I will show you how to caramelize onions to sweet and golden perfection with this step by step tutorial. 👌🏻
Knowing how to caramelize onions is such a handy trick because these can take so many dishes to next level deliciousness. 😋
So what is good with caramelized onions? So many things, friends! These are great on
- sweet potatoes
…and sooo many other things. Stay tuned for some recipe links at the bottom of this post for more ideas!👇🏻
Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
What type of onion to use for caramelized onion
I recommend using Vidalia or sweet yellow onions for this recipe, since they have a slightly sweeter taste.
Red onion would be my second choice. The higher natural sweetness of these varieties helps them caramelize beautifully.
Tips for slicing your onion
First, you will want to start with a well-sharpened knife and a good solid cutting board with great stability. Next, slice off your stem ends.
Then you will roll your onion, with one of the cut sides down, onto your board. Slice the onion in half.
Now your onion peels will remove fairly easily. Go ahead and remove those, and then place one half, flat side down, onto the board. You are going to start slicing, in a line from one stem end to the other, as shown below.
Tip: I like to angle my knife for this. I aim the bottom edge of my knife slightly toward the center of the onion for more even slices.
You can cut them straight downward too, if you prefer. If you do this, your end pieces my need to be cut in half a second time to even things out. Just be sure that your pieces are somewhat close to the same size so that they will cook at a similar rate.
Keep slicing the onion half all the way to the other side.
Now slice the other half the exact same way. You are left with somewhat even sized strips.👌🏻
How to caramelize onions
Now melt some butter over medium heat in a pan, and place your strips into the melted butter. Note: You can totally make these vegan/ dairy free by using olive oil instead, and I have done this many times!
Use your hands to start to separate out the strips.
No worries if some are still stuck together. You can use your wooden spoon/ spatula to help you out with the rest of them.
When they are in the pan, give everything a good stir to coat all the pieces in butter. Once it is sizzling, reduce heat to low. Then you want to leave them alone for about 5 minutes until some little golden edges start to show up.
Give ’em a good stir, and let them go another 10 minutes on low. I stir mine about every 5 minutes.
Fifteen minutes in total, mine start to look like this.
I let them go another 10 to 15 minutes or so. And then! My super special trick is to add a little splash of liquid to deglaze the pan. 🙌🏻
You can use vegetable or chicken stock, wine or even balsamic vinegar. But most often, I just use water, and it works beautifully!
Just pour in about 1/4 cup, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all that brown goodness off the bottom of the pan. Be sure and scrape it all up, y’all! You don’t want to miss out on any of that yummy flavor.
That liquid will eventually reduce after 3 to 5 minutes and carry all of those lovely brown bits up to the onion.
After the first round of liquid, I may add another splash (about 2 tablespoons) and let it reduce again. I judge by how “done” I want my onions to look. Sometimes they are good after one splash.
Use your judgement and intuition. No worries, friends! You can’t mess them up! In fact, I will go ahead and say that when in doubt, add a little more water/ liquid and let it reduce a second time.
Last, I salt and pepper to taste. I always save S&P until the very end. Why? Because if you add salt too early it will pull out moisture early in the cooking process. That moisture will reduce the beautiful brown caramelized color that we are after. So save your S&P until the end, friends!
So that is my method for how to caramelize onions!👏🏻🙌🏻 Now, here are a few of my existing recipes that use caramelized onion.😍👌🏻
How to Caramelize Onions Recipe
If you find this helpful, please pin it and share it. Also, check out my other Basic tips and recipes.
How to caramelize onions
I will show you how to caramelize onions to sweet and golden perfection with this step by step tutorial.
- 1 yellow onion
- 1.5 Tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
- 1/2 cup water (or stock, you likely will not use all of it)
- salt and pepper (to taste, save until the end!)
Slicing even onion strips
Cut off the stem ends, and roll the onion so that one cut side lays flat on the board.
Cut the onion in half, from one stem end to the other, and peel of dry outer skins.
Place a half, flat side down, on the board, and cut into strips from one stem-end to the other. Repeat for the other half.
Melt some butter over medium heat in a pan, and place your strips into the melted butter, using your hands to start to separate out the strips.
Give everything a good stir to coat all the pieces in butter. Once it is sizzling, reduce heat to LOW.
Then leave them alone (without stirring) for about 5 minutes until some little golden edges start to show up.
Give them a good stir, and let them go 20 to 25 minutes more, stirring about every 5 minutes.
Add about 1/4 cup water (or stock - vegetable or chicken works best) to deglaze the pan, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all those brown bits.
Cook until the liquid reduces, about another 3 to 5 minutes. (Optional 2nd splash of liquid: Add 2 Tablespoons more liquid, if you want them to get a little more done or if you need to pick up more brown bits off the bottom, and reduce again.)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on salads, burgers, steaks, chicken, pastas, etc.
I have caramelized up to three onions in my 12 inch pan (Amazon affiliate) at once. It may be a little crowded at first, but it still works. It may add a little additional cook time too, FYI.
Never add salt and pepper until the very end! Adding salt too early will release water from the onion and mess with the caramelization process.
You can refrigerate these up to a week and freeze them up to 3 months.
I like my onions sliced into strips, as shown above. You could also dice them or slice them into rings. I prefer the strips, though, because everything seems to cook more consistently for me in this shape.
Optional: you can add a pinch of white sugar a few minutes into cooking if you wish. I did NOT use sugar for mine, FYI. This may be helpful if you are using a less sweet variety, such as white onion.