Caramelized Onions

16 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Caramelized Onions turn out golden brown and lightly sweet. They’re the perfect ingredient to add to soups, sandwiches, steak, and more.

Easy Caramelized Onions are a great way to add complex flavor to all of your favorite dinner creations. By cooking the onion recipe slowly in butter they become a beautiful golden brown color with amazing flavor. Instead of the strong onion flavor that you’re used to the cooked onions become sweetened and good enough to snack on right from the pan. This simple recipe is the perfect Side Dish or topping to serve up with your favorite dinners. They’re a crucial ingredient in French Onion Soup and make an amazing addition to meat dishes.

Sabrina’s Caramelized Onions Recipe

These Caramelized Onions add a lot of dimension to food. The simple ingredients include onions, butter, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Slicing and slow-cooking the onions for 30-35 minutes in a Dutch oven yields a golden brown, flavorful result. Originating in France, this technique is used in dishes like French Onion Soup. Its simplicity and depth of flavor make it special. The slow cooking process allows the onions to release their natural sugars, creating a yummy, sweet taste. You can serve them as a Burger topping or pizza topping. They also add an amazing flavor to Carbonara Pasta, served in your favorite, soups, or in a patty melt. Try them out in any of your favorite comfort food dishes to give them a little extra flavor.

Ingredients

  • 9 Yellow Onions: As they cook in the butter and oil, the strong onion flavor becomes milder and slightly sweet. Their natural sugars caramelize during cooking, creating that classic depth of flavor. Yellow onions are best, but you can use red onions or white onions as substitutes.
  • ¼ cup Unsalted Butter: Butter adds richness and a creamy texture to the caramelized onions. It’s essential for the dish’s classic taste.
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil: Olive oil lends a Mediterranean touch, enhancing the overall flavor with its fruity notes.
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt: Salt enhances the onions’ flavor, drawing out their natural sweetness.

Kitchen Tools and Equipment

  • Dutch Oven: A Dutch oven is ideal for even heating and slow cooking, crucial for caramelizing onions. Choose a heavy-bottomed one with a lid to retain moisture. Stirring the onions every 5 minutes prevents burning.
  • Chef’s Knife: A sharp chef’s knife is essential for slicing the onions uniformly. A steady hand and a proper grip help achieve consistent 1/4-inch thick slices.
  • Cutting Board: A sturdy cutting board provides a safe and stable surface for slicing onions. Opt for a large one to prevent overcrowding and ensure even slicing.
  • Wooden Spoon: A wooden spoon is perfect for stirring the onions. It won’t scratch the Dutch oven’s surface and allows you to scrape up flavorful browned bits from the bottom.

How to Make Caramelized Onions

Time needed: 35 minutes.

  1. Step 1: Slice the Onions

    Begin by slicing the yellow onions in half, removing the root, and then slicing them into 1/4-inch thick slices. Uniform slicing ensures even cooking.portioned ingredients for caramelized onions

  2. Step 2: Cook with Butter and Oil

    Add the sliced onions, unsalted butter, olive oil, and kosher salt to a Dutch oven or another large pot. Then cook caramelized onions for 30-35 minutes over medium-low heat. Make sure you stir about every 5 minutes throughout the caramelization process to make sure the onions don’t brown too much on one side.raw sliced onions, butter, and salt in a Dutch oven.

  3. Step 3: Enjoy!

    You can tell that you’re done caramelizing onions when they have a rich, caramel color and a buttery aroma. At that point, remove them from medium heat to serve right away. Or, let them cool, and then store them to use in recipes later in the week.bowl of caramelized onions

Can This Be Made Ahead of Time?

Yes, Caramelized Onions can be made ahead of time. They store well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat when needed or freeze them for longer storage.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Caramelized Onions
Amount Per Serving
Calories 66 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 8mg3%
Sodium 39mg2%
Potassium 91mg3%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 90IU2%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 15mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Choose the Right Onions: Opt for yellow onions for their balanced sweetness. Red and white onions work too, but their flavors may differ slightly.
  • Low and Slow: Cooking onions over low to medium-low heat ensures they caramelize evenly without burning. Don’t rush this process.
  • Use a Lid: Covering the Dutch oven with a lid during cooking helps retain moisture, preventing onions from drying out too quickly.
  • Stirring is Key: Regularly stirring the onions prevents sticking and ensures even browning. Patience pays off in the form of beautifully caramelized onions.

How to Store Caramelized Onions

Storing

You shouldn’t leave Caramelized Onions at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Let the onions cool completely. Then transfer them to an airtight container. They’ll stay good in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Reheating Tips

To reheat Caramelized Onions, use a stovetop or microwave for best results. In a pan over low heat, gently warm them while stirring to prevent burning. Alternatively, microwave them in short intervals, stirring in between, until they reach your desired temperature. Avoid using the oven or air fryer, as they can overcook and dry out the onions.

Freezing

If you want to keep the Caramelized Onion recipe for a longer period of time, you can freeze them for up to a year. For easy storage, you can actually divide the onions into an ice cube tray. Then cover and freeze.

Ideas to Serve Caramelized Onions

  • Burger and Sandwich Topping: Use caramelized onions as a mouthwatering topping for burgers and sandwiches, like on Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches.
  • Pizza Topping: Spread them over pizza for a unique twist. They pair wonderfully with cheese and other toppings. They’re used in our Bacon Blue Cheese Caramelized Onion Tart which is the perfect side to bring to a party!
  • Steak or Chicken: Top your grilled steak or chicken with a generous spoonful of caramelized onions to create a restaurant-worthy dish. Our Easiest Brisket with Caramelized Onions is worth checking out if you’re hungry.
  • Quiche or Omelette: Incorporate caramelized onions into quiches or omelets for a delightful breakfast or brunch option.
  • Soup Garnish: Float a few caramelized onion strands on top of soups like our classic French Onion Soup for a yummy flavor and a sophisticated touch.

Alternative Cooking Techniques

Pressure Cooker Caramelized Onions

Caramelizing on the stovetop gets great results, but it can be time-consuming. So, if you’re in a hurry, there’s a quicker option. Instead of using the stovetop method, you can cook Caramelized Onions in a pressure cooker.

  1. Start by slicing the onions, and adding them to the pressure cooker with butter, olive oil, and salt.
  2. Then stir the ingredients together and seal the instant pot lid.
  3. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.
  4. Quick-release the pressure, and carefully open the lid.
  5. Strain excess liquid from the mixture.
  6. Then set the pressure cooker to saute mode, and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes while stirring. Remove the onions once they’re browned and caramelized.

Frequent Questions

What kind of onions are best for caramelized onions?

Though we’ve made this recipe with yellow onions, you can make Caramelized Onions with another type of onion. White onions or red onions will both caramelize similarly to the yellow onion. If you want to play up the sweetness, you can use a sweet type of onion-like Vidalia. Since they’re already sweeter than other onions, the onion recipe will be more sweet and less sharp.

Why do we cook with both butter and olive oil?

For the oil in this recipe, we’ve used a combination of butter and olive oil. Combining the two different kinds of oil can be a great way to get the flavor you want. The unsalted butter gives the caramelized onions their classic, rich taste. But, olive oil has a higher smoking point, so you can cook the onion recipe longer and get them properly caramelized.

Can I use a regular skillet instead of a Dutch oven?

Yes, you can use a regular skillet, but a Dutch oven’s even heat distribution and lid help prevent moisture loss, making it the preferred choice for caramelizing onions.

Can I speed up the caramelization process?

Caramelizing onions is a slow process to develop flavor. Rushing it may result in uneven caramelization or burning. Patience is key for the best results. If time is of the essence, see the Pressure Cooker recipe above.

Recipe Card

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions turn out golden brown and lightly sweet. They're the perfect ingredient to add to soups, sandwiches, steak, and more.
Yield 16 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 9 yellow onions (3 pound bag)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  • Slice the onions in half, remove the root, then slice into ¼ inch thick slices.
  • Add the onions, butter, oil and salt to a Dutch oven and cook over medium-low heat for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the onions are golden brown.

Notes

  • Click on the “yield” amount to slide and change the number of servings and the recipe will automatically update!
  • Click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.
  • To convert measurements to grams, click on the “Metric” option next to “Ingredients” in the recipe card.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 66kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 39mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg

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Variations on Caramelized Onions

  • Sugar: Caramelizing onions already brings out the natural sugar in the vegetables to make them a mild sweet and savory flavor. But, if you want an extra sweet recipe, you can mix in 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar with the buttery onions.
  • Seasonings: Another easy way to add flavor is with bold seasonings like paprika, ground mustard, black pepper, cumin, or garlic salt. Just add a dash of your seasoning of choice over the onions and butter along with the kosher salt.
  • Balsamic onions: For a rich, balsamic flavor, you can add white balsamic vinegar or traditional balsamic vinegar to the recipe. Add a splash of vinegar to the onions as you’re stirring them. Then it will mix with the oils to flavor the onions.

More Classic Onion Recipes

Caramelized onions Pin

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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