How to Cut an Onion to Keep Its Shape

How to cut an onion ” refers to food videos, while “how to make the perfect cat’s eye” refers to makeup tutorials; both were done to death but people keep clicking because both topics are critical. And you never know when you might learn something new. I thought I was pretty good at cutting and slicing onions until I came across this informative post from the folks at Cook’s Illustrated .

It turns out that the direction in which you cut the onion matters. The more cell walls you damage, the softer the onion will become, especially after cooking:

When you cut these layers, you separate them into small pieces that soften when cooked – perfect for making a smooth soup or sauce. However, when you cut in the direction of the fibers, you preserve their structure. This means that the onion will retain its shape even when cooked for a long time until browned and fragrant, making it ideal for French onion soup or caramelized onions.

It doesn’t matter much if you’re eating onions raw, such as in a hamburger or salad, or melting them into a comforting soup, but if you want to make a delicious soup or stew with prominent onion chunks, you must slice them vertically ( pole to pole).

It is not difficult to do this. Start by cutting off both ends, then cut the bulb in half, pole to pole. If you see concentric circles (rings), then you have cut in the wrong direction. Remove the skin, then cut, following the natural lines of the onion. This will reduce the amount of cellular damage done to the onions, which will help them stay firmer and tastier.

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