Here is a detailed tutorial, complete with step by step pictures, on how to cut an onion four different ways: dice, slices, strips and onion rings.
Reading: how to cut onions for stir fry
I will also share some common ways I use each shape and why. I will also share a few subtypes, such as minced and chopped (offshoots of diced onion). And last, I will mention a few worthwhile shortcuts to cutting an onion. 😎👊🏻
Are you ready?! Get ready to learn more than you ever wanted to know about cutting an onion! It may not be as exciting as all the recipes I usually publish. But! I hope this is useful to at least some of you.🤓👌🏻
What type of onion is best?
These instructions work for all types of onions, but I will share my favorites!
My top spot goes to the Vidalia onion. It is just my favorite onion ever. I live in Alabama, and these are grown next door in Georgia, so they are plentiful here. It is a specific type of sweet yellow onion (my second favorite). So if the store does not have Vidalias, I’ll go for the sweet yellow ones as my second choice.👌🏻
After that, I like the red onions. I sometimes refer to these as purple onions…because isn’t that more factually accurate?😂🤷🏼♀️What, just me?😜
The reason I like these particular varieties above is the slight sweetness and milder flavor than, say, a white onion. So they are good in all recipes, plus they caramelize beautifully, which I love. Side note: see my method for how to caramelize onions here.
How to cut an onion into rings
First off, what might you want to use this cut for? The onion ring shape is great for making…homemade onion rings. You will want to cut these a little on the thicker side, like shown here in the photos.
Rings are also great for putting on top of burgers. I personally like those a little thinner. They also go great on salads, if you like raw onion in your salad. I would recommend a thinner ring for salad as well.
Now I will show you how to cut an onion into rings! First, remove both the stem ends.
Then peel off the paper-y skin. Mine came off easily, but you can use a paring knife to help pull it back if you need to.
Also, when peeling off the skin in any of the cuts mentioned here, use your discretion to see if you need to peel the next layer off (the first layer below the paper-y skin). If it looks a little wrinkly or soft, I would recommend removing it for best taste.
This next step is optional, but it does help create a steady base to keep your onion from rolling around. It gives you more control with your knife (and safety!). Cut a small sliver off one side to create a flat base.
Then you will lie that flat side face down on the board. Begin to make slices, with your knife in the same direction as you had it when you sliced off the stem ends.
Choose your desired thickness, and start slicing carefully, all the way back until you have a bunch of slices.
Once everything is sliced up, use your hands to separate out the layers of the onion slices into rings like this.
Read more: How to pan fry trout fillet
If you need an onion ring recipe, this one looks great: Onion ring recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen.
How to cut an onion into strips
This is how I cut an onion for fajitas and for making caramelized onion. These would also be great for stir frying. Why? It creates pieces of a (somewhat) similar size, which makes it more likely to cooking evenly.👌🏻So, here is how I cut an onion into strips.
First, cut off both the stem ends, as shown in the onion ring tutorial above. Next, sit the onion on one of those flat sides you just cut off. This gives it a steady base.
Take your knife and cut straight down, right down the middle, from one stem end to the other as shown below.
Next, remove the skins.
Then lay one of the halves, center side down. Position your knife with the tip at one stem end, and the base at the other. You want to cut slices with your knife cutting from one stem end to the other, like this.
Your end slices may look a bit thick. Here is what I do to remedy that and get them similar in size to the other slices. Just flip it over, flat side down, and cut into 2 or 3 equal parts.
Since you cut with the layer, you are left with strips like this. Just use your hands (and/ or a spoon) to separate out the layers.
How to dice an onion
Alrighty! Diced onion steps will look very similar for the following as well: minced and chopped. So if you are looking to mince an onion, use these same steps with a smaller cut.
For chopping, use these same steps with wider cuts.
First, remove one stem end of the onion. I always leave on the pointiest end because it makes a great little handle to hold onto.😜
Turn the flat side you just cut off down on the board, and cut the onion in half, from one stem end to the other.
Remove the papery skin, and if desired, remove the first layer beneath that. If it is wrinkly or sketchy, just go ahead and remove it.
Lay the large flat side down on the board, with the pointy side toward the side of your non dominant hand (the one not holding the knife – I am right handed, so left is my non dominant). Place your non dominant hand on top. Take your knife and cut sideways like this.
Depending on the size of your onion, you may want to do a second sideways cut, like this.
Your cuts should be somewhat evenly spaced. For the photos show here, I eyeballed my horizontal cuts into thirds.
After you have your horizontal cuts, turn the onion on the board so it has that pointy end opposite of you. Then use your knife to cut rows from one stem end to the other stem end, taking the knife straight down. As you will see below, I leave a little space and stop cutting, just before the pointy stem end. This gives me a little safety margin and leaves that stem “handle” intact!
Next, I gently turn the onion 90 degrees, with the pointy stem on the left (my non dominant hand). Gently squeeze the onion with that non dominant hand, while making careful cuts with the knife facing the same direction as when you cut off the stem end. The onion cubes will start to fall off.
Keep cutting all the way back until you reach that pointy stem end.
When you reach a spot where you are getting close to the end, you may start to notice that making steady cuts gets more difficult. You have options here. First, you can just toss that piece, or save it in the freezer to make either vegetable stock or chicken bone broth.
Or, you can do the following optional steps to get the most diced onion. Just tip that last piece over onto the board. This gives it more of a steady base to work with.
Just slice a bit off the top, and use your knife to cut perpendicular cuts across, if needed, to cube that piece. Then you can flip the remaining piece back up how it was standing before. Now you have a flat top to cut from, which is much easier.
I can usually slice another row or two, depending on the size of my onion, and the length of its stem. Then you are left with only a tiny piece to discard.
How to slice an onion (half rings)
This is my least used onion cut, but I figured it was work mentioning. Everybody’s onion needs and preferences are different! So I wanted to give you all the options.
So how is this cut used? Some people use this cut in fajitas. I prefer the strips, as shown above. This cut also works well for sandwiches and burgers, as well as salads. It all depends on your preference!
Alright, here is how I slice onion into half rings. First, repeat the following steps from the dicing section above: cutting off one stem end, sitting the onion on that flat cut side, cutting it in half, and removing the skins. Place the onion with the large flat side down, with the pointy side toward your non dominant hand.
Finally, make slices with your knife cutting in the same direction as when you cut the stem off. Keep cutting all the way back until you reach the stem end. Discard the end.
Onion cutting shortcuts worth mentioning
Although cutting onions is pretty easy, sometimes your just need a shortcut! Or maybe you want to know how to cut an onion without crying.😜
- Pre cut onions – I have taken advantage of these many times! At the grocery stores around here, they are usually in or near the produce section. I have also seen frozen diced onion in the freezer section at our Publix. These were a Godsend after my children were born. Sounds silly, but just that little bit of extra help made it more manageable to get dinner on the table. I usually keep a bag of these in my freezer for emergencies.
- Manual quick chopper – I have one from Pampered chef, and I linked to a similar one on Amazon. I have not personally used this one, but I trust the OXO brand, and I love everything else I have bought from them.
- Vitamix – If you have a Vitamix, you can chop onions in it! Here is a dry chopping tutorial for the Vitamix. Here is a wet chopping method where you add water, and then drain it off.
- Food processor – you can use your food processor to chop, dice or mince onion. The only down side to this is that sometimes you end up with uneven sized pieces. And it is very easy to over process and get almost like an onion smoothie. 😜
How to cut an onion 4 ways
Below is a printer friendly version of this tutorial, without pictures. Did you try my onion cutting instructions? Be sure and give it a star rating if this was helpful to you. And don’t forget to stay connected on social media!
Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter