One of the first things I learned in the kitchen was How to Caramelize Onions. Caramelized onions are versatile, simple, undeniably delicious, and disliked by absolutely no one.

Caramelized Onions

While their flavor and appeal is undeniable, there is a lot of time and patience that goes into preparing them, and patience is something I may not always excel at.
Patience has been my repeat New Year’s resolution for the last two decades.
  • Grocery store lines prickle my skin.
  • Red lights make me antsy.
  • Peeking at Christmas presents? Guilty!

In general, I detest waiting, unless it’s worth it. Really worth it. Perfectly caramelized onions are worth it.

How to Caramelize Onions without Butter

Caramelizing onions transforms them from pale, pungent slices into sweet, rich ribbons of velvet. It is a process that takes at least a half hour, more if you truly take advantage of the onions’ potential. The flavor, versatility, and depth you receive in return for perfectly caramelized onions, however, is worth every fragrant minute.

Because the cook time is largely unattended, caramelizing onions is a task you can literally shift to the back burner. Another time-saving option is to prepare them in advance, then store in the fridge until ready for use.

Whatever your end, these perfectly caramelized onions are worth the wait.

How to Use Caramelized Onions

Caramelized onions are exquisite, versatile, and shockingly simple to prepare. Here are some of my favorite recipes with caramelized onions:

  1. Top Pizzas and Flatbreads. Throw some onions on this Broccoli Pizza Crust.
  2. Thicken Sauces and Soups. One of my soup secrets!
  3. Add to Quiches. Caramelized onions, turkey bacon, and spinach make a stellar combo.
  4. Fold Into Bread Dough. Incorporate a healthy portion into this heavenly Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. Keep the rosemary or let the caramelized onions shine on their own
  5. Top Rolls and Baguettes Prior to Baking. YUM!
  6. Serve as an Easy Side Dish. Invite me over when you serve them, please.

More Simple Vegetable Side Dishes

How to Caramelize Onions

Step by step to make perfectly caramelized onions.
Servings: 2 servings


  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch salt


  • Thinly slice onions. Place in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally (about once every five minutes), until the onions are dry but not yet sticking to the pan, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir in olive oil and salt, then cover and reduce heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring infrequently, until the onions turn a deep caramel brown, at least 15 minutes and up to 40 minutes more. Use as desired.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
All text and images ©Erin Clarke / Well Plated
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