How to Caramelize Onions

Caramelizing onions, by slowly cooking them in a little olive oil until they are richly browned, is a wonderful way to pull flavor out of the simplest of ingredients. Onions are naturally sweet; and as caramel comes from the simple cooking of sugar, when you slowly cook onions over an extended period of time, the natural sugars in the onions caramelize, making the result intensely and wonderfully flavorful. You can use onions prepared this way on top of steak, or for onion soup, tarts, pizza, or onion dip. Or you can do what I did with this batch, eat it straight up. What are your favorite dishes to make that use caramelized onions? Please let us know in the comments.

By the way, I put together a time-lapse video of the caramelization process, which you can see at the end of this post. Enjoy!

How to Caramelize Onions

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes

Quantities depend on how much caramelized onions you wish to make. In this example, 5 large raw onions yielded about 2 cups caramelized onions.

Ingredients

  • Several medium or large onions, yellow, white, or red
  • Olive oil
  • Butter (optional)
  • Salt
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Method

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1 Slice off the stem ends of the onions and place them cut side down on the cutting board. Cut them in half through the root end. Peel the onions. Lay them cut side down and make angled cuts into each onion, aimed at the center, cutting almost all the way, but not completely through the root end.  Make the cuts to your desired level of thickness. The root end will help hold the onion together as you cut it, making it easier to cut. Then cut a V in the root end to cut out the tough root holding the slices together.

caramelized-onions-3.jpg caramelized-onions-4.jpg

2 Use a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. Depending on how strong your stovetop burner is you may need to reduce the heat to medium or medium low to prevent the onions from burning or drying out. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and if you want, you can add some sugar to help with the caramelization process. (I add only about a teaspoon of sugar for 5 onions, you can add more.) One trick, by the way, to keeping the onions from drying out as they cook is to add a little water to the pan.

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3 Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn. The trick is to let them alone enough to brown (if you stir them too often, they won't brown), but not so long so that they burn. After the first 20 to 30 minutes you may want to lower the stove temperature a little, and add a little more oil, if you find the onions are verging on burning. A metal spatula will help you scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the caramelization proceeds. As the onions cook down, you may find you need to scrape the pan every minute, instead of every few minutes. Continue to cook and scrape, cook and scrape, until the onions are a rich, browned color. At the end of the cooking process you might want to add a little balsamic vinegar or wine to help deglaze the pan and bring some additional flavor to the onions.

Store refrigerated for several days in an air-tight container.

Here is a time-lapse video I made of the caramelization process, to show how the onions cook down and caramelize over the course of an hour:

caramelized-onions-b.jpg

144 Comments

  1. Bill

    Hi,

    I recently had to caramelize up some onions and tried this trick using a pinch of baking soda to speed things along.

    It worked *great* and you only need a tiny pinch for a couple of onions worth of cooking. Try it sometime :)

    Hi Bill, I tried the baking soda trick last week and found that it foamed up the onions a bit and made them a little mushy. I honestly didn’t see any increase in cooking time and was disappointed as I had heard that it would speed up the process. However, I didn’t add the baking soda until 10 min into the process, so maybe that had something to do with it. The taste was great though. Glad it worked for you. I may try again with fewer onions, or a little more baking soda, and the baking soda put in at the beginning. ~Elise

  2. Adam Hickman

    I appreciate how you cut the onion. It’s nice to see that other people recognize the classic way to cut onions for caramelization, french onion soup, etc… Thanks for the blog, I make it a part of my routine every day.

  3. Suzee

    I love caramelized onion with chopped canadian bacon and american cheese in an omlette! They are also great on pizza with extra sauce, grilled chicken and cheese, or added to lightly sauteed spinach – yummmmm :) I think I like them best next to a pan seared filet finished in the oven with a nice demi glace made from the cabernet I serve with dinner. Now if only I could get caramelized onions to like me as much as I like them :)

  4. PJ

    If I’m not using them for French Onion soup, I like them on roast beef sandwiches, on pizza, in omelettes, and in the middle of grilled cheese sandwiches. (I cut mine crosswise, though.)

  5. Tatiana

    These look just gorgeous! I’ve tried caramelizing onions before using a few different methods (more sugar, honey instead of sugar, no oil and just butter, etc etc) but yours definitely end up looking the prettiest and I like that you explained that they continue to NEED attention throughout the cooking process ;)

    These are definitely going to find their way into a dinner soon!

  6. Kevin H

    I love them on top of a sausage in a bun with some good mustard on top. Just throw the cooked sausage in with the onions at the end to brown it.

  7. Katie

    My favorite way to eat caramelized onions is in a fajita with red & green bell peppers and chicken. Now I’m craving fajitas! I love caramelized onions :)

  8. Anne

    I like caramelized onions very much and use them in so many ways. A favorite is an open face snadwich: spread onions on whole grain crusty bread top with Gruyere or Jarlberg swiss cheese and broil until melted and bubbling. Great video along with the instructions.

  9. Tracy

    I am with you, I could eat onions like this every night. My favorite dish in the summer is

    Mushrooms, Onions, and Fresh Zucchini sauteed in butter with a bit of olive oil…

    It gets no better then that!

  10. Darren

    If I recall, America’s test kitchen (Cook’s Illustrated) caramelized onions in the oven. I will have to back and see if it speeds up the process.

  11. Jeannine

    My fried potatoes with caramelized onions are always in demand at family gatherings. I rinse cubed potatoes in cold water until the starch is gone. Brown well in oil (or bacon grease for the best flavor). Add salt and pepper to taste and toss with a lot of caramelized onions just before serving.

  12. Bruce

    One neat trick is to repeatedly deglaze the pan with water throughout the caramelization process. You end up with more of the yummy goodness in the onions and less stuck to the pan. You can keep it up for a couple of hours with great results if you have the patience.

  13. bureaucrat

    I’d love to make this… but what about the onion tears? ouch!

    Not so bad if you cut the onions as shown. Keeping the cut sides down and the pieces somewhat together while you cut them keeps fewer cut sides from being exposed to air and releasing their tear-inducing fumes. ~Elise

  14. liz

    I recently ‘discovered’ caramelized shallots, to my absolute delight!! Shallots are similar enough to onions…anywho, I put them on top of mac & cheese, the flavor is absolutely incredible, transforming a good pan of M & C into something you will rave about!!

  15. doodles

    Oh man straight outta the pan with a little salt………….but one of my new favorite way is on a baked potato with gorgonzola cheese…….yes carmelized onions rule.

  16. Peter Albertson

    Yeah, they are great in omelettes, but don’t mix them in to the beaten egg. Try folding a batch of caramelized onion and a few sprinkles of black pepper into the middle of the omelette right after you pour the eggs into the pan, then fold the omelette over the onions. That gives you a really nice hit of flavor. Also. don’t cook your omelette too dry. Tastes best when it still a bit runny–baveuse (sp?)

  17. Julie

    Ever try caremelizing onions in an electric skillet? I’ve never done it but I heard that since the heat is better regulated you can actually set the skillet to med/low and forget about them. You don’t have to tend to them at all just leave alone for 30 minutes to an hour and presto you have sweet delicious carmelized onions. I’m hungry for some French onion soup now!

  18. Regina

    My favorite way to eat caramelized onions is in a Danish dish my mom makes – Boef med Log (beef with onions). She caramelizes onions, puts them to the side, then makes about 6 patties out of ground beef (or ground sirloin, for a leaner meal), cooks them in the same pan as she did the onions, then pulls the patties out and sets them to the side. Once all the oniony and beefy goodness is in the pan, she makes a pan gravy, using Kitchen Bouquet to darken it up (and of course scraping up all the yummy dark bits on the bottom of the pan!), then puts the patties BACK in the gravy, and puts a “dollop” of onions on top of each patty. Serve with boiled potatoes and hope you’re the last one to get yours out of the pan (so you can snag all the yummy carmelized onions that fell off others’ patties into the gravy)….. (or that you’re the first, so you can be first to get seconds!)…. mmmmmmmmmm

  19. Rebekah

    Hey Elise,

    In agreement with everyone else, caramelized onions are good no matter how you eat them. But, I have a friend who made an amazing pizza recipe with them:

    Caramelized onions, bartlett pears, creamy cheese(we used goat). She caramelized the onions and when they were finished, added the pears until they were tender. Then, we spread it on a Trader Joe’s pre-made pizza dough(I think it was the garlic one) and then topped with cheese. Then baked until the dough was crunchy and the cheese was warm. IT WAS TO DIE FOR!!!!! :)

  20. Ginny

    Try this recipe.
    Fry paper thin steak, top with caramelized onions, melth provolone cheese on top, cover with an open Italian roll and flip it out of the pan. Stuff with lettuce and tomatoes. Flavor with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and dried pepper dots.
    You’ll have a philly cheese steak.

  21. Adam

    Oh my word, those are beautiful. I bet your house smelled wonderful!

    In my house we’ve always stopped caramelizing when they were still a little translucent. We like them a little bit more firm for steaks. For stews and roasts, I always cook them all the way down like you have.

    Mmm. Delicious.

  22. Alizia

    Thanks for the recipe, I’ve been needing to know if there’s a special way to make caramelized onions. I love moujadara – Lebanese dish of rice & lentils topped with caramelized onions- and want to try to make my own…without burning the onions!

  23. Adriene

    There’s a Lebanese dish with lentils, bulgur and you top it with lots of caramelized onions and you can put Lebanese salad on top, too. It’s delicious and healthy. In fact, I should make it this weekend.

  24. Debbie

    Does caramelizing onions in a nonstick pan work as well? At the moment that’s all I have.
    Love your blog!

    It should work, why don’t you try it with your pan and see? ~Elise

  25. chris

    Yes, a very very tasty alternative is frying a strip of bacon, and caramelizing the onions in that fat. Top the onions on toasted baguette with scrambled eggs, or fold into a simple omlette, and top with fresh grated parmiaganno. It’s a beautiful breakfast.

  26. Kori

    Caramelized onions are one of my favorite foods—I would eat them with almost anything, but three of my favorites (aside from caramelized onion dip—I highly recommend Ina Garten’s recipe) are very simple pairings: caramelized onions with roast chicken, caramelized onion “sauce” for hambugers, and caramelized onions with spicy black beans and rice.

    The roast chicken pairing is a classic, and it works out great, because while a chicken is in the oven, the stove top is free for slow-cooking onions. The sweet onions on top of juicy roast chicken and root vegetables (especially with rosemary and garlic) is fantastic.

    As for the hamburger “sauce,” I think this is inspired from an episode of “Good Eats.” Take some onions, a bit of mayo, a bit of sour cream (I don’t have exact amounts, but you want the onions coated but not drowning), some tarragon, black pepper, and salt, and mix together. Place on the bottom bun of a hamburger or cheesburger, then place the burger right on top. Something about the juices of the burger mixing with this sauce is magical.

    The last one is my favorite, by far, and we use it a lot on “meatless Fridays” for Lent. As with the chicken, if you are slow cooking beans and rice, you are free to cook those onions. Even a boxed/bagged beans and rice package is elevated when you add carmelized onions as an accompaniment. We love to make our beans and rice a little on the spicy side, then serve them almost like nachos—beans and rice, tortilla chips, grated cheese, salsa, sour cream, and of course, carmelized onions. I really can’t make beans and rice without onions anymore, it has become such a part of our tradition. DELICIOUS!

    Can’t wait to hear more ideas!

  27. ItalianFoodie

    After I cut the onions, I put them in the microwave on high, covered, for 10 or 15 minutes – longer for more onions. Then I put them in a heated pan with olive oil and they caramelize in minutes. Add some brandy or dry sherry, cook down, add broth, bay leaves and thyme, and simmer for onion soup.

    Put caramelized onions on toasted bread and sprinkle with bleu cheese for an appetizer or canape.

    Add to a savory bread pudding for extra taste.

    Mix with peas for a side dish.

    Ginny’s sandwich above is technically a Philly Cheese Steak Hoagie.

  28. Cassandra Mitchell

    I like to caramelize onions and cabbage (cut into similiar size pieces as the onions) together. It works in almost every recipe like French Onion soup, pot roast, sandwiches, etc. Maybe the combo’s even a little sweeter than just plain onions.

    When I make caramelized cabbage for soup, I use a rich beef broth and then finish the soup with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of caraway seeds. I call it Polish Onion soup…..

    I use a commercial stove, which doesn’t have a very low simmer, so when the bottom of the pan gets a little too dark and crusty during the caramelization process, I turn the heat off (or way down) for a few minutes and let the fond melt into the onions until the pan’s bottom is clean again. This technique actually speeds up the caramelization process, by using several alternations of hotter and cooler temperatures. Plus, it’s a life saver if you neglect to stir the onions often enough and they start to burn.

    I’m a retired restauranteur/chef (The Diner in Yountville) and have been a faithful reader of Simply Recipes for quite some time. I really enjoy your superb recipes and tantalizing photos.

  29. Rachel

    Ohhhhh, yum, my mouth is just watering…
    I too love this type of prep. for onions, a wonderful taste & such a treat. I use onions
    on a daily basis especially w/ wintertime and it being cold season… they have a GREAT big dose of healing qualities for staying healthy.
    A favorite appetizer of mine is to make small
    pizza’s w/ onions, diced chicken, gorgonzola cheese, greek olives & garlic…. all that’s missing is that glass of wine !!

  30. Sarah

    Love onions this way all by themselves – Yummy. I will now try to make soup – thank you for the suggestion. I will also try them in a grilled cheese sandwich. Raw onion inside a grilled cheese makes the whole sandwich taste like onion rings – of course you have to use american cheese.

  31. Emily

    This post brought me back! My first foray into scrumptious cooking in a high school ‘food cuisine’ class was a recipe for caramelized onion and smoked gouda quesadillas – still one of my favorites today. Elise, thanks for this post and, as always, your healthful, beautiful blog! Whee! Emily

  32. Valerie

    Can you caramelize in a non-stick skillet?

    I’ve never tried it, if you do please let us know how it works out for you. I think it should work. ~Elise

  33. Gary in Massena

    A dish that I make for holiday meals is to take a bag of frozen pearl onions (or fresh if I can find them) and then caramelize them similar to this (except I use butter instead of olive oil).

    I double caramelize them though. After the natural sugars start to caramelize I add more sugar and then let it caramelize too. So the onions end up with a candied covering.

    Always a crowd pleaser.

  34. sue

    I hope you enjoy this recipe using caramelized onions combined with apples and beets. My Granddaughter made it for Thanksgiving and we loved it. She will be so happy I shared it with all of you! I was thinking of not using the blender, just mixing it together sort of chunky like. Granddaughter put it all in the blender and it was a great side dish. The combination of onions, apples, beets is so surprisingly good, give it a try!!

    8 beets
    2 T salt
    1C chopped onions (2 sm. onions)
    1 1/2 lbs of tart apples
    1 T sugar
    1/4 c. balsamic vinegar + 1 T. jam or/ use raspberry balsamic or/ use more sugar and less vinegar

    Boil beets w/ 2 T salt
    simmer for 40 min-1hr till tender
    saute onion in butter in pan and cook covered on med heat for 25 minutes stirring occasionally
    peel, core and chop apples and add to onions, then add sugar , 1/2 t. salt and vinegar (plus jam if using it)
    simmer uncovered 15-20 min until tender
    transfer saute and cut up beets to blender

  35. nivedita

    Elise,
    What make is that beautiful saute pan of yours? I am thinking of adding another pan (a steel one for the first time!) to my collection and this looks close to what I had in mind. Thanks!

    That pan is a “Tools of the Trade” branded pan. I love that brand, I think they carry it at Macy’s. The bottom is thick and the stainless handles are hollow so they are light, easy to hold, and cool quickly. ~Elise

  36. Linda

    I had a caramelized onion, Canadian bacon and bleu cheese panini (needs a really hearty bread) in London. It was incredible.

  37. Espahan

    Elise,

    I’m an old time cook but I am finding I come here more and more to try the new twists on many of my old recipes you have on this blog. In the last few days I have made the upside down apple cake, the quick chicken curry, the chicken and rice casserole, the crab fondue, now, you have reminded me of how good carmelized onions can be. When will it end? I hope, not soon.

  38. Lori

    Reminds me how sweet onions can be. I make a chicken stew recipe that is FULL of onions and garlic, and I was surprised the first time I made it how sweet and bright the broth is, not “onioney” or sharp at all.

  39. Joanna

    Ohhhh, is there anything better than caramelized onions? I make mine a little differently, inspired by a Marcella Hazan recipe for pasta with smothered onions. First, I slice the onions thinly into half-moons (a mandoline makes this really easy). Then I heat oil on low, add the onions and stir to coat, add a pinch of salt, and cover. As long as you leave the heat really low, the onions can cook like this for a really long time without drying out or browning. After about an hour (longer is better but I am never that patient!) I take off the cover, turn up the heat to medium-high-ish, and stir frequently. It usually only takes 5 minutes for the onions to turn a deep, rich brown color once they’ve simmered for so long. And they are out of this world!

  40. Britt

    Mmmmmm…. Caramelized onions! I love caramelizing onions using Coca-cola instead of olive oil and then placing them on a Bratwurst or Polish Sausage and toasted bun spread with cream cheese! Heaven!

  41. steph

    I love them in a burger on in a panini sandwich. They are sooooo good. Next time I will deglaze the pan as recommended.

  42. White On Rice Couple

    These look amazing and so perfectly cooked! The only problem that I have with caramelized onions is that I keep eating them straight from the pan and they never, ever seem to make it to my final dish.
    So to solve the problem, I caramelize TWICE the batch. One for me and the other for the dish!
    Cool video too!

  43. Kerry

    Thanks firstly for generously sharing your recipes with us. I always caramelise my onions when I make a bolognaise sauce as it sweetens the tartness of the tomatoes. I also make my frittatas with 3 or 4 onions which I caramelise before adding the other ingredients. It seems to add a richness to the flavours.

  44. Marek

    I love making onions this way. Pesonally I use butter and I season the onions with cumin. They are perfect for hamburgers and I usually eat the rest just like that.

  45. Tzal

    Eggs & Onions….after the onions have caramelized, pour in beaten eggs and fresh grated Gruyere – scramble until eggs are just set and cheese is melted. The result is a sweet, salty, gooey delicious breakfast…add in a piece of sourdough toast with butter – perfect! Think I’ll go make some now!

  46. Butterball

    Love them! Vidalia Caramelized Onion Tart which can be made with Sweet Yellows when Vidalias are out of season. Topped on Gruyere Stuffed Meatloaf; pure magic. Top Beef Stroganoff with them! Decadent on Flank Steak & Havarti Hoagie; sort of a gourmet Philly Cheese Steak; smear it with horseradish & some champagne mustard, need I say more…. OMGosh; divine! Always make more than you’ll need for obvious reasons.

  47. Sherihan

    Mmmmm let me think, how can I use caramelized onions?
    Oh I got it, everything, I just love them! and I can add them to almost everything and urs looks simply heavenly, will make very soon.

  48. Sherri S.

    BEST DISH EVER using Caramelized Onions

    Pasta with Caramelized Onions

    1. Caramelize 2 lbs. sweet onions as shown in video. Remove from skillet and set aside.
    2. Add 8 oz. DRY pasta, either angel hair or birds nests. Cook and stir for 4-6 min. or until pasta is browned. Add caramelized onions and 2 cups water to skillet. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and cook 5 min. Uncover and cook 5 more min. or until pasta is tender, stirring occassionally. Serve imediately.
    My mouth is watering just typing this.

  49. in medias res

    I have several favorite ways to use caramelized onions. A simple Gruyere panini with caramelized onions is the stuff of dreams. They are also delicious in a Spanish tortilla, and my stews frequently start with caramelized onions. The flavor they add to the broth is wonderful.

  50. kay

    Ok, caramelized onions are a fine thing. I’ll not disagree with that, as I use the technique frequently. However, ALL caramelized onions pale by comparison with sauteed/caramelized Vidalia onions, when they’re in season. These are possibly the most wonderful onions you have ever put in your mouth.

    Best use: Grill a filet about 20 percent rarer than you like it. Pile caramelized Vidalias on top of it, and crumbled blue cheese on top of that. Stick it under the broiler, or back on the grill, until the cheese melts. Kill anyone who gets close to it.

  51. Tom

    Elise – I clicked on the link to the onion soup recipe and I love those soup crocks you show in the photos. Any idea where they came from? I’m having trouble finding some like that.

    Salvation Army. Great place to find classic old cookware. ~Elise

  52. Mark

    I love sauted onions (I know, not quite caramelizing, I just don’t have the patience ;) ) but I also prefer to use a little butter, I think it’s a better flavor contrast to the onions. But I don’t put it in at the beginning. I heat up the pan, toss in the onions, and when they start to brown a little (the natural moisture in onions keeps them from sticking/burning to a decent pan), then I put in a pat of butter, and they really start to brown up nicely. Then I like to add teriyaki sauce, and cheese, and when the cheese is all melted, I eat it just like that!

  53. Sharon

    You can also carmelize onions in a slow cooker – slice onions, add butter and then cook on low for 18-24 hours (we leave the crock pot outside so our house doesn’t smell too much). They brown great, and then also have lots of liquid you can use in onion soup. They also freeze well, so I make a large soup and then freeze small packets for use in other dishes later.

  54. Kiran

    My aunt taught me to add a splash of milk if you want to caramelise the onions a little faster. It really works great, I us caramelised onions for topping vegetable biryani & for making home made bread using caramelised onions and olives.

  55. Darryl

    Elise,

    I see some people mentioned “Vidalia”.
    Which onion did you use?

    You mentioned yellow white or red.
    Is there a noticeable difference between the three?

    Hi Darryl, Vidalia is an exceptionally sweet onion with which you can use to make caramelized onions. I’ve used yellow and red onions, but basically all onions have enough sugar in them to sufficiently caramelize. Personally, I don’t really see much difference between them once you’ve cooked them down. ~Elise

  56. Bruce

    I am confused about one thing. In the beginning you talk about caramelizing by slow cooking the onions (Caramelizing onions, by slowly cooking them in a little olive oil …) In the directions, you heated the oil/butter till shimmering, on med-high heat, and added the onions. Only after 30 mins, you mention possibly turning down the heat a bit. So do they really cook slowly on med-high heat for 30 mins?

    Yes they do, if you are starting with a lot of onions, which you should because they cook down so much. But stovetops differ. The guideline is cook to brown, not burn. On my electric cooktop, that setting is about 8 on a scale of 8 to 10. If you think they are too much at risk of burning, or drying out, dial down the heat. But you do want them to brown, which requires them sticking to the pan. When you stir them, the moisture from the onions will deglaze any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. ~Elise

  57. Penny

    Carmelized onions are the best! They are also the basis for alot of Jewish cooking. We make egg salad with carmelized onions. It is very easy. Just make a plain egg salad (mashed hard boiled eggs, salt, pepper and mayo) and add the onions. If you let it sit in the fridge overnight, the onions really meld into the egg salad and it is out of this world. I serve it as an appetizer with crackers or matzo on the Jewish holidays.

    I also use them with rice, peas and mushrooms. Yummy!!!!

  58. Nick

    I love the video – nicely done.

    I personally prefer duck fat to olive oil/butter for slow caramelization, but then again, who wouldn’t? :)

  59. Denise

    I made 101 Cookbooks Onion Dip that you have a link for and let me just say, WOW! – unbelievable! I’ll never go back to a mix again!

    Yep, Heidi knows what she’s doing. She’s got great recipes. ~Elise

  60. Beverly

    Thank You! I had never tried this before, and am SO glad I did! Having never cared for onions I could put these on everything! I have never tasted anything so wonderful! Thank you again!

  61. Linda In Washington State

    Hi Elise,

    I like carmelized onions. Thanks for posting a great recipe for them. I love french onion soup made with a cup or so of onion soup, then slice of french bread topped with cheese and broiled.
    I know Vidalias are the “best known sweet onion” but Walla Walla onions are so mild and sweet that they can eaten raw like an apple.

  62. Carla

    I just love caramelized onions with swabian “spätzle” its a regional specialty in the south of germany. Its basically a spongy homemade egg-pasta baked with lots of strong cheese. Topped with caramelized onions-and you are in spätzle-heaven!!!

  63. marcia

    I have called these onions ‘melted’
    I have a B&B and fold them into an omelet with ‘comte’ cheese.. served with crisp ‘herb , sugared and peppered bacon..
    (baked in the oven) with sauted tomatoes on the side..if in season. and a good peasant bread…………a breakfast that guests ask for again and again .

  64. RRK

    I use caramelized onions in chopped liver. Truthfully, I always prefer to include caramelized onions in my cooking, even if the recipe calls for raw ones.

  65. Jeanne

    Mmmm, caramelised onions. I like them as a starter to serve underneath pieces of griddles halloumi cheese; or on a pizza with goat’s cheese. Great tutorial!

  66. Buscie

    Love sauteed onions and, thanks to you, now know correct process to fully carmelize onions. Now my onion soup will be even better. Have added sauteed onions to middle of grilled cheese, grilled cheese with bacon and even fried bologna sandwiches. In my family, sauteed onions are added to cooked cabbage and also mashed potatoes for pierogi fillings. Also have been added to the melted butter drizzled over the cooked pierogi. Love them!

  67. Martha

    I’m going to make pizza tonight! Bacon, carmelized onion, roasted garlic, a little blue cheese, all on a great pizza dough (I make batches almost weekly that I freeze or refridgerate, though the Trader Joe’s dough is great too!) This post made me so excited, I can’t wait.

  68. Peter Albertson

    My problem with your onions: Last night I invited a chef friend for dinner and told him I had the venison, he had to cook it. I made the rest of the dinner (sauteed artichokes, potato galette, salad with clementines, lettuces, onion), and inadvertently left a pan full of your onions next to the stove to cool, before putting them in the fridge. He prepped the venison, then spotted the onions. “Oh good,” my thief friend said, cooked the venison, sprinkled a little panko on top, a litte dijon mustard, and most of the onions. Wonderfully delicious. There was only about a tbsp of onions left, which went into a folded omelet this morning. (Sigh….)

    That’s a good problem to have! Sounds like it was terrific venison, and rest of the dinner too. ~Elise

  69. Christine Choloski

    Onions this way are so good with almost everything, liver and onions is a good one. Also pork chops. Yummm so good….

  70. Jennifer

    Carmelized onions are so versatile! After carmelizing, I spread them over raw dover sole, then baked at convection setting for 25 minutes; served fish and onions on top of cumin mashed potatoes (just mixed in cumin powder in my homemade mashed potatoes right before serving). Adding steamed haricots verts and an herb salad dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, chevre, and fresh figs…..mmmm Heaven!

  71. Rossella

    Hi all,
    I am not sure I should call them “caramelized” anymore now that I have read your recipe but, after I sauté RED onions in little olive oil and a pinch salt, I add white vinegar and white sugar so I literally get an onion-tasting caramel that I put on hamburgers for an extra sweet&sour taste.
    My very Italian parents-in-law who don’t like experimenting much think this version of caramelized onions are simply fab…!;)
    Ciao!

  72. Clyde

    Has anyone tried to use carmelized onions in grits? I was in ATL, GA at a convention and had them as an appetizer and they blew me away. I had not had carmelized onions before but the sweetness (tasted like a hint of brown sugar) made the grits unbeievable. They served it up in champaign glasses…WOW…

  73. Brook

    Hi, I did not want carmelized onions for something I plan on making tomorrow. But yes, I love carmelized onions as well. I can also eat them by itself or with anything else. However, in going through and looking, I found what I was looking for. It is the picture on the right above step 2, where they are lightly browned. (It’s like how they are when I order Kyoto’s Express) I plan on making a teriyaki sauce and pour it over rice, broccoli, chicken, and the onions. And I could not find how to do that because I thought there was a certain way to make it…so thanks!

  74. Sarah

    I tried this recipe last night and utterly failed. All my onions did was burn. After you heat up the oil on medium-high heat, what heat do you do the rest of the cooking on? Obviously mine was up too high, and I’ve been craving these onions like crazy! Help!

    Every stovetop is different. Medium high on a high output gas stove is like high heat on an average electric stove. You need to adjust the temp for your stove. The onions should not be burning or drying out. It also helps to use a thick-bottomed pan, so that the heat is well dispersed over the bottom of the pan. ~Elise

  75. Jen

    I used your recipe last night to make a topping for some homemade cheddar and potato pierogies -I altered the recipe a little to account for the meal – I added one thinnly sliced McCoun apple to the onions. I deglazed the pan once with a little October fest (tis the season) and then again using a few tablespoons of apple cider for good measure – absolutely wonderful meal!

  76. cecile

    Yes to all. As far as scrambled eggs and carmelized onions go…it doesn’t get any better than with feta

    Also:

    Moujadara with carmelized onions: superb! a simple, quick and low cost Lebanese delight!

  77. Commander Jason

    I love caramelized onions! I prefer to cut mine like onion rings and very thin – but any way you cut them they turn out great. Probably the best thing I appreciate besides the taste is the fact that they are SO INCREDIBLY low-calorie! About 60 calories per onion – incredible for something so tasty! (add a little for the oil) I’m trying to get slim before 2010 and these onions turn boring baked chicken breast into a tasty dinner or make plain green beans into a tasty dish….Thanks for the recipe and advice.

  78. Matina

    How about a caramelised onion and goat cheese bruschetta??
    I found this recipe in a small Mediterranean shop and I loved it! They used a slice of thick bread, caramelised onions as the base, mixed salad leaves and goats cheese on top, (you can also add a slice of pastrami if you wish!) and then heated up for 10 minutes in the oven until the goats cheese is nice and crisp on top!

    Fantastic recipe, I would recommend it to anyone!

    MT

  79. KJI

    I made an appetizer last night using carmelized onions, a diced granny smith apple and a dash of thyme topped with brie in a mini phyllo dough shell. Everyone loved it. It could also be served on toasted baugette slices. Yummy!

  80. carp8dm

    My mom made carmalized onions a while back and I loved them on my sandwiches. I got the craving and found this site, Thanks so much for posting the instructions and the video! I’m gonna use this recipe right now! Again thanks!

  81. Nicole

    “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well” -Albert Einstein. You could not have explained or displayed this process more simply. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I am going to make “stir-fry” tofu with carmelized Kale and onions. It wouldn’t be the same with out your help! :)

    Great quote, thanks Nicole! ~Elise

  82. Jeanie

    I use caramelized onions in fried cabbage. I cook the onions and set aside. Cook 1 package of bacon, slicing the horizontal package of strips with vertical cuts. When bacon is browned, add a chopped head of cabbage to the pan. Add a small amount of salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cabbage is reduced and tender, then add onions, stir, and cover with a lid. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

  83. Amanda

    I see a lot of questions about using a non stick pan but no responses as to whether or not it worked. I just tried it out and it worked great for me. I only did one onion (had a sudden craving for caramelized onions and decided to just whip one up for myself, that’s right, in a bowl with a spoon…) so I had to lower the temp much sooner. The only difference is that you don’t get all of those yummy brown bits on the bottom. I would definitely do it in a steel pan next time but nonstick works just fine in a pinch.

  84. Laura

    I make the most amazing panini with deli style roast beef, cheddar cheese, carmelized onions and a worchestershire mayo pressed on sourdough slices. So yummy!

  85. Bert Bishop

    These are two items that I have not yet made, but have eaten when away on holidays or visits.
    The first was at Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh, and was Royal Venison Burger with caramelised red onion and grated stilton cheese, all in a bun.Fantastic!
    Recently we ate out in York, where we were treated to Liver and Bacon on a bed of mashed potato, with caramelised onion and redcurrant gravy – unbelievable.
    I will be producing these again at home.
    Thanks for the recipe for the caramelised onion, I prefer to make my own dishes from scratch, rather than using prepared sauces.

  86. Sophie

    My Itallian godmother taught me to make caramelized onions tossed with pasta, freshly grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and cracked black pepper… Delizioso!

  87. Diana Steele

    Try carmelized onions & brie pizza for a great appetizer.
    Also from “Mr. Boston’s Cordial Cooking guide, try the Brandied Onion Soup. Basically, after carmelizing the onions, add brandy (approx. 1/3 c for 5 or 6 large onions, & a little sugar, a pinch of thyme, 1 bay leaf, s&p, and the beef broth. Simmer for 1 hour. When you ladle out the soup, add a splash of heavy cream. Incredible!

  88. Kira

    Thank you so much! I tried this tonight and it came out perfect on the first try. The instructions were clear and helpful!

  89. joanne gorenstein

    I’ve always carmelized onions and added them to mashed potatoes. They’re outrageously good and everyone devours them.

  90. Naomi

    Thank you so much for this! Your writing, pictures and the time lapse video were all helpful and enjoyable. I’m just beginning to learn to cook and this is a big help for making my first French onion soup.

  91. Dennis

    When do you turn down the heat? The recipe calls for medium high when heating the oil and the next mention of the heat is after cooking them for 20 or 30 minutes. I thought they were supposed to be cooked slowly over a low heat. I’m confused.

    “Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering…Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally…After the first 20 to 30 minutes you may want to lower the stove temperature a little,”

    Hi Dennis, the cooking temperature with caramelizing onions is tricky, in that temperature guidelines mean different things on different stoves. When I made these instructions I was cooking on a not-very-strong electric burner, and needed to cook them on medium high. If I were cooking them on my high BTU-Wolf range, I would cook them on medium low. Basically if it looks like they are drying out, you need to lower the heat. You can also add some water to the onions to make sure they don’t dry out while you are cooking them. ~Elise

  92. Littlest Crazy

    Great post. I’ve found it helpful to stir more often and lower the heat more quickly when you caramelize smaller amounts.

  93. Nick

    One of the sous chefs I work with got me to use fresh thyme when I have to caramelize onions now. Really good addition. Just use the oil, onions, fresh chopped thyme, a little butter in there is fine and dont forget your salt its what makes your taste buds go ’round. My favorite is making balsamic onions which the author also mentioned an ingredient you can add. Sweat your onions, before they get a chance to caramelize add some balsamic vinegar, salt and a little sugar. On maybe a medium heat reduce the vinegar until its incorporated in the onions. Great on steak. Really good with smoked salmon.

  94. kathryn

    I love my carmelized onions so much that I cook up a big batch (10-12 onions) every couple of weeks. I put dollops into bagies and freeze them. So easy to pull out 1 baggie, nuke for 30-60 seconds and add to whatever I want. I’m a country girl and must admit that I carmelize in bacon fat and butter (be still my poor heart) and often add a little sugar or maple syrup to amp up the sweetness. Oh my….

  95. Jack M. Risewick ("Coach")

    It’s early Spring (almost) in New York state. If you like liver and onions try carmelized onions as suggested but add two tablespoons of pure maple syrup near the end of fixin then cover liver with the carmelized onions and final cook together. Purty dern good!!

  96. Cathy

    Thank you for this recipe. As with other recipes from your site that I’ve tried, the onions turned out great. I’ll be enjoying my onions on a baked roast beef and provolone sandwich.

  97. Ruthy

    Hi – Have read all the wonderful recipes to add to the caramelized onions – thanks! BUT, though I read about smoked salmon, I haven’t yet read about caramelized onions as a side to poached or grilled salmon and mashed potatoes. The flavours of the salmon with the onions was an experience that my palet remembers to this day. Thanks for the recipe as I’m recreating the dinner tonight – YUUUMMMM….

  98. Lesley

    I live in Spain and this is a really lovely tapa or party nibble…

    Lightly toast a slice of French bread (or any other small bread). Put a spoonful of caramelised onions on top, then top that with a slice of goats cheese,, a few chopped walnuts and drizzle with a little honey. It’s delicious!

  99. amateur cook dave

    simplyrecipes now bookmarked, thanks to me finally googling ‘caramelized onions.’ Thanks so much for the tips Elise. I got a feeling tonights chicken fajitas will be my best yet!

  100. Maria

    Thanks for that post and video – undoubtedly full success today – my first time! And! I have grated some GINGER and poured the squeezed ginger juice over + added some thinly sliced bits of it which added great flavour! It goes really well with my salad ( green leaves, feta, fried bacon as a topping, mango, ONIONS YEAH! and sauce made of lemon juice+ ginger + olive oil + rice vinegar + a bit of sugar + black pepper) yum

  101. judy voelz

    I cook brown rice and set aside. Caramelize the onions, turn the pan off add fresh crushed garlic and add the rice to the pan and mix well. You can add mushrooms to the onions just for a few minutes before you turn it off if you desire, then add the rice. The olive oil and onions give the brown rice a whole new flavor for those of you that don’t particularly like brown rice.

  102. Renee Jordan

    Good recipe, with one exception. You cannot heat either olive oil or butter over medium-high heat, as it will cause the butter to quickly scorch and olive oil to smoke profusely.

    That depends on how hot your burner gets on medium high. On a high BTU gas stovetop, yes, and in that case you will want to lower the heat. On a pathetically weak electric glass top stove like the one I was using when I first made these onions, then no, medium high will not burn the butter or cause the olive oil to smoke profusely. ~Elise

  103. Mary

    I love them on tortilla pizzas that I learned to make from you. I was addicted to those pizzas for awhile. Made them with whatever shredded cheese I had on hand,a little fresh mozzarella, a little roast grape tomatoes and LOTS of carmelized onions. Garnished with arugula..OMG!!

  104. A.R.Wadoo

    Use of Carmalized onions is a regular feature in india.The camalized onions are added to the spicy dishes and is known as Tadka. Ghee (boiled butter) is generally used to carmalize the onions.
    In Kashmir India On certain auspicious days,( Tehe) Yellow coloured rice (Turmeric added while cooking makes yellow rice) is cooked and served with rich mix of caramelized onion and oil. If Egyptian walking onions (Allium cepa var. Proliferum is used instead of the common onion and mixed with rice it is much more delicious

  105. Kevin R. Bowdler

    I put them on top of hamburgers, with bleu cheese, bacon, and a red wine reduction. Very good!

  106. Jo marion

    I put caramelized onions in my favorite clam chowder recipe, it adds richness and complexity. Visalia are my choice too.

  107. rj fisher

    My favorite use of carmelized onions is in an Onion Pie, adding to a cracker crumb crust with milk, eggs, salt and pepper and cheese, makes a fantastic pie. YUM!

  108. Maggie

    I used a coated pan successfully. Then I tried to make a bigger batch (6 large onions) which would only fit in a large pot. It was like trying to saute with too much in the pan. The water just wouldn’t go away. I had to divide the batch so it would brown. I freeze my caramelized onions and add them to ground walnuts when I’m making a “brown” layer in my vegetable lasagna. I make a red layer using red peppers and sun dried tomatoes, and a green layer using any chopped cooked greens and chopped olives.

  109. Stephanie

    I use them in a Brie recipe.
    1 pkg tenderflake puff pastry
    1 wheel of Brie
    1 onion carmalized
    Preheat oven to 400F.
    Roll out half pkg of puff pastry, add Brie in centre.
    Place carmalized onions on top of Brie, and fold puff pastry together at top.
    Bake for 20-25 minutes.

  110. Gary

    With the number of comments, looks like a lot of people share the goodness of carmelized onions. I didn’t read all 137 comments in detail but I noticed questions about which pan and type of onion to use. The best pan I’ve found for carmelized onion is the electric frying pan! It has plenty of room for lots of onions and it will keep a constant low temperature for you (about 225-250 is good). Less watching and stirring when you know the temp will be constant. As for type of onion, any type will work. Just be aware that some types like Vadalia have more natural sugar than standard yellow/white/red onions, so if you use sugar at all you might want to take this into account. I think it would be best to add the sugar near the end of the cooking if you want a sweeter flavor. I prefer no added sugar at all.

  111. Gerdina Schwab

    I just found a recipe for Roast Beef Panini using carmelized onions. Brush one side of two slices crusty bread with olive oil, pile roast beef on the non-oiled side and top with carmelized onions, top with remaining slice of bread, oil side out. Toast sandwich in panini maker or in a non stick fry pan, turning the sandwich when the bottom is toasted in order to toast the other side.

  112. Benjamin

    I love caramelized onions! I use the slow cooker method. I take 3 lbs of sweet onions and slice them up with 1/2 a cup of butter and 1 tsp of salt. I combine them in the slow cooker for 8-10 hours and it does all the work for you! I got this recipe out of the Gooseberry Patch Slow Cooker cookbook. It leaves you with 3 cups of caramelized onions. You can store them in the fridge for three days or freeze them for 3 months. I used them all in one week. I used one cup in my Split Pea Soup recipe, 1 cup in my Meatloaf, and the last cup I used with Johnsonville Brats. Sooo Good!

  113. Carol Snow

    Thought I’d try carmelizing some onions – first time. Heated oil and a little butter in a cast iron pan. Had 2 onions (sliced them)- watched and stirred for a while on med/high heat. Added some salt and a pinch of sugar – turned heat down – watched and stirred a while longer -added a little sherry and cooked a few minutes more. My onions were a dark rich brown and were very flavorful – I cooked these only about 20 or 30 minutes. (I’ve always thought things brown better in cast iron – and they don’t stick) May have taken longer to cook if I had cooked more than two onions.

  114. Meriem

    I tried this recipe for the first time. I used only olive oil and salt and it turned out very tasty and sweet.If it gets too dry, just add some drops of water for more moisture.

  115. Nora

    I’m using this recipe to make a caramelized onion tart with stewed cherry tomatoes and basil atop it for dinner. I can’t wait to taste the saucy sweet onions with the rich puff pastry… :)

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