Easter is just around the corner which means it’s time to bust out those cast iron skillets and get to choppin’ the onions so you can make caramelized onions!!! Actually caramelized onions have nothing to do with Easter BUT it is a perfect holiday to add a touch of decadence to your table with caramelized onions.
Caramelized onions are one of my most favorite toppings to make, they add such a special touch to any dish. They can dress up steak, salads, fajitas, chicken, vegetables and are pretty amazing straight out of the pan. If you haven’t eaten a caramelized onion straight out of the pan, you haven’t lived.
Here’s what you need: onions and butter.
Yep, you read that right, all you need is butter and onions.
One of the most important steps of cutting the onion is to be sure and have uniform slices. I almost always end up with half of my onion caramelized while the other half is still softening, so uniform, uniform, uniform. Also, the pan can make a difference too, I absolutely love my cast iron skillet and it’s the only skillet I use when caramelizing onions, but any skillet will work if you don’t have a cast iron one.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet per medium sized onion that is used. Most recipes I’ve seen suggest using less butter but almost every time I use less butter my onions end up burning. Now if you really are against using butter you can definitely substitute it for olive oil or canola oil, but I think butter gives the onions the best flavor and color.
Another tip: use a fresh onion that hasn’t been peeled yet. Most of the time when I’m using an onion in a recipe I only need half of an onion so the other half goes into the fridge. The onions are more likely to burn when they’re dried out, so use a fresh onion! And just caramelize the whole onion because you’ll use it anyways.
Melt the butter in your skillet, then throw in the sliced or diced onion and toss to coat in butter. Keep the heat on medium-low heat, depending on how warm your stove top gets. Keep it pretty moderate.
The process of caramelizing an onion takes a good 45 minutes. DO NOT RUSH THIS. I repeat: Do not rush the caramelizing process – it is so worth the time.
Some people like to add a teaspoon or so of sugar to the onion to help the caramelizing, but I don’t find it necessary since the onion gets sweet enough all on its own.
You’ll want to stir the onions around every so often, especially once it gets a little further in the process, but don’t over stir them because then it won’t get the proper cooking time it needs. Caramelized onions are the perfect thing to make while you’re already in the kitchen working on another task.
And when they’re done – pure bliss. They’ll be the color of caramel and taste like candy. Resist the temptation to eat the whole onion right then and there – just remind yourself how long it took to caramelize.
*This isn’t my best caramelized onion picture, you’ll want to cook them a little more than this picture*
If I need to caramelize an onion for a recipe, I usually will do a couple at a time and then keep the leftovers in the fridge and use later. The onion will shrink to about a 1/3 of it’s size so it’s always better to make more anyways.
Make some for your Easter dinner this weekend, top your salad with them, dice them finely and add them to deviled eggs or add them into a potato dish. YUMM.