Red onion marmalade

Ready in 2¼ hours, plus cooling time

More effort

Fills about four 500ml jars
Soft, sticky onion marmalade - great with pâtés and terrrines or a ploughman's lunch

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian


  • kcal-
  • fat-
  • saturates-
  • carbs-
  • sugars-
  • fibre-
  • protein-
  • salt-
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  • 2kg red onions or regular onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 140g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaf
  • pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 75cl bottle red wine
  • 350ml sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 200ml port


  1. Halve and thinly slice the onions, then thinly slice the garlic. Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the onions and garlic and give them a good stir so they are glossed with butter. Sprinkle over the sugar, thyme leaves, chilli flakes if using and some salt and pepper. Give everything another really good stir and reduce the heat slightly. Cook uncovered for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions are ready when all their juices have evaporated, they’re really soft and sticky and smell of sugar caramelising. They should be so soft that they break when pressed against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Slow cooking is the secret of really soft and sticky onions, so don't rush this part.

  2. Pour in the wine, vinegar and port and simmer everything, still uncovered, over a high heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring every so often until the onions are a deep mahogany colour and the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. It’s done when drawing a spoon across the bottom of the pan clears a path that fills rapidly with syrupy juice. Leave the onions to cool in the pan, then scoop into sterilised jars and seal. Can be eaten straight away, but keeps in the fridge for up to 3 months.

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Comments (159)

annbishop's picture

I think people should follow the recipe to the letter and then it will work!! If someone gave some delicious cake and then you took the recipe away and started adding or removing this that and the other it wouldn't be the same delicious cake that you had!! I am just making my second batch and the first was so good that my daughter said I had voodood it as she couldn't stop eating it!! everyone i gave it to has loved and remembered to return the empty jars so that they can have some more xx WELL DONE Barney ........and the Sweet Chilli jam on this site is bloody amazing to......just follow the recipe !!!

Jetlaggedpom's picture

PEOPLE did follow the recipe to the letter & still need up with gloopy lumps of butter in the jars. Sometimes tweakings have to be made. I wasn't the only one to have a problem re butter. Not appreciating the self righteous manner you used.

rmdelvoie's picture

Made this today. Made only 1/2 the recipe because there is only 2 of us and I thought the full recipe would be too much but I'm sorry I did that because it is sooooooo good. It is everything I wanted for an onion marmelade. I did skip the butter because of the comments I read. I sterilesed my jars and put the marmelade in hot like I do with all my jams so I can store them in my larder. Next time I make the full batch. I used sweet pink onions instead of the red. Cooking times mentioned were just perfect. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Margrit

villamagnolia's picture

Made this elicious marmalade with our organic onions, local wine etc...will be offering to our guests, on one of the local cheese and wine tastings events held regularly here @ villa Magnolia italy.

lauraburkett's picture

I made this to give to people as presents, unfortunately I now have to apologise as after saving a jar for myself and opening it at home, I realised it was awful!
Definitely won't be making this again.

lollyclaire1986's picture

This bubbling away nicely...and is going to make a wonderful gift for Christmas however mine took much longer than stated.....may be me? ENJOY

wiccan_lady's picture

Just made this and its fabulous. I tweaked the recipe and added some sultanas and a little less sugar.

rebeccafalknerjones's picture

This was brilliant! I left out the vinegar and added water instead. I used marg instead of butter and will keep in a cupboard.
Made it for Christmas presents, although i had to stop myself from eating it all when 'testing' it! I definately advise you try it!

loulamaloula's picture

Great recipe but found much better with three times the amount of sugar.

Rowena Wilkes's picture

Made this the other day and it tastes great but like others have found, It doesnt look fantastic!

dragonma5306's picture

This is absolutely delicious. Was easy to make and following others' advice, I only used a knob of butter with the olive oil. This was plenty to coat the onions (I only made half the recipe). No problems whatsoever apart from the fact that I don't think it will last until Christmas so will need to make another batch!!
Delicious with cheese. Yummy!

kartechno's picture

forgot to say that i actually added the veg stock cube as well as the cranberry*

kartechno's picture

i was an hour into reducing the onion sugar mix and drained off the extra fluid after reading other comments about the butter separating and solidifying through the jars. in a panic over possibly ruining Christmas gifts i called my chef sister who said she'd never used butter when sweating down onions but advised me to throw in a veg or chicken stock cube and some redcurrant or cranberry sauce/jelly to give the butter some substance to adhere to and get some natural pectin into the mixture. I was making a whole batch, drained of the extra fluid after an hour of reducing, added port, bottle of wine and about half of the vinegar gradually (whole 350ml is way too much) i also threw in a jar of cranberry sauce. the result? 7 and a half 250ml jars of delicious red onion marmalade and no butter blobs!

brymorg's picture

"Print Recipe" will not respond.
I've had to copy and paste into a Word doc.
Any idea why this is?

mandyb's picture

I had the same problem with the butter solidifying and giving the marmalade an unnapealing colour. Having said that, it is absolutely delicious and I will be making more though the next batch will be made without the butter.

clairetoole's picture

delicious marmalade, very strong due to the red wine but I love red wine so a must!!

kristi123's picture

This does take a lot longer than stated. I didn't use any butter. First stage took around an hour and 20 minutes 2nd part took around 45. Only used 210ml red wine vinegar and and extra tbsp sugar ad turned out wonderful

richkw's picture

The butter (or olive oil) is essential for the proper caramelisation of the onions. All stages will take longer if you don't use butter. Simples!

aatkins's picture

As a proud person of Jamaican ancestry, please try and find some Wray and Nephew Red Label Wine to use in place of the port in this recipe and leave out the butter and oil. It really makes the difference!


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