Learn How To Caramelize Onions, and you’ll be able to add all sorts of flavor to your meals. This recipe is super versatile and can be made quickly, or you can slowly cook the onions to build the rich flavors. No matter which method you choose, the result is the sweetest and most delicious onions ever.
One of my favorite foods on the planet is caramelized onions. The taste is unforgettable and something I crave. In my younger years, before I started cooking more, I figured there had to be some special trick to making these sweet onions. It turns out, all you need is TIME.
I first learned about how to caramelize onions in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. (I learned so many great basics from that thorough cookbook!) I found out that making them at home can be even more incredible than anything you’ll get at a restaurant. I can’t wait for you to try them to see for yourself!
How much time do you have? I have given several different options so you can make it work for your schedule. The longer they cook, the sweeter they are going to be, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be wonderful if you’re short on time. It just means they may not have as intense of flavor as when they are cooked slower. Once you learn how to caramelize onions, you will be able to figure out how long you like them cooked to meet your needs.
- Onions – I use about two pounds of onions, so I have a lot to add to other recipes or eat on my burger. Onions are a fantastic source of folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium.
- Avocado Oil – You can also use butter in place of the avocado oil if you want. Both oils are great options to increase healthy fat intake. It’s fine to use a little bit more than what’s recommended if you need to.
- Salt & Pepper – Just a little bit of salt and pepper will enhance the taste of the onions.
HOW TO CARAMELIZE ONIONS
- Add the sliced or chopped onions to a large skillet. You’ll start with a dry pan, and you should use medium heat.It looks like a crowded pan, but they will cook down.
- Place a lid on the skillet and cook, stirring infrequently, for 20 minutes. You will see the onions are practically sticking to the pan and will appear dry; this is normal. This is about how they should look after 20 minutes:
- Add in the oil or butter and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and turn down the heat to medium-low.
- You need to cook and occasionally stir until they are the texture you want. See below for photos of how they look after different time periods.
- Add in more salt or pepper as needed. Enjoy!
FAQs about Caramelized Onions
How long do I cook CARAMELIZED ONIONS?
Here’s a look at the results you’ll get based on how long you cook your onions.
After 20 minutes
The color will be ivory; the onions will be soft and still have a slight onion flavor.
After 25-30 minutes
The color will be golden; the onions will be wilted, sweet, and with a slight onion sharpness.
After 40-45 minutes
The onions will be browned and starting to melt; the flavor will be sweet without onion flavor.
After 60 minutes
The onions will be a deep golden brown, the texture will be jam-like, and they will be quite sweet.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS?
Oh, there are so many wonderful things you can do with homemade caramelized onions. Here are a few ideas:
- Sandwiches: Place the caramelized onions on a grilled cheese or any favorite sandwich.. You can add them to any kind of sandwich that you enjoy, so go wild!
- Soup: When making your favorite soup recipes, there is nothing that adds more flavor than some caramelized onions. You won’t believe how much better the soup will taste. It also can thicken a soup!
- Pizza: Add some barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, and grilled chicken to the pizza crust! Trust me; it’s utterly amazing. You can add them as a topping to any of your favorite pizzas.
- Dips: If you are hosting a party or get-together and are planning to make a dip, try adding some onions to the dip. Everyone will rave about the way it tastes!
- Pasta: We love to make casseroles, and caramelized onions are always a fantastic addition. Try it and see for yourself!
- Sauces: Mix in some onions to pasta sauce or any other homemade sauce to get a bolder flavor combination.
DO I NEED TO ADD WATER OR ANYTHING TO THE PAN?
No, it’s so important that you allow the onions to cook without any liquid or any other ingredients for the first 20 minutes or so. This will allow the onions to release the liquid inside of them and enhance the final result. So, as tempting as it is, don’t add any water or other ingredients until they have been cooking for a while.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND SAUTEED ONIONS?
Sauteed onions are cooked fast and call for high heat. They will brown up and have an almost charred texture on the edges. They are typically cooked with olive oil and only take a few minutes to make. Caramelized onions, on the other hand, are simmered and with much lower heat. They are much sweeter than sauteed onions because the flavors pulled out of the onions as they cook are much more intense.
ARE CARAMELIZED ONIONS GLUTEN-FREE?
Yes! This recipe for caramelized onions is completely gluten-free. They are also low-carb, paleo & vegan (as long as you don’t use butter), and vegetarian. No matter which diet you eat, you should be able to eat them without too many issues.
If you are hunting for some tasty side dishes, I have a few I wanted to share with you. Baked Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan, Pear Gorgonzola Salad, and Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes are all great dishes to add to your meals.
If you make this recipe, please leave a star rating below! It’s so helpful for other readers to see which recipes are tried and true! I’d also love to see it–share your photo of this dish and tag me on Instagram, and I’ll feature you!PPrint
How to Caramelize Onions
This staple recipe will be one you use time and again to add flavor and flair to different recipes in your kitchen. You can’t go wrong with perfect caramelized onions!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: recipes
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 2 pounds onions, halved and thinly sliced or chopped
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or butter, plus more as needed
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the onions in a large, dry skillet over medium heat.
- Cover and cook, stirring infrequently, about 20 minutes. The onions will seem dry and will almost be sticking to the pan.
- Stir in the oil or butter and about 1/4 teaspoon salt and turn down the heat to medium low.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are done to your preference. (See notes)
- Taste and add more salt, if necessary, and pepper.
Total Cooking Times and Results
20 minutes: color will be ivory; the onions will be soft and still have a slight onion flavor.
25-30 minutes: color will be golden; the onions will be wilted, sweet, and with a slight onion sharpness.
40-45 minutes: the onions will be browned and starting to melt; the flavor will be sweet without onion flavor.
60 minutes: the onions will be a deep golden brown, the texture will be jam-like, and they will be quite sweet.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
- Calories: 154
- Sugar: 9.6 grams
- Fat: 7.2 grams
- Saturated Fat: 0.9 grams
- Carbohydrates: 21.6 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Protein: 2.6 grams
Keywords: how to make caramelized onions
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