Q. How can I avoid tears when cutting onions?
A. Blame the sulfur compounds in onions for this common eye irritation. When released by chopping or slicing, these compounds react with enzymes and turn into chemicals that aggravate your eyes, which your lacrimal glands produce tears to wash away.
You can try chilling or even lightly freezing onions before chopping, which reduces the release of irritants. You can even try special “onion goggles,” which you can find in specialty cooking shops and home stores and online.
Another option is to switch your onions. Spring onions and sweet onion varieties such as Vidalia and Maui are lower in pungent sulfur compounds. These onions taste slightly different, however.
Also see 8 Fascinating Facts About Tears.