How to Caramelize Onions

I have found that just putting onions over a low heat and expecting them to caramelize is an exercise in futility. At least for me, me of little patience. Instead, I stir fry the onions on high heat, constantly stirring, to kick-start the browning and release a lot of the water. Then I let them sit on low heat for a while to get that sugar flowing. Then at the end, I hit them with one more burst of high heat. Hereís what they look like throughout the process.


First step, I sliced the onions in half at the root, then sliced them thinly against the grain. I soaked them in water for a couple of hours.

Then I put the cast iron pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes so the heat will be nice and even. Then I turn it up to high, pour in a couple of gluggs of olive oil, wait a few seconds, then toss in the onions.

Those are two onions worth:


Add some salt. You can add pepper, too, if you want. Thyme is nice. You donít have to. Stir constantly. That pot is hot and you donít want the onions to burn:


After about 10 minutes, youíll see little bits of brown beginning to form on the onions and on the bottom of the pan. You donít want too much of this at high heat.


Add a little bit of butter and stir that up.


Now turn the heat down to medium or medium-low. Spread the onions out over the surface of the pan so they will cook evenly.


Stir occasionally. Watch the pot. You donít want them to burn. This takes about 20 minutes.


At the very end, as theyíre getting browner and browner, turn the heat back up to medium-high. Give them a few stirs until they finally get deep brown. They will smell amazing. Turn them out onto a plate, and use them for whatever you wish!


09:46:00 on 03/07/10 by liz - Category: Cooking


Valerie wrote:

I always wondered how to do that. Thanks!

03/10/10 10:11:07

Sue Feind wrote:

I always add a touch of sugar to help them carmeize.

03/10/10 10:33:18

liz wrote:

Nice. Thanks Sue. And you're welcome, Valerie!

03/11/10 09:52:38

Shannon Thompson wrote:

If you add a little bit of baking soda to them they caramelize in about half the time. It speeds up the malliard reaction in the onions or something like that. Be very careful though, too much baking soda makes them taste a little wierd. I prefere the long method, myself though.

03/13/10 08:07:01

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