I Tested and Ranked the Best Ways to Cut Onions Without Crying


You know that feeling when you finish watching First Wives Club and your girlfriend walks in out of nowhere, and you tell her you were only crying because you were chopping onions, and then she asks you where the onions are and you tell her you have to go return some video tapes, and then you leave your house and never come back?

Um, yeah, me neither. But for those who do regularly employ this excuse, I have some bad news: it's possible to slice an onion without releasing the peeper-irritating sulfuric acid (propanethial S-oxide).

There are plenty of myths, legends, and old wives' tales out there about how to cease the flow of onion-induced tears, so I tried 'em all -- using a white, yellow, and red onion -- to determine the best ways to keep tears locked deep, deep inside the recesses of my soul, like a real man. I did a controlled test first, without any preventative measures, and spoiler alert: it stung the shit out of my eyes.

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11. Holding a piece of bread in your mouth

How is it supposed to work?: Put a piece of bread in your mouth. That's it. 
Did it actually work?: No, dude. It obviously did not work.

10. Microwaving onions before cutting

How is it supposed to work?: You nuke the onions before you cut them -- you can even cut the ends off for added effect (more on that later). The radioactive waves draw out and weaken the harmful acids.
Did it actually work?: Everyone in the office was kind of pissed I made the communal kitchen smell like heated raw onion. And no, it didn't work.

9. Holding your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and breathing through your mouth while cutting

How is it supposed to work: It's dumb. You look dumb doing it. And weirdly, it’s harder than it seems to cut, hold, and avoid breathing through your nostrils at the same time. Legend has it, breathing through your mouth and not your nose will draw in the sulfur before it hits your eyes. I'm calling bullshit.
Did it actually work?: Nope!

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

8. Cutting the onion close to a burning flame

How is it supposed to work?: The open fire (I suggest a small candle, for obvious reasons) is supposed to draw the fumes away from your retinas and into the heat. 
Did it actually work?: No. Not at all. And now the entire kitchen smells like patchouli.

7. Covering your knife in lemon juice before cutting

How is it supposed to work?: The lemon juice -- a powerful, natural odor absorber -- sucks up all the nasty sulfur before it hits your peepers. 
Did it actually work?: Nah. Though it did remind me of all the times my mom made me Pledge the entire hardwood floor of our dining room. Which brought me to tears, but in a different way. 

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

6. Cutting off the base of the onion and throwing it away

How is it supposed to work?: People think the base of the onion is ground zero for sulfur in the onion, and by chopping that off and discarding it first, you can avoid the crying.
Did it actually work?: People also think Mark Zuckerberg will personally give you millions if you share a stupid status.

5. Chewing gum

How is it supposed to work?: This, like the tongue-on-the-roof-of-your-mouth thing, is designed to encourage you to breathe out of your mouth while you chop. Do people not breathe through their mouths when they chew gum? 
Did it actually work?: Not really, as I ended up breathing through my nose most of the time, out of instinct. Chewing gum did not inspire me to suck air through my mouth... but maybe that’s just me. At least my breath smelled like spearmint. 

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

4. Running the onion under water while cutting

How is it supposed to work?: Run the onion under water (hot, cold, lukewarm -- the choice is yours), and chop it in the sink. The prevailing theory is that the water washes off some of the sulfuric compounds that cause you to tear up, and redirects some of the cry-inducing vapors. Another, similar, method is soaking your onion in water before cutting.
Did it actually work?: Kind of. But maybe I was just keeping my head further away from the chopping, because the onion was down in the sink. It definitely made the job more difficult. And more slippery. 

3. Wearing goggles

How is it supposed to work?: This is so damn stupid, you could actually make an argument that it's the most clever thing on this list.
Did it actually work?: Obviously sealing your eyes will prevent any irritation. But is it worth donning full scuba gear indoors? Maybe, but probably not. 

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

2. Freezing the onion

How is it supposed to work?: Subjecting your cebolla to Arctic temperatures retards the release of the semi-toxic chemicals.
Did it actually work?: Holy smokes. It actually... worked? Science wins this round.

1. Cutting under a kitchen vent/fan

How is it supposed to work?: The oven vent hoovers the sulfur-laced air into the great beyond, and away from your eyeballs.
Does it actually work?: Yeah! It did! Combine this method with a frozen onion, and save your tears for the next time Drake drops a single.

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He loves a good cry. Follow him: @wilfulton.