Red onion marmalade

Red onion marmalade

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(86 ratings)

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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 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, questions and tips

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Felicia Thomas's picture
Felicia Thomas
16th Dec, 2018
Delicious but WAY too much vinegar; could easily halve the ammount. And beware the kitchen will reek of onions for days but worth it!
28th Oct, 2017
Just varied the recipe a touch to make it sweeter and richer. Red onions and quite a smack of chilli. Swapped the wine for port and port for rum used dark sugars and molasses. Was fantastic.
1st Jul, 2016
Made this two or three times. It keeps forever in the fridge - probably because of the wine, vinegar etc. Really good even though it is a bit time consuming but you can go off and do other things while the onions soften as I have never known them to burn. Great recipe. My friends here in Portugal love it, as they do Piccalilli (recipe from Womens Institute book - no brining) works really well. Have even sold it to restaurants!!!
21st Dec, 2015
I made this last night, without reading the comments. This morning, I've found the jars have solidified butter in them. Is there anything I can do to salvage it - they were going to be used for Xmas presents :-(
1st Jul, 2016
Don't worry - if you use it with bread it all spreads in together!!!
21st Dec, 2015
I made this at the weekend and the key is to reduce all the oil and butter away in the first stage no matter how long it takes. You should be left with just a sticky pile of onions. I also did my onions in two batches (not sure if that makes a difference or not) Don't eat any for the first day because it tastes and smells very acidic. After that, the wine and port really come through. Excellent recipe Ps I also added 4-5 cap fulls of grenadine in the second stage.
20th Sep, 2015
Made this today (using fresh crop of red onions from my allotment) and read all the comments but still used full ingredients (including butter). Took longer for first reduction but second one not much longer (used sherry vinegar instead of red wine vinegar) and has turned out great with no "fat issues" at all though maybe slightly sweeter than I would choose, so something to tweak next time. Only downside is that the volume is not very large.
3rd Jul, 2015
This is fabulous!! I've made another of chutney over the years. For the adventurous swap out some if the liquids for other vinegars. Balsamic with a teaspoon of tomato puree works well. And yes it does take a lot longer get to reduce but we'll worth it.
22nd Dec, 2014
This recipe is fantastic (though a little sweeter than I thought it would be). The previous posters' tips were very helpful. The second stage did take much longer (maybe 2 x longer and probably should have cooked it down about 15 min more) than stated maybe because I have an electric range instead of gas. I made this condiment to go with a beautiful roast I was cooking and to compliment a horseradish sauce I had made. The two condiments were a wonderful contrast to each other. I might cut back on the sugar a few grams and use balsamic vinegar instead. Thank-you very much for sharing this wonderful recipe. My office mates are looking forward to sampling this treat!
19th Dec, 2014
After reading some comments I was a little dubious about trying this recipe - however I shouldn't have been! I went ahead and on the advice of other users I halved the amount of butter. It is true that it takes a lot longer than the recipe says to reduce; you need to set aside a good 3 hours or so to make this recipe. I had to cook for at least double the time to get the marmalade to the right consistency. But... this is delicious!!! I have bottled some up to give away as presents and I have had no problem with the butter as other people have said. It is a really tasty marmalade that goes well with anything - My father in law also claims it to be his favourite!! We worth it!


3rd Jul, 2015
Also does anyone know where to get the square top kilner type jar in the photo?
20th Dec, 2015
Made this yesterday for the first; following the recipe to a T. The key to avoiding fat issues is to reduce the oil/butter away, even if it takes longer than stated. You should be left with sticky onions before the second phase. I also cooked my onions in two batches and combined them just befor adding all the liquid. The end result tastes amazing. At first it smells and tastes too acidic, but leave it over night and the flavour is transformed and all the lovely booze comes through. The only thing I did different was to add a tablespoon of grenadine. I would highly recommend this recipe to anyone.
Granny jules
4th Jul, 2013
I love this and as my partner and I are soon to open our own catering business, I gave this recipe a whirl. Everybody's tastes vary of course and I found that using a combination of golden castor sugar with original Demerara sugar plus a little more than this recipe has, gave the overall taste a much fuller sweetness. To make sure I got the mix right, I gave a jar to my local pub to sit alongside a Ploughman's Lunch or pate dish. The feedback was amazing! Best served slightly warmed in a separate ramekin dish so that any butter residue melts adding additional aroma and feel good feeling! Delish.
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