15-Minute Caramelized Onions Recipe

The Food Lab

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15-Minute Caramelized Onions Recipe

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Note: For even faster caramelizing, 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.

  • Yield:Makes about 1 cup caramelized onions
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: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.