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How To Caramelize Onions

There’s nothing better than Caramelized Onions. They’re a classic flavoring for so many dishes. They are packed with intense flavors and go perfectly with so many foods.

Caramelized Onions in a cast iron skillet

Caramelized Onions

Nothing brings out the best in an onion like caramelization. When onions are cooked slowly and methodically over low to medium heat, their natural sugars become concentrated. The result is a rich, sweet, deep brown onion that tastes amazing on its own and kicks any dish up several notches. Plus, you can cook several batches at once and freeze them in individual portions for future use.

Caramelized onions add an incredible sweet and savory richness to your meals. It can be added to various recipes like salad, soups, hot dogs, and steaks, and they also enhance some of your favorite carb-based dishes such as pasta, potatoes, and rice. The options are endless.

Caramelized Onions

What are caramelized Onions?

Onions are nice on their own, but you can produce a sweet and tender onion with a little heat and a lot of time. So juicy and delicious! And it only takes about 45 minutes to an hour for the process to be done.

Caramelized Onions are a great way to add flavor to a variety of dishes. They’re pretty simple to make; it just takes a little time and patience.

Ingredients for making caramelized onions

You need the following to make soft, delicious, and evenly browned caramelized onions. Each of these ingredients contributes to making a delicious dish:

  • Onions: The best kinds of onions to use are large sweet onions with a thin skin, such as Vidalia; they tend to caramelize faster and taste better than standard yellow onions. You can also use yellow onions; they produce a similar flavor but require a slightly longer cook time. White or red onions work well too, but they tend to be sharper in flavor and are not as sweet as yellow and Vidalia onions. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil or butter:  We also prefer using extra virgin olive oil because it has no flavor and really allows the flavor of the onion to come through. Butter works great, too—it adds a nice richness but will take on some of its own flavors, so choose accordingly.
  • Salt and black pepper: Add to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar/Chicken Stock: you can use either one
Ingredients for making caramelized onions

How to caramelize onion

Caramelizing onions is an easy process; however, you can definitely overdo it if you have a heavy hand. The key is to slowly cook the onions on low heat, stirring them once in a while as they begin to brown. 

Follow these steps to make a perfect batch of caramelized onions:

  • Peel and take off the stems of the onions, then slice thinly into circular discs or half circles.
  • Heat the olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan at medium-high temperature. The most preferred type of pan is a cast-iron skillet.
  • When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and stir to coat them. Then reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent the onions from burning or drying out.
  • Spread the onions evenly in the skillet and cook, occasionally stirring, until the onions turn a golden brown.
  • Season with salt and black pepper, and stir in the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth to deglaze the pan. 
  • Turn heat to low and cook until the onions become soft and gooey.

Recipe tips

  • Slice your onions thinly along the equator to make sure they are cooked through evenly. Using thick slices will take longer for them to cook, especially at their core.
  • Start low and slow. Don’t rush the process! Caramelizing onions takes time and patience, but if you do it right, it will be worth it when you taste those perfectly sweet onions.
  • If they get dark brown in spots too quickly, turn the heat down a little bit.
  • One of the secrets to having perfect caramelized onions is choosing the right pan and pan size. I love using cast iron skillets; they make my onions come out well without burning. Ensure that your pan is large enough to allow the moisture to escape as you cook the onions.
  • Start the cooking with low or medium-low heat to soften the onion, then turn it up to medium at the end and stir often to caramelize it properly.
  • Add salt to the onions early. This will allow the onions to release their moisture.

What type of onions to use?

The best kinds of onions to use are large sweet onions with a thin skin, such as Vidalia; they tend to caramelize faster and taste better than standard yellow onions. 

You can also use yellow onions; they produce a similar flavor but require a slightly longer cook time. White or red onions work well too, but they tend to be sharper in flavor and are not as sweet as yellow and Vidalia onions. 

Feel free to experiment with different onions and choose what is best for you.

If you’ve never tried making caramelized onions before, it’s a simple recipe that only requires cooking the onions slowly over low heat until they develop a rich, deep flavor. You can use yellow, white, or red onions—or even a combination of them!

How long does it take to make caramelized Onions?

The time depends on how brown you want your caramelized onion to be. It takes about 45 minutes to make soft and even colored caramelized onions. You have to be patient to get the best.

You can stir from time to time but not too much. Allow the onions to rest between stirs to achieve an even color. However, you can stir more often towards the end to get your desired brown color. 

Caramelized Onions served over hamburger buns

Serving options

There are different serving options that you can explore:

Storage

You can either refrigerate or freeze caramelized onions. Allow it to cool before you store it.

If you store it in a tightly covered container and place it in the fridge, it can last up to 1 week. You can also use the ice cube tray to freeze before popping it into the zip lock bag for storage. This will allow you to use the onions in a controlled portion, preventing them from sticking together. 

You can store it in a zip lock bag or tight container for extended storage and leave it in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Other seasoning recipes you should try:

Caramelized Onions in a cast iron skillet

Caramelized onions

Caramelized onions are sweet golden-brown onions slowly cooked in butter with additional ingredients to bring out a unique flavor. The onions are added to various recipes like salad, soups, pasta, dips, and more for added taste and flavor. Even though it takes time to make, you will never regret adding it to your favorite recipe.
5 from 1 vote
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Calories: 279kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 medium to large Onion
  • 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Chicken Stock or use as needed

Instructions

  • Peel and take off the stems of the onions, then slice thinly into circular discs or half circles.
  • Heat the olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan on medium-high.
  • When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and stir to coat them. Then reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent the onions from burning or drying out.
  • Spread the onions evenly in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, and cook for 45 minutes (a little more or less), occasionally stirring, until the onions turn a golden brown.
  • Season with salt and black pepper, and stir in the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth to deglaze the pan.
  • Turn heat to low and continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the onions become soft and gooey.

Notes

  1. Slice your onions thinly along the equator to make sure they are cooked through evenly. Using thick slices will take longer for them to cook, especially at their core.
  2. Start low and slow. Don’t rush the process! Caramelizing onions takes time and patience, but if you do it right, it will be worth it when you taste those perfectly sweet onions.
  3. If they get dark brown in spots too quickly, turn the heat down a little bit.
  4. One of the secrets to having perfect caramelized onions is choosing the right pan and pan size. I love using cast iron skillets; they make my onions come out well without burning. Ensure that your pan is large enough to allow the moisture to escape as you cook the onions.
  5. Start the cooking with low or medium-low heat to soften the onion, then turn it up to medium at the end and stir often to caramelize it properly.
  6. Add salt to the onions early. This will allow the onions to release their moisture.

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 650mg | Potassium: 70mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

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