How to Caramelize Onions


I love caramelized onions. A perfect topping for pizza, burgers, tofu and tempeh. It takes about 20 minutes to make them and you can prep the rest of the meal as you go. Use a good skillet that has a cover and you are ready to go!

Oil or Water? Your choice. They come out pretty much the same. In either case, you have to keep your eye on the skillet and make sure to toss the onions around every few minutes so they don’t stick or burn. I photographed both methods and you will see the process is the same. So, oil free? No problem!

Slice the onion into semi-circles and add to the pan with either a small amount of water or oil. Add a pinch of salt and turn the flame on low. Cover. After a few minutes, uncover and use tongs to toss the onions around. After another few minutes, uncover and toss the onions around again. They will start deepening in color.

If using the water method, keep a cup of water on the counter and pour a little bit in before recovering the pan. After another few minutes, uncover and toss the onions around again. They will keep getting more caramel in color. After another few minutes, uncover and toss the onions around again. Almost done. And then…caramelized onions!


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8 thoughts on “How to Caramelize Onions

  1. I discovered the real joy of carmelized onions while living in Germany. Around noon every day you only had to open your windows and you could smell the sweet, savory aroma of frying onions as all your neighbors prepared their afternoon dinners. I think they fry onions with everything and I am perfectly okay with that!

    Have you tried cooking zucchini the same way? It sounds strange but it transforms summer squash into yummy goodness that is very, very different from its quickly pan-fried cousin.

  2. i was skeptical too – sautéing anything in water, really – but i have proven to myself this month that it is totally doable without loss of flavor. and healthier too! we can get plenty of fat from the whole food – olives, avocados, walnuts, etc.!

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