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Caramelized Onions

Take any dish to the next level with these delicious caramelized onions. Made with just 3 ingredients, these easy onions are sweet, rich and full of flavor. 

These may be my new favorite topping for hamburgers. I recently made my Italian burgers and added these caramelized onions on top. They really enhanced the flavor and took the burgers up a notch. They were the perfect addition!

caramelized onions in skillet

I don’t love raw onions, but give me caramelized onions or pickled onions and it’s a whole different story. Both take the bite out of the onion and are super flavorful. I especially love these caramelized onions because they’re sweet, rich and buttery. They taste amazing served over meats, sandwiches, salad, pizza…you name it. They make everything taste better!

Best onions for caramelizing

The sweet onions (red, Walla Walla and vidalia) are the best to use for caramelizing. They’re naturally sweet on their own, so there’s no need to add any extra sugar. I used a vidalia onion this time and the flavor was perfect. You can definitely still caramelize any type of onion, however you may want to add a 1/2 Tablespoon of brown sugar to compensate for the sweet flavor.

sliced onion on cutting board

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How to caramelize onions

  1. Cut the onion into thin slices using a sharp knife and cutting board.
  2. Melt the butter and oil in a skillet over low heat. Once the butter has melted, add in the onion slices.
  3. Cook over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are ready, they should be golden brown and the consistency will be “jam-like.”

caramelizing onions in skillet

Cooking tips

  • These can be burned very easily. Slowly cooking them over low heat is the key. I checked them at 40 minutes and shortly after that, they were totally burned and I had to start over. Learn from my mistake!
  • Why is the olive oil necessary? It increases the smoke temperature of the butter to prevent the butter from burning while cooking. Don’t skip out on this important ingredient!
  • Don’t add salt. You’ll notice this recipe uses unsalted butter and doesn’t call for any extra salt. That’s because adding salt releases water from the onion, which can keep them from caramelizing properly. If you must season them with salt, wait until the very end.
  • The consistency should be “jam-like.” The best caramelized onions have a thick, jam-like texture. This is because the natural sugars from the onion are being released. If the texture isn’t quite jammy after 40 minutes, continue cooking them low and slow until it is.

caramelized onions in black skillet

Favorite ways to use them

caramelized onions in black skillet

Caramelized Onion Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Take any dish to the next level with these delicious caramelized onions. Made with just 3 ingredients, these easy onions are sweet, rich and full of flavor. 
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Servings: 4


  • 2 sweet onions (I used vidalia)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil


  • Slice the onions thinly.
  • Put butter and olive oil in a medium size skillet over low heat. After the butter has melted, add the sliced onions. 
  • Cook over low heat for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a golden brown and the natural sugars have been released creating a “jam-like” consistency.


2 whole onions were the perfect amount for the 4 quarter-pound burgers in the Italian burger recipe:

Calories: 134kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 197mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Jamielyn Nye

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