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Balsamic Caramelized Onions

Add a touch of sweet and tangy flavor with these delicious balsamic caramelized onions. They make the perfect topping for burgers, pizza, salads, steaks, and more!

This isn’t one of those quick recipes that I love to post around here. You’ll need at least an hour to slowly cook these caramelized balsamic onions – preferably more – to coax your onions into their perfectly melty, caramelized, sweet place. But they’re definitely easy and you can have these in your skillet while you’re doing any number of other things.

Balsamic Caramelized Onions Recipe

Caramelized Onions vs Sautéed Onions vs Grilled Onions

This topic is near and dear to me since these terms are frequently interchanged, despite each having different cooking methods and resulting flavors. Before we dive into this delicious balsamic caramelized onions recipe, let’s briefly breakdown the differences.

  • Caramelized Onions
    • Cooking Method: Cooked slowly over low heat for a longer period of time until the natural sugars in the onions break down and caramelize.
    • Taste: Rich, sweet, and savory flavor.
  • Sautéed onions
    • Cooking Method: Cooked quickly over medium to high heat in a bit of oil or butter until they are translucent, lightly browned yet still a bit crunchy.
    • Taste: Milder flavor with a slightly caramelized and sweet taste.
  • Grilled onions
    • Cooking Method: Cooked directly on a grill at high heat until outer layers of the onion are charred.
    • Taste: Smoky, slightly charred flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Balsamic Caramelized Onions Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil – The oil is used for cooking the onions while adding a pleasant flavor.
  • Sweet onions – The high sugar content of sweet onions is ideal for this recipe. Vidalia, Walla Walla, or Maui onions are a few of my favorites.
  • Kosher salt & Freshly ground black pepper The spice base to most recipes to elevate the flavors.
  • Sugar (optional) – Enhances and aids in the caramelization process and creates a deeper flavor and golden brown color. The results may change slightly but adding sugar is optional or adjust the amount added as preferred.
  • Balsamic vinegar – The vinegar’s acidity brings a tangy and subtly sweeter flavor.

You’ll find the complete ingredients list with amounts in the recipe card below!

How to Make Caramelized Onions with Balsamic

  1. Slice the onions: Thinly slice the onions into uniform pieces.
  2. Heat the pan or skillet: Add olive oil to a skillet over a medium-low heat.
  3. Add the ingredients: Add the onions and season with salt and pepper, then add the sugar and balsamic.
  4. Cook low and slow: Cook slowly to allow the natural sugars in the onions to break down and caramelize.
Homemade Caramelized Balsamic Onions in a Pan

Tips & Variations

I make so many variations on this recipe. Another favorite is spicy caramelized onions (just add hot sauce to taste at the end instead of balsamic). Spicy sweet caramelized onions…delicious!

You can get sweet, soft caramelized onions in as little as 30 to 40 minutes in the pan but 60 minutes will result in softer, deeper flavored onions.

How to Serve Balsamic Caramelized Onions

Use these delicious balsamic onions as a flavorful topping on burgers, steaks, fish, pizzas, flatbreads, sandwiches, sliders, grilled cheese, vegetables (eggplant strips!) or add them into breakfast dishes like omelets, quiches or tarts.

You could even put some on a salad (mmm…with blue cheese dressing). I’ve even been known to enjoy some as side dishthey’re that good. Cheap, easy, delicious and relatively healthy…pretty close to perfect.

They’re especially delicious on a burger topped with blue cheese or on hot dogs or sausages for a gourmet twist.

Risotto or pasta with caramelized onions mixed would be divine!

Make a tasty side dish of balsamic mushrooms and onions by adding mushrooms during the final 10 minutes of cooking. A great steak topping too!

Stir into soups (French onion soup!), stews, and braises for a pop of flavor or serve as an appetizer spread on top of toasted bruschetta or crostini.

Blend into dips or spreads like hummus dip, sour cream-based dips, caramelized onion dip, or cheese spreads for an added savory flavor. Mashed potatoes too!

These Balsamic Caramelized Onions are fantastic on burgers, pizza, on a salad, over steak...a great summer topping to just about anything! | | #summer #recipe #onions #barbecue

Make Ahead & Storage

Make them ahead up to 4 days before and tuck them away in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in your fridge (after enjoying a couple of spoonfuls, I never can resist them)!

Caramelized balsamic onions can also be stored in an airtight container or freezer safe Ziploc bag, and frozen for up to 2 months.

They keep very well and are best at room temperature – perfect for a barbecue since you can just set them on the table and not worry about heating them.

These Balsamic Caramelized Onions are fantastic on burgers, pizza, on a salad, over steak...a great summer topping to just about anything! | | #summer #recipe #onions #barbecue

Balsamic Caramelized Onions

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Use these delicious balsamic caramelized onions to top just about anything from burgers to pizza to salads to steak.


  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 sweet onions (sliced thickly (about 5-6 slices per onion))
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (depending on personal preference)


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, slice a 1/2-inch off the stem and root ends of the onions, then cut in half. Lay the onions cut side down and make angled cuts into each onion. You'll want thick slices so each half should have about 3 slices each.
  3. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. If onions are overflowing from the skillet cook down slightly to reduce in volume.
  4. Once onions are cooked down slightly (if necessary), add sugar and stir gently. Add balsamic and stir again. Reduce heat to low and slowly cook onions, stirring every few minutes, for an hour or so. Vinegar will reduce and coat onions.


Depending on skillet size, add half the onions, cook down enough that you can stir them all in the skillet without any going overboard, then add other half.

You can get sweet, soft caramelized onions in as little as 30 to 40 minutes in the pan but 60 minutes will result in softer, deeper flavored onions.

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Can be served at room temperature.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 540mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

If you love onions try this delicious creamed onions recipe next!

Kristy Bernardo
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