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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24th Oct, 2014
Use a wider/shallow pan rather than a taller/wok shaped one (I burned my first attempt horribly and has to toss it because my wok wasn't big enough to distrubute the heat evenly). I used half of the butter, added two bay leaves, and used a port I actually drink (helps you relax as you wait and gives it a better flavor). Although I don't think my using yellow onions affected anything, this only really made 2 x 8 oz jars, not 4 as the recipe states. My end result was a purple/red (again probably because I didn't use red onions). Total cooking time was about 55 minutes for the first part and 40 for the second. Tried it on the chicken liver pate I made the other night and it is amazing! Can't wait to try it on burgers and toast and eggs...and whatever else I can put it on!
19th Aug, 2014
So scrummy, added a few good pinches of ground spice and clove. Yes it did take a long time to cook down but it was so worth it, one big preserving jar full did not last long!
17th Aug, 2014
This is an amazing recipe, ignore the doubters. Yes I had to cook the onions down for a lot longer than it says you need to cook out the butter and oil till all the liquid has gone. Similarly when the wine, port and vinegar was added it took ages till scraping the spoon along the pan cleared a path and then the juice rushed in. It take a lot lot longer than the times given, but be patient, be brave, don't let it catch and the results are amazing.
29th May, 2014
I used this recipe as I wanted one with port in. Never having made red onion marmalade/chutney before I need a a recipe and a site I could trust. I couldn't have been more disappointed. Far too much butter/oil and once I realised just how much liquid was required compared to other similar recipes, I left out the wine all together. It also took an extra 75 minutes to reduce. Hopefully the flavour will make up for the problems in the cooking. Next time, I shall use a recipe with less liquid and substitute some of it for port.
Chrissie Cook
8th May, 2014
This tastes awesome and I will definitely be making it again. Used the stated amount of butter and it didn't split or solidify in the jars. In NZ we don't have golden castor sugar so substituted raw sugar and used half balsamic and half white wine vinegar as I didn't have red wine vinegar. I will wow my guests with it on a cheese platter this weekend.
17th Dec, 2013
Made this and was disappointed sadly. I noted other comments about butter separation issues, and despite adding less butter myself, and working the pan for hours to ensure full coking and evaporation of liquids... I still had some butter solidifying in my jars the next day. It has made for a grainy texture, so for me, it's not usable. Such a waste of a bottle of wine ;-) Will search for another recipe sadly and not repeat this one
17th Feb, 2014
I made this, this morning. Just followed the method and it's great. No buttery residue in the jars, tastes great, just like the one I had with my lunch yesterday at a farm shop. Don't be put off it tastes great.
29th Nov, 2013
I was just wondering if anyone knew how long this lasts for? Wondering how far in advance I can make it before Christmas? :)
17th Nov, 2013
Delicious- just followed this recipe for the first time and very pleased so far :) I read through all the comments before starting so didn't use as much butter and my timings were longer than in the recipe as I followed the descriptions for how things should look at each stage rather than the time. Tastes fab, think next time I may double the amount of onions. Brilliant recipe
16th Nov, 2013
I'm just making this for the third Xmas in a row - it's delicious!! Takes ages but worth it.... To all those concerned about the butter. This tastes divine when slightly warm, so I always pop a few spoonfuls into the microwave for a few seconds to warm it through first. Makes it nice & glossy & no hardened butter to spoil the look..... won't be much longer & I'll be enjoying my brie, ciabatta & onion marmalade for supper!!


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