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)

farrah's picture

i made this on christmas eve.After reading the comments I left out the butter and only used oil. No solid fat at all. tasted sweet tangy and had a little bite with the chilli. Lovely. also very well received as christams presents.

farrah's picture

I made this using only oil and it was delicious. sweet and tangy and had little bite with the chilli. No problems at all with solid fat. I gave some away in little jars as christmas presents and it was very well received

karend57's picture

Expensive and rich, but well worth it...

sarahdarah's picture

I made this marmalade and it's lovely. I left out the butter and i've had no problems with solidifying and it's been in the fridge for 4 days. Will definitely be making this again! Think it will be lovely with crusty bread and warm brie.

mrs_pink's picture

I made this for presents and had the solidifying fat issue too. Disappointing as it was so yummy before that happened. I thought i had done something wrong so am releived to hear others have had the same problem.

I am going to remake it but ditch the butter rather than the oil I think.

leea74's picture

Really dismayed to open the fridge door today to find the marmalade made just yesterday is threaded right the way through with solidified fat. Looks really unappealing. I'm in two minds whether to give this as Christmas presents as planned as I'm guessing that the fat will just coagulate again if I follow Barneys tip given above.

Am trying a second batch using just butter and no oil. Hopefully this will work better but would not have tried this recipe if I'd known this was going to happen. Bit of a waste of food and my time. Not happy.

sarahdarah's picture

should this be stored in the fridge once made or can I store in a cool dark place- am making this for xmas hampers and am a bit worried about the comments made here that marmalade starts to separate and turn colour when put in fridge. Any suggestions would be great!!

vickypowles's picture

I made this yesterday and it turned out really well, my only criticism is the use of butter, if i made this again i wouldn't use the butter at all and i would halve the amount of oil because you really don't need it - the onions on their own produce more than enough liquid so you don't really need to add the butter. Also, this would stop the butter and oil from separating which has happened with mine. But that said, it is very tasty! And well worth crying your way through 2KG of onions!

bolsol01's picture

I found this recipe took much longer than stated to reduce down the onions and liquid. Plus, once cooled, a layer of butter has settled on the top of the jars, as well as being dispursed throughout the marmalade, so instead of it being a wonderful deep purple colour, it has a yellowy-brown hue to it!. Did I do something wrong? did I not reduce it enough and simmer away the butter, or is it supposed to be like that? I want to give as gifts for Christmas, but it doesn't look all that appetising right now! Any advice?

paulmabey's picture

Hi guys need a little advice. made this chutney to give people for chrimbo, tastes and looks great, however, when I put in the fridge, all the olive oil separated and looks like its solidified into brown layers - which doesn't look very nice!

Do I need to store it in the fridge? I have taken it out but the layers will not go.

Or do you think it may be because the jars we used told us to put the chutney in, then boil the jar in water to sterilise? Other techniques say to put the jars in oven before hand, trhen just spoon in.

Any advice would be much appreciated!!

mocha17000's picture

Extremely Tasty! Especially nice with that little hint of chili goes well with loads of things, we had it with tofu, shame i din't have very many onions, otherwise i would've made a lot more!

cooke179's picture

THis is great. So tasty. Only one jar made it into cupboard. Everone kept eating it

dowercottage's picture


The only comment I have is that it takes me about 1 hour and 40 to 50 mins to cook the onions down.


barbaraburks's picture

This recipe is sooooooooooooooo delicious. I want to eat it with meat, poultry, cheese - can I eat it for breakfast??? I found it realy nice with ham and cheese toasties - spread it on to the sandwich before you put it in the toaster - carefull though, the marmalade gets really hot in the toaster. I have planned to make a couple of batches to sell at our fundraising day for Help For Heroes.

mattandvic's picture

Really lovely although if you have a sweet tooth like me I would add a bit more sugar as i found it slighly vinegary but would definately make again

cutty1000's picture

My wife made this recipe the other day, but I promise I'm going to make it soon too............... We had it with baked camenbert (in the box) and warm freshly baked crusty bread. Oh and a crisp Chablis to wash it down with. Absolute heaven!

zempants's picture

Got a jam pan for Christmas and wanted an easy but tasty jam/chutney to start with, this was perfect! Very yum, halved the recipe but don't think it'll be to long before I have to make some more.

phirefly's picture

I've made this twice and its a real winner. I've halved the quantities both times with no problems and upped the quantities of wine and vinegar because I've not used port.
I'm looking forward to making the full quantity for Christmas complete with ruby port!

GVB's picture

This is an amazing recipe which I've done a few times now. It's pretty easy, and the finished product is gloss and delicious. It is great with chicken liver pate.


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