How to Store a Cut Onion (100% No Smell)

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Onions are a great must-have in every kitchen. It is widely used in a great variety of dishes, may it be soup, salad, omelet, or your main dishes like steak and pasta. Onions add great flavor and texture to your food. Aside from that, you also get a lot of healthy benefits from it because of its antioxidant properties, vitamins, and other compounds being present.

But for some reason, onions are a little bit tricky to handle. It is a common knowledge that onion causes you to tear up as you cut it like it wants you to grieve for their sacrifices to give you tasty dishes. The other thing most of us don’t like is its pungent odor from a raw onion once it is cut and diced up. It is especially annoying when you decide to store it in your fridge and the smell spreads pretty quickly. And before you know it, your milk, your butter and everything else taste like onion too…

Whether it’s for your week’s food prep or you’re going to cook a large batch of food, there will be times that preparing the ingredients beforehand will be helpful. But, if the smell is what’s bothering you, then there’s no need to worry! I’ve found there are three things you can do to contain the odor of the onion in the container. There is also one thing I want you to keep in mind for storing the onions which you can find at the end of the article. Here are the things you can do when you store your pre-cut and diced onions in the fridge.

Use glass containers instead of plastics

My number one tip to contain the smell of the stored onions in your fridge is to keep them in tightly sealed glass jars. Most of the time, you would probably use ziplock bags or plastic food containers for storing your pre-cut onion. But most often, double or triple wrapping the onions with a ziplock bag or placing it in plastic ware is not enough to contain the smell, especially if you plan to keep it for several days. There is something with plastics that absorbs the smell of the onion and spread it to everything and everywhere in your fridge.

Glass mason jar
A glass jar like this can be bought on Amazon, and keeps the onion smell inside the container.

Swap out those plastics with glass jars! It is more likely to contain the smell better without absorbing the pungent smell of the onion, plus it is reusable and easy to clean. You can reuse your empty jars of jam and jelly, or you can buy classy looking mason jars. You can buy it on Amazon or any local department store. It’s quite easy to find. Mason Jars in Amazon is usually bought by packs of two or more. But it’s okay because for sure, you’ll be able to store other food in it or use it in many different ways.

For me, this is the main thing you can do that would contain the smell of onion and keep it from spreading. But there are some other things you can do that are worth mentioning in this article. These are especially helpful if you still use plastic containers to store onions.

Show off your knife skill

The reason why your eyes water and the strong smell that onions give off is because of the chemicals that it releases when cut. When you plan to store your cut onions, your knife skill will definitely come in handy. Make sure that you minimize the damage you make and cut the onion with precision. There should be minimal to no unwanted slices done. Think of it like this: The slices you make are equivalent to the chemicals that cause the smell. Meaning the lesser the cuts, the better the possibility that the smell it produces is reduced.

If cutting down prep time is your goal, you can also have them peeled, and cut them in half or quarter so there’s lesser damage done, and you’ll have a more containable smell. You’ll have to finish it on the time that you’ll be using it, but I’ll be a relatively easier process and you won’t have to deal with the foul smell in your fridge.

Knife getting sharpened on a Whetstone Cutlery knife sharpening block
The Whetstone Cutlery knife sharpening block can be bought on Amazon and keeps your knife sharp and precise when cutting onions.

A good sharp knife will also be very helpful. It is especially true if you have poor knife skills like me. It makes it easier to cut through an onion precisely without creating much damage to it. Sadly, knives tend to go dull and blunt. So a sharpening stone like the Whetstone Cutlery Knife Sharpening Block will come in handy in the future. Purchasing one earlier on will greatly help you in your food prep and cuts down the cost, compared when you constantly buying knives when yours gets dull.

Simply rinse the onions to prevent the smell

After you have your perfectly cut the onions, you can place them under running water for a little while before you put them in the container and store them in your fridge. Rinsing the onions take away the chemicals responsible for the smell. It would greatly reduce the drifting onion-ness in your fridge.

Store it after it has been cut down

This tip is useful when you have halved your onions. It works on quarter ones too, just put together two of the onions side-by-side so the cut part that is exposed to air will be covered. It keeps the chemicals released to be floating in the air and out of the container. I have also found tips that adding water helps but I would advise against it as it would affect the taste of the onion.

Keep the container clean

Again with the chemicals that the onion produces, it usually goes with the juice from the onion, and that juice can go anywhere after cutting. Without knowing, sometimes it has stuck on the outer surface of your container. It’s probably one of the reasons why the smell is still present despite the tightness of the lid. Before storing your container in the fridge, wipe the outer surface with a wet and dry towel. If you’re a little extra, rub on some lemon on it. It makes sure that none of the juices have stuck on your container and an additional reason for the smell that escapes from the container itself.

Mediterranean housewives’ trick

Here’s a little trick that Mediterranean housewives do to keep the smelliness of the onion away. They lightly sprinkle salt on the onion before storing it. Salt acts as a desiccant, removing the water in the onion which also removes a possible medium of the chemicals responsible for the odor to move around. Just make sure to adjust the seasoning of the dish when you use these onions.   

Take note of the shelf life

It’s not a tip to keep away the smell, but it’s a note to keep the onion from rotting in your fridge (which is more disgusting than the smell). Always note the date you have cut and stored the onion. Don’t take a mental note; write it down on the container. Sometimes our minds are tricky, so it’s worth it to make sure you got the day right.  Onions are good if they are stored in sealed containers with a temperature of 40 Fahrenheit and below. It can last for up to seven to ten days. If it goes beyond that, it’s better to throw it away before molds start growing.


Onions have this pungent odor that we don’t want spreading in our fridge and affecting the rest of its contents. The most foolproof method that I have found to work is to use glass jars with tight lids. This is where your used jam and jelly jars come in handy. Mason jars are also useful and are a classy way of storing your food items. I have also laid down other tips that will help reduce the smell greatly. However, there is just no one way of doing things. So feel free to add or take away from what’s mentioned above and see what works for you best.