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Caramelized Onions

Richly sweet and buttery, caramelized onions are pure savory deliciousness and require only a few ingredients—yellow onions, low heat and a little patience.

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homemade caramelized onions being stirred in a pan

What Are Caramelized Onions?

While you’ve surely eaten them before—if you’ve had Homemade Onion Dip, you’ve had caramelized onions—you may not be familiar with exactly what caramelized onions are. Caramelized onions are yellow onions that have been cooked slowly over low heat to—surprise surprise—caramelize the sugars in the onion. And what exactly do caramelized onions taste like? As the name suggests, they have a sweetness that’s totally unique—perfect caramelized onions are savory and rich and totally addictive.

onions in a pan
3 large yellow onions sliced in a pan with oil and butter
3 large yellow onions sliced in a pan with oil and butter starting to caramelize
3 large yellow onions sliced in a pan with oil and butter caramelizing

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What Kind of Onion Is Best to Caramelize?

You’ll want to load up on regular yellow onions for this one. Not only are they the most widely available onion in the U.S., their assertive sharpness is perfect for this caramelized onion recipe. But to be honest, red or white onions will caramelize just fine using this recipe if that’s all you have on hand.

easy Caramelized Onions in a black pan
Perfect Caramelized Onions starting to brown in a pan

How To Make Caramelized Onions:

Making caramelized onions is extremely simple. It does take time—this is definitely a “low-and-slow” recipe—but time is just about all that this easy caramelized onion recipe requires of you. They’re as easy as:

  1. Chopping onions. Slice the yellow onions into thin (but not so thin as to burn when they hit a warm pan) half-moons.
  2. Cooking said onions in a warm, butter-and-oil slicked pan for a full hour, stirring occasionally. This is admittedly pretty boring—in other words, it’s an excellent opportunity to catch up on that show you’ve been meaning to watch, or finally finish that book you’ve been reading.
  3. When the onions are deeply brown, jammy and meltingly soft, and their sweetly enticing smell is so powerful that you just can’t take it anymore, you’re done!
homemade Caramelized Onion recipe finished in a pan

How Long Are Caramelized Onions Good For?

The good news is that, although they take some time to make, caramelized onions keep really well. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge, and they’ll be just as sweet, rich and delicious as the day you made them for at least a few days, and easily up to a week.

I Made Caramelized Onions—Now What?

Now, you feast! Caramelized onions can be used in just about a million ways to make anything and everything taste just a little better. Here are just a few ways we love to use caramelized onions:

  • Top Classic Cheese Burgers with them! Melted cheddar and caramelized onions on top of a grilled burger? Yes, please.
  • Speaking of melted cheese, caramelized onions turn a Grilled Cheese into a meal fit for company—seriously! Just add a Green Salad and prepare yourself for rave reviews.
  • Will you allow for one more cheese-related suggestion? The best caramelized onion pairing just might be goat cheese. The grassy flavors of a really great slab of creamy chevré spread on a crusty piece of baguette topped with a heaping spoonful of caramelized onions? Do us a favor and try it, OK?
homemade Caramelized Onions in a pan

Tools You’ll Need:

Onions are Superheroes:

The smell of onions cooking in a pan is the start of so many great recipes, and occasionally those very onions get to take the starring role in a main dish. We love when that happens, don’t you? If so, try your hand at:

close up of homemade Caramelized Onions in a pan

Caramelized Onions in Everything.

We hope you make these caramelized onions, and that you love them, too! Snap a photo of the dish you put them in and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Caramelized Onions

  • Yields: 1¾ cups
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  1 hr

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ pounds yellow onions (about 3 large), halved and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar (optional)

Method

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, spread the onions into a single layer, and cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, then returning the onions to a single layer, until the onions are golden brown and caramelized, 45 to 60 minutes total. If the onions are browning too quickly, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until they stop browning and return to caramelizing.
2. Taste and add salt as needed. Stir in the brown sugar, if desired. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories104
  • Protein1 g
  • Carbohydrates8 g
  • Total Fat8 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol10 mg
  • sodium3 mg
  • Total Sugars5 g

Caramelized Onions

Questions & Reviews

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  • Jenn

    I can finally caramelize onions! Thanks for this recipe! I never realized I should be using olive oil and butter together. Absolutely delicious! Served them on burgers!

    You're so welcome, so glad you enjoyed them!