I’m not the world’s biggest onion fan, especially raw onions that I feel like I can taste for the rest of the day. But then I discovered caramelized onions. Those are a whole different level of onion. They become sweet but still retain just a little bit of that onion bite. Caramelized onions are one of the best additions to sandwiches, burgers, mac ‘n cheese, or even pizza.
Caramelized onions are super easy to make but they do take a little bit of time and you can’t rush them or you’ll just end up with a fried onion with a little char on it. Those do have a purpose but you won’t develop that sweetness you get when the sugars in the onion caramelize by hanging out over the heat for at least 30 minutes.
Here’s what you need:
It’s common to make caramelized onions with a LOT of butter, but I like to just a bit of olive oil. They don’t come out quite as greasy and the olive oil is a little bit healthier fat too. If you’re patient you can still develop a great sweetness without a lot of fat.
Start by slicing the onions into little half moons. Half the onion by slicing through the root end through the equator. Then slice against the natural circles in the onion – I read somewhere (I don’t remember where) that slicing this way helps them hold their shape and I think there is a little something to that. You can also do a dice on the onions if you want. I do this sometimes when I am going to put them in mac ‘n cheese with elbows just to get the sizes to match better.
I sliced up 2 large onions for this batch.
Start by adding about a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a pan and setting it on low heat.
Add the onions and cover them. I like to cook for the first 10-15 minutes covered and more or less untouched. I shake the pan a couple times to move them around but I usually don’t lift the lid to allow the steam to stay inside the pan and sweat the onions down. It helps if you use a pan with a clear lid so you can watch the progress.
When it’s ready to take the lid off the onions will have started to become translucent and there might be just a tiny bit of color started.
Now, I continue cooking with the lid off. Keeping the lid off won’t let the onions steam anymore and it will let them start to develop some color.
Don’t rush this step, it will take some time for the color to develop.
And finally, we’re there. It’s probably taken another 20-30 minutes to get to this point.
You can take them farther if you want them and go for a really deep brown instead of the golden that I have. Some of that depends on the time and how hungry you are.
If you’ve never had caramelized onions, you’ll be amazed at how much sweeter these are. The long, slow cooking is process released the sugars in the onions and responsible for the flavor.
Because caramelized onions take a decent amount of time and go on a lot of things, I like to make a big batch and keep them in the fridge for a couple weeks – if they last that long.
- 2 large onions
- 1-2 T olive oil
- Thinly slice both onions into half moon shapes.
- Add the olive oil to the pan over low heat. Add the onions to the pan. Cover and cook on low for 10-15 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to make sure they don’t stick.
- Remove the cover and continue cooking until they become a deep golden color, stirring occasionally. It will take another 20-30 minutes to get to this point.