Knife Skills 101: The Onion

Being well versed in the kitchen makes healthy eating easier. Most people know how to use a stove, oven, blender and even a food processor. These are key kitchen tools. But how well do you know how to use your knives? Think about all the time you spend chopping, dicing, coring and julienning vegetables. The better skilled you are with a knife, the faster your prep work. I like to chop up a bunch of veggies early in the week and store in air-tight containers to quickly prepare salads and veggie wraps throughout the week. So the better friends I am with my knives, the quicker the work.

My Favorite Chef's Knife

Years ago I attended a knife skills class at a neighborhood cooking school. It was a quick three-hour workshop and nothing stuck. After the workshop I bought an expensive chef’s knife, went home and continued to chop vegetables like I never attended the class at all. Ten years later I’m still using that same knife. It was a good investment after all, but my knife skills are still nothing to brag about.

But they are getting better because of this book, Knives Cooks Love: Selection. Care. Techniques. Recipes*. Like my boyfriend said “the book paid for itself as soon as we both learned how to properly dice an onion.” I learned this technique in the workshop but completely forgot about it over the years. I have altered the book’s technique because I found an even easier way.

How to Dice an Onion

  1. Chop off the non-root end of the onion to make a flat surface.
  2. Chop the onion in half at the root.
  3. Remove the onion skin.
  4. Taking one piece at a time, use the tip of your knife and make evenly spaced, vertical slices from the root to the middle starting at one side of the onion, making your way to the other side. Take care not to slice through the root end. The root will hold this piece together until you finish dicing.
  5. Next, cut across the onion piece at the same width as the vertical slices to create a dice cut.
  6. Repeat with the other half of the onion.

Voila! You have evenly cut diced onion and neatly done.

Take Care of Your Knives

  • Use the non-sharp edge of the knife to scrape or move food across the cutting board.
  • Keep knives sharp and store in a block or sleeves.

Just like anything else. It takes practice to acquire solid knife skills. It’s worth the effort. You cut your time in the kitchen (pun intended!), the more skilled you become.

Need a little help in the kitchen? Hire me. For more information on private cooking classes, email me at

* Fair warning: This book is NOT vegan. In addition to teaching techniques for chopping veggies, it also illustrates some nasty meat carving techniques. My suggestion: Don’t buy the book. Check it out from your local library instead and keep reading this blog. Stay tuned for more Knife Skills 101 posts.

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