Caramelized Onions



  • 6 medium or large onions, yellow, white, or red
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Butter, optional
  • Kosher salt
  • Sugar, optional
  • Balsamic vinegar, optional



  1. Peel the onions. Halve and slice lengthwise into uniform pieces
  2. Use a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter, if using (about 1 teaspoon per onion.
  3. Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Depending on how strong your stovetop burner is you may need to reduce the heat to medium or medium low to prevent the onions from burning or drying out.
  5. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and if you want, you can add some sugar to help with the caramelization process. (I add only about a teaspoon of sugar for 5 onions, you can add more.) One trick to keeping the onions from drying out as they cook is to add a little water to the pan.
  6. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn.  The trick is to leave them alone enough to brown (if you stir them too often, they won’t brown), but not so long so that they burn.

  7. The whole cook should take about 1 hour.

*Always start with more onions than you think you’ll need. They’ll cook down to a fraction of their original volume.