How to Chop Onions or Shallots

Jan 28, 2012
Christina Cherrier

Learn to Cut an Onion - how to Cut Onions - Chopping Onions - Proper Way to Cut Onions
When you get a little experience in cooking, you will note that many, many recipes include onion as an ingredient. It’s true that onion is a staple ingredient for many cultures around the world, so it’s quite usual to start a recipe by cutting some onions.

Besides making us cry, chopping onions is an operation that many cooking beginners have difficulties in mastering.

In fact, there are many ways to cut onions: diced, minced, ringed, quartered and so on… Depending on the recipe, you must choose the adapted cut because the overall taste and texture of the dish will depend on it.

Generally speaking here are the 3 basic cuts:

Minced: onion is cut very small
Diced: the cut is medium
Chopped: the cut is broad; onion is almost cut in quarters then re-cut once.

So here’s a ticket for beginners in the kitchen about how to chop onions or shallots.

How to cut an onion:

How to Cut an Onion - Best Way to Cut Onions - Chopping Onions - Proper Way to Cut Onions

Peel the onion first. To help yourself, cut a bit of the onion at the top and the bottom as you’ll get a better grip on its brown skin.

How to Cut an Onion - Best Way to Cut Onions - Chopping Onions - Proper Way to Cut Onions
Then cut it in half lengthwise.

Notes:

Avoid any areas of skin, often brown, whose texture is similar to “plastic”, this will be the same texture after cooking and it’s not pleasant in the mouth.
If necessary, remove the sticky film that lies between two sheets or two layers of the bulb; it’s a bit slippery and you risk hurting yourself.

How to Cut an Onion - Best Way to Cut Onions - Chopping Onions - Proper Way to Cut Onions

To avoid any finger cuts, form a “claw” with the hand that maintains the onion. This will prevent you from hurting yourself in case of a bad move: the blade will slide off your fingernails.

Cut the base or “heel” slightly oblique.
Note: this is the heel that holds the layers together.

Cut the onion: make “slices” from top to bottom of a thickness of 1 to 3 mm, depending on the intended use. The layers will detach by themselves.

Learn how to Cut an Onion - how to Cut Onions - Chopping Onions - Proper Way to Cut Onions

Depending on the need, you can have a second run: cut perpendicularly with your knife using a rocking motion and holding the tip of the blade with your palm. You’ll cut accordingly to the needed size.

Uses:

These chopped onions will be useful for many recipes:

  • Quiches, savory tarts
  • Baking potatoes (potato gratin with onions)
  • Sautéed onions for onion soup, for example, or an omelette
  • And for connoisseurs: the Soubise sauce (white sauce, onion, sour cream)

Also Read: How to Make the White Chicken Stock

 

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