Caramelizing onions turns an eye-stinging kitchen staple into a sweet, deeply flavoured condiment. Understanding how to caramelize onions is a cooking technique everyone should know and one anybody can master.
Step 1: Overload on Onions
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low. Add 3 tbsp of butter, vegetable or olive oil to the pan, then add at least 4 cups of thinly sliced onions—they’ll shrink down significantly during caramelizing.
You can caramelize any colour of onion you’d like—red, yellow or white onions work equally well. Or use a combination of colors.
Step 2: Start by Sautéing
Stir the onions to coat with fat, then spread out evenly in the pan. Lightly salt the onions—this helps to draw out moisture—and cook them slowly over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
Avoid stirring the onions too frequently. Prolonged contact with the surface of the pan will help promote caramelization.
Step 3: Low and Slow is Key
Cook the onions until they are very soft and have turned a golden brown colour. Don’t rush the process—low and slow is critical to properly caramelize. It may take over 30 min. to reach the colour you want.
Store caramelized onions in a plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze them for up to 1 month.