Caramelized Red Onions

After months of putting up jar after jar of jams and jellies, I head in to fall looking to make sure I have some preserves that are more versatile and can be used for more savory winter cooking. I came across a recipe for Caramelized Red Onion Relish in Marisa McClellan’s book “Food in Jars”. She recommends pairing this relish with ricotta or goat cheese and adding it to pizza. I can see using it for both preparations, in addition to adding it to grilled cheese sandwiches and as a topping to BBQ pulled pork. This is one recipe that I’ll look forward to finding new ways to use it up, and will probably regret making such a small batch. But, the good thing is, onions are always readily available, and have a long life at farmer’s markets so this recipe is an easy one to tackle in those chilly winter months. The recipe as printed in the book calls for a yield of 3 pints, but even using 6 onions, I only got 2.5 pints. When I do this recipe again, I will probably use the half pint jars, instead of the full pint as a little goes a long way with these onions, especially as a sandwich topper, so I’d prefer the smaller sized jar. If you do use half pint jars, you should not make any adjustments to the processing time.

Caramelized Red Onions

Makes 2.5 pints

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 5-6 large red onions, cut in half and sliced horizontally, creating half moons
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup malt vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Prepare your boiling water bath with 3 pint jars or 6 half pint jars.

Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large, non-reactive pot and add the onions.


Cook until the onions are golden, about 25 minutes.


Add the sugar, both vinegars, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne powder to the pot. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced.


Ladle the onions into the heated jars. Carefully and gently tap the jars on a cork board or towel on the counter top to loosen any air bubbles and then use a chopstick to release any additional bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel and apply the lid and ring. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. When they are finished processing, turn the heat off and let sit for another 5-10 minutes to ensure a proper seal. Remove the jars from the water and let sit on the counter to cool for 12 hours. Remove the ring, test the lids to ensure a proper seal, and store up to one year.


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