How to Caramelize Onions? — Worth the time & attention

30 Sep

If you have tasted caramelized onions, you can understand how they can be worth a half an hour of your time . . . say while you are washing dishes or running a load of laundry. If you have not tasted this treat, try to imagine the difference between a green grape and a glass of champagne. From reasonable raw ingredient to glorious!

Some heat, some time, some stirring and you can turn a common onion into a deep, robust and sweet flavour that elevates any dish it graces.

There are several sites on the internet that will offer how-to’s. Check out Simply Recipes or The Reluctant Gourmet for their methods.    I wanted some yesterday to have for my pizza. But they are wonderful with sausages, in savoury puff pastry tarts, in perogies or on sandwiches. And they will keep in your refrigerator, stored in air-tight container for several days.

The recipes noted above suggest using 3 – 5 onions which would render you a family or party-sized quantity. I just wanted enough for my pizza and some other use in the coming week.

Caramelized Onion
1                               large cooking onion, peeled, halved an sliced
1                               tsp each EVOO and butter (or 2 tsp of one or the other)
pinch                       sea salt
pinch                       sugar

In a large sauté pan, melt oil/butter over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to bubble, swirl fat in the pan to coat the cooking surface of the pan. Add onion slices. Stir every couple of minutes as onions soften and begin to brown.

Reduce heat to medium. As the pan begins to dry out and the onions start to burn, add a bit of water to the pan and keep stirring. You may need to do this several times. After about 20 minutes, you may need to stir the onions every minute. At the 25 minute mark, sprinkle with sea salt and sugar (and pepper if you wish), stir into the onions. The onion slices will have cooked down and become a deep, golden brown colour. Continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

With one large onion, my end product was enough to add to an 8″ pizza (what I left in the pan) and to supply extra for sandwiches or omelets in the next few days (the amount placed into a small air-tight container).

Any type of ‘bulb’ onion (as opposed to green onions or chives) may be caramelized. Try sweet red or white onions or Vidalia onions. The possibilities for experimentation are yours to discover.

What dishes do you enhance with carmelized onions?


3 Responses to “How to Caramelize Onions? — Worth the time & attention”

  1. cynniebuns September 30, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Hm… in lieu of water, I’ve used a robust red wine to build a sauce base — this goes into my beef stews. 🙂 (Add last if using a slow cooker) Also, I find that it might help your butter if you add a bit of olive oil, prior to melting it.

    • Susan at Savvy Single Suppers October 1, 2012 at 1:20 am #

      Great idea about using red wine instead of water, Cyn. However, Saturday night was one of those days when the wine was better utilized when taken orally in it original form. 😉 I can see how fabulous red wine caramelized onions would pump up the flavour in a beef or lamb stew. Great tip, thank you.


  1. It’s Saturday Night How to Dress for your date . . . . . . with a Pizza! « Savvy Single Suppers - October 1, 2012

    […] out approximately 1/3 – ½ cup of caramelized onions. When dough has finished rising, brush its surface with olive oil. Spread sauce over top, using […]

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