How To Caramelize Onions

Congratulations!  You made it to Friday!!  Winking smile

This week has been all about two things in our kitchen: caramelized onions + roasted garlic.  [I know, decadent, right?] 

It all started when this woman at the farmer’s market sold me a bucket-full of her Kula onions [the sweet Maui variety] for a dollar.  One dollar!  I have to take a photo of it this week because you guys will never believe it! 

At first I wasn’t sure what to do with so many onions.  And then it began – the obsession.  I felt like I was in the island-girl version of the film Bubba Gump.  Roasted onions, onion pasta sauce, soup with onions, onion + veggie omelets.  And then… caramelized onions.

The idea of caramelizing onions always seemed too time-consuming and difficult to me.  I once watched Alton Brown take on the task, and it seemed like the sunshine in his kitchen had come and gone in the time it took for him to show me how to properly caramelize the things. 

I won’t lie and tell you that it doesn’t take a long time. It does.  But it doesn’t take as long as I had expected.  I now realize that it take less than an hour for prep and caramelizing.  And the end result?  So worth it.  Plus, if you start with quite a few onions, you’ll have extra to store in the fridge.  For, you know, grilled veggie sandwiches.  Or to top a baked sweet potato.  Or to eat straight out of the container. 


Caramelized Onions


  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium sweet onions
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt


Peel and slice/dice your onions [the thinner you slice them, the faster they’ll cook]. 

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot to medium low.  This is essential for caramelizing onions, as you don’t want them to become crispy or brown… you simply want to slowly bring out the sweetness of the onions. 

Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and add the onions as well as the sea salt.  It’s important not to skimp too much on the salt as it brings out moisture in the onions. 

Cover the pot and hang out around the kitchen, because you’re going to have to stir the onions every 5-10 minutes, making sure the heat is low enough to not burn the onions or make them stick to the bottom of the pot. 

After about 20 minutes, remove the lid and allow the onions to continue cooking – continue to stir every 5-10 minutes – until the onions are fall-apart soft, transparent, and light brown [they’re not the prettiest]. 

All together, the caramelizing process should take about 30 to 45 minutes. 



My favorite caramelized onion recipe from this week was this incredible caramelized onion + butternut squash soup [recipe to come soon!]. 


Any big plans for the weekend?

I’ve got three papers, a football game, and a few good naps lined up. Winking smile 

Aloha Pumehana. Whether you’re here to find balance, wholesome recipes or inspiration, I hope you enjoy the posts.  Please subscribe to Green Plate Dinners to receive automatic updates and be the first to read new posts for free!


4 thoughts on “How To Caramelize Onions

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