Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions:
Sweet, Dark & Memorable!

Memorable, these onions, just thin slices of onion cooked til soft and dark and sweet in the slow cooker. My recipe is "extra-special" (I think! I hope you'll agree!) thanks to a little brown sugar and a little dry sherry and now "extra-easy" too thanks to the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions, made extra-special with a little brown sugar and a little sherry and extra-easy by cooking in the slow cooker. Recipe, insider tips, nutrition, Weight Watchers points at Kitchen Parade.

“Do you still make your three-hour onions?” asked my cousin’s wife Sue when she and Jerry visited this summer.

Wow, mighty-memorable onions, my Caramelized Onions. Because, get this, I last made Caramelized Onions for Jerry and Sue, hmm, more than twelve years ago.

A Texan taught me to slice piles of onions for Caramelized Onions: they “made” my homemade fajitas, worth the three hours of slow-simmering on the stove to release a golden-dark, decidedly tasty mess of onions.

But these days, I’ve traded up from three hours on the stove for eight hours in the slow cooker.

Caramelized Onions are one of those special “building blocks” that make a home cook’s kitchen so productive. Use the onions a spoonful at a time.

Here are some ideas! Let your imagination take over, there’s no trouble finding creative uses for Caramelized Onions.

Serve Caramelized Onions on the side with steaks, chops, even bison tenderloin.
Make roast beef sandwiches, slices of rare roast beef, Caramelized Onions, basil aioli and a few leaves of arugula. These sandwiches were gobbled up at a party this summer!
Start a stew with Caramelized Onions instead of sautéing onions. A time saver!
Stir a spoonful or two into biscuit dough or a breakfast omelet. A flavor boost!
Stir them into cooked broccoli or cauliflower, mash them into potatoes. Re-imagine old favorites!
Purée caramelized onions with a little vinegar and honey. You’ve got salad dressing!
Make an onion pizza! A calorie saver!
Make Mexican Pizza (Oaxaca Tlayuda)! It’s what fueled my recent obsession with spate of Caramelized Onions.
And you, what do you make with Caramelized Onions? I've got two cups in the fridge, help me use them up!

This summer, I’ve cooked Caramelized Onions four times, once on the stovetop just to compare. The stovetop works fine, it's a good activity when you’re busy around the house and can keep checking the onions. The only risk? When the onions get close to done, they move from done to burned in a couple of minutes. That’s the beauty of the slow cooker.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!


Real Food. Vegetarian or Vegan. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free.
Hands-on time: 15 minutes plus occasional stirring throughout
Time to table: 5 - 9 hours
Makes 1 cup Caramelized Onions per pound of uncooked whole onions
    Per POUND Uncooked Whole Onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter (my preference, for flavor) or olive oil (for vegan)
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine, bourbon or dry sherry, optional

In a slow cooker, combine butter and brown sugar on high until melted.

Peel the onions. Cut in half lengthwise, place flat-side down and slice thin half rings. Stir into butter-brown sugar mixture, tossing to coat.

Cover and let cook for 4 - 8 hours on high, stirring occasionally. About half-way through, stir in liquor.

The onions are “cooked” before they caramelize. For honey-colored onions, cook for shorter time; for dark unctuous onions, cook longer. If liquid is left, either remove the cover and cook it off for 10 or 15 minutes (be careful, the onions can burn!) or just use to keep the onions extra moist.

Refrigerate until ready to use, keep for a couple of weeks.

ALANNA’s TIPS Two pounds of onions, that’s about six medium-size onions, yields about two cups of much-condensed caramelized onions. Two pounds perfectly fills my favorite “small slow cooker”, this red stoneware crockpot from Hamilton Beach. Four pounds works in a more usual four-quart slow cooker. The best onions for caramelizing are yellow, red and white onions. Save "sweet" onions such as Vidalias for recipes where they remain uncooked. Do onions make your eyes water? Yikes, mine too, especially when my contact lenses are out but even, starting on about the third onion, when they’re in. I usually suffer through but enlisting help from the food processor for slicing does help. Save those onion skins! Toss them into a freezer bag and freeze until it’s time to make a small batch of No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock or a large batch of Homemade Chicken Stock I understand that Caramelized Onions freeze beautifully, it’s just not my style.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Tablespoon/Quarter Cup: 13/53 Calories; 0/1g Tot Fat; 0/1g Sat Fat; 0/3mg Cholesterol; 3/13mg Sodium; 2/10g Carb; 0/1g Fiber; 1/5g Sugar; 0/1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 0/1, WW PointsPlus 0/1
While I used my own recipe for Caramelized Onions, the inspiration to try the slow cooker came from my friend Lydia at The Perfect Pantry.

This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2012

All-Natural Dog Treats 'Dog Chow' for Kids Fudgicles Dutch Apple Puff Pepper Steak & Mushrooms Power Food Broccoli Salad Estonian Apple Cake Banana Nut Cake with Caramel Frosting Best-Ever Caramel Cake Favorite Apple Recipes Simple Lentil Salad with Seasonal Vegetables Ribs & Sauerkraut for Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven

This Week, Elsewhere

Black Beans & Rice from Fitz’s
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

More Surprising Recipes for Cooking, Yes, Onions!

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Julia Child's Soubise (Onion & Rice Casserole) Moroccan Onions Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Apples & Caramelized Onions
~ more onion recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

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© Copyright 2013, 2014 Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. 3FingeredSalute9/25/2013

    Love this idea of using the slow-cooker! As such a versatile food item, you might enjoy playing with the flavor-profile just a touch. I've seen this done with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a table spoon of balsamic vinegar (together) for a flavorful zing. Alternatively, you might want to toss in a dried chipotle pepper (or more) to boost the smoky and spicy nature. A sun-dried tomato would give it more of an Italian type of sweetness. Crushed red peppers, used coffee grounds, a few whole cloves (which will render itself down to mush in the slow cooker) of garlic, etc. I'm sure you can think of more wonderful ways to "make it special" and your own!

  2. Anonymous9/25/2013

    Mmmm...carmelized onions and swiss cheese quiche. Can't wait to try cooking my onions this way!

  3. Anonymous9/25/2013

    Great use for leftover slowcooker onions: a friend sent me Alton Brown's homemade onion dip recipe this summer. I'm addicted! So are all the neighbors--great cocktail party dish. Haven't tried it yet with regular mayonnaise. I was using my Dad's homemade mayo all summer, which added extra layers of flavor to everything we made with it.

  4. Why have I not done this yet?

  5. It's funny I'm just getting to this post tonight. Last fall I made your Chicken Cider Stew, and it became the first post in my Food Bloggers Change My Life series. Don't recall seeing it? That's because it wasn't cider season by the time I was ready to post it, so I skipped ahead to the second post in the series, Foodie With Family's Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala last winter. Instead, I put your stew on my schedule for a Monday in early fall, and guess what? That's tomorrow. And my only change to your amazing stew recipe was to start with some caramelized onions, because I had them on hand.
    I'll have to try your method next time!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna