We’ve seen countless hacks for cutting onions without crying, but a new trick making the rounds on social media definitely wins as the easiest (and surprisingly most effective) way to avoid tears.
It comes from a TikTok user who kindly shared her “onion wisdom.” She claims there is an acid that gets released while cutting onions which also happens to be attracted to moisture. It therefore zeros in on the closest source: our tear ducts. To fix this problem, she recommends putting a damp paper towel on the cutting board to re-route those tear-causing fumes while you slice.
Although I couldn’t find anything to verify the science behind this, I wanted to give it a try. However, the idea of getting pieces of wet paper towel in my food didn’t exactly appeal to me. So, I tested it with a little twist: I placed a slightly wet kitchen rag next to my cutting board before chopping, as you can see below.
I really wasn’t sure if this was going to work — but it totally did! Yellow onions usually make me cry more than any other kind, but I didn’t shed a single tear. I could just barely feel the beginnings of that sting hit my eyes, but it never got even close to the point of my floodgates opening.
To make sure I didn’t just happen to have a mild onion, I moved the rag away and continued cutting. Sure enough, the sting immediately got worse and my eyes welled right up per usual. After taking a small break to let my eyes recover, I put the towel back near my board and finished the prep without any more waterworks.
This will definitely replace my previous go-to technique of putting onions in the freezer before slicing. Although that does work, it’s nice to have something that keeps tears at bay without also freezing my fingers.