How To Make Caramelized Onions: {Recipe & Tips}

When these are first caramelized they are such a delicious way to add flavor to meats, breads, omelets, pastas, potatoes, rice–whatever you like–and they’re so easy to make too! Here’s how…


1/4 cup unsalted butter
6 large onions
2 tsp brown or white sugar (optional)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)


  • Peel and slice onions into rings about 1/4″ thick.
  • Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium to high heat.
  • Once the butter has melted, toss the slices into the hot pan and stir to coat them with butter. Cook for 5 minutes at this temperature, stirring frequently.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently so they don’t burn.
  • After 15 minutes, sprinkle sugar over top and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and remove once they are golden brown and caramelized. Season with salt and pepper near the end.

Some tips:

  • You can make big batches and refrigerate to use during the week, they keep well in an airtight container. You can freeze them for future use too!
  • You don’t need a strict recipe, start with 1 tablespoon of butter (or olive oil) per 2 medium size onions and then add whatever seasonings you wish.
  • Trying adding herbs such as dried thyme for a tasty twist.
  • Once they are done, you can turn them into a tasty spread by pureeing them in a food processor, yum!
  • Adding sugar isn’t absolutely necessary since the onions will produce their own sugar as they are heated and caramelize.
  • For best results use a sweet variety like Vadalia but you can also try red or cooking onions.
  • You can slice them as thick or thin as you like, but the cooking time will need to be adjusted.
  • To cut down on fat, replace butter with canola or olive oil–or use a butter/olive oil mix (about 2 parts butter to 1 part oil). I prefer frying them in butter ;).

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What Readers Are Saying: 2 Comments
  1. Lindy says:

    Make sure not to use a not-stick or teflon pan! The onions will never carmelize if you do. I learned this the very hard way!

  2. Iain says:

    Using oil will not cut down on fat–it’s 100% fat. It will just use a different kind of fat that’s healthier.

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