How to Peel an Onion

By Charlotte King

If you’re looking for ways to make peeling onions easier, then this blog post is for you! Many different methods can be used to peel an onion. This blog post will discuss some of these methods, some tips as well as cover some common mistakes made when trying to peel an onion.

Different methods can be used to peel an onion. However, there is no “one size fits all” method when it comes to it. The best way will depend on what suits the individual and their preference.

In this post, we will go over 4 methods that you can use to peel onions.

  1. Using the slice and peel method
  2. Using water to peel an onion
  3. Using heat to peel an onion
  4. Using the microwave to peel an onion

How to Choose the Right Onions

Choose the Right Onions

When you are choosing onions to use for a recipe, it is important to ensure you pick the right one.

You can tell if the onion is good by knocking on the root end with your knuckles and listening for a hollow sound. If there isn’t any sort of ring or reverberation from doing this, then onion is probably bad.

Also, if some green sprouts are coming from the neck of the onion then you need to put it back as this means that your onion has been kept in storage for too long and the usable part inside has reduced.

If an onion is soft or squishy at all when pressed with your fingers, it is most like bad.

To pick the best possible onions, you should always check the date on your onion bag from the grocery store before you are making a purchase. After buying, if you don’t plan on using the onions immediately, be sure to store them in a cool and dark place, ideally between 40 to 45°F.

Method #1 The Slice and Peel Method

What you need

  • Cutting Board
  • Chef’s knife

How to peel the onion

  1. Your onion has two ends – the top end and the root end. So you need to start by cutting the top off the onion.
  2. This, in turn, will give you a base that you can place on your cutting board.
  3. Next, use your knife and slice your onion in half vertically.
  4. Now that you have two halves, you can peel them by pulling the skin from the cut top end to the root.
  5. Try to peel just the paper-like skin, but if you find it too hard to peel you can peel off the first layer as well.

Tips on peeling onions

Tip #1: In this method, make sure you are keeping the root intact. The root is what helps you in keeping the onion together and also makes chopping the onion easier.

Tip #2: Be sure, that you are using a sharp knife. Where using a dull knife can cause you to accidentally lose grip and hurt yourself, a sharp knife will make cutting easy by sinking easily into what you are cutting.

Method #2 Using Water to Peel an Onion

What you need

  • Chef’s Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Water source/bowl of water

How to peel the onion

  1. Start by cutting off the top of your onion.
  2. Next, place your onion on the cutting board using the cut side as its base and slice it into two halves vertically using your knife.
  3. For the next step, you have two choices. You can either use a stream of water for the peeling process or you can use a bowl of water, whichever is convenient.
  4. If you choose to use the stream of water approach, you can hold each half of your onion under the stream. How does this work? The root end holds onto the soil, so it’s more stubborn than the rest of the onion! Therefore, when you put it under running water, everything washes away except for that white root!
  5. On the other hand, if you choose to use a bowl of water, you will need to soak your onion halves in the water for at least 15-20 minutes so that the skin loosens from the onion and you can then easily pull it away.

Method #3 Using Heat to Peel an Onion

Using Heat to Peel an Onion

What you need

  • Pan for heating the onions
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting Board

How to peel the onion

  1. Start by placing your pan on the stovetop and turning on the heat.
  2. While your pan is heating up, prepare the onion by first cutting the top off.
  3. Next, place the onion on the cutting board, use the cut section as its base and slice it vertically into halves.
  4. Then, place the cut halves onto your hot pan, skin side down for a few minutes. This will loosen the skin of the onions and you will be able to easily peel them.

Tips on peeling onions

Tip #1: Be careful when you are handling the hot pan and hot onion skins. Use gloves to make it easier.

Method #4 Using a Microwave to Peel an Onion

What you need

  • Microwave

How to peel the onion

  1. Simply place your onions in the microwave and microwave them for approximately 20-30 seconds.
  2. This causes the skin of the onions to loosen and you can easily peel them and use them as you require.
  3. Microwaving onions is not an exact science. So, the time required for the skins to loosen sufficiently might vary from microwave to microwave and also on your quantity. It’s safer to start with a quick 10-second blast in the microwave, check the progress, and move from there.

Common Mistakes Made When Peeling Onions

Peeling using a knife – Do not peel the onions using a knife unless you are really proficient with it. You might end up accidentally cutting your finger or nails. Instead, make use of any of the above methods and peel your onions safely.

Cutting off both ends of the onion – This might seem like a good idea at first glance but this can actually make it harder for you to peel your onions. Cutting both ends of the onion causes the layers of the onion to separate which, in turn, makes it harder for you to handle the onions for peeling and then chopping.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to peel an onion

How to peel onions without crying?

Onions contain a chemical compound that is released when we cut into them. This chemical compound is what causes our eyes to water. Using a sharp knife that makes precise cuts causes less amount of the compound to spread into the air. You can also try chilling the onions in the refrigerator for an hour or soaking the onions in water for 10-15 minutes before you peel or chop into them.

How to store onions after peeling?

Once your onions are peeled, you can store them in the refrigerator in an air-tight container to prevent food contamination. Make sure that your refrigerator temperature is set to 40°F or less. Your peeled onions must be consumed within 10-12 days.

Can you eat onion peels?

Onion peels actually have a lot of nutrient value and can be consumed. However, you might not like the texture or the taste of onion peels. However, you can incorporate them into your stocks and soups. Just remember to take them out after boiling for some time.

What is the black stuff on onions?

The black sooty substance found on onions is a kind of mold called Aspergillus niger. It can occur both when your onions are still in the fields or after harvesting. The sooty substance is found on the outer layers of the skin and is mostly harmless. As long as the onions are mildly affected and are still firm to the touch, you can peel the onions and wash them thoroughly before use. If your onions feel soft to touch, discard them.


Peeling Onions

So there you have it! We have shared several ways to peel your onions along with some helpful tips. Go ahead and give them a try to see which one works best for you!

You can use these skinned onions for your recipes or you can even try canning them! Check out our ultimate guide to canning onions!

Affiliate Disclosure

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site.

Read More