Overhead View of Caramelized Onions on a Plate As you know, we are traveling to Europe for a year, starting in late September. We have stayed in different locations around Denver for the past few months, so cooking sometimes becomes a chore and not a love.

I must say it has been great practice for when we get overseas. We have learned A LOT about dealing with difficult situations and the universe has provided what we have needed, except an environment for giving you recipes, until recently.

I am the type of person who needs a happy place for creating and cooking. I am not inspired to cook well when the people around me are hostile, angry, unkind and unloving. BUT, place me in a good environment and I thrive.

We are now in a beautiful artsy home with two great roommates who I love and adore and they show me the same affection. It is a HAPPY place for me to cook and create new recipes once again!

Raw onions cooking
Raw onions cooking

With the weather cooling off, I am getting into the complicated roasting and long-time cooking meals, which leads me to caramelized onions.

Everyone needs to know how to make good caramelized onions. Cooked long and slow, the onions sweat down into beautiful strings of sweet goodness that just melt in the mouth.

Caramelized onions are the main ingredient in French Onion Soup, go great on hamburgers and taste so wonderful in my Potato Fennel Gratin (I’ll share some other time).

Caramelized onions part way through cooking
Caramelized onions part way through cooking

The trick to caramelizing onions is to allow them to stick slightly to the bottom of the pan for a short amount of time to gain the caramel goodness but not long enough to burn.

I get there by listening to the sound of them while cooking. They have a quiet mummer while cooking without sticking too much which get louder and louder to a popping noise as they begin to burn.

I work on the rest of the dish close by while listening and stirring. Caramelized onions do need a good bit of stirring. They also take about 45 minutes to an hour to cook down to about a quarter of the bulk of the uncooked onions.

Finished Caramelized Onions
Finished Caramelized Onions

As far as a recipe goes, I use onions, salt, pepper, a little sugar, oil and a large splash of balsamic vinegar. I base the amounts on the amount of onions I use, such as two large onions need about 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. sugar, pepper to taste and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. The balsamic vinegar is not a normal addition to regular caramelized onions but the added flavor is worth splashing a little or a lot in.

Caramelized Onions in the FennelPotato Gratin
Caramelized Onions in the FennelPotato Gratin

Learning how to properly caramelize onions does take a decent amount of patience because they do take so long and require constant attention but the flavors they add to food are so worth the time. Once again, I am reminded of how cooking is about being present.

Go find your happy place, be present and caramelize some onions. I promise, you’ll be happy that you did!

Caramelized onions on counter

More recipes using caramelized onions:

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Crostini from One Sweet Mess

Caramelized Onion Feta Spinach Pizza with White Sauce from Little Spice Jar

Beefstake Tomato Tart with Caramelized Onions & Thyme from Vodka & Biscuits

French Onion Soup from Bite Me More

Bacon Burgers with Bourbon Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese from Recipe Runner

0 thoughts on “Back to the Basics: Caramelized Onions”

  1. I came across a recipe once that said making caramelized onions took several HOURS. And I was just like “… you are doing something so wrong.”

    I’d never thought of adding balsamic vinegar to them, but I can see how it would complement them well!

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