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15-Minute Caramelized Onions

15-Minute Caramelized Onions

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Note: For even faster caramelezing, add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to onions at start. This method will get you sweet, soft onions for adding to burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, etc. However, it is not a pure substitute for traditionally caramelized onions for recipes like onion soup—the flavor will not quite be the same.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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15-Minute Caramelized Onions

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About This Recipe

Yield:Makes about 1 cup caramelized onions
Active time:15 minutes
Total time:15 minutes
This recipe appears in: Video: How to Caramelize Onions in 15 Minutes


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 to 3 large onions, finely sliced (about 5 cups)
  • Water
  • Kosher salt


  1. 1

    Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel or enameled cast iron saucepan over high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until bottom of saucepan is glazed in a pale brown fond, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and scrape up fond with wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until fond has built up again, about 2 minutes longer. Add 2 more tablespoons water and scrape up browned bits. Repeat cooking, adding water, and scraping until onions are completely softened and a deep, dark brown, about 15 minutes total. Season to taste with salt. Remove from saucepan rapidly to prevent burning.


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