Farm and Packing Blog

How to Caramelize Onions Like a Pro

Blake Branen Rosencrantz - Saturday, April 14, 2012
Caramelized onions are easy to make. All you need is a little patience and a few onions. Now, caramelizing onions should not be confused with browning onions. Browning an onion can be done in a matter of minutes in a hot pan – but caramelizing, which can take 30 minutes or longer - develops a deep sweetness and an amber color that goes all the way through the onion. It takes longer – but it is so worth the time! How you slice the onions makes a difference on the final result. For caramelized onions that stop at nothing short of melting in your mouth, you will want to cut your onions into thin slice longitudinally, or from the root end to the stem. If you want your onions with a little more structure or firmness, slice them into thin rings. Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, sliced per your preference
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter, or a mixture of the two
  • Heavy pinch of salt
  • Optional additions for extra flavor:
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh minced herbs, or dried herbs
  • A teaspoon of honey, agave nectar or corn syrup
Instructions:
  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the oil/butter.
  2. Once the butter has melted and is hot, add as many onions to the pan as will fit in a ½” layer in the pan.
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the onions. The salt helps to draw water and dissolved sugars out of the onion. (When you salt the onions at the beginning, it will take longer to achieve browning because of the extra water it draws out, but ultimately, your onions will have a much better flavor and will brown more evenly if you add the salt at the beginning of the cooking process.)
  4. Cook the onions over medium low heat.
  5. Stir the onions every couple of minutes, and adjust the heat accordingly till you hear just a slight sizzlely sound. .
  6. Add in your optional ingredients, and continue cooking on medium-low to low heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and anywhere from honey-colored to deep brown - depending on how caramelized you want them to be.
This process can take awhile depending on the amount of onions you have. Usually from 20 minutes to over a half our. Don’t worry; as long as you cook them slowly and stir them frequently, you will not end up with burned onions. Now that your onions are finished – try using them is this delicious side recipe we found on seriouseats.com – Roasted Brussels Sprouts with caramelized onions and bacon!      
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