Caramelized Onions

July 19, 2016
Caramelized Onions - Caramelized onions are tender, candy-sweet (yet savory) and will turn anything from a burger to a bowl of pasta into something instantly gourmet

“These are the days of the endless summer

These are the days; the time is now

Garden 3-1200x

The Garden – July 16, 2016

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There is no past; there's only future

There's only here; there's only now”   ~ Van Morrison

This weekend, as my husband and I drove home from the garden, we were dirty and sweaty; the last glimmers of the day's light reflected off the cornfields.  Little Z rode shot-gun on the console beside us, his fur all wet from playing in the sprinkler, his tongue flapping in the ac, and smiling a huge happy puppy smile.  The only thing on my mind?

These are the days, and how very thankful I am for them all

I thought today it might be fun to share a few highlights.  Things that have been happening in our world


Caramelized Onions - Caramelized onions are tender, candy-sweet (yet savory) and will turn anything from a burger to a bowl of pasta into something instantly gourmet

Listening to: Gone With the Wind.  Twenty-nine(!) years ago, I spent the summer in a hospital bed.  My Grandmother helped pass the time by reading me Gone with the Wind.  It's a story I don't want to forget

Cooking:  Warm Salad of Roasted Kale, Coconut + Tomatoes, Red Flannel Hash, and lots of Iowa sweet corn on the grill

Smiling at:  All of our friends

As the responses came in for last weekend's Spaghetti Saturday, it was clear it would be the first we'd have to cancel.  They were everywhere(!)   At the beach, sipping pink cocktails at pool parties, dipping their toes in the river, in New Zealand, California, Wisconsin, Chicago, running races, and playing jazz at weddings.

Loving:  Night walks around the neighborhood

Happy:  For subtracting much from my life, less stuff, less self-imposed pressures, less noise, less negativity from others. I ‘m a better me with less

Enjoying:  My grandchildren.  One who's on the cusp of walking.  The other collecting ants, digging for worms, asking for band-aids,  asking to visit Grandma and Pappa, wishing for the moon (and an ice cream cone)

Proud:  For building a life that I truly love

Pondering:  Names for the newest additions to our furry family (English cream golden retrievers).  We can't wait to bring them home the first weekend in August

One the short list?  Harry and Sally, Fred and Ginger, The Professor and Mary Ann

Our New Puppies - 1024x

The first pictures of our new puppies – 5 weeks old (Boy on the left and girl on the right)

As gardens brim with onions this time of year, caramelizing them is a great way to put them to use.  It's such a wonderful way to pull flavor from the simplest of ingredients

Few things will amplify the flavor of your dish in quite the same way.  They're tender, candy-sweet (yet savory), and can turn anything from a burger to a bowl of fresh pasta into something instantly gourmet

The biggest thing to remember?  They can't be rushed.  Bump up the heat, and they're sure to burn.  Take them off too early, and while they may look authentic, they'll lack the deeply caramelized, hauntingly savory flavor

The only way to go about it is to grab your biggest pan, set the burner to medium-low heat, and let them cook.  At this temp, the sugars trapped within the onions will caramelize steadily, never burning, and instead grow ever more golden and delicious

Don't feel like hovering by the stove-top?  Once the onions are going, simply check on them every few minutes to give them a stir. Be sure to scape the sticky “fond” that builds up on the bottom of the pan and incorporate it back in.

Caramelized Onions - Caramelized onions are tender, candy-sweet (yet savory) and will turn anything from a burger to a bowl of pasta into something instantly gourmet

A few tips and tricks?

One way to ensure the most even browning is to use a radial cut when slicing your onions.  By slicing the halves on an angle (rather than straight down), you'll end up with pieces closer in size that will cook at the same rate

Halve the onion and notch out the ends

Start cutting thin slices at a low angle and follow the natural curve of the onion

Adjust the angle of your knife as you slice; it should be at 90 degrees when you've reached the middle

Flip the onion over and repeat

You can certainly use water during the deglazing stage, but wine sure does take them up a notch.

Many recipes call for butter only, but on its own, butter has a tendency to burn.  Instead, use something with a higher smoke point.

Caramelized Onions - Caramelized onions are tender, candy-sweet (yet savory) and will turn anything from a burger to a bowl of pasta into something instantly gourmet

Now that you have a big batch of caramelized onions, what are some ideas for using them?

A spoonful on slices of a baguette for a quick appetizer.  They're great on top of pizza or steak, in fajitas, layered onto burgers and sandwiches (especially grilled cheese), added to salads, or even straight out of the pan

If you're feeling brave, like my Dad and Granny, you might even love liver and caramelized onions



ps:  For more tips and tricks:  Caramelized Onions – Common Mistakes and How to Avoid them   [via Bon Appetit]

— — —

~ Adapted from Fine Cooking | Cook Fresh Spring 2015

Caramelized Onions


  • 2 Tbsp clarified butter
  • 2 ½ lb. onions peeled, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced lengthwise (see notes above)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp + more as needed for de-glazing the pan white or red wine, vegetable or chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, or water


  • In a 12" skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until it immediately bubbles when an onion touches it (~ a minute)
  • Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until they've wilted completely and are beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan (~ 10 -20 minutes)
  • Much of the onion's moisture will evaporate and the pan will begin to brown. The cooking time will vary depending upon the moisture content of your onions.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring and scraping the pan with a wooden spoon every few minutes. (If the pan begins to look like it’s burning, add a couple of tablespoons of the liquid, stir, and lower the heat a bit.)
  • Continue the process of cooking, stirring, scraping and adding water as needed, until the onions have turned a uniform caramel brown (~ another 35-40 minutes)
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of the liquid and scrape the pan well.
  • If you're not using the onions immediately, let them cool in the pan, then transfer them to a storage container.
  • Caramelized onions can be kept refrigerated for around a week or frozen for up to three months.
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  • Reply Tomi June 19, 2017 at 7:47 am

    5 stars
    Aha “clarified butter”. I will definitely have to try my recipe using clarified butter as I imagine the taste is amazing. I generally use unsalted butter and add salt to taste but clarified butter is such a flavor enhancer and topper for fajitas and toast points. *pinky finger up* Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to try this.

  • Reply Sarah Bailey June 19, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Oh my goodness how cute are the newest members of your family! I bet August cannot come quickly enough so you can have them home with you!

  • Reply Tina June 19, 2017 at 10:01 am

    I just made Caramelized onions on Friday for Cowboy dogs. I could eat them all by themselves. I did not clarify the butter first so I might have to try that next time before adding the onions. You new family members are adorable. Harry & Sally are adorable names. I have 3 sweet boys, but I would love two more to name them Rascal & Flatts 🙂

  • Reply Censie Sawyer June 19, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Bummer that you had to postpone your Saturday plans. Summer is always so busy and goes so fast! I love those puppies! My kids want a puppy bad. I am not ready for that! ha! I love Caramelized onions but I have never made them. I will have to save this to try them on my own.

  • Reply Lisa June 19, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    WOW, Gone With The Wind, that was my favorite book back in the day! OMGoodness, those puppies are just too cute, we recently loss our cat and now the kids are asking for a puppy. After seeing how cute you furry english cream golden retrievers are I might give in. As for the caramelized onions, I will have to say I have never heard of anyone caramelizing opinions before. I just may give this recipe a try!

  • Reply Lisa June 20, 2017 at 1:04 am

    Carmalized onions are my husband’s favorite! definitely going to pin this for later 🙂

  • Reply Kasandra June 20, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Man I love carmelized onions. I didnt know you could do this with wine! Also i didnt know the trick of cutting it at an angle to get it to brown better.

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