Cutting Onions: This is How it Works without Tears

Even if we love the complex and versatile vegetable, it brings tears to our eyes. We’ll tell you how to cut onions without crying.

Whether steamed until translucent, fried golden brown, or used as raw rings in salads – onions are versatile in the kitchen and an essential part of countless recipes. The vegetable refines both hearty home cooking and upscale gastronomy dishes and is therefore loved by amateur cooks and gourmets alike. Not least because of this, the onion is also one of the best-known and most frequently used types of vegetables in our region. But how can you cut onions without crying? We will tell you below.

But something worth knowing first: In addition to the aroma and taste, which varies from sweet and mild to savory and strong, depending on the variety and method of preparation, the healing properties of the onion are also appreciated. The multi-layered storage organ is full of valuable ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, and secondary plant substances. These are beneficial for digestion and at the same time inhibit unwanted intestinal bacteria. In addition, regular consumption of onions is said to have a positive effect on the heart and circulation. The onion is also a popular remedy as an antagonist to bacteria or viruses and is therefore often used for colds or inflammation. The onion sac for earache is a well-known and frequently used home remedy.

How to cut onions without crying?

Various tricks can help not to cry when chopping onions. Use a sharp knife, cut the vegetables under running water, or pre-wet all utensils. Safety goggles can also serve the purpose. To protect itself from predators, the onion secretes a natural irritant gas. These are two substances that come together when you cut them open: the odorless, sulfur-containing amino acid alliin and the enzyme called alliinase, which is located inside the cell. They make us cry.

Why do you cry when cutting onions?

Even if the onion tastes good and is good for your health in several ways, the preparation is often simply to cry. This is because the enzymes that are released react with sulfur-containing compounds and rise as gas, which has an irritating effect on the mucous membranes when peeling, but especially when cutting, and thus presses on the tear duct. As a protective reaction to this, it makes our eyes water. But with these ten tips and tricks, you won’t have to shed any more tears when cutting onions. The best thing to do is to try out which of the tricks works best for you.

Top 10 Tricks: What Really Helps When Cutting Onions?


  1. Working underwater. If you peel and cut the onion under the running tap or in a bowl filled with water, the natural irritant gases cannot rise thanks to the liquid. Alternatively, you can soak the peeled onion in water for about ten minutes before slicing. However, the aroma can fall a little short with this trick.
  2. Moisten utensils. If you don’t want the onion to take a bath, you can wet the kitchen utensils used instead. If the chopping board and knife blade are wet, some of the irritating onion gases get stuck on them, so to speak.
  3. Keep your mouth watering. With a sip of water in your mouth, while chopping onions, tears also stay away. Why this trick works so well is not entirely clear.
  4. Use a sharp knife when cutting onions. On the other hand, it is easy to understand why this trick helps: A sharp blade slides better through the vegetables and damages fewer cells so that smaller amounts of the irritating substances are released.
  5. Open the window. When the kitchen window is open, the sulfurous substances that make us cry can quickly escape to the outside. Alternatively, you can switch the extractor hood to the highest level.
  6. Put on safety goggles. Sounds weird and it looks like it, but it’s true! With goggles on your nose, your eyes are shielded from irritating onion fumes, keeping them tear-free. Diving goggles are particularly fun but effective. But less conspicuous goggles from the hardware store or do-it-yourself supplies also offer protection against tears.
  7. Cut onions while sitting. It helps to sit down while working so that you don’t stand with your face directly over the vegetables and thus over the rising irritants when cutting. The eyes are automatically a little further away and therefore not in the immediate range of the natural tear gas
  8. Breathe through the mouth. Another method is to breathe through your mouth when chopping onions or pinch your nose with a clothespin, for example. Even then you have to cry less or not at all.
  9. Freeze or heat beforehand. If you put onions in the freezer for about half an hour before processing, the production of the irritants is literally paralyzed. Alternatively, you can also heat the onion bulb in the microwave for 30 seconds at 500 watts.
  10. Use proper cutting technique. Since the concentration of the irritant in the root of the onion is particularly high, it should only be cut into small pieces at the very end. Preparation in the food processor is even easier and guaranteed tear-free. But only if you don’t inhale when you open the lid.

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