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)

fitfoodie's picture

I was so disappointed with this recipe - I followed it closely but the liquid took hours to cook off the onions and then they were far to cooked to add the wine,vinegar etc... and still very fatty...

I have had to freeze the cooked onions to use for something else.
A complete waste of time and effort.

Rating zero stars

gilderoylock's picture

I tried this recipe and I so wanted it to taste as good as everyone said. I was sadly dissapointed. It is too overpowered by vinegar. I can definately confirm that the quantities used were correct and the method was followed closely. The actual consistancy was perfect but alas it tasted yuk

dlear123's picture

I made this over the 2010 Christmas Period and it went down a storm with family and friends. I must say I put more chilli flakes than suggested which gives it quite a bite which everybody seemed to like, and I also left out the butter, very popular even if it does take a while to make, will be making quite often I think.

princesskittykat's picture

I made this for Christmas presents and had great results. What I did find however was that the quantities in this recipe it only made 2 and a bit 500g jars, not 4. That said, great recipe, would definitely make it again.

lccoleman's picture

Following the comments I completely left out the butter - no probs at all and it still tasted great. I put a fair amount of chilli flakes in but next time may try adding some fresh chilli for that extra kick.

notgingerclare's picture

When I finished making this I was a bit disappointed as the onions reduce down to practically nothing and I only had enough to fill one and a half jars. However I have just sampled it for the first time with cheese on toast and it is absolutely delicious. So well worth the effort and I'd make a much bigger batch next time!

fuengi's picture

Have just made this marmalade. I really like the look of it and although it did take a lot longer to cook than stated, it tasted grand!! I shall give an update tomorrow as the proof of the pudding is in the eating!! Am cooking a 4 course meal tomorrow and for the first course I am serving the marmalade with my chix liver pate. I am soo excited!!! I wish I could post a piccie because I have great designs for this meal and would to share!! Thanks for the recipe!

kins65's picture

I have made this receipe several times and it's never had the opportunity to solidfy in the fridge as it's eaten too quickly.
Very tasty recipe - one of my favourites.

clairemc28's picture

I finished making this last night, it took hours - at each stage. I have tasted the finished result and it is very acidic, too strong to eat! I didn't have any port so added a splash of sherry and I put less vinegar in so not sure how I have this taste to it.
Does anyone have any ideas how I can save it? I've made 4 jars that I was going to put in hampers for christmas presents. Would be such a shame to waste it after half a day spent making it!
Please help!

notgingerclare's picture

I've just finished making a half batch of this. I left the butter out after reading the comments on here but followed everything else to the letter. It did seem to take a lot longer than the recipe says, it took about 1hr 30 mins for the first stage and then more like 50 mins for the second stage. It smells a bit vinegary so I might use less in the second batch.

katejf's picture

I'm reading all these comments whilst in the midst of making this! Luckily I forgot the oil so hopefully won't get the solidifying problems - I've tasted it and so far so good :) One thing though, it is taking far longer to reduce than anticipated according to the recipe's guidelines... Having this later with home made chicken liver pate, yum! Thanks for the recipe.

nefetiti's picture

Forgot to mention for Kentyswife I mixed red onions with sweet white onions, doesn't impair the flavour. Everyone's right about it being time consuming but well worth it, invest in a food processor or a mandolin.

nefetiti's picture

Year three of producing this, Just made probably the best batch of this recipe so far, and realised why some people have too much liquid. It may be people are mistaking measuring centilitres (cl) for the port and sherry vinegar instead of millilitres (ml) as I discovered I did. This could be why some people complained of too much vinegar. I used 50g more sugar mixing castor and muscovado sugar. I also cut a scotch bonnet pepper into tiny bits instead of the chilli flakes, just the right slight kick to it. The only frustrating thing is it only amounted to five 227g (8oz) bottles. Will do it all again tomorrow.

vonnie's picture

I made this today and the timings etc were spot on. I left out the butter, as per the suggestions, and the finished result was still lovely. However, my finished marmalade filled only 2x 500ml kilner jars, and not 4 as I had been expecting. Absolutely delicious though.

sallyrayner's picture

have just made this - still waiting for it to cool - what a long winded process - and it took something like 4 hours from being to end - next time I will not use butter or oil - there was far too much liquid at this stage of the process - I believe both ingredients are unnecessary - I thought these receipes are suppose to be tested - more than once - this is not the first time I have used a good food receipe and found it wanting - try testing them in a real kitchen with real people.

d41d0y's picture

Going to have this with pork fillet tomorrow.
Easy to make, just remember to stir enough in the reducing phase so you don't get burnt pans like I did!

charlottetravis's picture

Hi guys,
I made this as Christmas presents for the family and had the same butter issue... all 3 of the 350ml jars I got out of it had a solidified butter "topping"once they had cooled on the side (not even in the fridge). I tried stirring it in as suggested but the consistency was completely different then.
I am going to make another batch with just oil as you all seem to suggest so fingers crossed!

jennymccallum's picture

Really really nice and rich, however it took me much longer to get it to the states described for each stage - about 4 hours in total (which included chopping up the onions!) The other problem was that when it came to putting them into the jars, the recipe only filled 4 x 250ml jars instead of 500ml as stated! Rather disappointing given the time I invested in making it, but will find time to make another batch for Xmas presents! Have found that the butter's solidified on the one I put in the fridge too, but it was fine one I'd given it a good mix through.

chris-mellor's picture

On with my second batch. This is good stuff.

I use the butter and some fresh tyme from garden. Also a good wack of chilli - cos I like it:)

The cooking times are always longer - I think it maybe better to do it a lot slower and get a more rounded flavour?

One prolem I have though is cutting all the onions - the only thing I've found helps with the sore eyes is the port;) Guess where that ends up:*)

kentyswife's picture

Hi all, have got all the ingreadiants minus the butter and olive oil have brought the sherry vinegar , hope this will add to the taste! looking forward to the out come but i am going to cheat with the chopping of the onions and use the food processor to blizt up the onions as ive just made an onion soup and dont think my eyes will take much more tonight! Will let you all know how its goes! x


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