How to Mince an Onion


Indian food uses a lot of onions.  Learning to mince an onion is a pretty key skill and something worth mastering – not only so you can control the size of the onion pieces more effectively than a blender, but it also helps improve knife skills overall.  Here’s how I do it.

Start by cutting the top off your onion with a sharp knife

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Then, slice down the middle

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Peel off the outer layer of skin and any soft layers of white. Keep the root intact

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Start by making horizontal slices from the head towards the root. Don’t go all the way through the onion.

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The more horizontal slices you make, the thinner the mince – 2 slices (to make 3 segments) is usually plenty.

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Next, make vertical slices from the root towards the head. Try to hold the onion together as best you can. Again, the thinner the slices, the finer the mince.

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Finally, slice down the onion (while holding the onion together). Once again, The finer the slices, the thinner the mince.

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Point your fingers straight down and slide the blade down your knuckles – this ensures the onion stays together and you don’t lose a finger.

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Some people ask me how you can avoid crying whilst chopping onions – my answer: You Don’t! You suck it up, like a man – that onion died for your gastronomic pleasure, so the least you can do is shed a tear or two. In seriousness, much of the juice is in the root, so avoid cutting that bit – you can use goggles (if you’re that worried) or cook in a well ventilated room, which will help disperse the onion juice. Other tips include chewing a peppermint (not sure about this one) or having a pot of steaming water in the room that can help absorb the juices.  Cooling the onions is also said to help, so stick them in the fridge for a bit before cutting them. Unfortunately, you don’t get used to it – I was my mum’s onion cutter when I was a kid and I still cry.

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Finally, make any chops you want to make the mince finer.

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Ta da, minced onion. Practice, practice, practice – the better your knife skills, the finer your onion will get. Start by doing 1 horizontal cut, 3 vertical cuts and then slicing the onion. Then add more slices into the mix to get finer and finer.

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6 responses to “How to Mince an Onion

  1. Very helpful – thanks. For dishes like murgh makhani that require a runny sauce, my approach is to chop the onions rough as guts – it’s quicker. Then after cooking (combined with the spices and other ingredients), & blend. Cheeky, but it works.

    • Exactly how I do it (except I remove some of the harder spices, like cinnamon and cardamom shells that don’t blend very well) – if you’re going for the creamy/smooth sauce, then a moderately minced onion is fine…but it’s a great skill to practice, anyway!

  2. For chopping onions try putting the chopping board on the stove (not turned on of course) and turn on the extractor fans. It’s not 100% effective but it definitely takes most of the vapor away

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