BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Basic Caramelized Onions

  • Prep Time 0:05
  • Cook Time 0:47
  • Estimated Cost $4

Good caramelized onions require two things that we as a culture are not particularly good with:

1) Butter.
2) Patience.

Regarding the first, I stand by my belief that butter is your friend in the kitchen. Certainly, it has the potential to be a foe at times. It can burn easily, it can be unhealthy in some preparations (particularly when battered and deep-fried). That said, when cooked over a low heat (and in moderation), it can be one of the most wonderful flavor-deepening agents you can employ in cooking. Many people choose canola or olive oil to caramelize onions in. I will pick butter every time. It’s a very inexpensive way to give incredibly rich flavor to lowly onions.

As for the second item, unlike most recipes on BrokeAss Gourmet, caramelizing onions requires a fair amount of patience. This is obviously fine if you are talented at waiting. If you, like me, are impatient by nature, it can be more of a challenge. The best solution I’ve found is to cook whatever else I’m serving while the onions caramelize—that way I’m distracted and less tempted to turn the heat up just a pinch. It’s imperative that the onions cook over low heat the entire time to thoroughly and evenly draw out their sugars, yielding a sweet, soft caramelized result.

Serve on burgers, sandwiches, grilled meats, etc.


  • 3 tbsp salted butter $1 for a stick
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into thin rings $1

Recipe Serves 4


  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a medium frying pan. 
  2. Reduce to low and add sliced onions. Stir well to coat onions with butter, then leave the pan unattended for the bulk of 40-45 minutes (use a spatula a few times to scrape up the brown bits on the pan and stir them into the onions while they cook). 
  3. The onions are done when they are very soft (to the point that you could almost spread them on toast) and very sweet.
  4. Makes enough caramelized onions for 4 burgers.

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Caramelised onions are also the basis of a seriously good curry! Caramelise the onions, add the spices and then blend with fresh chilli, ginger and herb stalks for a great curry base. Add water, meat, veg and finally fresh herbs … as Gordon Ramsay would say, “Done!”.

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