How To Make Caramelized Onions

Onion rings on beef
Caramelized onions make a delicious topping for many recipes, including steak. They are easy to make, and add a unique taste to many meals. Caramelizing is the process of cooking the sugar in the onion, turning it golden brown. It's very easy to caramelize onions, and it is surprisingly fast.

Step 1

Ingredients and supplies:

  • 1-4 onions (sweet onions, yellow or white)
  • Butter
  • Oil (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Knife
  • Nonstick skillet
  • Spatula

Step 2

Slice the onion. You can use many different types of onions for this process; many people find that the sweetness in sweet onions results in the best caramelized onions. First, make sure the onion is clean. Then, slice off the ends of the onion. Now, slice into one-inch sections, and separate into rings. Finally, cut the rings into slices. If you're using caramelized onions as a garnish, most recipes will use one onion, but you can caramelize up to four at the same time. Ideally you should be able to fit them all on one layer in your skillet. Keep in mind that they will cook down as you heat them, so make sure that you slice enough onions to begin with. Otherwise you may reach the end of the process and not have enough caramelized onion for your planned recipe.

Step 3

Melt the butter. Place the butter in a nonstick pan and heat over medium-high heat until melted. You may want to use a mixture of butter and oil, because oil does not burn as easily as butter. Whether using butter or a mixture, be sure there is enough to coat the bottom of the skillet, plus about a tablespoon more. Don't use too much oil, or you will fry the onion.

Step 4

Place onions in the skillet. Once the skillet is hot and the butter has melted, place the onions in the pan. Using the spatula, make sure they are coated with the melted butter. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Try not to have more than a single layer of onions in the skillet, although they will cook down during the process.

Step 5

Caramelize the onion. Let the onions sit in the pan, cooking for ten minutes until they turn golden brown. The trick to making caramelized onions is to cook fairly slowly. Make sure they don't burn by tossing every few minutes. If you notice burning, you may need to add a little oil to he pan. Continue cooking, tossing every five minutes, until the onions have reached a dark golden brown color. The exact stopping point depends on your preferences.

Caramelizing the onions brings out their sweetness and flavor. They are a sweet and savory addition to many dishes.


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