I hate cutting onions.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the end product—I’ll eat caramelized onions on just about anything, and pickled onions are an all-time favorite garnish. The road to get there, however, is reliably frustrating. I’ve tried the bowl of water trick; I’ve burned candles, too, to try to clear the air of that signature eye-watering smell. One particularly desperate time, I wore sunglasses as a makeshift replacement for onion goggles. But, alas, no Internet hack has ever truly succeeded in protecting my eyes, and I've often had to take a break mid-cut while I wait for the tears and stinging to subside. Coupled with the peeling process, chopping onions is easily at the top of my dreaded kitchen tasks list. Or at least it was, until my mom introduced me to her trusty food chopper.
Not to be confused with the Slap Chop slicer you see on TV, the Pampered Chef’s food chopper is one of my most valuable kitchen tools. It has a plunger on top connected to a rotating, zig zag-shaped stainless steel blade below—with a few quick slaps, a hunk of onion is reduced to a fine dice in seconds, no cutting (or crying) required. You still have to peel the onion, and slice it into halves or quarters beforehand so it can fit into the confines of the tool. But the burning, pungent dicing process that would normally follow? Pampered Chef has you covered—not to mention, the forceful slapping that makes the chopper work is pretty cathartic. The more you slap, the finer the chop. It’s that simple. Plus, thanks to the clear wall that surrounds the chopper and the flexible cap on the bottom, it minimizes the mess, keeping your prepped items contained until you’re finished and ready to use them. The chopper is available for purchase on the Pampered Chef's site and amazon.
To buy: The Pampered Chef Food Chopper, $37 at amazon.com
Beyond chopping onions, this tool works well with nuts—say, if you’re making homemade brownies with pecans—and is helpful when you’re preparing mirepoix (diced onions, celery, and carrots) as a base for a sauce or stew. Although I’m comfortable cutting garlic with a chef’s knife, I’ll often turn to the food chopper when I’m in a hurry and need a fine dice; I’ve also (probably inadvisedly) used the chopper to quickly cut up fresh herbs, since I don’t always have the patience to chiffonade. Some might call it lazy cooking. But to me, saving time and cooking with clear, unirritated eyes is well worth it.