How to cut an onion without crying

June 6, 2023

Onions are an essential ingredient in many dishes, but we think you’ll agree they can be quite challenging to handle. One of the most common problems people face when cutting onions is that it makes them cry. The reason for this is that onions contain a volatile compound called syn-propanethial-S-oxide, which is released when the onion is cut. When this compound comes in contact with your eyes, it causes them to water.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to cut an onion without crying. Let’s explore some of the best methods.

  1. Chill the onion: Put the onion in the fridge for 30 minutes before cutting. This will slow down the release of the volatile compound and reduce the amount that gets into the air.
  2. Cut under running water: Cutting an onion under running water can help to wash away the syn-propanethial-S-oxide before it reaches your eyes. Be sure to use a sharp knife to avoid crushing the onion and releasing more of the compound.
  3. Light a candle: Lighting a candle near your cutting board can help to burn off the volatile compound before it reaches your eyes.
  4. Wear glasses or goggles: Wearing glasses or a pair of swimming goggles can protect your eyes from the compound.
  5. Cut the root last: The root of the onion contains the highest concentration of the volatile compound, so leaving it intact until the last minute can reduce the amount that gets released.

Cutting onions doesn't have to be an eye watering experience. By using one of these methods or a combination of them, you can slice your tasty New Zealand grown onions without crying and enjoy the delicious flavour they add to your meals.