Every home cook must face the task of cutting an onion. Mastering the art of cutting onions can significantly elevate your culinary skills and dish presentations. This guide will explore some essential methods of how to cut an onion, including how to quarter an onion, how to cut an onion into strips, how to dice an onion, and how to cut an onion into rings to help you better master different cutting techniques for culinary success.

How to Choose an Onion?

Selecting the right onion is the first step toward mastering your cutting techniques. Different types of onions are suited for various culinary uses, each bringing unique flavors and characteristics to your dishes.

Types of Onions:

  • Yellow Onions: Yellow onions have a robust flavor that mellows and sweetens when cooked, making them ideal for caramelizing and adding to dishes like French onion soup. 
  • White Onions: Ideal for raw applications like fresh salsas and guacamole, white onions typically offer milder and sweeter flavor than yellow onions.
  • Red Onions: Great for grilling and pickling, their mild flavor and vibrant color make them perfect for fresh uses.
  • Sweet Onions: Sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, are excellent for dishes where you want a less pungent onion taste.
How to Quarter an Onion?

Understanding the characteristics of different types of onions can help you choose the ideal variety for your culinary needs. When choosing onions, look for those that are firm and have shiny and unblemished skins. A good onion will have no soft spots or sprouts. 

What are the Essential Tools for Cutting Onions?

Having the right tools can make all the difference when it comes to cutting onions effectively and safely. Here’s what you need:

  1. Chef's Knife: This is the primary tool for all onion-cutting techniques. A sharp chef's knife allows for precise cuts and helps minimize the release of tear-inducing compounds​​. For those who prefer an alternative, a Nakiri knife can also be a suitable choice. Its flat blade is excellent for vegetable chopping, including onions.
  2. Cutting Board: A stable, non-slip cutting board can ensure safety and easy cutting.

How to Quarter an Onion?

Quartering an onion is a common preparation method for roasting, adding to stews, or enhancing the flavor of broths. This technique involves cutting the onion into four equal parts, ensuring even cooking and easy handling.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Trim the Ends: Use the chef knife to trim off both ends of the onion. You can also leave the root end partially intact to hold the layers together.
  2. Peel the Onion: Remove the onion's papery outer skin. If the first layer underneath the skin is tough or damaged, peel it off to reach the fresh layers.
  3. Halve the Onion: Place the onion on the stable cutting board. With the root end facing away from you, cut the onion in half lengthwise through the root. 
  4. Quarter the Onion: Lay each half cut-side down on the cutting board. With your chef knife, make a vertical cut through the middle of each half, creating four equal quarters. 
How to Quarter an Onion?

How to Cut an Onion into Strips?

Cutting an onion into strips is ideal for dishes like fajitas, stir-fries, and caramelized onions. This method ensures that the pieces are of similar size, allowing for even cooking.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Trim the Ends: Use the chef's knife to cut off both the stem and root ends of the onion. This provides a stable base for cutting.
  2. Halve the Onion: Place the onion on one of its flat sides and cut it in half from top to bottom. This gives you two stable halves to work with.
  3. Peel the Onion: Remove the outer papery skin from both halves. If necessary, peel off any additional tough layers.
  4. Cut into StripsLay one half of the onion flat-side down on the cutting board. Position your chef's knife with the tip at one stem end and the base at the other. Slice straight down from one stem end to the other, creating even strips. If the end slices are too thick, flip them flat-side down and cut them into 2 or 3 equal parts to match the size of the other slices.
  5. Separate the Layers: Use your hands or a spoon to separate the onion layers into individual strips.
How to Cut an Onion into Strips?

How to Dice an Onion?

Dicing onions into uniform cubes is essential for many recipes like soups, stews, and sauces. The key to perfect dicing is maintaining even cuts to ensure uniform cooking.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Halve the Onion: This time, do not trim the ends first, as they can hold the onion together. Cut the onion in half from top to bottom. 
  2. Peel the Onion: Remove the outer skin and any tough layers beneath.
  3. Make Vertical Cuts: Place one half of the onion flat-side down on the cutting board. Starting from the stem end, make vertical cuts towards the root end with your chef knife. The spacing between these cuts will determine the size of the dice.
  4. Make Horizontal Cuts: Turn the onion 90 degrees and make horizontal cuts with your chef's knife. This step will create small cubes due to the onion’s natural layers.
How to Dice an Onion?

How to Cut an Onion into Rings?

Cutting an onion into rings is perfect for topping burgers or adding to salads. Achieving uniform rings requires a sharp chef's knife and precise steps.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Remove the Ends: Use the chef's knife to cut off both the root and stem ends of the onion. 
  2. Peel the Onion: Remove the outer papery skin of the onion. If necessary, peel off the first layer to reach the fresh inner layers.
  3. Create a Flat Base: Cut a small piece from one side of the onion to create a flat surface. This helps keep the onion stable on the cutting board.
  4. Slice into Rings: Place the onion on its flat side. Holding the onion firmly, use your chef's knife to slice it horizontally into rings. The thickness of the slices should match your recipe requirements.
  5. Separate the Rings: Gently separate the individual rings with your fingers. If some rings stick together, a gentle push will do the trick.
How to Cut an Onion into Rings?

Best Knives to Cut an Onion

The choice of knife greatly impacts the ease and precision of cutting onions. Both chef knives and Nakiri knives can excel in onion preparation. Here are recommendations for a perfect knife.


The Gyuto chef's knife of the Shogun series is expertly crafted from durable Damascus steel, making it a versatile and reliable kitchen tool. Its precision edge can help you cut onions with ease. There is also a beautiful hammered finish on it, making it more stylish.


This 8-inch Japanese stainless steel kitchen knife combines traditional craftsmanship with modern innovation. Featuring a scalpel-sharp edge and ergonomic rosewood handle, it can ensure comfort and balance during prolonged use to prepare onions.


This Nakiri knife of the Shogun series is made of premium Damascus steel, designed for ultimate precision in vegetable preparation. Its thin and flat blade is perfect for clean, straight cuts without crushing the onions.


This Nakiri knife of the Samurai Series features a high-carbon stainless steel blade that maintains an incredibly sharp edge. Its thin and lightweight design is perfect for preparing onions.


Mastering how to cut an onion can make the process easier and enhance your overall cooking experience. From choosing the right onion to using the perfect chef's knife, every step contributes to your culinary success. Whether you want to cut your onions into quarters, strips, cubes, or rings, practice makes perfect. Grab your chef's knife or Nakiri knife to transform your dishes with beautifully cut onions today. Happy cooking!

Edward Thompson
Hello, my name is Edward Thompson and I'm a writer who loves Japanese food and culture. I went to a great cooking school in New York and have been to Japan several times to learn more about Japanese cooking and knife culture. I know all about Japanese knives, from their history and how they're made to how to use them.