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The One Hack For Cutting Onions, According to an Expert

When you think about the science, it makes perfect sense!

Cooking with onions truly is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they add an incredible amount of flavor to everything from meats and sandwiches to soups, stews, and salads. On the other hand, they bring literal tears to your eyes. Quick science lesson: this is because when you cut into an onion, it releases gaseous sulfur compounds into the air that then irritates your peepers. The good news is? There's no need to cry. Experts have figured out a foolproof onion cutting hack that can help you to have a far more pleasant—and tear-free—experience. (Related: 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make)

Vegan chef and wellness expert Leslie Durso shared her top tip for cutting onions without crying in a YouTube video, and it couldn't be simpler: just move your cutting board next to the flame on a gas stove (or a candle if your stove is electric). FYI, this also happens to be one of Martha Stewart's go-to tactics. There are a couple of possible explanations as to why this works. One is that the sulfur in the flame can help to burn off some of those irritating compounds in the onions. Another hypothesis is that since the flame feeds off oxygen, they pull the onion's airborne compounds away from your eyes.

If you're going to try this at home, you'll definitely want to heed a few safety tips. As Stewart advises, make sure you have a steady surface where you can cut the onion near the stove, and be careful about moving the cutting board too close to the flame. Also, remember to turn off the burner as soon as you're done.

By the way, Stewart has a few more tricks up her sleeve when it comes to cutting onions. She claims that storing an onion in the fridge or placing it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes before chopping it can help because they release less gas when they're cold. She also recommends holding them under cold running water when peeling them, which can help keep the fumes away from your eyes.

So, next time your recipe calls for onions, be sure to fire up the burner or bust out a scented candle. Hey—if it works for domestic goddess Martha Stewart, it's worth a shot, right?

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Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more about Rebecca
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