Chopping onions without tears

Cutting onions makes me weep like a teenaged girl watching Titanic, and has left me onion-scented until tomorrow. But I didn't like Titanic and I don't like stinking and I really don't like crying.

To defeat onion stink and tears, I've tried all the common suggestions:

• Put the onions in the fridge or freezer for a while before chopping (which actually helps, but not much).

• Set up a fan, blowing the onion odor away from your face (also helpful, but also not much).

• Chop onions under running water (what a mess).

• Hold a burning match in your mouth (I didn't actually try this, because it's stupid and I'm not).

After all that research and more, I've found a three-step process that gets onions chopped without making your eyes water, and without leaving you smelling of onions:


Start by purchasing goggles, but emphatically not the "onion goggles" sold on-line. Most of those are cheaply made, fit poorly, and some actually have "air holes" that let the onion scent into your eyes, by design.

Instead, buy genuine chemistry goggles, same as Walter White used on Breaking Bad. They're reasonably priced, ever-so-slightly flexible so the goggles fit snug against your face, and effectively airtight if worn correctly. Good goggles greatly reduce the eyeball irritation of chopping onions.


To keep tears to a minimum, you want to keep chopping time to a minimum. I've used power choppers and food processors, but with a moment's inattention they'll turn onions into mulch. I've had better success with manually-powered "as seen on TV"-style devices that chop onions efficiently, to the size I prefer, and get the task completed quickly.

I've used three such devices, but this one is the best, in my opinion, because the onion hopper is noticeably larger than similar choppers. That extra space makes it less likely that onions will get caught above the blades, or between the blades and the hopper walls, jamming the device, so it never leaves big chunks unchopped. I've had this beaut for two months, chopped 15-20 onions so far, and had no jams.

Before chopping: Sadly, you do have to quarter normal-sized onions before dropping them into the chop-hopper, so wear your goggles.

After chopping: Don't let the device sit and dry afterwards; that leads to difficult scrubbing. If you simply rinse the device straightaway after chopping, clean-up is easy as pie baked by someone else.


After chopping onions, your hands are going to stink of onions, no matter how well you wash with soap and hot water. My last but least-known recommendation is what I call "onion soap."

It's actually stainless steel, shaped like a bar of soap, and you use it just like a bar of soap — simply wash your hands with water and the stainless steel soap, and your hands will smell like skin instead of onions. It also works great against the stink of garlic, fish, poop that's somehow on your hands, or whatever else you've handled.

I don't know why or how it works. I only know that it works, and that the onion soap never runs out of whatever weird physics it's powered by. I've been using the same bar of onion soap for, just guessing, fifteen years.


I have chopped thousands of onions in my life. At restaurants, we had a big presser machine that did most of the work. At home I've used knives big and small, and stupid gizmos powered by electricity, or powered by me pulling a string. I've also bought store-chopped onions (way too expensive) and frozen chopped onions (way too mushy and watery) and dehydrated onions (good flavor, but zero crunch). See, I don't cook much and I don't cook good, but I do add onions to just about everything I prep — hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, eggs, tuna, frozen food, and food from Burger King.

So I'm not just some bozo babbling about this crap. I'm a bozo who's battled onions and onion stink for a long, long time, and if you ask me (though of course, you didn't) the stink of onions has been defeated, by goggles, a chopper, and stainless steel soap.



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