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How To Caramelize Onions

You might everyone knows how to caramelize onions, but you’d be wrong. These unique onions are actually cooked incorrectly quite often, and it is almost always the result of being in too much of a rush. Don’t make the same mistake! You can make fabulous caramelized onions too.

How to Caramelize Onions

How to Caramelize Onions

It took me an absurd amount of time to realize that simply browning onions quickly in a pan was much MUCH different than taking the time to properly caramelize them.

The flavor is worlds apart, and the end result is well worth the extra time this takes. 

The number one key is LOW and SLOW. You want to keep the heat at medium-low and be patient. Properly caramelizing onions should take at LEAST 30-45 minutes. More if you are doing a large batch. So, take your time. Grab your kindle and a seat in your kitchen, and get ready to babysit these for about an hour.

It is best to cut your onion the long way from top to root in half and then cut into slices the same direction. This will help the onions stay together in larger pieces for things like french onion soup, or as toppings for steak, pierogies, or omelets.

In the photo below, I have cut the more traditional way because the dish I was using them in had kids eating it. My kids are horrified at the THOUGHT of an onion, and small pieces are easier to handle.

What is the best way to caramelize onions?

In my opinion, the best way is the classic way – on the stovetop. Follow the step-by-step below for the full instructions. 

Caramelized Onions

Thinly slice the onions!

Melt some butter in a large saute pan. I use about a tablespoon per onion. This was an extra large batch.

Caramelized Onions

With the stove on medium low heat, add the onions and let them cook down, stirring occasionally.

Caramelized Onions

Pretty soon they will start softening up and become translucent.

Caramelized Onions

Pretty soon when you are stirring the onions will start to change texture and become a bit creamy.

Caramelized Onions

In another 10 – 15 minutes you will slowly start seeing the color change.

Caramelized Onions

Keep on keeping on until the onions are a beautiful coppery brown color.

Caramelized Onions

Try and resist eating spoonfuls of this before it goes into your recipe, onto your steak, or wherever else you can dream up to add these.

Recipes Using Caramelized Onions

Are there any other ways to make caramelized onions?

There sure are! You can caramelize them in the pressure cooker, or even on your grill. Check out my Traeger Smoked Caramelized Onions if you don’t have any more room on the stove!

How to Caramelize Onions

Yield: 1 batch

How To Caramelize Onions

How to Caramelize Onions

These caramelized onions are the best! I love putting them in soup, mixed into pasta sauces, inside pierogies, or on steaks and burgers.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 3 large onions
  • 3 tablespoons butter


  1. Place the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Slice onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
  3. Go slow, and be patient! Good caramelized onions take time!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 79Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 48mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g

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How to Caramelize Onions

Wednesday 8th of October 2014

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French Onion Stuffed Meatballs - Or Whatever You Do

Saturday 4th of October 2014

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