After spending years looking at recipes all day every day, I’m convinced that a lot of recipe developers haven’t ever actually eaten properly caramelized onions. This is doubly true for restaurant owners.
Caramelized onions do not take 10 minutes to make. Or 20. Or even 30. Good caramelized onions — the kind that are sweet and jammy and melt in your mouth — take at least an hour. It’s a process that can’t be rushed.
There are shortcuts. Baking soda. Brown sugar. Balsamic vinegar. But they are inferior. True caramelized onions are more than just brown or sweet. They have a deep, savory flavor that doesn’t come quickly. It’s like the difference between butter and browned butter.
If you want caramelized onions on your pizza, in French onion soup (I don’t think I’ve ever had French onion soup in a restaurant with good caramelized onions), or on a sandwich, plan on spending an hour at the stove. Also plan on using 5-6 giant onions and getting back maybe a cup of caramelized onions if you’re lucky.
Caramelized onions are fairly simple to make. But you can’t speed it up. I mean, you can. And you’ll end up with something tasty.
Making them is actually quite easy. Add a bit of butter and Ava Jane’s Kitchen Avocado Oil to a large stainless steel skillet (don’t use non-stick) over medium heat and add a pile of sliced onions. Stir to coat in fat. Cook, stirring every 5-10 minutes. If the onions look like they are burning, turn the heat down or add a bit of water. Continue cooking and stirring until onions start to smell caramelized, and turn a deep amber brown. Season with salt. At this point, you can add balsamic vinegar if desired, but it’s not necessary.
It will take about hour. If it takes less, the onions aren’t done. Go all the way. You’ll be glad you did.