Do you cry when you cut an onion? The root of the problem is – well, the root. According to our favorite chef, the secret lies at the bottom of the onion, where the roots lies. The root is the part of the plant that causes our eyes to tear up because it contains sulfur. When the root is cut the enzymes and sulfuric acids that are naturally present combine to produce a gas.  When the gas hits your eyes, it creates a burning and stinging sensation that irritates the sensitive tissue of the eyes. Hence, the tear shedding. Gordon Ramsay reveals the secret how to cut an onion and not shed a tear in the process. Watch and learn.

The trick is to (1) not cut the root at all to prevent releasing the sulfur, or (2) cut out the root entirely by cutting off the bottom of the onion into a cone shape that includes the root and discard. Either way, you’ll be able to chop away without crying crocodile tears.

Chef Ramsay is not the only one who knows how to cut an onion without shedding a tear. Some tried and true methods are:

  • cut the onion under a vent by your stove
  • wear a pair of goggles, (believe it or not they actually sell special goggles just for this purposes at kitchen specialty stores, but swimming goggles work fine too)
  • freeze the onion
  • store the onion in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
  • soak the onion in water for at least fifteen minutes
  • cut under running water
  • wipe your knife with lemon juice before cutting the onion
  • chop the onion in a food processor to contain the gases (when you remove the lid, either turn your face away or turn on a fan)
  • keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nose

There are some strange old wives tales to prevent crying when cutting an onion. Maybe they’ll work for you, maybe not. They are:

  • stick a piece of white bread in your mouth
  • light a candle before chopping
  • cut while holding your tongue at the roof of your mouth
  • cut while chewing gum

Onions add flavor to stir fries, soups, sauces and many other dishes, so I love to add them to almost any flavorful dish, tears or no tears.