How To Caramelize Onions

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A simple guide on how to caramelize onions at home with wine, beer or balsamic vinegar. Honey is totally optional but it adds a nice sweetness I love.

How to Caramelize Onions


Caramelized Onions

Can you even believe it’s almost Christmas time? I feel so unprepared I am looking for a legal way to push it back a few months. Instead of making my Italian wedding cookies and Tiramisu, I am baking pizza and perfecting the art of caramelized onions.

Since onions contain a lot of natural sugars, if done right you won’t need to add any honey or sugar at all to help with the caramelizations process. I love the taste of honey so you will see some of it in my recipe but it’s a totally optional ingredient.

You can caramelize your onion in a little bit of olive oil or plant butter, whatever rocks your taste buds but olive oil is better!

It’s very important not to burn them, so I start with just a little olive oil and add little splashes of water in between to help the slow cooking method along without burning. That is the basic simple way to do it.

sweet onions

Caramelize onions with different liquids

  • White wine (fruity crisp & dry)
  • Balsamic vinegar – if using balsamic refrain from adding it until the very end as it reduces and thickens quickly.
  • Beer
  • Water – adding little splashes of water to deglaze the pan and prevent the sugars from burning.

How to Caramelize Onions

Whether you want to learn how to caramelize onions for pizza, burgers, steak, focaccia bread or to top your bruschetta, the process is always the same. You will need patience and to keep a close eye on your pan, don’t rush it.

Caramelized onions are also the base for the famous French onion soup, great as a side dish, added to these divine wild mushroom and potatoes or to fill a tomato tart. They are lovely tossed with some sauteed cabbage and a can of beans for a hearty and flavorful weeknight meal.

How to Caramelize Onions
How to Caramelize Onions


How to Caramelize Onions
5 from 1 vote

How To Caramelize Onions

A simple guide on how to caramelize onions at home with wine, beer or balsamic vinegar.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour
Total Time:1 hour 5 minutes


  • 3 extra large yellow onion sliced
  • 1.5 tbs olive oil
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp wild honey optional
  • 1/2 cup water + more as needed (+ more as needed)
  • 1/4 cup white wine, balsamic vinegar or beer (Optional instead of water))


  • Heat up the olive oil in a large heavy skillet on medium low flame. Add the sliced onions and toss to coat. Add the sea salt and let them sweat slowly. The salt will bring out the water from the onions and once that evaporates they will start to caramelized.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on them and stir as soon as they start to stick to the bottom of the pan. About 30 minutes later add the honey if using to help with the caramelization process even more. Add a splash of water to deglaze the pan and intensify the caramelized flavor. Repeat this process as many times as desired allowing the liquid to reduce completely before removing the onions from the heat.
  • I achieve the perfect caramelization in about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • The onions are done when they are completely softened, sweet with have a brown golden color.
  • If using wine, balsamic vinegar or beer to deglaze the pan, make sure to wait until the very end and allow the liquid to reduce as much as possible without drying out the caramelized onions.


  • A silicone spatula is perfect for stirring and deglazing the pan.
  • Sweet Vidalia onions are perfect here but any yellow, white and even purple onions can be used instead.


Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 122mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: caramelized onions, vegetables
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 90kcal
Author: Florentina

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  1. 5 stars
    These onions are absolutely fantastic! I gave myself time to allow the sugars to caramelize and wow, slow and low is the secret to perfectly Golden brown and sweet onions. Did not even add a splash of water just watched them real closely and stirring often. It took mine about an hour to get them to the deep brown I prefer but honestly they were perfectly delicious and sweet by the 30 minute mark. Thank you for such a simple and fa static recipe, next time I’ll add a splash of balsamic to experiment.

  2. So this is how you make those decadent caramelized onions. The only thing is I used white onions, but they were still delicious!!! Even my Mamma was impressed. Keep up the delicious work;)

  3. Believe it or not, you don’t need to add any sugar. Caramelizing, or cooking slow, brings out the natural sweetness of this vegetable.