Chop Onions like a Pro--without Shedding a Tear

By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at

Have you ever heard that if you are trying to sell your house you should always bake a batch of cookies right before showing the house to a prospective buyer? Supposedly the smell incites the potential buyer and "sells" the house.

Let me let you in on a secret. Forget the cookies--sauté some onions instead. Walking into a room filled with a cooked onion aroma will put a smile and a "let's stay for supper" into anyone's mind. The beauty of the onion is that the outcomes are endless. Will they go into a spicy vegetarian chili, be layered on top a juicy lean roast beef sandwich, or serve as the star in steaming bowl of French onion soup?

Onions contain potassium, vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin B6. For 1/2 cup serving they provide 1.6 grams of fiber, 1.2 grams of protein, and only 38 calories.

Varieties of Onions:
My favorite is the Vidalia, a Southern onion that is only around for a couple of the months in the summer. You can eat them like an apple they are so sweet.

Red or purple onions also are perfect for raw eating due to their sweetness and add a bonus with the color they add to the dish.

Green onions are also called new/spring onions or scallions. They are perfect in salads, topping bean tostadas, or on a veggie platter.

The smelly one of the family is the yellow onion. These onions are very strong in the raw state but become sweet once cooked.


  • Purchase onions with the papery skin on. That papery skin protects the onions and keeps them fresher longer.

  • Inspect the onions; look for black mold or green growth from the stem. The outer skin should be dry and smooth.

  • Store all onions except for green onions in cool, dry place. Green onions should be refrigerated. Mesh wire baskets work great because the onions will be surrounded by air. If you have an old pair of panty hose around with a run, string whole onions inside one of the legs. Knot at the top of each onion. This will keep them separate and they will last longer.

  • Stronger-flavored onions will keep longer than sweet varieties. A yellow onion will keep for 2 months and red onions an average of 4 weeks.

  • Placing uncut onions in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before chopping will reduce tears. (Wearing glasses can also help!)

  • Red or purple onions to be eaten raw can be immersed in a bowl of ice water for 20 minutes before adding to a dish. This will reduce the sharp taste.

  • When chopping onions, leave the root tip attached. It will act like a paper clip and keep the onion intact.

Want to chop onions like a pro? Check out this video: How to Chop an Onion

SparkPeople Healthy Cooking Expert Meg Galvin is a World Master Chef, culinary instructor, and the author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A farmer's daughter and marathon runner, she lives in northern Kentucky with her husband and three teenage sons.