Caramelizing onions in the oven?

That’s how I generally make caramelized onions. Knob of butter and a bunch of onion.

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Safer to leave the root on and cut it off once the rest of the slicing is done. Attached at the root, there’s less chance of the knife slipping. Since she thinks 30 minute onions are caramelized, I don’t set much store in her skills.


Sorry no. Unsafe way to cut onions and those are not caramelized onions. Not even close.

Tea towels are one flare-up from a house fire.

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Okay, my bad. Apologies all around.

In retrospect, I included that link to ask about cutting and cooking what I was told was the “feather” cut. What I THINK is the pole to pole, WITH the grain vs, the across the middle, against the grain cut, and when you might want one or the other in a dish, raw or cooked.

Hmm. The terminology “feather” cut is new to me. Google to the rescue! I found this discussion that led to an epiphany. It seems to me that the point is to cut the onion so that the product is all the same size and looks nice for something like a salad.

I did not find anything that discusses the relative merits of cutting longitudinally (“pole to pole”) vice along lines of latitude (laterally). N.B. See how cleverly I slid in a more or less “boaty” bit? grin I’m not convinced onions have grain per se.

For myself, I nearly always cut off the stem, cut the onion in half through the root, peel it, and cut first longitudinally and then laterally to dice (see although M. Pepin cuts the root off and I leave it on) or just laterally for salads, stir fries, pickles, caramelizing, etc. The only variation to that would cut off the stem, peel the whole onion, and carefully cut laterally for onion rings (battered and fried, hamburgers). Care is due since the round onion can roll on the board and you can cut yourself; the “claw” grip is a little weak for holding the onion still and protecting your fingers at the same time.

I can see the appeal of feathering, especially for a red onion to go on a salad. Consistent and attractive appearance. What is not clear to me is how to achieve that in a safe and efficient manner. All those great circle ( cuts make safe knife work difficult. When I get a chance I’ll ask one of my pro chef friends. It’s possible the answer will be “I hate doing those - it’s dangerous.” grin On the other hand perhaps there is a simple and elegant method.

For caramelizing I don’t worry too much about consistency other than for efficiency as by the time onions are caramelized there isn’t much structure left.

It was effective. Probably not the effect you had in mind. I had a nightmare about those decorative tea towels hanging so close to the gas cooktop. Fortunately not a screaming nightmare as those disturb my wife. Very vivid however. Jeepers.

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The pole-to-pole, longitudinal slices, take longer to break down than slices or rings cut parallel to the equator. This is advantageous in caramelizing because it allows deep browning of slices that remain intact. Latitudinal slicing, like stewing the onions or using a deep pot, encourages the onions to be mushy by the time they are truly caramelized. ATK/CI has covered this, but I learned through experience.


That’s news to me Erica and does support @shrinkrap’s comment about grain in onions. If you stumble across links to ATK/CI on the subject I’d like to see them.

Thank you both.

Here’s another mention of feather cutting onion, again for a raw prep.

In the class I took, the flat side of the halved onion was place flat side down, and after each slightly angled cut, you gradually rolled the newly cut side toward the board, so that the edge you were cutting into kept a similar thickness on the outside, and a similar angle toward the middle. We did not remove the center.

Tila calls it lyonnaise.

Here is the ATK story on cutting onions. @greygarious and @Saregama , is this the one you mean?

Must be this one.


Your first link is the same I linked to.

Much happier with knife safety from Tila. Not strictly great circle. I think you get the same consistent effect but letting go on geometry.

The second CI link is interesting. I haven’t found any substantiation. We’re running low on caramelized onion though so I’ll feather some onions (cut longitudinally) vice my normal lateral cuts and see what happens to structural integrity.

Culinary science at HO!

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Oops. I didn’t realize that.

I didn’t cook until carmelized, but “feathered” and sautéed left the pieces a bit unwieldy for neat slices and dainty mouthfuls. In addition to cooking method, mght have been a factor of the size and type of onion.

I am truly a big fan of dainty mouthfuls. It leads to more pleasant dining and easier laundry.


I don’t know about all of that, but husband doesn’t like to have to cut things up on his plate.

I find myself needing to dice onions (usually for subsequent frying or caramelization) more frequently than probably any other kitchen task, and since my knife skills aren’t great, I bought this a few months ago: This has made my life in the kitchen far easier, and I no longer have to deal with the lengthy (for me) process of manually cutting onions, and can now avoid the tearful eye irritation and inevitable periodic finger cuts. The version I have only has the two dicing blades pictured in the foreground.

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I’m with him. The way I put it is that I don’t want to have to fight my food. I don’t mind cutting up a pork chop but somewhere between a chop and a chicken wing I draw the line. Steamed crab and lobster are on the other side of the line. grin My wife just rolls her eyes and mumbles something like “fussy.” Salads certainly since cutting and shredding is done for prep why not obviate the need for cutting up food that was cut too big?

Please tell your husband he is not alone.

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Wow! Including yours, that’s a lotta good ratings!

That’s it. The story behind the paywall is that lengthwise is milder than across the “equator” because of the way the cell walls are breached and aromatics released.

For me it’s more about how they hold up for an application. I like lengthwise for quick pickles because they wilt better when - half moons across maintain their shape, which gets unwieldy. However half/full moons only are served with kababs.

When cooking, I don’t think it matters but CI disagrees. Since I cook in my kitchen, though… :rofl:

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Since this device bears my surname, I looked at the Amazon listing. There are quite a few 1-star reviews for the same reason, which is that the locking button broke off when pushed, causing the user hand to slide onto the blades, which resulted in deep lacerations. So be careful!


Thanks for pointing that out. I can see how that might happen, and I’ll be especially careful when locking it from now on.

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Reporting back with respect to feathering onions, I heard a good bit of:

That comment came from my friends without strong knife skills; not all pros are knife wizards.

One friend demoed for me over WebEx. Conceptually the same as the first video linked but with better hand position and using a knuckle on the claw hand to guide the blade. He reinforced the importance and safety of a really sharp knife.

No one I talked to had heard the word “feather” applied to the cut. They all said it is just an onion julienne.

Since I am uncomfortable with the cut clearly I need more practice.


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