The most frequently asked cooking question I get is how to dice an onion. Sure, you could just keep randomly chopping until you get a mishmosh of various shapes and sizes, slightly reminiscent of something a small child could do, but why keep playing that guessing game when there is a much more efficient way?
I know, I know….what’s the big deal? While there are certainly times when more “rustic cuts” will suffice, there are just as many times when you need more evenly sized cuts that require the same amount of cooking time. If you cook with pieces of various sizes, the smaller cuts will be done cooking before the larger ones will, leaving you with raw veggies in that pot of Grandma’s famous vegetable soup… ain’t nobody gonna like that.
There are also times when you just need those teeny-tiny onion bits, say for guacamole, pico de gallo, mango salsa, etc., and this method is the quickest and easiest way to achieve them.
How to Dice an Onion
Step 1: Cut the hairy root thingy off the bottom, but leave enough of the root intact to keep the onion from falling apart (this will make sense later).
Step 2: Cut off the top paper, funnel-looking part, about ½ inch into the onion.
Step 3: Think of the onion as a globe. You’re going to slice through the prime meridian (that’s the vertical one). Use the root as a starting point, and slice right through the middle.
Step 4: Peel back the paper and first layer. Discard.
Step 5: Starting with one half, flat side down, use your knife to cut long slits into the onion. The slits should run from what used to be the top on the onion almost all the way back to the root (which should be holding the onion together now). The slits should be evenly spaced and the desired width of the finished cut.
Step 6: Now turn your knife perpendicular to the slits, aiming for the same width. Using a forward pushing motion with your knife, slice across the slits, creating a fine dice.
How to Slice an Onion
This cut is used for caramelized onions, French onion soup, various slaws, etc.
Step 1: Repeat Steps 1-4, but this time you can cut the same amount off from the root as the top
Step 2: Make the same vertical strip cuts, but this time cut all the way through to the back. Work your way from one side of the onion to the other, tilting your knife and cutting on a diagonal when necessary.