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Caramelised onions

May 12, 2017 | Accompaniments, Extras

I have used the word versatile many times, so now I should rather refer to multi-purpose – because that is exactly what these onions are. They are one of those very, very popular recipes that I have shared with so many people. Like so many other recipes, it is those that are made with normal, everyday ingredients that everyone will make over and over again. Make a big pot of these onions when onions are inexpensive, or if you receive a crateful as a gift. Store them in sterilised glass jars with a thin layer of olive oil on top. It is one of those ingredients that will put many ordinary dishes in a whole new light. Next time you go camping or on holiday, make a big jar of caramelised onions to keep cooking easy and interesting.

The secret is to sauté the onions slowly until they are completely soft. Then add the vinegar and sugar. This way you will have caramelised onions with much for flavour. Use the onions hot or at room temperature on homemade hamburgers or pizzas, in wraps or instead of a sauce on a piece of roasted or pan-fried meat of chicken. Mix roasted tomatoes into the onions for a divine sauce for ‘pap’ or on gourmet hot dogs.

A bowl of onions on a cheese board will be devoured very quickly and it is delicious as part of a filling in an omelette or mixed into scrambled eggs. I have even served them with blanched broccoli and green beans on a bed of lettuce and a cheese as a salad and even the men enjoy it. By the way, they make an ideal gift!

Caramelised onions

Recipe from Make five
Makes 500 ml


30 ml (2 tbsp) olive or avocado oil

4 large onions, halved and thinly sliced

15 ml (1 tbsp) dried thyme or 5 ml (1 tsp) cumin seeds

45 ml (3 tbsp) soft brown sugar

45 ml (3 tbsp) balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

45 ml (3 tbsp) fresh thyme leaves


1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan (like an AMC 28 cm Chef’s Pan) over medium heat and sauté the onions slowly with the thyme (or cumin seeds) until nearly soft.

2. Add the sugar and vinegar and sauté the onions until completely soft and caramelised – about 10-15 minutes. Season to taste and stir in fresh thyme.

3. Serve hot or at room temperature. These keep for a long time in a glass jar in the fridge.


1. Robust herbs, such as fresh rosemary, also work well with the onions and dried herbs are ideal. Spices like caraway or fennel seeds will also be delicious. You can try different vinegars or flavoured oils for different flavour combinations.

2. Make a big batch of these onions and store them in sterilised glass jars (in the fridge) with a thin layer of olive oil on top.

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