Caramelizing onions is an art… and a wonderful way to pull flavor out of the simplest of ingredients.

As you know, onions can be naturally sweet. Since caramel comes from the simple cooking of sugar, when you slowly cook onions over an extended period of time, the natural sugars in the onions caramelize, making the result intensely and wonderfully flavorful.

The key to making the perfect caramelized onions is patience. Some folks want this to be a quick process… and while it is easy and simple to pull off, it does take time.

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.

The entire caramelizing process — from start to finish — should take an hour or more. Yes, you read that right: ONE HOUR or longer. You simply can’t rush perfection.

Continue to cook and scrape, cook and scrape, until the onions are a rich brown color. At the end of the cooking process, I like to add a little balsamic vinegar to help deglaze the pan and bring some additional flavor to the onions.

Perfect Caramelized Onions

Total Time: 10 minutes prep, 45-60 minutes cooking
Servings: 2-3 large onions = 1 cup caramelized onions


  • 2-3 large white onions
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. vegan butter (we love Earth Balance!)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp. balsamic vinegar


  1. Peel your onions and slice at desired level of thickness.
  2. In a thick-bottomed saute pan, heat your olive oil and vegan butter over medium/medium-high heat. Ensure that the liquid coats the entire bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil/butter mixture.
  4. After 10-15 mixtures, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the onions.
  5. Continue to cook, stirring every few minutes. Let cook for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but stir them before they burn.
  6. At the end, add your balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan.
  7. Store onions in the refrigerator for several days in an air-tight container.