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How to make caramelized onions

Caramelized onions are one of my favorite ingredients to turn an ordinary dish into a gourmet meal. When I’m on an onion kick, I make large a large batch of caramelized onions and keep it on hand in the refrigerator to add to grain-based recipes, pile on sandwiches or veggie burgers, scatter on pizza, or use as a flavorful garnish. 

How to make caramelized onions

Yields about 2 cups


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 to 7 medium onions, halved, thinly sliced
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat oil in a large, wide, heavy-duty saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, stir a few times to coat with oil, then spread out to cover the bottom of the pan.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. If pan starts to dry out, lower heat to medium-low, and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to keep onions from sticking to the pan or burning.
  6. Stir in sugar and vinegar. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned.
  7. Remove from heat and use immediately or let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Note: You may also freeze completely cooled caramelized onions. Transfer onions to a freezer bag, spreading them in a thin layer (instead of bunching them into a pile in the bottom of the bag), remove the air from the bag and seal. Onions can be frozen for up to 2 months.

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