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Kitchen Tip: How to Caramelize Onions

Guinness french onion soup without cheese
Kitchen Tip: How to Caramelize Onions

This post is a part of Heinen’s Kitchen Tips and Techniques series designed to give everyone the skills and confidence they need to make any recipe. Videos, photographs and descriptions were provided by Heinen’s partner, Chef Billy Parisi. 

Properly caramelizing onions is an incredibly classic technique that will help enhance the flavor of everything you eat! There’s no method that is simpler or more cost-effective for taking flavor over the top. It doesn’t matter if you’re serving it on a burger, in a sauce or in a soup, it’s easy and incredibly delicious.

There are definitely a few different cuts, depending on how you’ll be using your onions. You’ll use big, thick-sliced rings for the top of a burger, thinly sliced onions for a sauce or those small, diced cuts for soup. When it comes to caramelizing, it doesn’t matter what cut you’re working with because the process is all the same.

For Standard Caramelized Onions

To get started, you’ll want to head over to your cooktop and, in a very large saute pan, melt unsalted butter over medium-high heat. You can also use olive oil if you prefer. Next, you’ll add in your sliced onions. Be sure that you stir them every 2 to 3 minutes for 15 to 20 minutes total.

It is important that you let the onions cook. You can’t immediately start stirring because you’ll miss that perfect golden brown that takes place during the caramelization process. You simply have to let them sit but don’t worry, they are not going to burn at these low temperatures.

After about 15 to 20 minutes, you will see that the onions are nice and brown, which is fantastic if you’re planning to add them to a sauce, over a burger or even in soup. It’s a great way to bring out those natural sugars that provide so much extra flavor to whatever it is you’re eating.

For Extra Caramelized Onions

Now, that was the first part of caramelization, but what if you want to make onion soup and take these even further? Or, what if you just want extremely caramelized onions?

Simply turn the heat down to low and stir the onions every 5 minutes for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. That’s right! These will cook for a total of 40 to 45 minutes, but there isn’t anything more flavorful. I will say this though, you don’t want to over carmelize because the onions can become bitter. As long as they’re a nice dark brown and still soft and translucent,  they’ll surely have the nice sweet finish you’re looking for.

So there you have it! Caramelized onions are so easy to make and an incredible way to add flavor to whatever it is you’re eating.

By Chef Billy Parisi
Chef Billy Parisi is a culinary school grad who spent 15 years in the restaurant industry as a line cook, sous chef and executive chef. Now he develops, photographs and films simple and delicious recipes that will make everyone feel like a chef in their own kitchen.

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