Baking onions to perfection: caramelized onions in 5 steps

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Caramelized onions are a feast at any meal. They are rich in flavour, deliciously sweet and not at all difficult to make. All you need when baking onions is a little patience. With this step-by-step plan you can make divine onions with a caramel-like aroma in a slow  (and therefore soothing!) way.

  • Onions, chopped
  • Olive oil or butter
  • Sea salt
  • Water or white wine

You will also need a fairly large, heavy frying pan and a wooden spatula. Also keep in mind that you will end up with about a quarter of the original amount of onions.

Step 1 to the perfect fried onions

Heat the frying pan to medium-high temperature (that is, hot enough that you can still touch the pan with your fingers without burning it). Put the olive oil or butter in the pan and immediately afterwards the onions with a pinch of sea salt.

Another method is to first fry the onions dry, and only add oil later. The tip comes from chef Andrew Scrivani, he wrote this in The New York Times .

Here’s how: put the onion rings in a dry (!) frying pan. So no oil or anything. Once the onions start to darken, but before they actually burn, add oil and a pinch of salt. This stops the tanning process. Then you sauté them until they become soft and still a little crispy.

Stirring sauteing red onions with wooden spoon in cooking pan, closeup

Step 2: sauté the onions

Start by gently sautéing the onions. The heat of the pan and the salt will make the moisture disappear from the onions. Make sure that the pan is not too hot, because the onions should not brown at this stage.

Turn them regularly. The onions will now start to become ‘glassy’ (transparent). It may help to put the lid on the pan so that even more moisture disappears from the onions.

Did you know that your fried onions are delicious with your sweet potato soup ?

Step 3: let the onions fry

Let the onions fry for a few more minutes, they should become more and more translucent. The moisture now evaporates further. Keep stirring well and turn the heat up or down, this remains a matter of feeling. Still make sure the onions don’t brown.

How do you prevent this? Don’t turn the heat up too high and: stir, stir, stir.

Step 4: the onions turn brown

Now we are going to make sure that the onions are nicely browned. After a few more minutes of baking, they will get some color around the edges, the onions will start to caramelize and take on a slightly sweet taste. The color changes from golden brown to a slightly deeper brown.

Step 5: caramelize the onions

Continue cooking and stirring until onions are nicely caramelized. You want the onions to brown completely, not just the edges.

Caramelizing requires some patience: allow about 20 to 45 minutes, depending on how dark you want the onions. The bottom of the pan will now turn a little brown, this is how it should be.

Almost finished…

Are you satisfied with how the fried onions look and taste? Then sprinkle a little water or wine over it; the pan will sizzle a lot due to the heat. Toss the onions again so that they are completely mixed with the liquid. Want super caramelized onions? Then repeat this process a few times and keep stirring in between. The result: beautiful, caramelized onions with a rich, dark color and a divinely sweet taste.  Enjoy! 

Do you think this is all too much hassle? Then read our tip for super-fast caramelized onions .

The tip for the best baked onions

The secret? Baking soda ! Adding just a pinch to your pan with the onions yet to be cooked will speed up the browning process and reduce the time it takes for them to soften. Useful! Always use yellow onions, because these give off the most flavor and when fried, they are just as sweet as sweet onions.

This one is also delicious: Quiche with bacon and caramelized onions

Onions caremelizing in frying pan with wooden cooking spatula

Want to make more delicious recipes?

On Culy you will find the best recipes for every moment of the day. Consider one of the dishes below:

  • Delicious salmon teriyaki (delicious on the bbq)
  • Roasted chicory & carrot with nuts, goat cheese and honey
  • The perfect baked potato

And an easy dessert to end the day. We have made a list full of desserts that can be on the table within 15 minutes .

Source: Culy by
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