9 EASY STEPS: How To Caramelize Onions The Right Way [2024]

how to make caramelized onions

This is how to caramelize onions step by step. Get ready to transform raw onions into a rich, sweet, and deliciously savory dish by sautéing them slowly with just the right amount of butter and olive oil.

We are going to show you how to caramelize onions to bring out the most mouth-watering flavor.

Caramelized onions can be used as a flavorful addition to many recipes and as toppers so the wait and time that it takes to make them is totally worth it.

And it's not hard to caramelize onions at all, you just need time.

Time is what makes caramelized onions taste so good.

Onions are naturally sweet and flavorful as it is, but when you cook them with a little bit of olive oil and butter on low heat over time, the sugars that occur naturally in the onion start to caramelize.

And voila! You get the best flavor that is sweet and savory all at the same time. It's really quite yummy.

how to caramelize onions

You can't rush this process, so make sure you have enough time to get your onions perfect, at least an hour.

Put on some soft music, grab a glass of wine or your favorite beverage and let's get cooking. We are going to take this slooooowwwww.

When caramelizing onions, remember that they are going to cook down quite a bit so make more than you think you will need. We have more tips at the bottom of this post and also the video showing the technique. And here are some ways to use caramelized onions.

7 Best Ways To Use Caramelize Onions

Here are 7 food items that can be complemented by caramelized onions:

  1. Burgers: Caramelized onions add a sweet and savory flavor to burgers, making them a popular topping for burgers.

  2. Pizza: Caramelized onions can be used as a pizza topping, adding a subtle sweetness and a depth of flavor to the pizza.

  3. Sandwiches: Caramelized onions make a great addition to sandwiches, especially those with roasted meats or grilled vegetables.

  4. Grilled Cheese: Caramelized onions can add a unique flavor and texture to grilled cheese sandwiches, making them even more delicious.

  5. Pasta: Caramelized onions can be added to pasta dishes, like carbonara or aglio e olio, to add a layer of flavor and complexity to the dish.

  6. Soups: Caramelized onions can be used to add a depth of flavor to soups, like French onion soup or pumpkin soup with carrots.

  7. Quiches: Caramelized onions can be used in quiches to add a sweet and savory flavor, complementing the richness of the eggs and cheese.


Caramelizing onions is super easy, just make sure you have enough time because this is going to take about an hour or so to get them a sweet golden brown.

Ingredients To Caramelize Onions

Will make just over 1 cup of caramelized onions

  • 3 large yellow onions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • balsamic for deglazing (optional)
how to caramelize onions

Directions To Caramelize Onions

1. Slice your onions. Cut off each end of the onion and peel. Then cut the onions in half so that they will stay put on your board. Next, place them cut side down and cut them into thin slices. Approx 1/4 of an inch thick.

2. Melt the butter and oil together until the butter is melted. Use an enameled cast iron or stainless steel sauté pan.

3. Add the onions into the butter/olive oil mixture.

5. Start caramelizing the onions. Stir all together and spread out the onions as much as possible to ensure that all of your slices cook at the same time.

4. After 10 minutes add the salt to help draw out the moisture and add extra flavor.

6. Stir the onions every 5-8 minutes. After about 20 minutes you will start to see them darken in color.

7. Watch for sticking and burning. If the onions start to stick to the pan, then reduce the heat to medium-low. You will want them to cook very slowly and gently. Don't let them burn.

8. Add more butter and oil if needed. If you are finding that the onions are drying out or getting burnt bits on the edges, just add a bit more oil or butter. You are looking for a slow, even caramelization.

9. Continue to check on the onions every 5-7 minutes and stir them around the pan gently. It should take about 60 minutes for your onions to be a rich golden brown. You can add in the pepper at about 40 minutes.

The onions are finished caramelizing when they have a beautiful golden brown color.

how to caramelize onions

Here's A Timeline Of How Your Onions Should Look Like As They Start To Caramelize.

Caramelized onions after 5 minutes

how to caramelize onions
Caramelized onions after 15 minutes
how to caramelize onions
Caramelized onions after 20 minutes
how to caramelize onions
Caramelized onions after 40 minutes
how to caramelize onions
Caramelized onions after 55 minutes
how to caramelize onions


Cook onions in a wide, stainless steel or cast iron pan.

Cook on medium-low heat to avoid burning.

Give yourself enough time to sauté the onions slowly. It will take up to 45-60 minutes.

Stir occasionally, making sure that there is an even distribution of heat to all of the onion pieces.

If you notice that the onions are burning, turn down the heat and add in a bit more olive oil or butter, or even a bit of water if needed. If you have to do this, your temperature is too high. Bring the temperature down until you hear a very low & slow sizzle sound.

For extra-dark caramelized onions, cook until they start to get very dark brown around the edges. But keep watching them so that they do not burn.

Make a larger batch with 4-5 onions to keep on hand for dishes throughout the week.

how to caramelize onions

Watch The Instructional Video: How To Caramelize Onions

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How many onions does it take to make 2 cups of caramelized onions?

To make 2 full cups of caramelized onions, you will need at least 5-6 large onions. Onions shrink as they lose their moisture content so use more than you think you will need. Especially if you are making French onion soup or recipes that call for quite a large amount of caramelized onions.

How long will caramelized onions last in the fridge?

Caramelized onions will last about 1 week in an airtight glass container. We use glass storage containers like these ones here on amazon.

What type of onions do I use for caramelizing?

The best onions for caramelizing are the big yellow onions but that doesn't mean you can't use the purple and white onions. They will also caramelize, will just look a bit different than the yellow onions which caramelize beautifully. So use yellow onions as your first choice.

how to caramelize onions

What is the best sauté pan for caramelizing onions?

The best pans to caramelize onions are either an enameled, cast iron, or stainless steel. If all you have is a non-stick pan, you can still use it but you might not get the rich full flavor from the little bits that build up on the bottom of a stainless steel or cast iron pan.

Help, my caramelized onions are burning.

Your temperature is too high. Onions caramelize slowly over time. Turn down the heat and deglaze your pan a bit with either some water, wine, or a bit of broth. You can also use a bit of balsamic vinegar in a very small amount too.

Can I freeze onions?

Yes, just be sure to freeze them once they are cooled. Store in an airtight freezer-safe glass container like these here on amazon. If you freeze caramelized onions in smaller portions, like in an ice cube tray and then transfer them to a larger container, then you can just use what you need at the moment.

What Can I Use Caramelized Onions For?

Oh, there are so many ways that you can use caramelized onions! We have gathered up some great ideas for you in this article best caramelized recipes.

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how to caramelize onions the right way




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