Caramelizing Onions

Caramelized onions are life changing. When done right, they can add a BURST of flavor to foods – sandwiches, pizzas, crostinis, and soups (like my mom’s favorite – French Onion!). It is something that needs to be “baby sat” on the stove for about 40 minutes. I like to set it up, and do other things – in this case I was making pizza dough while checking on my caramelizing onions every five minutes.

There are methods out there to cut down the cooking times, as well as easier methods like using a crock pot or in the oven. I’ve had mixed results with everything but the old tried and true way of doing it on the stove, so I continue to do it the old school way!

Here are our ingredients:
P1020146Onions, salt, olive oil, and butter. Check out my ADORABLE butter dish – we received it as a gift from some dear friends when we got engaged, and it’s from Germany! How cool is that! My salt cellar was also an engagement gift – getting married was the best thing that happened to my kitchen 😉

I used my Lodge Cast Iron pan for this – I really need to invest in stainless steel cookware, and it’s REALLY hard to caramelize on nonstick teflon, so I rely on my trusty cast iron. I’ve had it for about four years now, and it’s FINALLY seasoned enough to be my go-to. I regret the moment a decade ago when I donated all of my old cast iron pans to the salvation army when I was moving one day. I used to collect them from old flea markets whenever I was hanging out in Maine, and I regret my rash “cleaning out” decision all the time!

Start slicing your onion.
P1020150So my original plan was to use both onions, but once I started slicing, I realized I only had enough room on my pan for just one. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan, or the onions start sweating, not caramelizing.

Melt your butter over medium heat – I’m a HUGE fan of Kerrygold due to the richer flavor of the butter.
P1020153I also added several twists of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) to the pan. Add your onions, and toss to coat with the yummy cooking fats.

P1020155I would say that this is a hair too many onions for the pan, but it worked for me! Now you can do other things in the kitchen, and toss every 3-5 minutes. And if you don’t have a good venting system, I would highly recommend shutting your bedroom doors since the house is going to be permeating with the smell of onions!

Be careful of the pan handle if you’re using cast iron – I have Ikea kitchen towels everywhere that I just grab and use. My days working at a kitchen taught me the value of great side towels, and I love how cheap yet durable these kitchen towels are. I literally have about 30 of them kicking around – I use them for napkins for Thanksgiving dinners for guests when we have over 20 people crammed into our tiny apartment, as well as for wiping up spills whenever things get messy. And since they’re cheap, I can buy a bunch when I’ve “ruined” a few from red wine!

This is after about 15 minutes.

P1020159After another 10-15 minutes.


And you do this for about 30-40 minutes, until the onions are brown and delicious looking! You can deglaze with wine or stock – I used water near the end. Salt to taste.

Now the caramelized onions can be used for umami thumping opportunities! This can be refrigerated for several days.

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4 thoughts on “Caramelizing Onions

  1. More recipes than you can count start with a little sliced or diced onion, so it’s important to learn the right way to cut an onion.

    1. I completely agree!! I was taught the “tiger claw” when I first started working in kitchens, and it’s served me well ever since (and has kept me from severing several fingers)!

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