How to Caramelize Onions

Patience is key when caramelizing onions --but it's not labor-intensive. Check out our step-by-step guide. 

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

How to Caramelize Onions

Katherine Alford from Food Network Kitchen says, “Caramelizing onions can take a while, but adding a big pinch of sugar will make them brown faster. The extra sugar caramelizes along with the onions’ natural sugars, helping the onions get brown in a hurry."

 

By Monica Bhide

Choose Your Onions 

Start with the right onion! Sweet onions like Walla Walla or Vidalia work best. Use a large pan so that you do not crowd it; you want the onions to brown, not steam. And you need patience, as this takes a while — but it’s not labor-intensive. 

Peel and Slice

Peel and slice the onions. They will shrink down a lot during the caramelizing process, so start with at least 2 pounds.

Add Layers to the Pan

Add a layer of onions to the pan and sprinkle with salt. Add another layer of onions and salt again. Keep doing this until you use all the onions. (The salt helps draw out the moisture from the onions.)

Cook the Onions

Cook the onions without stirring for 15 to 20 minutes, then give them a stir to get them all to the bottom of the pan. 

Let Them Brown

Continue cooking for another 20 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until they all are well-browned. If they start to stick and burn, stir in a little water to loosen them.

Serve

Serve right away or transfer to a storage container. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.