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Caramelized Onions in the Slow Cooker

December 29, 2014


There are a few “basics” I make all of the time but never post on this blog because unlike the last flashy and fancy bourbon pumpkin cheesecake recipe I posted, they are, well, basic. I have a few of these, though, that I’m going to post, not because they are so revolutionary, but because the technique is so simple and maybe different from the way that it’s usually done. (Cooking beans in the oven without soaking them? Yes, yes, that’s how I make them all the time now, more on that in another post.)

Ok, let’s talk about caramelized onions, shall we? Here’s the thing. Recipes lie about caramelized onions.  It takes a long, long time to truly caramelize them, but a caramelized onion is an amazing thing in the kitchen. I use them to make mujaddrra (yet another recipe I want to share sometime, harumpfh) and tacos with black bean and sweet potato (I actually did share that recipe a long, long time ago). I also stir them into omelets or throw them in to any dish that needs a little perking up.

love to make them in the slow cooker. For one, they get truly caramelized, for another, they take hardly any work at all, just cut them up, throw them in the slow cooker and wait.  (The cutting of the onions the hardest part of the job, for me. Onion goggles, anyone? I seriously would use these if I had them, and I’m not joking.) Ok, without further ado…

Caramelized Onions in the Slow Cooker 


3-5 pounds yellow onions (enough to fill your slow cooker 3/4 of the way full)

3T olive oil or melted butter

1/2 t. salt


1. Slice all the onions. The original recipe I used says to “thinly” slice them. I think it depends on how you interpret the word “thinly” — don’t make them paper thin or they will stick to the side and burn. I make them what I call “medium thin” — hard to quantify… don’t over think them. Definitely not thick slices, but don’t worry about getting them too thin.

2. Toss with olive oil and salt

3. Cook for 8-10 hours on low. This might take some fiddling with for your own slow cooker. For me, I cook it on low for the first 8 hours, then leave it on “warm” for an additional couple of hours.

4. optional 4th step – cook for an additional 3 hours with the lid ajar. The original recipe says this will result in “jammier” caramelized onions. I’ve made these several times and have never tried it. Just cooking on low for 8-10 hours results in beautiful, deeply caramelized onions.

About stirring — when I have these going in the house, I stop by “from time to time” (If I’m home and not at work) and give them a stir. If I’m not home, I don’t stir them. When I don’t stir them, there are often a few burned ones stuck to the side that I have to throw away, but it’s not a big deal.

To me, there’s something sort of spiritual about these onions. They are a reminder that pungent, strong and humble yellow unions become sweet, tender and complex with heat and time. (Lots and lots of time). Isn’t that true of life?

Original source: The Kitchn  

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