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Food Factor: How to Caramelize Onions

Loads of recipes call for caramelized onions, but have you ever made them?

The good news is they add a lot of flavor to soups and meat dishes. (Liver and onions always go together for a reason!)

The bad news is that they take about 30-40 minutes to make. Yes, 30-40 minutes of finding things to do around the kitchen while the water cooks out of the onions and the sugars turn a delicious golden brown.

You may have heard it’s good to add butter or sugar to the onions instead of oil. I disagree. Not only are you simply browning the butter or sugar instead of the onions, you’re adding more calories and changing the flavor.

Other tips:
  1. Keep a small glass of water on hand to add to the pan and loosen bits that get stuck to prevent burning.

  2. A pan or pot with a wide base and tall sides, rather than a skillet, will keep the onions in the pot where they belong.

  3. If you cut your slices too small, you will likely fry or burn your onions.

  4. Covering the skillet helps hold the moisture in and keep the onions from drying out and burning.

Caramelized Onions

Yellow onions


Vegetable or olive oil

Water (if needed)

​Refrigerate onions to reduce tear-inducing properties.

Slice off the top and bottom of each onion. Peel off the skin.

Cut the onion in half through the top and bottom. Cut into slices about the width of a pencil.

Coat the bottom of the skillet with oil. Turn heat on low.

Add onions to the skillet. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with a lid.

Cook on low for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until onions are a deep, golden brown.

Remove from skillet and enjoy!

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