onion tatin

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.

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.

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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


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


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


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.

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What’s your favourite way to enjoy caramelised onions? Leave a comment below…