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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23rd Dec, 2012
thanks for all your comments - it's great that you all road tested it before I found the recipe ! I left out the butter and vinegar and used 3kg onions (but didn't increase the wine and port), which meant i had to start off the process in two pots. I also added a fair amount of chilli I got 4 large jars and a small one out of the mixture ( it took more like 3 hours from the time i started cooking it till i spooned it into the jars). We are going to start eating ours tomorrow with ham, and the rest are gifts. Hopefully i don't have the separating issue,can't imagine i will as there is no butter. Now i just have to find another 3 hours to make another batch!
Paul Howland
23rd Jun, 2013
I am sure you know, but with out some vinegar, It will not keep so well..
20th Dec, 2012
Made for Xmas presents a few years ago, went down an absolute storm and has been requested again this year. So simple to do but so tasty when done. Excellent!
18th Dec, 2012
This is a stunning recipe, no need to alter any of the ingredients. It goes really well with pate.
5th Dec, 2012
I left out the butter after reading reviews. Have had the same problems with timings and liquids as everyone else. Plus the problem of burnt pans. The end result is ok, but not worth the money, time and effort. I won't bother with this again!
27th Nov, 2012
Not sure what I did wrong but it just did not work, I followed all the instructions to the dot and put it in the jar, once cooled it has a thick layer of what looks like butter on the top? Was making for xmas gifts but it does not look appetising at all? Tips needed please! Thanks x
31st Oct, 2013
I had exactly the same problem Blizzard. I didn't have the internet the day I was doing it, a friend had written the recipe down for me, so I didn't see the problems people were having with butter. I have all my best jars filled with a buttery onion gloop & I am so disappointed. I'm glad onions are cheap but wine isn't! I will be trying again, though I may try Riverside cottages recipe next time!
22nd Nov, 2012
My family always know that we are starting to get ready for Christmas when I make this because it is the first thing that I make every year. Always fantastic, used to halve the recipe but it disappears so quickly that it is always the full 2kg of onions to be sliced now! Mine always takes longer to cook but that is because of the pan that I use I think. Only pan that I have which is big enough to hold the onions is quite deep so it takes longer for the liquid to evaporate. Not complaining though as it fills my kitchen with such a yummy smell! Xx
27th Oct, 2012
I make this recipe every year on Christmas Eve to have on boxing day with cheese and cooked's an absolute winner! Now each year I get orders from friends and family for it....Started making it this year in the summer for BBQ's as well. I LOVE IT!
17th Oct, 2012
I made this last Christmas as part of the christmas hampers of hand-made goodies I gave out as gifts. Everyone raved about this marmalade; it is really delicious. I left out the thyme and the chilli. It looked like masses of chopped onion, and took ages to chop but actually cooked down a lot. The cooking took longer than stated in the recipe and I was worried that I was doing it wrong but went with my gut instinct and what resulted was a seriously gooey, unctuous, sticky marmalade. I intend to do it again this year and will double the ingredients. It's definately worth the tears.


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