How to Cut an Onion [video lesson]

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My book club read The Sharper Your Knife and we all loved it. So I got a copy of The Kitchen Counter Cooking School and I was so inspired, I went ahead and got the chef’s knife from block set we received as a wedding gift 11 years ago sharpened for the first time! I’ve read through your description on how to cut an onion, but I think I’m doing something wrong. Do you have any photos of this process online anywhere? Heather C., Houston

Kathleen says: Ah, it warms my heart to hear about people getting their knives out in the kitchen. As it happens, I have a video we made last summer in which I demonstrate basic knife skills, including the way the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu showed me how to chop an onion. You can also go to the cooking lessons page for a free video on knife skills from

About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry,” “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School” and “Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good.” All are published by Viking/Penguin.


  1. Kathleen, I have read both your books, but the Kitchen Counter Cooking School was just great. Your book answers a lot of questions that young people should be asking, and I will be giving your book as gifts. I am in my 70’s and I have cooked a lot. Lately, cooking has not been that interesting to me. Your book was a wonderful jump start. I have eaten down my refrigerator , and I am eating down my freezer. My knife skills were never up to par, and I am cutting little squares all the same size and shape. A co mother-in-law, also in her 70’s bought the book, and she loves it. She is cutting too.

    • Kathleen Flinn says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words. I’ve been talking to some people about setting up some kind of trial programs to help teach older teens how to cook. My niece Sarah is in college and she said it’s striking how different people she knows who are her age eat based on their culinary skills. (She’s 20). Sarah is a good cook and she makes most of her food from scratch and she’s a remarkably healthy eater. Her friends who “can’t” cook end up eating a lot of fast food and frozen dinners. But once she’s taught one of them a few basic techniques – using a knife, learning to make a simple pasta dish or an omelette – it can often have a big impact.

      • Thanks for answering my comment. I think there is a huge need for teaching young people to cook. I did not teach my daughters because it was easier to do it myself. In hindsight, this was selfish. Cooking, for me, has pretty much been a life long passion*, that did not pass on to my girls. But I think what better survival skills can be taught? When I was much, much younger I thought about teaching girls to cook. But I let a lot of negativity get in the way. What if they don’t like it, how will I keep control of the class, I am not a good teacher. etc. But we are coming to the point that an old crank like me is better than what is being learned at home.

        Keep up with ideas and teaching possibilities.

        *I am currently trying to make ice cream with as little sugar as possible.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Thanks for the video demo – I was confused too.

  3. A problem I always have is everything sticks to the knife. For example, I cut my onion this way, but I have to stop every couple of cuts to wipe off the knife because pieces stick to both sides of the knife and I end up chopping the pieces I already chopped (and don’t necessarily want smaller because then I have uneven sizes). Does this sound crazy? I see all these videos of people racing through cutting onions and such so I must be doing something wrong if all the pieces keep sticking to the knife. (And I always make sure I start with a dry knife.)

    • Kathleen Flinn says:

      There are two options for this. One is get a Santoku knife. The blade has small ridges in the sides which helps with keeping things such as onions from sticking. The other thing is whether your vegetables are cold? Sometimes onions that have been stored in a fridge will be “stickier” because the sugar has condensed differently than when they were stored at room temperature. Let me know on that last one.

      The sharper your knife, the less your food should stick, too.

  4. How would you feel about me sharing your video on my blog too? Especially with a link back to your blog? Mine is Thanks.

  5. Hi Kathleen, I just finished reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School and loved it more than I can say! I tried to cut my onion how you describe and did something wrong so I went to the internet to see if you had a video and sure enough! I simply didn’t make enough cuts after it was cut in half. I’m enjoying your style and am loving your blog! I am American but live in Mozambique and am trying to wait until someone can bring me a real version of your other two books but might need to break down and buy them on kindle! Happy Easter!


  1. […] Here’s a link to a short video where Kathleen shows basic knife sills and the proper way to cut and dice an onion. […]

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