Cooking With Caramelized Onions

Transform countless dishes with the rich flavor of caramelized onions.

Caramelized onion on a baked potatoJustin Bernhaut

A More Perfect Onion

With a bit of time and patience but relatively little work, caramelizing turns a tearjerker into a sweet temptation. Breaking down and browning the natural sugars in the onion (see How to Caramelize Onions) give it a melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich flavor that add an extra dimension to everything from burgers to baked potatoes.

You can caramelize yellow, red, or white onions, as well as shallots. But you may want to save relatively expensive sweet onions, such as Vidalias, for other recipes. Their flavor, when intensified, can be cloying.



Onion Upgrades

Caramelized onions need little embellishment. But when you want to fancy them up, add any of the following during the final few minutes:

  • A small splash (about 2 tablespoons per panful) of fortified wine, such as sherry, Madeira, or port
  • A pinch of fresh thyme or finely chopped rosemary
  • A pat of butter, for extra flavor and a nice sheen

Classic Combinations

You can refrigerate caramelized onions for three to four days, or freeze them for up to three months. Cook a large batch and keep them on hand. Add a spoonful (or more) to…

  • Baked potatoes, along with a dollop of sour cream
  • Cooked pasta, along with some crumbled blue cheese, arugula, or spinach
  • Couscous
  • Grilled-cheese sandwiches
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Omelets and frittatas
  • Pan sauces for chicken cutlets or pork chops
  • Pizza, with grated mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese
  • Quesadillas
  • Risotto
  • Sautéed greens
  • Sautéed mushrooms, plus a pinch of fresh thyme
  • Savory tarts (using puff pastry as a crust)
  • Spinach salad
  • Steaks, burgers, pork chops, and sausages
  • Stews and soups, like lentil or French onion
  • Vinaigrette
Read More About:Cooking

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