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Caramelized Onions

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How To Make Caramelized Onions -- a step-by-step tutorial |

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How To Make Caramelized Onions -- a step-by-step tutorial |

How To Make Caramelized Onions -- a step-by-step tutorial |

How To Make Caramelized Onions -- a step-by-step tutorial |

How To Make Caramelized Onions -- a step-by-step tutorial |

How To Make Caramelized Onions -- a step-by-step tutorial |

How To Make Caramelized Onions -- a step-by-step tutorial |

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Caramelized Onions

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes


Learn how to make caramelized onions with this simple recipe.


  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil (or a 50/50 mix)
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • water, as needed


  1. Add the onions. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle evenly with the salt, and stir to coat.
  2. Soften. Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Caramelize. Reduce heat to medium-low. Spread the onions out in an even layer and continue to cook, stirring every 2-3 minutes, so that the bottom layer can caramelize in between stirring. Anytime the onions begin to dry out, simply add in a tablespoon or two of water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that have collected on the bottom and stir them in with the onions. If the onions seem like they may begin burning at any point, reduce the heat to low.
  4. Finish. Continue cooking and stirring the onions until they have reached your desired level of caramelization, generally about 45 minutes to reach a golden brown caramelization, and 55 to 60 minutes to reach a deep brown caramelization.
  5. Serve or store. Remove pan from heat. Serve the onions immediately. To store, let the onions cool until they reach room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

How To Make Caramelized Onions -- a step-by-step tutorial |

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45 comments on “Caramelized Onions”

  1. GAH! I can practically smell these babies THROUGH THE SCREEN! 
    Caramelized onions are my favorite, and this is SUCH  a great tutorial! Pinned :)

  2. I make a huge batch of caramelized onions and freeze portions of them in zip bags. Great to use on pizza, whatever. 

  3. I’m drooling over here this morning over these beauties. I do love caramelized onions…I’m hoping you put these into something really good to share! 

  4. LOVE this tutorial! My husband is onion CRAZY, so these will be great on top of just about…anything. Can’t wait to try!

  5. Oh my word! WANT. THAT. NOW.
    I am looking forward to the crock pot version!!! I am SO impatient and every time I start cooking these bad boys I burn the pan because I get sidetracked. Needless to say, a crock pot version would be most helpful since caramelized onions LITERALLY go on everything.

  6. I am picturing these over a steak. Mouth. Watering.

  7. Great tutorial Ali! Love you mom’s idea of freezing them to be available when you need them. 

  8. Great Idea! When I read your post I had an epiphany, I never had thought to freeze them before! I’m always skeptical on what to freeze/what not to freeze but I will keep this one in mind! Thank you for enlightening me today :) 

  9. I’m with you, onions have always been one of my very favorite foods! I caramelized onions a foot high on my Blu cheese bunless burgers! Gorgeous photos!

  10. It’s as though we planned our posts to be timed together today!! <3 

  11. Thank you for the tutorial.  I caramelize onions with some frequency, but tend to get frustrated doing them.  One other thing you can do which makes them really nice is to use a little soy sauce and butter for deglazing the pan.  It makes the onion really rich.  (I learned that reading a cookbook years ago while I was wandering around Barnes & Noble.  I no longer know the proportions the book mentioned, but I’m sure doing it to taste would work.) 

  12. LOVE your tutorials. Your pictures are so incredibly STUNNING, as usual. I literally want to eat an entire bowl of caramelized onions right now! 

  13. Again beautiful photos.  I love caramelized onions, and the smell MMMMMMM!!!

  14. Growing up, this was one of my favorite snacks.  I would get hungry and just go cook an onion.  Love the how to, thanks.

  15. I love caamelized onions.  Mine usually take over an hour because I do them on medium-low (probably an OCD thing).  Have I mentioned your pix are great!

  16. Oh my word! I am drooling!!!

  17. Looks good 

  18. I have always loved caramelized onions but had trouble making them so thanks soooo much for the tutorial. I cannot wait to make them.

  19. Yummy !!!!!  One of my favorites as well. My receipe omits the liquid. Love to add mushrooms!!! Will definitely try this one next time. 

  20. Até que enfim achei alguém como a mim, que ama cebola!!! Quanta delícia, tudo perfeito.

  21. This is my favorite addition to almost any meal. I also once had a bruscetta of carmelized onions and feta cheese on lightly toasted baguette. Holy smokes! Delish!! I like to deglaze my pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Not too much and you have to be very careful because its sugar content will allow it to burn somewhat quickly. I let it cook down a bit watching it closely and then splash in a bit of water. It enhances the sweetness of the onions and adds a bit of acidity. Yummy!

  22. I love caramelized onions! I’m so gonna have to make some soon. Btw, I think your pictures make these onions look gorgeous.

    • Thanks Beck! And yes, definitely try these when you can, we think you’ll enjoy them! :)

  23. wow looks so yum! i have alot of caramelized onions! with literally everything, i haven’t used butter nor wine to make it before, i will give it a try and compare flavors, cheers

  24. I’ve been caramelizing onions for years and never used sugar. I do use a pinch of salt and deglaze with Worchestershire Sauce. I take care with it as the taste can overtake the onions and it’s a bit salty. It’s worked for me. 

  25. Did you ever post a crock pot version of Carmelized Onions? 

  26. Instead of sugar and white wine I use Marsala wine which provides for sweetener and broth. 

  27. Used Marsala wine to deglaze pan – excellent flavor.

  28. We also use spiced rum! Oh so delicious!

  29. I just stumbled upon this recipe and excited to try! How long do they keep in the freezer and how do you suggest to thaw/reheat them?

  30. Just wondering…rather than buy vegetable broth, could you use the water that you drain off cooked veggies or potatoes?

  31. Just made these and put them in my homemade chicken noodle soup! Very good and very easy to maje!

  32. Wow, did I ever make some mistakes this time, and along the way, I learned the answer to the question about why, when the onions are cooled, the butter sometimes separates from the onions. I mean, my onions browned some (not as much as usual), so they caramelized some, but not fully. Why? Well…. I wanted more caramelized onions for my efforts. So…. I experimented with too many onions for *my* current, rather cool running crockpot (at least the crockpot I used this time, though using HIGH heat the whole time with that partucular crockpot might have worked? High heat in that crockpot has worked in the past, since it is a cool running crockpot….. Back then, I followed an old style slow cooker recipe for my old style slow cooker. That recipe called for cooking six large onions in 6 T of oil with no salt, for nine hours on HIGH. I had cut the recipe in half, cuz that’s all the onions I had. And it worked beautifully!!!!) But thus time, when I set out to caramelized onions again, I didn’t even glance at that recipe, cuz I wanted to know how many onions I could caramelize at one time!!!!! I wanted more bang for my buck!!! So I looked online for a well reviewed recipe, and after reading the recipe and reviews here at, I decided on my first experiment, and it was a partial fail. The onions are good, just not amazing…..
    To understand what went wrong this time, ya gotta keep in mind how caramel recipes work: First the butter is melted. Then the sugar is melted into the butter. Then sufficient heat for sufficient time with access to sufficient air is required for a chemical reaction to occur which changes the butter and sugar solution into the sticky, gooey, wondrous concoction it is designed to be. —
    In short, I got greedy with the wrong slow cooker. I put too many onions in *my old styled cool running slow cooker*, too late in the day (though they had cooked ten hours by the time I went to bed). Based on what one reviewer here said about filling her slow cooker so full of onions that the lid didn’t fit at first, I jammed all sorts of onions into my slow cooker, that ugh I did slice my way nions a bit wider this time, cutting them more like they are in the pictures here. —- Then, based on questions and answers about speeding up the process by using the high setting for three hours and then turning the setting down to low, I tried that. —- Well, the juices in the pot were substantial after the first three hours. (Note: since I wanted lots and lots of onions, I did not reference my old recipe, and I forgot that that recipe, written for old slow cookers, does indeed call for cooking the onions on high for nine hours!) So, in spite of all those juices, since I was quite concerned about burning my onions, I cranked down the heat to low while my onions were swimming in liquid. It didn’t take long before I knew I needed to offset the lid to allow the juices to continue to escape. I did so for hours…. until bedtime. But my onions were not finished after roughly ten hours of cooking…. And, no, there was absolutely no caramelizing going on. They were a nice, softened texture, tho not mushy. And they were almost translucent. They would have been lovely on many a sandwich or salad, etc. But there was absolutely no browning/caramelizing going on yet. I thought about freezing them as they were, but one reviewer mentioned accidentally leaving her onions on overnight out on her patio, so…., with the lid fully settled back onto the pot, so they would not dry out and/or burn overnight, I went to bed, hoping they would be caramelized but not burnt in the morning. —- Come morning, the onions were browned a good bit, and the juices were cooking off, were also browned a good bit, and were beginning to thicken quite nicely, but they were not jammy. In theory, running the cooker longer with the lid ajar again might well have finished caramelizing the onions? but…. I was having to leave town and was not sure whether I was even going to be back to my kitchen that day. So….. I bagged up my partly caramelized onions, after roughly eighteen hours, and set them to cool briefly (four separate bags). —- Now, since I left the house before they were fully cooled, I slipped them into the fridge. Sure enough, when I finally got home, the butter had separated from the onions and the fridge solidified that butter at the top. —- Why? Because the conversion from sugar+butter to caramel had not occurred fully, only in part. —- Could all those onions have caramelized in that cool running pot if I had cooked the onions on high the whole time, with the lid ajar after the onions were sufficiently softened and the liquid had sufficiently rendered? Maybe so. — But my next experiment will use that same slow cooker with six large onions, then seven, then eight, etc. until the process stops working fully, or until I have so many onions that the lid won’t set down onto the cooker until the onions cook down.

    Sooo…. My suggestion for this recipe? 1) That it be rewritten with pictures showing the condition of the onions when the lid is set ajar, ….so people can judge whether they should set that lid ajar sooner or later. 2) That the recipe indicate that in older, much cooler running slow cookers, a high setting can work beautifully.

    That said, I love how you recommend keeping an eye on one’s own first efforts with this slow cooker recipe since all slow cookers are different. I wish more recipe developers would do the same…. Awesome job! Not surprisingly well done.

    I have tried some of your recipes in the past and like many others, have come to trust your recipes for great flavor!!!

    Thank you seems a bit dull for the enjoyment you share with the heart of so many homes (The Gran’s Ol’ Kitchen!)! So I just hope this feedback helps you continue to do so with a tad more “experience” impacting your, clearly broad based cooking finesse…..

  33. If I have to be attentive in the kitchen this long, I’m going to also make risotto while the onions caramelize!

  34. I am Ukrainian and spent many hours watching my mom, grandmas, aunts and great aunts spend three days at our house starting at 6:30 am to make pierogis. Of course carmelized onions are a staple to the rogis and I loved to help stir the four pans of onions that the ladies would make. Can’t have snuff onions. The ONLY difference between our recipes is that my grandmas always used salted butter NEVER oil. One and mosey important the taste is richer and two the salted butter meant no extra salt was needed. I’m like you. I always liked a bit of pierogis with my carmelized/fried onions. Thank you for the visuals and walk through. I’m now hungry for onions. Thanks!!

  35. If you microwave your onions for a short time before frying you knock off 40 minutes from the process