Slowly sauteing onions over medium heat completely transforms them, from sharp and pungent into soft, flavorful, and caramelized.
And while you do need to be somewhat patient and let the heat do its magic, the actual cooking time is just 10 minutes!
Do you like onions? For me, it depends. When they’re raw, I don’t really like them. I sometimes add them (especially red onions) to salads such as this arugula salad or asparagus salad. But I mostly stay away from them. I find them too sharp.
But when cooked, I LOVE them. Sauteed onions, especially when slowly and patiently caramelized, are a delicacy. Their sharpness disappears, and they become wonderfully flavorful in a way that enhances other foods rather than overpowers them.
- Expert tip
- Frequently asked questions
- Serving suggestions
- Storing leftovers
- Related recipes
- Recipe card
You’ll only need three ingredients to make sauteed onions. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Also read: Chicken Hearts Recipe | Family Cuisine
Onions: I almost always use yellow onions in this recipe. White onions work too.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this very flavorful oil, and since we’re cooking the onions over medium heat, I don’t worry about its relatively low smoke point. However, if you prefer, you can use butter or ghee instead. Both are delicious.
Kosher salt: After adding the onion rings to the hot oil, I sprinkle them with a little salt, about ½ teaspoon. If you’re using fine salt rather than kosher salt, you might want to use less of it.
Sauteing onions is truly easy and simple. All you need is a little patience! The detailed instructions are included in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to peel the onion and slice it into fairly thin slices, as shown in the video below. Then separate the slices into rings.
Now, heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, about 2 minutes.
Add the onion rings to the oil. Use a wooden spoon to spread them evenly in the skillet. Sprinkle them with salt.
This is where patience becomes important. You will need to cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are soft, golden, and browned in spots. This will probably take about 10 minutes over medium heat.
Be ready for the onions to lose quite a bit of volume as you slowly cook them! I think they end up being half the volume they were before cooking. So take that into account when deciding how much to make.
It’s tempting to crank the heat up when cooking onions. But, while we don’t necessarily try to get them super browned and caramelized, we do want them evenly soft and golden, with some brown bits.
So while we don’t need to cook them over LOW heat, we should certainly stick with MEDIUM heat and not be tempted to cook them over medium-high heat. If we do, it would result in uneven results and they might even burn.
Frequently asked questions
Sauteed onions have many uses! First of all, as you probably know, they make a superb topping for steaks and burgers. They’re also great with chicken livers and for beef liver.
Another great use for them is to add them to omelets and frittatas. Sometimes I mix them into this mushroom frittata. It’s really good!
Lastly, I like to add them to sandwiches. Sometimes I add them to this grilled cheese sandwich. Mmm good!
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. When ready to use them, simply reheat them in the microwave on 50% power. They will be just as good as when freshly made.
Cooked onions keep quite well, actually. When I make liver and onions, I sometimes pan-fry the onions a couple of days ahead of time, then refrigerate them until I can get to the grocery store for some fresh livers.
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