How to chop onions without crying

March 31, 2017

At Food & Home Entertaining, we’ve set ourselves up for the ultimate task: cutting onions without shedding a tear! An impossible task in the books of many, but something that had to be done, for the sake of science, of course!

How to chop an onion without crying
Imka Webb, our digital editor, was the brave soldier who took on this battle.

Here’s how to chop onions without crying:

I used normal white onions for this experiment and gave each method a rating out of 5 for effectiveness. In order to get a 5-onion rating, everything should have been smooth sailing i.e. no tears shed and no stinging. For a 0-onion rating, tears had to stream down my face.

Method 1: Freezing – place in freezer for about 30 mins before chopping

Rumour has it that before you cut the onion, you should place it in the fridge for 30 minutes before chopping. Apparently, doing this stops the onion from releasing its tear-inducing chemicals.

Did it work? Yes. It was virtually pain-free. No tears, and very, very mild stinging when I finished chopping the onion.

Suggestion: Do not leave the onion in the freezer for too long as it could go completely hard and become nearly impossible to chop.

Effectiveness rating:

How to chop onions without crying rating

Method 2: Chopping the onion under water

For this method, I chopped the onion under running water in my sink. The water will apparently help to move the vapours away from your eyes, which will cause fewer tears and less stinging.

Did it work? Not really. This was the most annoying method in the history of onion chopping hacks! The water causes the onion pieces to float all over the kitchen sink, and it did sting a little. No tears from the onion chopping, but definitely a few tears from frustration.

Effectiveness rating:

How to chop onions without crying


Method 3: Wearing swimming goggles – apparently fool-proof

Have you ever heard of goggles specifically designed to stop your eyes from tearing while chopping onions? Neither have I, but apparently these magical goggles exists somewhere in the world. Having no time to waste tracking down a pair, I simply used swimming goggles.

Did it work? Yes, it did. No tears, no stinging. But not convenient at all! It’s an extreme way to chop onions, and you definitely look like a bit of a fool.

Effectiveness rating:

How to chop onions without crying


 Method 4: Run a fan nearby (supposedly blows away the compounds)

For this method, I turned on our household fan right next to where I was chopping the onions, running the risk of having onion pieces fly everywhere. I also switched on the vent right above the stove to absorb some of the tear-causing compounds.

Did it work? Kind of. After chopping 1 whole onion, I could feel a mild sting. It wasn’t strong enough to stop me on my chopping mission, but it was enough to have me leave the area for a few minutes before returning to continue the experiment.

Effectiveness rating:

How to chop onions without crying

Method 5: Cutting the onion close to a burning flame, such as a candle

I’ve seen this recommendation all over the internet so I had to include it in our experiment. Before chopping the onions, I lit my favourite candle right next to the chopping board.

Did it work? Not at all. I couldn’t even chop half the onion before having to leave the area. Tears were streaming down my face AND the stinging was unbearable. On the upside, the kitchen smelt great!

Effectiveness rating: 0


What I’ve learnt:

One simply cannot cut onions without crying. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic. Basically, if you’re willing to look like a fool or run the risk of leaving your onions in the freezer for too long, then there are definitely some ways you can chop an onion without crying.


If you have sensitive eyes and hate chopping onions, then I suggest going to your nearest Food Lover’s Market and buying already chopped onions (or use the frozen chopped onions from McCain) and spare yourself all the drama!

P.S. Take a look at how Gordon Ramsey chops onions:

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