How to Make Caramelized Onions [Best Recipes with Caramelized Onions]


When you eat onions raw, they’re sharp, pungent, and not all that pleasant. But when you cook them low and slow for a long time… something magical happens. They turn jammy and sweet, and almost melt in your mouth. That’s the magic of caramelizing onions.

How Do Onions Caramelize?

As you already know, caramelization happens when you heat sugar to a certain temperature. But how does that happen with onions?

Well, if you want to get to the nitty gritty of things, pyrolysis is what turns onions into that golden color. It involves both physical and chemical changes within the cellular structure of the onion. Once they start to sweat in the pan, the release of water breaks down the sugar molecules. That, and cooking it low and slow, eventually browns the onions and makes it sweeter to taste.

Put Caramelized Onions on Everything!

Like all good things, caramelized onions take a lot of effort and patience (but more of patience) to make. It’s best to make these in bulk: once you have a stock full of these, put them on everything! Spread it over toast, add it to a burger, make a dip, a soup, a pasta, anything!

Sure, you’ll be crying endlessly while chopping and you’ll be testing your patience until these onions turn brown— but trust me when I say all of that is worth it.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Use a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. It depends on how much onions you’ll be cooking, but basically you need a wide surface area so that you don’t crowd the onions. You also need a pan with a heavy bottom (to prevent scorching). The right pan helps cook the onions evenly, leaving nothing burnt or undercooked.
  2. Don’t just use butter. You can definitely use butter to caramelize onions, but this tends to burn quickly. To solve this, combine oil with the butter. On the other hand, you can opt to use just oil.
  3. Make in bulk. Making caramelized onions can take 30 minutes to 1 hour. That’s a long time! To make the most out of it, consider making these in bulk. You can either store them in the fridge for 5 days, or cube them up and chuck them in the freezer.
  4. Patience is key. Resist the urge to stir them often. Set a 5-10 minute interval to let the onions sit and brown, instead of stirring constantly. You should also resist the urge to take them away from the heat too early! You’ll be missing out on the rich flavors you’ll get from fully caramelizing the onions.



Caramelized Onions Recipe


  • 10 medium brown onions = 3/4 cup of caramelized onions
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  1. Chop onions 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
  2. Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions. Check every 5 minutes or so, to make sure nothing gets burnt.
  3. Once soft, add a pinch of salt. Continue to cook down for 30 minutes until golden brown.


Roasted Onions


  • 5 medium sized brown onions, halved
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 2 cloves of sliced garlic
  • 100g oyster sauce
  • 1 liter of warm water
  1. Melt butter in a pan and add garlic. Once melted, add oyster sauce and combine. Add water.
  2. Place onions flat side down on a baking dish. Add sauce and submerge 3/4 of the way. Cover with foil and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Flip onions and place back in the oven, uncovered, for another 30-40 minutes. Baste the onions every 10 minutes and roast until charred. Season to taste.


French Onion Dip


  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 8oz of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of caramelized onions
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  1. In a bowl, combine sour cream, melted butter, cream cheese, and mix.
  2. Add caramelized onions. Once mixed, add sugar, salt, and soy sauce. Adjust to taste.
  3. Before serving, add chopped parsley and mix thoroughly.


Onion Soup


  • 2 slices of sourdough bread (preferably a day old), cubed
  • 1 cup of grated monterey jack cheese
  • 4 roasted onions (see above)
  • 1/4 cup caramelized onions
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1/2 cup of onion or beef broth (depends on your bowl)
  1. Add cubed sourdough bread in a ceramic dish. Grate cheese over the top, and layer with roasted onions.
  2. Fill the dish with broth, and add in caramelized onions. Add fresh thyme and top with a layer of cheese. Broil or torch until cheese is melted.



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Erwan Heussaff
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