How to Caramelize Onions

LAST UPDATED: Apr 08, 2020 | PUBLISHED: May 19, 2015 | By:

Learn how to caramelize onions in just a few minutes with very little effort for the perfect addition to dips, burgers, tacos and more! Easy to make with just two ingredients, these onions are a great addition to so many recipes!

caramelized onions in a jar with 'how to caramelize onions' text overlay

It seems like such a simple thing, right? Well, I’m often asked how to caramelize onions and it’s one of those things I just do, without thinking about. Kind of like how my grandma baked – a little of this, a pinch of that. I realized when trying to explain to my sister that I should share how to caramelize onions in a little more detail.

You just need two basic ingredients to make these melt in the mouth onions!

Caramelized Onions Ingredients

  • Onions – White, yellow or red. Shallots also caramelize well.
  • Oil – Vegetable oil, olive oil or butter

Variations

  • Brown Sugar – Add in a tablespoon of brown sugar
  • Cayenne – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne to kick it up a notch.

How to Caramelize Onions

  1. Slice Onions – I generally use 2 because 1 is never enough. It may seem like a lot, but once they caramelize, they reduce significantly in size. 
  2. Sauté – Place them in your pan over medium heat. I frequently use my cast iron skillet, but any will do. Drizzle them with vegetable oil, then toss using my secret weapon – tongs. Cover the onions with a lid and let them do their magic for 10 minutes.
  3. Caramelize – Toss the onions, replace the lid and let them continue to caramelize for another 10 minutes.

Serving Suggestions

There’s rarely a week where I don’t have onions cooking to make something fabulous! They add an amazing flavor to liven up any meal!

Raw onions in a saute pan
Caramelized onions in a saute pan with a wooden spoon

I love how simple and easy it is to make these onions, the finished result are slightly sweet onions that have retained their juices. I find the best recipes that you use time and time again are often the simplest, and this makes an appearance on a weekly basis in our house!

Once the onions are cooked, let them cool to room temperature and place them in an airtight container in the fridge and they will keep for 3 to 4 days. You can then use them as is in recipes, or you can reheat them gently on the stovetop to serve.

You can also freeze the sautéed onions, so it’s great to make a big batch and then store them in airtight containers or ziplock bags in the freezer. You can reheat them from frozen.

Cooked onions in a glass jar

Tips

  • Oil – Don’t use more than 2 tablespoons of oil or butter, or the sautéed onions can become too greasy. Be sure to put a lid on the sauté pan – this speeds up the cooking and helps the onions retain their moisture.
  • Make them Vegan – To make the onions vegan, use a plant based oil or butter.

To Store

  • Refrigerate – Once the onions are cooked, let them cool to room temperature and place them in an airtight container in the fridge and they will keep up to 7 days. You can then use them as is in recipes, or you can reheat them gently on the stovetop to serve.
  • Freeze – Store in airtight container or freezer bag up to 3 months. Double wrap to avoid onion odor seeping into other frozen goods.
Onions in a glass jar ready to eat

If you try this caramelized onion recipe, please come back to share using my 5 star rating in the comments below! Not only do I appreciate it, but I know readers do, too! For more easy recipes and simple living ideas, subscribe to my newsletter!

How to caramelize onions - the secret to caramelized onions without a lot of effort. Perfect for burgers, tacos, pizzas, dips and more!

How to Caramelize Onions

Julie Blanner
Learn how to caramelize onions in just a few minutes with very little effort for the perfect addition to dips, burgers, tacos and more!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 31 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Instructions
 

  • Slice onions and put them in a pan over medium heat.
  • Drizzle with vegetable oil, then toss to coat. Cover the onions with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Stir the onions, replace the lid and let them continue to caramelize for another 10 minutes.
  • Stir and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, when golden brown and soft.

Notes

Tips

  • Oil – Don’t use more than 2 tablespoons of oil or butter, or the sautéed onions can become too greasy. Be sure to put a lid on the sauté pan – this speeds up the cooking and helps the onions retain their moisture.
  • Make them Vegan – To make the onions vegan, use a plant based oil or butter.

To Store

  • Refrigerate – Once the onions are cooked, let them cool to room temperature and place them in an airtight container in the fridge and they will keep up to 7 days. You can then use them as is in recipes, or you can reheat them gently on the stovetop to serve.
  • Freeze – Store in airtight container or freezer bag up to 3 months. Double wrap to avoid onion odor seeping into other frozen goods.

Nutrition

Calories:31kcalFat:4gSaturated Fat:1g
Did you Make This Recipe?Mention @JulieBlanner
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