Best caramelized onions with brown sugar made on your stovetop in a cast iron skillet! Make a bunch and serve on burgers, for soups or as a side dish.
Want to make the best cast iron caramelized onions to top your burgers tonight? It’s as easy as throwing everything in a cast iron pan and letting them do their thang! (affiliate links present, originally published 1/21)
Caramelized Onions for Burger
I know you probably love these too. When I order a juicy Instant Pot hamburger I’m totally willing to add a little extra money to have these lathered on.
When you’re at home you too can make a batch that tastes just as good, maybe better because you can then adjust the sweetness.
Caramelized Onions with Brown Sugar
Don’t like them sweet at all, leave out the brown sugar all together. That is the beauty of making them yourself right? First let’s start with the different types of onions and what one to choose.
There are a bunch out there and it is a bit confusing when you see them all at the grocery store right?
Remember that Vidalia and red onions are on the sweeter sides. Spanish, white and yellow are milder and my choices for sure.
Cast Iron Caramelized Onions
In fact I buy yellow in bags on a regular basis because I add them to just about everything. Dice them up fine and throw them into things like Mississippi roast and lots more. More simply, just make a batch of air fryer onions. They won’t be as flavorful as these though.
What is the difference between caramelized onions and sautéed onions
When you caramelize them you’re allowing them to cook down for a much longer period of time. Over medium heat this may take about an hour. Baby them as they brown and get to a deep brown color.
All of them really. You could even use red onions if you like. I use yellow because typically that is what I have on hand.
If you’re using a Vidalia there are more sugars in the onions so you may want to eliminate adding any more.
You may not have waited long enough. This easily takes 45 minutes or longer over medium heat.
Over high heat they’re likely to burn before they reach the rich brown sweetness you want. Low and slow is best.
Yes. Always cool completely first. Freeze caramelized onions into desired portions that you would typically use in recipes, in individual freezer bags. Make sure they are airtight, or even ice cube trays for smaller portions. Make sure the containers or bags are freezer-safe and seal them tightly to prevent freezer burn and maintain freshness.
As far as how thick you slice onions, that is up to you. Just remember the thinner they are the shorter the cook time will be. Short is relative though, don’t make these if you’re in any sort of hurry. Caramelizing onions take time.
The most important elements if you ask me are bacon and butter!! Oh yes we aren’t counting calories today, this is about comfort food x 1000.
Caramelized Onion Recipe
A cast iron pan is a must for me too, the flavor is just so much better. These leave your pan nicely seasoned when they’re done too.
- Brown sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Chili powder is optional
Remember to preheat your burner to medium heat before putting your pan on there.
Caramelized Onions in Cast Iron Skillet
Here is a quick step by step but there is a printable recipe card at the bottom of this pos as well. Use these to make all sorts of things such as burger toppings, to onion dip and soups.
- In a cast iron pan turn up the heat and set heat to medium high.
- Add in some diced bacon and cook down. Leave grease in pan. Alternatively you could use some olive oil before you add the onion.
- Add sliced yellow onions with butter and seasonings into the pan. Once butter melts stir so onions are coated.
- Reduce the heat. In a skillet over medium heat allow to simmer. Every few minutes stir them, gently scrape bottom of the pan so they cook down, soften, and absorb the bacon grease and butter flavors.
- Cook the onions until they’re a nice golden brown rich color. All the while scraping the browned bits off as it cooks and releases natural sugars getting browner and deeper in color.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove and serve immediately for best results.
- Caramelization process timing may vary depending on how soft and brown you want them: from 25 min to 60
Remember to be patient. Start these before anything else. Once they get to this stage it is just a matter of time to get darker and deeper brown. Stir occasionally and when everything else is ready, just take them off.
What to do with caramelized onions
I highly suggest leaving yourself an hour to get them as close to perfection as you possibly can though. If you like to batch cook soups with these you can make a double batch and freeze half too.
You can do this same concept on saute function inside your Ninja Foodi or pressure cooker. Then continue as directed to make Instant Pot French onion soup. Once this is done the final result only takes about 15 minutes!
We have made Crockpot French onion soup too. This is first to bring it over the top delicious with the sweet and salty flavors you love.
What do you eat caramelized onions with?
Like I said, they’re our favorite air fryer frozen hamburgers topping but there are so many possibilities beyond that for sure.
- You can use them to make our onion gravy recipe
- Serve on top of bruschetta toast with some goat cheese
- We love baked brie with some of these laid on top for added flavors
- Add them on top of pressure cooker roast beef inside hoagie rolls for dinner
Do you serve them any other ways other than these? Let us know so we can try!
Can I caramelize onions ahead of time?
Of course! Got a party coming up and want to get ahead of the game? You can make these up to 5 days before your get together. Just allow them to cool, cover with plastic wrap tightly in a small bowl and refrigerate. To reheat sauteed onions you’ll want to add them to a pan again with a bit of olive oil, butter, or bacon grease.
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
Best Caramelized Onions
- 1 cast iron skillet
- In a cast iron pan over medium heat, add diced bacon and cook down. Leave grease in pan.
- Add sliced onions with butter and seasonings into the pan. Once butter melts stir so onions are coated.
- Every few minutes stir them so they cook down, soften, and absorb the bacon grease and butter flavors. Once they're a nice golden rich color use a slotted spoon to remove and serve immediately for best results.
- Timing may vary depending on how soft and brown you want them: from 25 min to 60