Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Frugal Kitchen: Caramelized Onions

Nothing smells better than walking into the house when onions are cooking.  It smells as though the cook has been working all day, but making caramelized onions is very easy.

Add butter to a pan on medium heat, while it melts thinly slice a large onion.  I like to use a sweeter onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla.

Separate the onion into rings, then add to your melted butter.

I like to add a little kosher salt at this point.  I keep my salt for cooking in a vintage glass refrigerator container.

Keep stirring your onions over medium heat.  You will see that the salt is drawing moisture out of the onions.  The onions won't begin to brown until all of that moisture has been boiled off.  It helps to have a helper for this step, while you do other work in the kitchen.

Kitchen Helper
Soon you will see that the onions have let off all of their moisture and that it has boiled off.  If you want the onions to be a uniform, golden color turn the heat down to medium low.  Keep stirring.

Now Onions Are Softened
Your onions will become slightly brown, then will begin to darken.  This is the time to watch for burning.

Starting To Brown
When the onions have reached the color you desire it is the time to add any spices or flavoring.  I left them plain since I was serving them over pirogi.  You could add a teaspoon of sherry (take pan off of the heat when adding) or add some honey.  Slightly sweetened onions would be great on a sandwich, burger or hot dog.

My family is from Amish country in Illinois.  When I grew up the main flavorings we had for our food were onions, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  That was it!  You grow to appreciate the great taste onions add to dishes when that's all you have.

God bless,


  1. One of my favorite additions to just about any meal!

    I did have a scare though. When I was pregnant I couldn't STAND the smell of cooking onions or the taste....lucky for me that little quirk vanished once Rhiannon was born. I don't think I could live without onions!

  2. Hi Pam,

    Hope this is the correct person.
    Sorry to have heard about your Mom.

    Let me know if I can reach you via private message some how.

    Cindy West (Shirey)

    God's creatures often reflect the character we aspire to.

    It matters not whether medicine is old or new, so long as it brings about a cure.

  3. Well, Cindy, it's been a long time. About thirty years. I am on Facebook under Pamela Moore. Nice to hear from you. Yes, both Mom and Dad gone now.


  4. Mmmmm, onions. :-)
    Nice pictures, and good step-by-step, thank you. :-)

  5. I used to think caramelized onions were hard to make and too time consuming. Boy, was I wrong.

    About two years ago I learned to make them and it has been one of my favorite additions to so many dishes from sandwiches to pizza.