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Step by step instructions for making caramelized onions for use in recipes. Cook them low and slow and you’ll have gorgeous onions that you’ll LOVE.
Step by step photos and instructions below!
This recipe is part of a series on Basic Cooking Skills, designed to help you easily make good food at home from scratch!
From pizza to fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, these onions are as versatile as they are delicious.
If you’ve ever had caramelized onions, you’ll know that they are SUPER delicious and go great in lots of recipes. The natural sugars in the onions release from the low heat and make these taste amazing.
We use simple ingredients. I’m a big believer in keeping things simple, knowing you can create a really magical flavor from every day items like butter, onions and salt.
They are pretty easy to make, you just need low, consistent heat (like in a cast iron pan), and a bit of time!
Really good caramelized onions take a while. This is not a recipe you can rush, but I promise the wait is worth it. Much like risotto, you really just have to lean into the process and accept that you are going to be a bit hands on to get the best results.
I personally make this caramelized onions recipe in bulk, and freeze them ready to add them to flat bread pizzas, on my homemade beef burgers, add them to Hawaiian Sliders and use in this Baked Brie en Croute from Self Proclaimed Foodie.
Why this recipe works
- Make just this recipe, or double and triple it. It is up to you.
- Freeze leftovers, or just make extra for use later.
- Budget Friendly. They taste expensive, but they’re super cheap to make!
I have included step by step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
What are the best onions for caramelizing?
Yellow onions, like Vidalia are my favorite. They are super easy to caramelize, and are able to be used in lots of things. White onions are great, and red onions look super cool, but are more suited to things like salads and pizza toppings.
Kylee’s Notes & FAQs
You can use a mix of olive oil and butter, if you prefer.
Salt will balance the sweetness, so do test and ensure that you have the right amount.
This recipe can take about 40 minutes for the onions to fully brown. Be patient!
I cover the skillet in the first 10 minutes to help the onions release their liquid, then cook uncovered after that.
What to do with leftovers
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Freeze Caramelized Onions
I put them in snack sized zip bags and freeze them in small portions for use in recipes as needed.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
How to caramelize onions:
This is an overview. The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
Slice onions in half and cut into thin slices.
Heat the butter over medium in a large skillet, add the onions, and stir to coat the onions with the butter.
Cover and cook the onions medium for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt (and a little water if your onions are drying out) and mix well.
Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan regularly (let them get browned bits, but not burned) for about 30 more minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Store in the refrigerator in a covered container or freeze until needed.
More how-to tutorials:
- How to make Chicken Stock. So easy, and requires very little hands-on attention from you, and results in some delicious, very cost-friendly chicken stock.
- How to remove the shells from Chickpeas. A simple method with step by step photos showing how to remove the skins from chickpeas, perfect for making the creamiest hummus recipes!
- How to cook quinoa (and what to do with it). A nutty flavor and super fast cooking time make cooking quinoa from scratch a great option for healthy meals!
How to Caramelize Onions
- Slice three large onions in half and cut into thick half-moon slices.
- Heat the butter over medium in a large skillet, add the onions, and stir to coat the onions with the butter.
- Allow to cook on low/medium-low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt (and a little water if your onions are drying out) and mix well.
- Continue to cook, stirring regularly (let them get brown, but not burned) for about 30 more minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Store in the refrigerator in a covered container or freeze until needed.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.