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How to make Caramelized Onions that are sweet, velvety, and full of amazing caramelly goodness. Bursting with umami, they will incredibly elevate your food. Easy to make with a little time and just three ingredients. With a Video.
Patience is not sitting and waiting. It is foreseeing. It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose, looking at the night and seeing the day. Lovers are patient and know that the moon needs time to become full. ~Rumi
This recipe for Caramelized Onions requires few ingredients, the right pan, and a little patience. Oh my goodness…it is so worth it!
Onions are pretty incredible in general. Coaxing the natural sugars out by slowly cooking in a skillet transforms them into a beautiful velvety sweet enhancer of almost all food. This is a good process to do while you are in the kitchen prepping other meals.
Caramelized onions are really simple to make. The hardest part is just keeping an eye on them and stirring every so often. I think you will be very happy you did.
How to Caramelize Onions| 60-Sec Video
How to use Caramelized Onions
- Caramelized onions add magic to sandwiches, burgers and wraps.
- Enhance mashed potatoes, soups, and salads.
- Elevate salad dressings and dips.
- Add to pasta dishes for deeper, richer flavor.
Expert Tips for the Best Caramelized Onions
- Use cast iron or carbon steel pan to allow for the best caramelization. Avoid using a non-stick pan, this can prolong the process and can inhibit caramelization.
- Slice no thinner than 1/8 inch thick to keep moisture in and prevent burning. This ensures proper extraction of the sugars.
- Slice with the grain, not against the grain for the tenderest onions.
- Resist turning the heat up. Cooking more slowly will coax more flavor and natural sweetness out of your onions, it takes time for the natural sugars in the onions to caramelize- it is so worth it.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. they will take longer and not cook as evenly. 2 onions in a 10″. Sometimes I have 2 pans going at once or use a larger pan, with more surface area to do more.
What you’ll need to caramelize onions
How to make Caramelized Onions
Slice onions 1/8 ” -1/4″ thick. No thinner, this keeps moisture in and prevents onions from burning.
How to cut the onions: Slice the ends off the onions. Stand onion on the cut side and slice in half and peel the outer skin off. Place the halved onion cut side down and slice into 1/8-1/4 inch slices, as close to the same size as possible for even cooking.
Be sure to slice with the grain not against the grain, for the tenderest onions.
Heat pan on medium-high. When the pan is hot, add onions stirring a few times- cook this way, without oil, for 5 minutes.
Add olive oil and salt. Stirring for a minute to fully incorporate. Turn heat down to medium-low.
Stir every 5-10 minutes for about 40 minutes to an hour.
The onions should be caramel in color, smell amazing, and be greatly reduced. Deglaze the pan by adding a little water and scrape the pan to get the stuck crusty browned bits off of the pan. This is known as fond and is bursting with flavor. Don’t skip this step!
How long does it take for onions to caramelize?
Using a cast iron pan or carbon steel pan and not overcrowding, the whole process from slicing to cooking takes about 1 hour.
Is it better to caramelize onions in butter or oil?
Whatever you prefer- both butter and oil work great. Ghee is lovely too.
How do you cut onions to caramelize them?
Slice the ends off the onions. Stand onion on the cut side and slice in half and peel the outer skin off. Place the halved onion cut side down and slice into 1/8-1/4 inch slices. The important key is to not slice too thin. This keeps moisture in and prevents onions from burning and ensures ultimate extraction of the sugars.
Do you need sugar to caramelize onions?
No you do not! Surprisingly onions contain a fair amount of natural sugars. Cooking them slowly coaxes out the onion sugar. As the natural sugar melts, the onions caramelize. Patience will yield the rich sweet goodness in a way that is far superior to adding sugar.
Can you caramelize onions in a nonstick pan?
We don’t recommend it. It can prolong the process and prevent the onions from browning and fully caramelizing.
Are caramelized onions healthy?
While raw vegetables are always going to hold more nutrients, caramelized onions are still full of fiber and low in fat and calories.
Can you freeze caramelized onions?
Yes! For easy access freeze in small portions. An ice cube tray works well for this.
How to elevate caramelized onions
Use balsamic vinegar or red wine instead of water to deglaze.
Recipes that use Caramelized Onions
- Breakfast Strata with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Goat cheese & Thyme
- Cheddar Scones with Caramelized Onions
- Instant Pot Mujadara
- French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 1 cup 1x
- Category: how to
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: american
- Diet: Vegan
How to Caramelize Onions- sweet, velvety, and full of amazing caramelly goodness. Bursting with umami, they will incredibly elevate your food. Easy to make with a little time and just three ingredients.
- Heat a 10″ cast iron or carbon steel pan on medium high.
- When pan is hot, add onions stirring a few times- cook this way, without oil, for 5 minutes.
- Add olive oil and salt. Stirring for a minute to fully incorporate. Turn heat down to medium-low.
- Stir every 5-10 minutes for 30 minutes.
- The onions should be a dark caramel color, smell amazing and be greatly reduced. Deglaze the pan by adding 1 tablespoon of water and scrape the pan to get the stuck crusty browned bits off the pan. This is known as fond and is bursting with flavor. Don’t skip this step!
How to slice the onion: Slice the ends off the onions. Stand onion on the cut side and slice in half. place the halved onion cut side down and slice into 1/8-1/4 inch slices, slicing with the grain.
Refrigerate: Store in refrigerator for 5 days in a sealed container.
Freeze: For easy access freeze in small portions. An ice cube tray works well for this.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 61
- Sugar: 2.3 g
- Sodium: 389.8 mg
- Fat: 4.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 5 g
- Fiber: 0.9 g
- Protein: 0.6 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: caramelized onions, how to caramelize onions
I’ve been trying to cartelize onions for years trying a number of different techniques, but never being very successful at it. This recipe is so simple and works great. The onions are superb when prepared this way.Thank you so much.
That goes for me too!! Excellent recipe!
These are the best, no question, no contest! Great in quiche, scrambled eggs, on hamburgers…everything. 💗💗💗
Yes Ellen! Love how you are using them!
These are by far the most spectacularly good caramelized onions I have ever made! Thanks for the tip re: cutting with the grain – that makes so much of a difference! Also, starting the onions without oil was something new too. I’ve served these to friends and they loved them too. Thanks Sylvia! Love your blog!
Thanks so much Laura, so glad you are enjoying!
Finally understand the process and the time required to do this properly. Cheers…
Glad this was useful information Michael!
I used the fond to saute porcini mushrooms, and put both on toast with goat cheese. Absolutely delicious!
ooooo…I’m salivating! 😋
I once “accidentally” caramelized onions and my husband loved it. Now I understand how it happened and can finally make them for him again. Thanks Sylvia!
Ha…that’s great Mary! Happy caramelizing!