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Radial Onion Dice

Radial onion dice cut is one of the more common chopping techniques for onions. There is more than one way to dice an onion. The technique that works best is the one the feels most natural to your hands. For me, as for many, that technique is the radial onion dice cut.

Radial Onion Dice: Onion with the root side up and stem on board ready for that radial cut

I use the classic straight up and down cut also, but the radial onion dice has a more natural feel for my hands. The radial cut is the first cut to start the dice. For the first slice, the knife is at about a 20 degree angle to the board and forms a slice that looks like a wedge.

A very sharp knife is key here for getting good results and a sharp knife is less likely to slip and cause an accidental hand cut. It also gives a nice clean cut. A clean cut reduces the amount of gas and liquid released from cutting so your eyes may not tear up as much if you are sensitive to that sulfuric acid that is produced.

Some grocery stores will sharpen knives for free or for a nominal charge. Some knife sharpeners may set up a stand at Farmers Markets. Local hardware stores and kitchen supply stores sometimes offer a knife sharpening service. The cost is usually based on the knife length. It is well worth it to invest in a quality knife and keep your knives sharp. It makes food prep so much easier and more fun.

Radial Onion Dice: Onion with the root side up and stem on board ready for that radial cut

Radial Onion Dice Cut

Radial onion dice cut is one of the more common chopping techniques for onions. This technique makes for nice even size onion pieces.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Tools Used in this Recipe

  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Chef Knife
  • 1 Pastry Scraper (optional to pick up and transfer diced onion)

Instructions

  • Cut the root side off leaving some of the root intact to hold the onion together as you begin the cuts.
    01 Cut the root end off leaving enough root to hold the onion together while cutting
  • Cut the stem side off, about 1/4 inch, to give a flat surface. Remove the outer layer if it feels soft.
    02 Cut the stem side off of the onion
  • Place the flat side on the board and cut the onion in half vertically.
    03 Place the onion with the largest flat side on the board
  • Peel off the papery skin.
    04 Peel off the outer papery layers of the onion
  • Lay the flat side of the halved onion on the board and begin the radial cuts making 1/4in wedges. At this point don’t cut all the way through the root. The knife should be at about a 20 degree angle from the board for the first slice, at about a 40 degree or so for the second and so on. It will be about 8–10 radial wedge cuts depending on the size of the onion.
    05 Cut in 1/8–1/2in wedges, the radial cut, on one side and continue to the other
  • For a smaller dice cut though horizontally top to bottom about 3 rows.
    06 For smaller dice cut horizontally through the onion
  • Now slice vertically from top to bottom until the knife is about 3/4in from the root of the onion. Curl your fingers under such that your knuckles rub the side of the knife keeping your fingers safe. The root end piece can be cut further as shown in the video above or set aside for use in making vegetable stock later.
    07 Cut vertically though the onion
  • This should be fine for most dishes, but if smaller dice is wanted continue chopping on the board.
    08 Continue chopping if a smaller dice is desired
  • Time to scoop up those onion pieces and transfer to your pan. The pastry cutter makes a great scooping tool for diced onions and other vegetables.
    09 Transfer the radial diced onion to the pan

Video

Notes

Generally the longer your dish is cooked the larger the onion dice. If you want the onion pieces to disappear in the dish, cut a small dice (1/4in  / 6mm) or less.
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