How to make caramelised onions

Learn how to make perfect caramelised onions every time with our easy step-by-step guide and get inspired with delicious recipes to use them in.

Caramelised onion tart with goat's cheese

Want to achieve perfectly balanced sweet, sharp and sticky onions? Master this and you’ve got a winning barbecue side, burger topping or the building block to so many delicious classic recipes.

The key to moreish caramelised onions is time – and lots of it. If you crank up the heat and fry them in a flash the onions will char and toughen up and you’ll never achieve that dreamy sweet, gooey softness. So, clear the diary and turn the hob down low.

Try our best ever caramelised onions recipe.

Basic recipe

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large onions (red or white), sliced
  • pinch of salt

Tasty additions:

  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

How to caramelise onions

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over a low heat.
    Onions in pan
  2. Add the onions with a generous pinch of salt and cook slowly for around 30-40 mins. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking or burning until they become soft and a golden caramel colour. If your onions do start to catch, add a splash of water to the pan and mix well. 
    Onions being caramelised in pan
  3. Add the sugar and vinegar to give them that sweet, slightly sharp chutney vibe. Keep cooking on a low heat for another 5 mins, stirring occasionally until the mix is sticky, the sugar has dissolved and the vinegar has reduced.
    Adding sugar and vinegar to onions in pan
  4. Your onions are now ready to serve, or to use in a recipe.
    Caramelised onions in pan

Get some recipe inspiration

Caramelised onion quiche with cheddar and bacon

Caramelised onion quiche with cheddar & bacon
Make this easy quiche with shop-bought pastry and achieve perfect results every time. Caramelised onions match well with rich smoked bacon, cheese and thyme. While this recipe uses butter instead of oil to fry them, the slow and low method is the same.

Caramelised onion gravy

Ultimate toad-in-the-hole with caramelised onion gravy
This is a fabulous recipe for toad-in-the-hole, but it’s that caramelised onion gravy that steals the show.

French onion soup

French onion soup
Take your perfectly caramelised onions, add a little flour, white wine, beef stock and you’ve got yourself a wonderful bowl of classic French comfort food. Our French onion soup is just what you need on a cold night. Don’t forget the cheese on toast!

Maple-glazed hot dogs

Maple-glazed hot dogs with mustardy onions
Load those caramelised onions into a hot dog bun, add a maple-glazed sausage and lashings of mustard and treat yourself to the ultimate street food indulgence. These hot dogs are perfect for a party, too. Expect them to disappear in no time. 

What's your favourite way to enjoy caramelised onions? Leave a comment below...

Comments, questions and tips

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heatherjdw's picture
9th May, 2020
Just had them on top of homemade pizza, delicious
mrsredboots's picture
2nd Mar, 2018
Agware Gideon's picture
Agware Gideon
21st Feb, 2020
WOW! i have always loved onions. Each day when i finish my daily duties i usually slice them and eat it with plantain chips. One could say i was addicted to onions.. Reading this article to the end, i was so impressed. It is nice you shared light on the topic. i thought i was alone. Thanks, Amigo! I would be Glad if you read
Darroch Smith's picture
Darroch Smith
26th May, 2019
Hi, can you make in a large batch then freeze and reheat?...
goodfoodteam's picture
27th May, 2019
Thanks for your question. Yes, seal well and freeze until ready to use.
6th Dec, 2019
after the onion is soften and golden brown, grind it coarse in a mixer and add as a topping to chicken sandwich or burger