Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

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Caramelized onions are something I routinely have a craving for. I can eat an entire onion’s worth…plain. Caramelized onions are generally used for topping burgers and hot dogs, but they can be used in practically any dish that calls for onions where a touch of sweetness would compliment or enhance the dish. I love using them in this caramelized onion & sausage stuffed acorn squash dish. They are also a great addition to soups or sauteed vegetable mixtures! I want to emphasize here that making caramelized onions takes time. It’s not a process that can be rushed, and believe me when I say that it is awfully tempting to crank up the heat in an attempt to speed up the process. But don’t do this! I’ve done this a few times, and the end result is not good. Patience is really key here :).

How do you caramelize onions quickly?

You can’t. Caramelizing onions takes time, because it has to be done over low heat to reduce the risk of scorching the onions. While there are several articles and recipes out there claiming it can be done in 10 minutes, it can’t.

How long does it take to make caramelized onions?

Between 45-60 minutes, sometimes longer if you have to turn the heat down at any point to prevent scorching.

What kind of onions caramelize?

Any type of onion will caramelize. When I caramelize onions, I generally work with either white or yellow onions, because they are the most versatile in dishes.

What type of pan do I use?

The type of pan you use to caramelize onions is actually important here. You want to use a large, wide pot or skillet so that the onions caramelize instead of steam. Onions are mostly made up of water (~88%). If you pack them into a small pan, the onions will steam instead of caramelize.

Why does my pan look like it’s constantly burning?

It’s likely not…unless you have your heat turned up too high :). The brown stuff at the bottom of the pan is called fond. This is actually the sugars getting stuck to the bottom of the pan and caramelizing. These can eventually burn, so you want to periodically deglaze the pan with either water, broth, wine, or balsamic vinegar. To deglaze, just pour in a little bit of liquid and continuously stir the onions to reabsorb the fond as it deglazes.

How to make caramelized onions

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of extra light olive oil over low-medium heat. Once the butter is melted, toss in the sliced onion. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions are transparent.

Sliced white onion, butter, and extra light olive oil in a large stainless steel frying pan.Transparent onions in a large stainless steel frying pan after cooking for 5 minutes.

2. At this point, I would recommend turning down the heat to low. It’s easy to get impatient when caramelizing onions, and start turning up the heat to speed things up. But if you do this, you’ll likely burn the onions. So, resist the temptation, and keep your heat down low. Cook the onions for an additional 30 minutes, or until they are light blonde in color. If you notice a build up of fond in the bottom of the pan, pour in a little bit of liquid (see liquids list above) to deglaze the pan.

Light blonde colored onions in a large stainless steel frying pan after cooking for 35 minutes.

3. To achieve darker and richer tasting caramelized onions, cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until desired doneness.

Dark brown colored onions in a large stainless steel frying pan after cooking for 55 minutes.

Close-up of finished caramelized onions on a white plate.
5 from 4 votes
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Caramelized Onions

In addition to burgers and hot dogs, caramelized onions are a great addition to many dishes! Try them out in any dish that calls for onions.

Course Base Foods
Cuisine American
Keyword caramelized onions
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 30 kcal
Author The Panicked Foodie

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra light olive oil
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • liquids for deglazing (water, broth, wine, or balsamic vinegar))

Instructions

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of extra light olive oil over low-medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the sliced onion.

  2. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions are transparent.

  3. Turn heat down to low. Cook onions for an additional 30 minutes, or until they are light blonde in color. If you notice a build up of fond in the bottom of the pan, pour in a little bit of liquid deglaze the pan.

  4. To achieve darker and richer tasting caramelized onions, cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until desired doneness.

Recipe Notes

Credit: The Panicked Foodie

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8 thoughts on “Caramelized Onions”

  • I would love to try these. They look delicious, they would go with everything, I would even eat them directly. Thanks for detailed recipe and other information required to make this. Thanks for sharing.!!

  • I love caramelized onions. My favorite dish is to eat it with plantains. Loved your recipe very precise an to the point.
    -Young Writers Pro

  • I’m totally the person that looks for those “10 mins recipes” 🤣. That’s probably why I’ve never successfully made caramelized onions! I’m definitely going to try it your way. I just have to learn to be patient!

  • Carmelized onions add so much flavour to most of my favourite foods. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to trying this in my own kitchen 🙂

  • Caramelized onions are the bomb!! I personally like it on my burgers…and hot dogs like you mentioned in the article. I went to an Italian fine dining a few months ago…The restaurant specializes in seafood and they use caramelized onions in many of their dishes. It’s unusual but the food was delicious!!

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