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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16th Nov, 2013
This is the fourth year I've made this with absolutely no problems and no butter separation. Other members of my family have also made it regularly and without issues. Absolutely delicious and well worth the little bit of effort involved effort.
5th Nov, 2013
I didn't read the comments unfortunately! I thought at the time that it was a lot of butter but stuck to the recipe. It was a mistake, as the butter separated on cooling and didn't look at all nice in the jar. Also it had a very buttery smell, so much so I through the jars away before trying. I will not be using this recipe again.
27th Oct, 2013
I think I should have read a few more previous comments before embarking on this recipe, I used half of everything as I had fewer onions than required but it still took well over an hour for the onions to reduce dwn in the first stage, even then I had to turn up the heat on the stove to get rid of the liquid. In the second stage I must have left the saucepan on too high a heat because after nipping to the bathroom on my return the pan had caught on the bottom so the mixture has a slightly burnt taste to it!! I've made three small jars so will try one out first before giving any away just in case it tastes too burnt!!
28th Aug, 2013
Hi, Always looking for new food ideas as gifts and this looks like a good one but I have a quick question before jumping in. Here in New Zealand I have not come across "golden caster sugar". My options are raw sugar - golden but coarser or cater sugar - fine but not golden. Suggestions please.
MOD 54
11th Oct, 2013
Simply blitz golden sugar in spice grinder
29th May, 2014
or use plain caster.
Paul Howland
23rd Jun, 2013
Interesting comments.... I made this with about 4Kg Onions leftover from a BBQ this afternoon and did the same last year and down to my last Jar. The vinegar means it will keep and my view is it does not need to be refridgerated. A cool place is sufficient, that is why pickles exist, preserving before refrigeration . The butter separating is due to it not being reduced far enough, and also stir every now and then during cooldown. This will enable the gloss finish. Could also be using too much butter, the recipe calls for just enough to gloss the onions so will be a lot less than 140g. Olive oil on its own will work though. I used Creme de Cassis instead of Port, adds a nice fruity note, and Christmas spices will give it a wintery shot in the arm. Like all recipes it is only a guide :)
26th May, 2013
Sounds yummy. Will make it for Christmas gifts this year, but will try it for me first!
13th Jan, 2013
Loved making this and gave some as presents. Great with our cold ham on Christmas eve. Would be lovely with warm goats cheese and toasted bread. Highly recommend. :) made me feel like a real cook ha ha.
8th Jan, 2013
I used a proper jam pan and this does seem to help with the cook down if the onions. I also followed advice and used less butter and only 100ml of wine vinegar. Went down very well and have been asked for more.


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