Nov 102009

There is something


that happens when you cook a bunch of onions, low and slow with butter. They become sweet, almost smoky with a depth of flavor that you’d never believe could come from the sharp, acrid taste of fresh onion.

I love caramelized onions.

As the base for French Onion Soup, piled on top of leftover roast beef in a sandwich or strewn over a pizza (maybe with some sliced granny smith apples and fontina cheese? How good does that sound? Yum.)

But the thing is, to make really good caramelized onions, you have to be prepared to babysit a skillet of onions for 40 – 60 minutes or longer. You have to make sure not to get antsy and turn up the heat. You always, always end up with far less than you thought you would. And you always wish you’d cut a few more, no matter the tears.

No more, my friend, no more. Let me introduce to you your new favorite condiment. A tablespoon or two makes quick soups taste like they’ve been simmering all day, a sandwich just that much better, and don’t even get me started on the homemade French Onion dip you’ll be making for football games. This lasts forever in your fridge (literally, months) and costs pennies per serving. Introducing Caramelized Onion Marmalade, made in your slow cooker.

Caramelized Onion Marmalade
assuming you have a 4.5 quart slow cooker or larger
  • A lot of yellow onions. Probably 3-5 pounds of them, sliced in about 1/4″ slices
  • One stick of butter (if you have a 3-quart or smaller slow cooker, I’d halve the butter)

Slice as many onions as will fill your slow cooker. Really, pack them in, as many as you can. Then place the stick of butter on top of the mound, tilt the lid just slightly and turn on your slow cooker to low.

That’s it.

After about three to four hours go ahead and stir and then place the lid on as normal (not tilted.) Allow to cook on low for about nine hours more, stirring if you think about it, until the onions have decreased substantially, and have turned a gorgeous caramel brown. Your house will smell heavenly.

Decant into a wide mouth, quart-sized mason jar and store in your fridge. Use whenever the mood strikes. This will last months and months and months and months in your fridge.

I have a 6-quart slow-cooker and my onions cooked down to a little more than a tightly packed quart.

The only thing I still need?

a foolproof technique to not cry when slicing all those onions

This post is written in conjunction with Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Pennywise Platter hosted by The Nourishing Gourmet, Fight Back Friday hosted by Food Renegade, Frugal Friday at Life as Mom, the Nourishing Crockpot Carnival hosted by Passionate Homemaking, and Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum. And, of course, as an entry to my own carnival this week, For the Love of the Slow Cooker!

*image courtesy of Cooking Light. I can’t for the life of me, find the pictures that I’m sure I took of this process!

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  6 Responses to “Caramelized Onion Marmalade – For the Love of the Slow Cooker Week”

  1. Oh yes, making caramelized onions this way is definitely something I will try. Being a Southerner, I use sweet onions and since I have a cousin who grows them in Georgia, the only cost to me is the butter — both on my budget and my hips!

  2. Finally giving this a run. I refrigerated the onions overnight, and lit a candle. Still cried.

    I also came to the decision that I am not going to bother planting onions next year! Mine are all mush already. (Nasty, moldy mush.) A high school acquaintance grows them and sells 50# bags at the farmers market in the summer for $15 – that seems like a no-brainer. Two of the onions pretty much filled my crockpot, too!

    Here's hoping I can spring fondue on my hubs soon. :>) Oh, and how about the recipe for the dip? Superbowl is coming!

  3. Original comments from former blog:

    aurelia.donka said…

    That looks yummy.

    It also looks like instant french onion soup with the addition of the beef broth in the freezer.

    7:31 AM
    Charlie’sMama said…

    All I can say is…..
    THANK YOU!!!!!

    7:33 AM
    Greta @ Mom Living Healthy said…

    This is so great! You have wonderful ideas for using the crock pot. Thanks 🙂

    9:40 AM
    Jennifer said…

    Oh my – I have to try this! Love my slow cooker….. love onions…… cannot get any better!

    Cut your onions COLD – refrigerate a couple hours before cutting 🙂 Helps alot! Have heard you can just stick in the freezer for a short while too but never tried it!

    4:08 PM
    Julie said…

    GREAT idea!

    Have you tried slicing them in a food processor? Mine has a slicing blade. Or would this make the slices too thin?

    6:23 PM
    Sarah said…

    Aurelia – EXACTLY!! Yum.

    Jennifer – Thanks for the tip! I’ve tried that before (the cold thing) and it does tend to work pretty well . . . I always end up crying at the end though! I found that the tip worked better if I had it in the fridge for at least a few hours rather than the freezer for twenty to thirty minutes. Plus, I’d always forget about one or two in the freezer, they’d freeze, and then defrost into mush. Ugh.

    I’ve also been trying to NOT cut the root end off and that seems to help too. I cut the stem end off, cut it in half, through the root end, and then peel the papery skin off and chop until I reach the root, which I discard. It works, a bit, but I still cry!

    Julie – I think the food processor might make it a bit too thin, they work best if they’re around 1/4″ thick or else they just kind of melt away, but I haven’t tried it yet. The onions I used were pretty large and I’d have had to cut a lot off of them to make them fit the chute, so I decided to just cut them in half and then in half moons.

    Thank you all! I hope you decide to make these, they are SOOO yummy!


    4:02 PM

    3:50 PM
    Erin said…

    This is one of the few recipes where I’d pull out my V-slicer. Like a mandoline, only about $20 instead of $200. You could set it to the thick setting and each onion would be done in about 1 minute. The tears might still get you, but slicing them that fast would help a lot.

    3:51 PM
    Anonymous said…

    My husband swearas by this annd it does seem too work. He lights a candle nearby while slicing onions. This is susposed to pull the onion oil from the air and keep you from breathing it in.
    Kristal in the mountians of SW VA

    **Can’t wait to try this recipe.
    **Please post your recipe for onion dip using these onions!!

    7:38 AM
    Anita said…

    This sounds delicious….topping for hamburger steak, sandwiches, the applications are mind boggling..and so easy. Thanks for the tip.

    9:26 AM
    Tracie said…

    Wow…the timing for this recipe is perfect! I just bought one of those huge bags of onions from Costco and really wanted to make Onion soup. I am also putting together a post for unique homemade gifts..hope you don’t mind if I link to your post for this one? ….This looks delish!

    9:55 AM
    Mary said…

    I’m going to give this a try. You’ve made me very curious.

    9:57 AM
    ButterYum said…

    Count me in!!! I adore the way your described these. Will definitely be trying them very soon!!!


    5:11 PM

  4. I wear a pair of swimming goggles when I chop onions and it works like magic. Not a single tear! Not even a sting. I also have my eyes on these:

    I will definitely be making these! What a great use for the slow cooker. Onions–as my boyfriend’s dad says–are the food of the gods.

    • I hope you enjoy it, Laura! I find lots of excuses to add a spoonful in here and there! 🙂

      I used to use my old lab goggles from high school chemistry to cut onions, but they have been missing for a long time . . . might have to check your link!


  5. I just got mine started. Sounds so easy, I had to give it a try.

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