Dicing an onion is a basic skill, but not everyone knows how to quickly achieve a uniform dice. Here’s how to dice up an onion quickly with no fuss.
Some recipes call for a rough chop rather than a uniform dice; did you know they are technically two different types of cuts? No worries if you didn’t, we’ll show you the difference below.
Chopping means cutting something in similarly sized pieces, while dicing involves cutting something (like an onion) into uniform pieces. A diced ingredient will typically take on a small cube-like shape.
So next time a recipe calls for chopping something up, don’t worry too much about appearance. When a recipe calls for dicing, that’s where precision matters, but not only for appearance.
The evenly cut and sized pieces will make or break the texture and how the meal all-around comes together.
If you want to get a little more technical, you can look at the three main dice sizes:
- Fine Dice: (Also called a brunoise dice) measures about 1/16 of an inch is sized just right for risotto and rice.
- Small Dice: Measures about 1/4 of an inch and is great for soups and chowders.
- Medium: Measures about 1/2 of an inch and is sized perfectly for hearty stews.
- Large: Measures about 3/4 of an inch and fits in dishes that simmer for several hours.
Here’s how it’s done:
Slice the stem end of the onion off, leaving the opposite end (called the root end) on. Keeping the root side on does two things. It helps keep the onion intact when you slice and prevents the onion from bleeding and you from crying.
Cut the onion in half, then peel back the first layer.
Make evenly spaced vertical slices in your onion, coming as close as you can to the root but without slicing through it.
Carefully run your sharp chef’s knife sideways to make a few horizontal slices.
Hold the onion with your fingers curled inward, and start making even spaced slices. Watch as the uniform pieces fall onto your cutting board.
Look at that nice dice; now you have to give it a try!
If this motivates you to practice those knife skills, you might end up with an overabundance of diced onions. Lucky for you, diced or chopped onions (and a few other veggies) freeze really well.