Caramelised Onions

caramelised onions

Caramelised Onions

Onions are one of the biggest gifts to cooks on a budget because they pack amazing flavour for their tiny price tag. These onions may seem like a bit of work, but you’ll be well rewarded with a super versatile condiment. Feel free to halve or quarter this recipe if you don’t feel like chopping up so many onions.

takes: about 70 minutes
makes: heaps

1.5kg (3lb) onions
6 tablespoons cheap balsamic vinegar

1. Chop onions in half, lengthwise. Cut off the top and tail and peel the skins. Slice onions into thin half moon shapes.

2. Heat about 6 tablespoons oil in a large pot and fry the onions, covered over a medium low heat until the onions are super soft. About 40 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and add balsamic, cook the onions uncovered on a medium heat until the onions are well browned and caramelised. Another 15-20 minutes.

4. Taste & season. And pack into a super clean glass jar while still hot.


different vinegar – by all means replace the balsamic with a cheaper vinegar. Malt vinegar would be lovely just start with about 3 tablespoons and add from there.

thyme – if you have access to a garden with fresh thyme, a few sprigs add a lovely fragrance.

rosemary – if you have access to a garden with fresh rosemary, a few sprigs add a lovely fragrance.

onion jam – for something sweeter and more chutney like, add in about 1/4 cup brown sugar with the balsamic.

Usage Suggestions

with burgers – brilliant instead of or as well as ketchup with a salt crusted burger.

as a spread – on sandwiches, especially grilled cheese.

on a cheeseboard – a different alternative to picked onions or quince paste.

in salads – just lovely with beets and lentils or in a green salad with goats cheese or with lentils and walnuts.

with bangers & mash – an oldie but a goodie! Also great as a slow carb alternative.

soups & stews – stir in a few tablespoons to add richness and instant depth of flavour.

Prepare Ahead?

Absolutely. Takes about 70 minutes. I like to make up a big batch to have on hand during the week.

Storage Best Practices

Store in a glass jar or airtight container. If you use a super clean jar and pack the onions in while hot, they’ll keep in the fridge for months. Covering with a little olive oil can help prevent mold growth. Can be frozen for up to 12 months.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

onions, balsamic – pantry.

Problem Solving Guide

too bland? – add in a little more vinegar and salt. And keep cooking until you have lovely caramelised flavours.

bitter – this means you’ve either burnt the onions too much or the vinegar is overpowering. Try adding a little white sugar to balance but it may not help the situation if it’s gone too far.

watery eyes – the hardest part is definitely chopping the onions. Pop a slice of bread in your mouth to hang down while you chop the onions. It’s weird but I’ll guarantee you no tears every time..

short on time – try slicing the onions in the food processor and try a higher heat for the first cooking stage, just keep a super close eye on them to make sure they don’t burn too much.

back to: The Mastering the Art of Cooking on a Budget Overview Page


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Urquhart June 18, 2016

I have made caramelised onions in my slow cooker – takes longer but you don’t need to watch them as much. I also froze them in quarter cup portions on a tray and transferred them to an airtight container for longer term storage. I then took out just what I needed when I was cooking. Particularly easy if cooking a steak etc., as you just reheat them in the pan with the steak.


jules June 23, 2016

Great idea Chris!


Bebaki Ott August 1, 2014

How can I get all of each module recipes up on my computer so I can print them ?It seems I can only get 1 recipe for 1 vege then 1 grain etc and not simple to print.Cheers Bebaki


jules August 8, 2014

Hi Bebaki
The best option for printing is to wait until the end of the class and download the ebook for the whole program… you can then easily select which pages to print. It will be available after module 5.


jules December 13, 2011

Great idea to use peppers… will definitely have to try them soon
And thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂


Kim Selzman December 12, 2011

Jules – I loved this recipe so much. These onions are truly delicious. I decided to be creative and tried it with strips of red and green peppers, following your same method. That turned out great too! I thought you might be interested in giving it a go some time.

Thanks –



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