Preventing Tears When Chopping Onions

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Cutting onions releases an irritant that makes us tear up or cry. This is a page about preventing tears when chopping onions.


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The tears from slicing onions can be so annoying. These tears are caused by releasing the gasses from the onion when it is cut and them making their way up to your eyes. Stop these gasses in their tracks just by sprinkling a bit of salt on your onion before chopping away. The salt dissolves the sulphur in the vapors. It also helps to use a sharp knife on a refrigerated onion, as less of the irritating enzymes will be released into the air. Happy chopping!


  • onion
  • salt
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September 23, 2010

Onions have been a part of my cooking for 50 years, and I'm still amazed at those who cannot cut one up without getting runny eyes. Here is how I avoid that.


Top and tail the onion without removing the outer skin. Halve it top to bottom, and place each half cut side down. One half at a time, remove the skin and chop or slice the onion, still "cut side" down. That's all. Doing that will avoid streaming eyes almost entirely. Mine have been free of it for many years.

By John from Queensland, Australia

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Before slicing or chopping an onion, put it in the freezer for about 45 minutes. It won't burn your eyes since the liquid will be partially frozen!

Source: my mom

By shirley felts from Tallassee, TN

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I have no idea why this works, just that it does. When chopping onions, hold a wooden spoon in your mouth and you never have painful, teary eyes.


By Soochatty from Middletown, DE

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August 30, 2010

To peel onions without tears, soak onions in water for 2 minutes and peel. Process by chopping some and slicing the rest in the food processor. Then store in separate air tight containers in the refrigerator. Use as needed.

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March 14, 2008

Fed up with the tears when cutting up onions? Put your cutting board on the stove (while the burners were off, of course) and turn on the range's vent fan. Now you can chop your onions tear-free!

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October 8, 2018

Squirting lemon juice before cutting onions is a good way to reduce tears. This page is about using lemon juice to reduce onion tears.

Lemon, onion and kitchen knife on a wooden board

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May 15, 2017

Onions produce a chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. This substance causes the common eye watering we experience when cutting onion.


There are some ways to help keep this from happening. This is a page about cut onions wearing swimming goggles.

A man wearing swimming goggles while cutting an onion.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

September 23, 2010

Keep onions in the refrigerator for 4 days to stop tears when slicing onions. This is a tried and true tip.

Source: From a friend, Ena

By Heather from Australia

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December 16, 2009

I love cooking and cook all the time, often with either onions (red preferred, but using any often) or garlic. My complaint (and question in one) is how do I keep from shedding tears when cutting onions (and sometimes really strong garlic)? It wouldn't be so bad if the tears weren't falling fast (sometimes) and the burning that follows. Help. Please.


By Jane from Washington, DC


Slicing Onions Without Tears

I'd love to have the answer to this one too. Can't find a thing that will work. Tried the wooden spoon thing too with no luck. Someone told me to put a wooden match in my mouth while cutting onions. The kind of long wooden match like you use to light a gas stove; not the kind to light cigarettes with. No luck.

There are two more suggestions below that I haven't tried and hope they will work. I do know how to get onion and garlic smells off your hands though. Just run your hands under cold running water and rub a stainless steel spood around your hands. You probably have heard this one before!

I'm going to monitor your question and see who comes up with more solutions. Good luck to you. (10/14/2009)

By metroplex

Slicing Onions Without Tears


I've always done what Sonya does (in the archives below) and that is to rinse really well under cold water before cutting, and I also peel them thoroughly and cut the ends off before rinsing. It's a very, very rare onion that brings me to tears after that ;-) I've never had problems with garlic but I don't see why that wouldn't work with them as well because both are in the allium family. Hope this helps and I hope you let us know what you think after you try it. (10/15/2009)

By Deeli

Slicing Onions Without Tears

I was watching TV, some cooking channel, and the chef said to cut the bottom of the onion off first, this lets the gas escape and no more tears! It works! Haven't had a problem since. (10/15/2009)

By Louise snyder

Slicing Onions Without Tears

Hi, If you put your onions or garlic in the freezer before you have to do your slicing you don't get the smell! It works for me! (10/15/2009)

By Candace Johnson

Slicing Onions Without Tears

If you cut the onions with your arms out in front of you, instead of working over the stuff you are chopping and breathe with your mouth, not your nose. I did try a wooden spoon between my teeth, it seemed to work. I just do it fast with the window open and don't breathe through my nose. It's the fumes getting into the nose that cause the problems. When you use a wooden spoon, you tend to breathe around your teeth and not through your nose. (10/15/2009)

By christine M. Thayer

Slicing Onions Without Tears

Number One: keep them refrigerated in the crisper

Number Two: Cut off the top and bottom,peel outer skin off, cut them in half lengthwise, turn both cut surfaces down on your cutting board so that only the smooth round skin side is facing you.Now,hold one half down on the cutting board with one hand and slice lengthwise in strips almost all the way to the root end,holding slices together,then and only then do you slice across the ridges.Repeat with the other half.

This causes all the oils to be released down into the onion, with the least friction;therefore,less irritants are released to go up your nose and in your eyes. (10/15/2009)

By Gloria Hayes

Slicing Onions Without Tears

I have tried everything possible thing known to man. Then I read somewhere to buy a pair of water goggles or use your kid's and don them while chopping! It works great! Just hope nobody comes to your house unexpectedly or they will think you are off your rocker! No, seriously, I tried the all of the suggestions above and none worked till the goggles. (10/16/2009)

By Elaine

Slicing Onions Without Tears

A chef told me not to cut through the root end, it works for me! (10/16/2009)

By lesley

Slicing Onions Without Tears

I am planning on buying a food chopper like the one on this website. I have seen these at Big Lots for around $10.00 or less, so I will probably get it there rather than ordering online. I think the online bad thing is that you still have to cut it up enough to get it in the chopper and peel it. My strategy is to keep my hands away from my face, but it doesn't always work because onions can be very pungent. (10/17/2009)

By Barbara Pope

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October 14, 2009

When you are cutting onions, simply keep your mouth closed. Don't talk; and try not to breathe in too heavily.

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