How to Caramelize Onions

by Eve on October 21, 2011

Today I’d like to share my method of caramelizing onions. I’ve been asked on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, how I get my caramelized onions to have that luscious brown color. It’s super easy, and I’m happy to share with you just how I do it.

How to Caramelize Onions


  • 2 large sweet onions (I like organically grown Vidalia)
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Kosher Salt (or Sea Salt)
  • Fresh ground black Pepper (optional)


I start by coating the bottom of a sauté pan with a drizzle of olive oil and two teaspoons of butter (or 1 teaspoon per onion if you use more than 2 onions).

Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is hot. Add the onion slices and stir to coat them with the olive oil. Let the onions cook, stirring only occasionally. Not often, occasionally people, you don’t want to tear them. (Emeril would say, “Be nice. What’d they ever do to you?”)

Reduce the heat to medium to prevent the onions from burning, and after 10 minutes, sprinkle some Kosher or coarse sea salt over the onions. I also add some fresh ground black pepper, but you can skip that if you don’t like pepper.

Let the onions cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes or so. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan and browning, stir them or gently flip them over with a spatula. (I like to flip, because it prevents the tender onions from tearing.)

The trick is not to stir them while they’re trying to brown. I know it’s scary for some people to just leave them alone, but try! The main reason your caramelized onions may not be as browned as you’d like is because you stirred them too much. Just go have a glass of wine and maybe jump on twitter for a few minutes, mkay?

Drop the heat to low or med/low and maybe add another teaspoon of butter to get them to brown further. Let them cook for another 30 minutes on low, stirring only if you see them sticking to the pan.

Once they look caramelized and have a rich brown color, remove them from the heat and let them sit in the pan for a few minutes.

After they’re cool, you can serve them with your meal. Or store them, covered in the refrigerator for later. They’ll keep for about a week.

I like to keep some on hand throughout the week to add a punch of flavor to otherwise boring dishes. The other day we added some leftover caramelized onions to some quick and easy quesadillas. Yum!

Happy Caramelizing,

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