how to caramelize onions.


It takes patience to become a good cook – and that virtue is especially true for learning how to caramelize onions. Cooking or baking isn’t for the impatient, the lazy or those that claim they don’t have time. You need to eat something, right? And so may your family. By practicing or honing your kitchen skills, you can dust off old family recipes that will delight a spouse, impress your in-laws and keep your children’s bellies full and intrigued. The more you cook at home over time, the more you will realize how much of your own creativity and resourcefulness you will rely on. But most recipes all have one thing in common: they may come together in a snap, but the process takes time. And caramelized onions take a great deal of patience and time. It’s one of those immediate to advanced cooking lessons that even savvy self-taught chefs and professional chefs don’t always get quite right.

So, why am I posting this how to on my recipe blog targeted at novice to immediate cooks? Because you may have been able to relate to my taste of caramelized onions. Caramelized onions are something I was intrigued by when I saw them on the menu – and they tasted exactly like a sweet onion without any resemblance to how a raw onion tastes. They are sweet and sometimes slightly charred. It turns out the difference is all in the cooking method which is an important part that helps them turn out quite right. A popular way to enjoy them is as a burger topping, a pizza topping to stir fries and pasta among many other ideas. Getting them that medium to dark brown was the most intriguing at all. I never knew Vidalia sweet onions to actually taste sweet beyond the name before I discovered and started making my own caramelized onions. It’s all in the process – caramelized onions are a sugaring process. You grab a heavy skillet, melt a pat of butter and some oil in the pan on low heat and add a few onions. 4 onions will afford you leftovers to use for the week which is about as long as caramelized onions will keep in an airtight container in the fridge. 1-2 onions will afford you dinner for tonight. Keep the heat on low at all times. The sugars inside of the onions caramelize gradually on low heat which takes about an hour.

Patience is crucial for caramelized onions, which is why novice cooks will be bored easily. And I am sure there’s jarred caramelized onions out there to help speed up the process but I can assure you no amount of corners you cut will replace the same taste. And rest assured, you don’t have to be chained to your stove the entire time. Just check on them every ten minutes. Meanwhile, get back to where you left off in your book, work on your writing or heat up an appetizer. Give yourself at least an hour.  I had leftover tomatoes when I made caramelized onions and made some bruschetta to snack on while my onions cooked at one time.

And I know this a lot of onions – but I promise hardly anyone ever will cry!

Types of Onions To Use

I am sure there are some people that experimented with red onions and maybe even white onions, but I only used sweet Vidalia onions. The onions in my pictures are sweet Vidalia.


Caramelize Onions: A How To



1-2 sweet Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced (This will be enough for one to two meals worth for yourself and your spouse. If cooking for a family or for a week’s worth of meals, use 4 onions.)

1 tablespoon of Earth Balance butter and 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt


  1. Heat up a pan on medium heat. Set the butter and oil in a heavy skillet and swirl it around making sure the pan is just evenly coated on the bottom.
  2. Once the butter is melted into the oil, turn the heat to low. Now add your onions. You may be tempted to leave the heat on medium so turn it down. Turn down for what, says Lil Jon? It’s bad because they’ll burn. Keep that heat low.
  3. Take your peeled…are you listening? Yes, I know…sorry, sorry, for getting Lil Jon stuck in your head. Anywho, take your peeled and sliced onions and add them to the pan. Give them a stir five minutes, Elsa that mix and just let-it-go returning back every ten minutes to stir and check on them. See? Easy? You can do this.
  4. By thirty to forty minutes, your onions will start caramelizing after becoming translucent. Keep stirring every five to ten minutes.
  5. Once they turn golden, some people would say they are ready but others still prefer them a little darker. If you are the latter, keep repeating steps 3 to 4, tasting. If they smell and taste like you want to devour them, they are ready.


Serve immediately. They can be refrigerated for up to a week.

How do you like to enjoy caramelized onions?


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