow, a nice big chunk of onion is just what you want.
An onion is an essential ingredient for many dishes. I hope this helps you feel more confident to cut an onion!
Equipment used in this post:
A classic for a reason. I personally love the weight of this knife and the bolster. A solid knife that is a work horse in the kitchen. Click here to view on Amazon.
A great, durable cutting board made out of a nonporous, composite material. Safe to cut meat on and dishwasher safe. Just a solid, very well made cutting board. Click here to view on Amazon.
A simple tool with so many functions. In knife skills it is perfect for scooping your food off your cutting board. Click here to view on Amazon.
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