How to make Caramelized Onions in the most delicious way possible. These 5 easy but crucial steps results in sweet and sticky caramelized onions every single time!
There’s really not enough kind words I can say about our dear friend caramelized onion. So sweet, sticky and rich, it’s the perfect side serving to, well, literally anything! And that includes a large dessert spoon straight from the jar as well by the way. The best thing? Caramelized onions are the EASIEST things to make.
So easy in fact, that for a basic batch of caramelized onions all you need is a pan and some oil.
Onions cooked on low heat over time release sugar, which in turn caramelizes. Sounds great right? There’s more.
Through the unimaginable amount of caramelized onions I’ve cooked up over time, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to truly offer the best caramelized onions recipe. Here I offer a short but sweet guide on how to get the most incredibly caramelized onions every single time.
How to make Caramelized Onions – 5 Easy Steps
1. Begin by evenly slicing your onions. This is important to ensure they cook at an even time. I normally use 1kg (2.2lbs) of onion to make a big batch, which can be sealed in the fridge for several days or frozen for longer. Lastly, make sure you have a large, non-stick & flat bottom pan. The bigger the surface area of the pan, the more onions get direct heat, which increases their chances of caramelizing and not steaming.
2. Melt butter into your pan. Slow cooking in butter gives the onions a gorgeously rich flavour. A lot of people use olive oil because it’s got a higher smoking point, but I find that as long as your pan is non-stick and you’re cooking low and slow you won’t have a problem. Stir in your onions until fully coated.
3. Once the onions are fully coated and begin to soften, add in your seasoning. I add in salt, pepper and a couple sprigs of thyme. Thyme is optional but it does add a beautiful blast of aroma the the onions. At this point turn your heat to low. Cooking low and slow is the aim of the game. After around 10 mins your onions should look like the photo below. Translucent, wonderfully fragrant and almost fully soft.
4. Around 25-30mins into the process of cooking on low heat and stirring occasionally, your onions will begin to turn golden and caramelized, looking like the photo below. At this point add in brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Adding balsamic vinegar to the caramelized onions helps balance out the sweetness with a little hit of acidity. It’s also great in deglazing the bottom of the pan where there’s heaps of flavour. The brown sugar will help along with the caramelization process.
5. After a further 20-25 mins after adding your brown sugar and balsamic vinegar your onions should be finished and look something similar to below.
Recipes using Caramelized Onions
Now you’ve got your caramelized onions ready and waiting, what to do with them? Apart from using them as a centerpiece of a cheese board (photo at beginning of post), here’s a few other personal favs of mine.
Chuck ’em in a grilled cheese
Add them to a salad
Use them as a burger filling
All in all, there’s a few common mistakes to avoid when making the best caramelized onions. Aim for a large non-stick pan, cook over low and give the onions plenty of time. A few tricks to really enhance these onions is to add butter for a heavenly rich flavour and balsamic vinegar to balance out the sweetness and deglaze the pan. Finally add thyme to really take these caramelized onion to the next level.
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How to make Caramelized Onions (Full Recipe)
' How to make Caramelized Onions in the most delicious way possible. These 5 easy but crucial steps results in sweet and sticky caramelized onions every single time'
- 2.2 lbs (1kg) White Onions, sliced
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme (optional)
Melt your Butter over low heat into a suitably sized non-stick pan and mix in your onion slices. Once fully coated, stir in your Salt, Pepper and Thyme.
Stir occasionally ensuring an even cook for all the slices. After around 20-25 mins they will begin turning brown and releasing sugar. At this point add in your Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar. Keep on low heat.
Cook for a further 25-30mins, stirring occasionally until dark brown and sticky. Eat hot or store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week.
a) Timings will depend on the type/size of pan and amount/age of onions. But as long as you're cooking low and slow then you won't go wrong.
b) This recipe will make around 2 cups of Caramelized Onion. Nutritional guidance is based on 1/4 cup i.e 8 servings.
These Homemade Caramelized Onions would fit perfectly in a Grilled Cheese!