How to Caramelize Onions

How to Caramelize Onions

Caramelized onions are a SUBERB addition to soup, meatballs, steaks, burgers, dips, and more– IFFFF they’re done right. Brown onions does not equal caramelized onions. Caramelization is not a quick process. It takes at least 45 minutes to fully caramelize a large yellow onion. The time is well worth it though- the end result is a rich, somewhat nutty, sweet flavor. It takes a whole lotta onions to make a nice batch of caramelized onions, as the sugars in the onion break down more and more as it cooks. This is how you can make them at home, and this is what you should expect to see:

-Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium low heat in a large pot. Slice a very large yellow onion into small strings, (using a mandolin slicer makes this a snap!)

-Add the onions, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot and mix around to coat the onions.  Right now you’re thinking, “Ugh I sliced too much onion, I don’t need all of this.” Prepare to be mistaken. Cover the pot and grab a magazine. It’s gonna be a while.

Onions before caramelization

Every so often, you’ll get bored. Use this time to softly mix the onions around. Every time you visit them again, you’ll notice a change. The first change will be a lot more moisture, and much softer onions.

Onions getting smaller

After about 25 minutes, you might start to whine a little. That’s okay. They’re getting a little brownish- see? Hang in there. And NO- do not turn up that heat. Put that cover back on and go do some Facebook stalking.

Onions getting light brown

…thought they’d be a little browner by now? That’s okay. It’s gonna happen. It is sooooo going to happen.

Onions getting brownerThey’re browwwwwn. Okay, they’re brown. SO they’re done? That’s a wrap?…….. no. You’ve waited this long, wait a little longer.

And Browner

OKAY. There’s like nothing left. How did this happen?…………… Don’t worry. The flavor will more than make up for the fact that you have liiiiike 8% of what you started with.

Caramelized Onions are done

Hey!!!!… Wake up…..They’re done! They’re doneeeeeee. You DID it!

Finished Onions

Phew. That was… worth it. Right?!

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How to Caramelize Onions
Serves: About ½-3/4 cup caramelized onions
  • 1 extra large yellow onion, cut into thin strings. (Very easy to slice with a mandolin slicer
  • 4 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot on medium low.
  2. Add the onions, salt, and sugar, and coat them by mixing around gently with a spatula.
  3. Cover, and prepare to be patient.
  4. Every 15 minutes or so, mix the onions around. You'll notice changes in the consistency each time you revisit. (If not, increase heat slightly but the key is patience, and cooking slowly. You do not want to burn them. They do brown eventually, promise.)
  5. After at least 45 minutes, you'll have yourself some caramelized onions- don't be afraid to let them cook for a full hour or more. The more onions, the longer it takes to caramelize them.