Food Gardening Network
Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

There’s something so satisfying about the smell, taste, and texture of caramelized onions. They’re the focal point in French onion soup, and they can add a whole new dimension to your cooking. Use them to top a pizza, make a rich onion dip, or wherever your culinary imagination takes you.

Caramel comes from cooking sugar. Onions are naturally sweet; as you slowly cook them, they’ll release their own sugars, which will begin the caramelization process. You may see recipes that call for adding sugar to the onions; if you’re using sweet onions, you don’t really need any extra sugar.




  1. Cut a half inch off the stem end of the onions.
  2. Cut the onions in half from stem end to root end.
  3. Remove outer skins.
  4. Lay the onion halves, cut side down, and slice into the onion from the stem end toward the root end. Don’t cut into the root end; you’re using it to help hold the slices together until you’re done.
  5. Once you’ve made all your slicing cuts, cut a V into the root end of the onion to release the slices. Put the slices into a bowl and continue the process with the rest of the onions.
  6. Heat a wide, thick-bottomed pan (or a broad cast iron skillet) on medium-high heat and add olive oil and butter,
  7. When the butter is melted and the oil starts to shimmer, add your onions and stir to coat.
  8. Spread the onions out so they all get equal contact with the bottom of the pan.
  9. Turn the heat down to medium or medium-low; this is a slow cooking process. You don’t want the onions to burn.
  10. After about 10 minutes, add a little salt to the onions. This is where you can also add about a teaspoon of sugar, if you really want to. If you’re using sweet onions, don’t bother. Add a tiny bit of water to the pan to keep the onions from sticking. Stir every few minutes.
  11. Turn the heat to low and continue to cook the onions for another half hour, stirring them every few minutes. When the onions start sticking to the pan, leave them there for a few minutes so they can brown, then stir them again. Don’t let them burn!
  12. Add a little olive oil if the onions are sticking too much.
  13. Scrape the browned bits of onion on the bottom of the pan as you go. Continue this process as the onions turn a richer, deeper brown.
  14. When the onions look about done, you can add a splash of balsamic vinegar, wine, or even just a little water to deglaze the pan and scrape up the last bits of tasty caramelized onions.
  15. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.