Would You Buy No-Tear Onions?

Food scientists have bred non-GMO onions, called Sunions, that won’t make you cry when you cut them. These no-tears onions are hitting store shelves now.

I am one of those people who has a really hard time cutting onions without crying. It’s so bad, that when I teach cooking classes I always bring my onion pre-cut in a sealed container and explain to my students that I can’t cut onions while teaching, because I have to run out of the room too often. So color me intrigued when I received a press release about Sunions—a hybrid onion created to be tear-free.

Food scientists have bred non-GMO onions, called Sunions, that won't make you cry when you cut them. These no-tears onions are hitting store shelves now.

The compound that causes us to weep when we cut into an onion—lachrymatory-factor synthase (LF) – is a natural defense mechanism. LF isn’t just irritating to humans, which is what makes it effective at deterring pests. To breed Sunions, scientists at Bayer tested onions for LF and selected ones lowest in the chemical.

You may worry that this makes these onions less pest-resistant, which would mean more pesticides in the field, but the Sunions actually do contain LF before harvesting. Bayer’s senior crop sales manager Lyndon Johnson explained in an interview with NPR that they mellow in storage.

Sunion Test Run

According to a press release I received from Sunions, it took 30 years of cross-breeding to produce their no-tears onions, and they’re now available at grocery stores in seven states across the U.S., including one just a couple of miles from my house.

I headed straight out to buy a bag, to see if these onions live up to their hype.

A three pound bag of Sunions cost about $5 at my local Atlanta grocery store. The Sunions look like Vidalia onions, and they smell similar to a Vidalia when you cut into them. As advertised, they didn’t irritate my eyes like onions normally do.

The taste was milder than the sweet onions I’m used to—Sunions definitely have less bite than conventional onions. I think that the mild flavor would work best in salads. To test their taste after cooking, I sauteed these up with a little bit of olive oil on medium-high heat. They get sweeter with cooking but are a little on the bland side otherwise.

How to Cut an Onion without Crying

Whether you can’t find Sunions at the store or don’t want to give Bayer any of your money, there are methods you can use to cut a regular ol’ onion without crying.

Care2′s Katie Waldeck shares an easy way to do this, and it’s much better than my old “chop for 30 seconds, run away, come back, repeat” method. This method actually still makes me cry sometimes, but it’s also a faster, less messy and more uniform way to chop an onion. Definitely give it a whirl!

Related at Care2

All images via Sunions.


Elaine W
Elaine W19 days ago

I would not pay a higher price.

Amanda M
Amanda M19 days ago

They actually make goggles to protect your eyes from the oils in onions. I wish I'd known about those when I was working at a pizza shop in the mall 18 years ago. One or two onions I can handle, but try dicing up 20 or so pounds of the things! I always spent the next little while with my face under the dishwashing spigot until my eyes and I were back on speaking terms again. Same story when I'm putting them up for winter in the freezer nowadays-OUCH.

Cathy B
Cathy B20 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

Rita Odessa
Rita Odessa20 days ago

No thanks not interested in frankenfood. I just run the onion and my knife under cold water if the tears start to come, works every time.

Winn A
Winn Adams20 days ago


Winn A
Winn Adams20 days ago


Paulo R
Paulo R20 days ago

no i wouldn't.

Debbi W
Debbi W21 days ago

I do not eat GMO foods. I like Vidalia onions for somethings and red for others. Reds are milder but have a good taste. The first few times I cut up onions I cried even after I had finished, then I learned learned how to cut them and haven't really cried with them since.

Johan M
Johan M21 days ago

Onions should make you tear up - it doesn't feel natural otherwise.

Jetana A
Jetana A21 days ago

These being developed by Bayer makes me less interested than I would be otherwise. I can't be anywhere someone is cutting or frying onions.