They’re a very successful topping for everything from sandwiches, burgers, ribs, macaroni and even pizza. They bring a sweet and savory flavor to everything they touch. So it would be nice for you to learn how to caramelize onions, in order to capitalize on what they bring to the table.
It’s not the easiest of tasks, but you can learn how to caramelize onions with a bit of technique, practice, and a lot of attention. But reading a simple and concise guide to that is the first step!
Onions are a very healthy food. They’re rich in vitamin C, sulphuric compounds, flavonoids, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate and vitamin B1 and other phytochemicals. Like quercetin, a powerful antioxidant which keeps your heart a bit healthier, and also fights cancer. Like polyphenols, which fight diseases. And onions are also natural antihistamines, which means they help with mild forms of allergy.
According to a 2010 survey, about 87 percent of Americans love onions. And eating them raw can get repetitive and routine. So if you want to reap the benefits in exciting ways, learn how to caramelize onions right now!
How to caramelize onions in 7 steps
1. Peel the outer layer and wash the onions
That’s the best first step when it comes to working with any veggies! So peel the outer layer of the onion, cut the sides, and wash thoroughly.
The process of caramelizing onions takes about an hour, so if you want to be efficient with your time, caramelize multiple onions and freeze what you don’t need, for later use.
2. Gather your other ingredients
You’ll also need some butter and oil, a cast iron skillet, and patience, patience, patience.
3. Cut the onions
Slice as many onions as you need. Keep in mind that they will reduce in volume as they caramelize, and you should work with more at once. If you want to learn how to do that with as little hassle as possible, read this article! It will also save you from onion-induced tears!
As a tip, make sure you don’t cut the onions too thinly. Very thin slices will burn faster and stick to the bottom of your skillet.
4. Melt butter and oil
Yes, you can caramelize onions in either butter, or oil, but a combination of the two will make the caramelized onions better. Because butter gives them a better taste but has a tendency to burn. Adding oil to the mix will give you a higher smoke point.
The quantities for the two depend on the kind of consistency you want. More butter means crunchier onions, while less fat in the pan leads to softer caramelized onions. Melt the butter and oil in a skillet, over medium-low heat.
5. Add the onions
After the butter is melted, add the onions to the skillet. Saute them slowly, keeping the heat on medium-low. And stir occasionally. Don’t overcrowd the pan, because the onions will steam and they will take much more time to cook.
6. Let onions cook
After 15 minutes, they should be translucent, without brown edges. Remember, you don’t want to burn them, no matter how slow the process appears to be. So don’t turn the heat higher. Just be patient.
Onions have natural sugars which caramelize in about 45 minutes. Don’t forget to stir them a little every now and then.
After the translucent stage, the onions will first be blonder in color. Don’t remove them from the skillet then. They need to be brown in order to be properly caramelized.
When the onions start to darken, the moisture in the skillet begins to evaporate, and the onions are close to sticking to the bottom of the pan. That’s when a lot of flavorful sticky brown stuff remains on the bottom.
So add a little water in order to capitalize on the rich caramel flavor found under the onions. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to dissolve the brown parts into the liquid. You may need to do this a few times.
After about an hour, your caramelized onions are ready to go! You can use them in your dishes, or freeze them for later. Because the flavor is so powerful, it lasts!