The perfect sticky caramelized onions are very easy to make but cannot be rushed. Ideal for making ahead and adding to burgers, soups, stews or serving with a cheeseboard. Make ahead and store in the fridge or freezer.
When I need some thinking time I make risotto. That 20 minutes spent at the stove, stirring, adding a spoon of stock then repeating is calming, almost meditative and I gain a delicious meal at the end.
If I really need to think I make caramelized onions, they are not quite as hands on as a risotto, but do require at least 75% of your attention and take at least an hour and a half. Thinking and list-writing time a plenty. Caramelized onions are simply very slowly fried onions, as they slowly cook the natural sugars in the onion caramelize and becomes sweet and golden brown. as the water in the onions evaporates the flavours become more concentrated.
I like to use a mixture of butter and oil to cook the the caramelized onions in. Oil has a higher burning point, and butter has more flavour. By mixing them together you get the best of both! If you want to make vegan caramelized onions the cook them in 100% oil.
Which onions caramelize best?
So long as you cook them slowly and keep stirring from time to time to stop the onions from catching and burning you can used any type of onion. I used a mix of white and red. You can also add shallots and garlic.
How do I prepare onions for making caramelized onions?
Its really easy to prepare the onions, simply slice in half, peel, top and tail and slice into even slices – about 1/2 cm or a 1/4 inch.
How long to does it take to make caramelized onions?
It depends on how many onions you have and the size of your pan. With the slicing and slow cooking even one or two onions is going to take at least 30 – 40 minutes. A large batch up to twice as long. When making caramelized onions there really are no shortcuts it takes time.
Prepare the onions, heat the butter and oil over a gentle heat, add the onions and season and gently cook, stirring all the time until golden brown, soft, sticky and sweet.
How do I know my caramelized onions are cooked?
When ready the onions will be soft, sweet, and golden brown. They will have also reduced to about a fifth of the original volume.
Can I freeze caramelized onions?
Yes – pack your onions into a glass jar, or airtight pot and freeze. Or alternatively homemade caramelized onions can prepared ahead and be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
How do I use caramelized onions?
Spoon them into a bowl and serve with burgers & BBQed foods, add to dips. Enjoy them as they come with a spoon. I freeze them in ice cube trays and use a cube or two as a base for curries, stews and soups.
How to make perfect caramelized onions
- 1 tbs good quality olive oil
- 25 g butter
- 1 1/2 kg onions - peeled and thinly sliced - I used a mix of white and red
- 4 fat cloves garlic - peeled
- Salt & Pepper
- Place the oil and butter in a large non stick pan or wok, place over a low heat and allow to melt.
- Add the onions and garlic and stir well.
- Allow to cook until reduced, brown and caramelized, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent the onions sticking and burning. This may take up to an hour and a half.
- Season well to taste.
I used my new Le Creuset Toughened Non-Stick wok for this making these caramelized onions. The wok is robust, but lightweight, has two small handles; making it easy to lift as well as more compact for storage, can be used on the hob, in the oven, is PFOA-free and importantly goes in the dishwasher (although the non stick is so good that it is very easy to wash by hand – even after having cooked sticky onions for an hour and a half).
The 28cm Le Creuset Toughened Non-Stick Wok is available from Le Creuset & other retailers RRP £120
Recipe commissioned by Le Creuset. I was also gifted some items from the range. All opinions our own.