Drunken Caramelized Onions

I had the onion discussion with my coworker the other day and it goes like this: you’re either a raw onion fan or a cooked onion fan. You may like both but you’ll gravitate toward one or the other. In my case, I hate raw onions. I won’t touch them unless they’re in salsa. My coworker and I both agreed there’s nothing better than cooked onions.

Traditional caramelized onion recipes call for adding water to the pan during the caramelizing process. I decided to jazz mine up by adding a semi-sweet white wine in its stead.


  • one yellow onion
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • salt
  • white wine (or water)


  1. Slice off the root and top ends of the onion and peel the onions. Cut the onions in half. With the cut side facing toward your hand that’s holding the knife, cut the onion into circular slices (to make rings).
  2. Use a wide sauté pan so the slices of onion bunch as little as possible when cooking. Coat the bottom of the pan with an equal mixture of olive oil and butter (about one tablespoon each). Heat the pan on medium heat until the oil mixture begins to sizzle.
  3. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil mixture. Spread the onions out as evenly over the pan as possible and let cook, stirring occasionally. Let the onions stick a little to the pan and brown, but stir them before they burn. You want to let them sit in the pan without stirring long enough to brown. If you stir them too often, they won’t brown.
  4.  After five or 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions. To keeping the onions from drying out as they cook,  add a little white wine (or water) to the pan. This will also loosen any stuck on bits on the bottom of your pan.
  5. If you feel the onions are beginning to burn, reduce your heat. Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring every few minutes. After the first 20 to 30 minutes you can add a more oil and butter, if you find the onions are wanting to burn. A wooden spoon will help you scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the caramelizing continues. The longer the onions cook, the more you may need to scrape the pan.
  6. Continue to cook and scrape until the onions are a brown color. At the end you can add  a bit more wine to help deglaze the pan and bring more wine flavor to the onions.

Store in the refrigerator for several days.

If you don’t like the taste of wine, you can omit the wine altogether and opt for water instead. I found that the onions had a relatively strong onion taste. (I like wine, so this wasn’t a problem for me.) I did notice that when paired with other food (like in the Pulled Pork and Caramelized Onion Panini), the wine flavor was far less noticeable.

Recipe rating: 

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