Caramelized Onions

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    275 grams

    of onions

Appears in

Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread

Bien Cuit

By Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky

Published 2015

  • About

The best way to caramelize onions is the slow, low-heat method I learned from Georges Perrier. Because it takes at least an hour, do it when you’re going to be in the kitchen for a while so you can return to the onions from time to time. This recipe makes quite a bit more than called for in the previous recipe. In addition to using the leftovers as a condiment, try them in omelets.


  • 453 grams (1 pound) unsalted butter
  • 907 grams (2 pounds) onions (about 4 medium), cut into ¼-inch (6 mm) dice



  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan without stirring it. Skim off the foamy layer on the top and discard. Pour the clear yellow liquid into a medium sauté pan (or into a storage container if cooking the onions later), leaving the solids in the bottom behind.
  2. Heat the butter over low heat until it bubbles gently (increase the heat slightly if necessary), then add the onions. After a few minutes, use a wooden spoon to gently move the onions and see the bottom of the pan. Brown bits should be starting to form. Scrape these with the spoon and incorporate them into the onions.
  3. Adjusting the heat as needed to keep the contents of the pan bubbling gently, repeat the process every 15 minutes or so, scraping and incorporating the brown bits, until the onions are a rich amber color, 1 to 1½ hours. Toward the end of the process, adjust the heat so the onions don’t burn and stir a bit more often, about every 5 minutes or so.
  4. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl or large measuring cup. Put the onions in the strainer to drain off the excess butter. Reserve 50 grams (¼ c) of the onions for Caramelized Onion Bread, 20 grams (1½ tbsp) for Alsatian Scones, or 144 grams (¾ c) for Bialys. Store the remainder in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Refrigerate the strained butter (which has delicious flavor) in a separate container for up to 1 week.