Caramelized Onions (Foolproof Method) – Wholesome Yum


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This caramelized onions recipe transforms ordinary onions into irresistible, melt-in-your-mouth goodness—an essential skill for your culinary toolkit. Though seemingly simple, my favorite method for how to make caramelized onions makes them sweet, plump, and packed with flavor, much like sauteed mushrooms. I’ll spill all my secrets for making them perfectly!

Unlike sauteed onions, caramelized onions are cooked slowly and for a longer time, allowing the natural sugars in the onion to caramelize. The result is much sweeter and more rich. And just like balsamic glaze, they infuse instant flavor into just about any dinner recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Caramelized Onions Recipe

  • Sweet & savory flavors
  • Perfectly caramelized
  • Plump and juicy, never dry
  • Easy to make
  • Versatile for so many different dishes
Caramelized onions recipe close up.

How To Cut Onions For Caramelizing

You can cut onions in two ways – slicing or dicing. I personally prefer my caramelized onions sliced, so that they make luxurious ribbons when complete, but diced onions will caramelize, too.

To Slice The Onion:

  • Peel the onion.
  • Cut off the ends (both the root end and other end).
  • Cut the onion in half.
  • Place an onion half flat side down and slice to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness, parallel to the cut ends.
  • Repeat with the other half.

To Dice The Onion:

  • Start by following the same steps above, keeping the slices together when slicing.
  • Turn the sliced onion 90 degrees and slice in the opposite direction.
TIP: For both of these methods, if you want even more uniform pieces, slice radially.

TIP: For both of these methods, if you want even more uniform pieces, slice radially.

To do this, after cutting the onion in half, cut from the outside in toward the center. You can watch me do it in this video.

Sliced onions on a white cutting board.

How To Caramelize Onions

This section shows how to make caramelized onions, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.

  1. Melt butter. Heat unsalted butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat, until melted.
  2. Add the onions and broth. Add the sliced onions and some bone broth (or regular chicken broth) to the pan. This will help keep them moist. Saute, stirring occasionally with a spatula, but not constantly.
  3. Hydrate and deglaze. Add a bit more broth, scrape any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Caramelize. Continue to cook the caramelized onions, until golden brown.
Showing how to caramelize onions.
Tips For The Best Caramelized Onions

Tips For The Best Caramelized Onions

There are a few reasons that your onions might not caramelize, often with a result of burning too quickly. So, how do you caramelize onions without burning them? Here are a few tips and mistakes to avoid:

  • Use butter if you can. This will give your caramelized onions maximum flavor, and the butter doesn’t burn since we aren’t using high heat. However, you could use olive oil instead.
  • Use the right pan. Choose a large skillet with high sides, for optimal onion-to-pan contact. Ideal pans include hard anodized (like I used for the pictures), cast iron, or stainless steel.
  • How long to caramelize onions will vary depending on your stove, pan size and material, and size and shape of the onions. Reduce heat if they start to brown too much before they caramelize.
  • Don’t cut onions too thin or too thick. If your onions are too thin (or pieces too small), they run the risk of burning easily. If they are too thick, they will take a longer time to caramelize. Aim for slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. Crowding the pan causes steaming, which delays caramelization by lowering the temperature. Stick to 2 large onions in a large pan for best results.
  • Cook at the right temperature. High heat burns onions while low heat will take too long. Maintain medium heat, and decrease to medium-low if needed. Go slow for the best caramelized onions.
  • Stir ocassionally, but not constantly. Stirring too frequently can prevent your onions from caramelizing, or at least delay the process. You only need to check on them and stir every 5 minutes or so.
  • Hydrate and deglaze. Adding some broth keeps onions moist and releases flavorful browned bits (called fond) without overdoing it to prevent steaming. You can also replace some of the broth with balsamic vinegar if you like the flavor.
  • Be patient. This is the most important part! Caramelized onions require time, at least 20 minutes, , usually longer. It will depend on the thickness of your onions, and the size and material of your pan. It can take up to an hour if you are making a lot.

Storage Instructions

Store the onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat them in the microwave or in a skillet over low heat, until they sizzle.

Common Questions

Still have more questions? These answers can help:

  • How long to caramelize onions? Caramelize onions over medium-low to medium heat for approximately 20-35 minutes, or until they turn a rich, deep brown color.
  • How to caramelize onions fast? Caramelizing onions requires patience for the richest flavor. However, if you want to speed up the process, you can add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per pound of raw onions (this raises the pH level, helping the Maillard reaction happen faster), or simply make a smaller batch (which will caramelize more quickly).
  • What is the best onion to caramelize? Classic caramelized onions are typically made with yellow or white onions. However, you can certainly use red onion or Vidalia onion as well.
  • Can you freeze caramelized onions? Absolutely, you can freeze caramelized onions! Store them in zip lock bags (or individual portions in ice cube trays) in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, or in a bowl of water on the counter, before using in recipes.
The best caramelized onions in a bowl.

Ways To Use Caramelized Onions

Now that you know how to caramelize onions perfectly, there are so many ways to use them! Here are some of my favorite ways:

Recipe Video

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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.

  1. Heat the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat, until melted.

  2. Add the onions and 2 tablespoons (29.57 milliliters) of broth. Saute for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally but not constantly.

  3. Add 2 more tablespoons of broth to keep the onions hydrated, and scrape the bottom to deglaze. Continue to saute for 10-20 more minutes, until browned and caramelized. (Time will vary depending on your stove, pan size and material, and size and shape of the onions. Reduce heat if they start to brown too much.)

Last Step: Leave A Rating!

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Recipe Notes

Serving Size: 1/4 cup

This entire caramelized onions recipe makes 1 1/2 cups.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above.

Calories 96

Fat 4g

Protein 2.1g

Total Carbs 14.1g

Net Carbs 11.5g

Fiber 2.6g

Sugar 6.4g

Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.

© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. Please DO NOT SCREENSHOT OR COPY/PASTE recipes to social media or websites. We’d LOVE for you to share a link with photo instead. 🙂

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