Sweet and Sour Onions

Sweet and sour braised pearl or boiling onions flavored with vinegar and honey.

These onions are just as tasty at room temperature as they are hot.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds boiling or pearl onions
  • Salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 3 Tbsp cider, malt or white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Method

1 The hardest part about this recipe is peeling the onions. If you are using pearl or small cipollini onions, blanch them in boiling water for a minute or so and then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. Slice off the root and stem ends, and the papery skin should slip right off. If you are using the larger boiling onions, as we did here, just slice the stem end off the onion and peel as you would a normal onion.

2 Bring a pot of salty water to a boil, and boil your onions for 4-10 minutes, or until they are tender. Smaller onions will need less time. You want them al dente, not soft, because they will cook a bit more in the frying pan. Drain the onions well and set aside.

3 Get a frying pan hot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Let the olive oil get hot for a minute or two and add the onions. They will spit a little because they are full of moisture. Let them sizzle until you get some browning on a couple sides of the onion, about 4-5 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, mix the honey and vinegar vigorously until the honey dissolves. Add it to the frying pan. It will spit and sizzle violently. Turn the onions to coat with the mixture and turn the heat down to medium. Sprinkle salt over everything.

5 Let the vinegar-honey mixture boil down to a thick syrup. Turn the onions often to coat evenly. Serve hot or at room temperature, with a little sprinkling of a fancy salt like fleur de sel, if you have some.

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Comments

  1. Connie

    Can you use the frozen pearl onion for the Sweet & Sour Onions recipe? If so, should they be cooked any first before the saute step?

    Uh, frozen onions? I’ve never even seen them. I suppose they have been blanched and peeled, though, and if they are pearl onions they will probably not need to be cooked before they hit the saute pan. But I am just guessing here, having never worked with frozen onions before. ~Hank

  2. jonathan

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a gazillion times…

    Oftentimes the most delicious dishes are the simplest ones.

    Great ingredients + Skilled prep = Perfection

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Elise (and Hank ;^)

  3. Wendy M

    I was going to do a roasted mushroom and onion dish but this looks wonderful. Question- can I used frozen pearl onions that have been thawed (already purchased).
    thank you and Happy Thanksgiving-
    Wendy

    I think so. See the answer to the comment above. ~Hank

  4. Dani

    You can buy frozen pearl onions at Trader Joes if you have one nearby. They’re pretty fabulous.

  5. Dani

    I’ve been looking for a healthier alternative to creamed onions for Turkey Day this year and this looks perfect! I also had my eye on your braised onions Elise:) Hope you and your family enjoy your day tomorrow!

  6. Rachel

    This recipe reminds me of my mom. Glazed pearl onions are her signature holiday dish and one I love almost as much as pumpkin pie!
    I will pass the recipe on to her as I think it’s a bit different than her version, but yummy just the same.

  7. Cinzia from Stile Mediterraneo Cooking Italy

    This is absolutely one of my favorite recipes! In Puglia (Southern Italy) we make agrodolce onions with Primitivo wine vinegar (they become a bit more red) and then we accompany them with stir fried eggplants cooked with some cherry tomatoes and capers. They are so delicate and delicious. Really a must!

  8. Denisse

    I’m thinking of serving these on xmas eve. Can these be prepared ahead of time (a couple of days before?) and how should they be reheated?

    Yes, you can make them ahead of time. I actually like sweet and sour onions at room temperature, so you could go that route. Or, gently reheat them in a covered pot set over low heat with a little water added. ~Hank

  9. Robin

    Just made this tonight, wow, delicious! We will definitely make this again!