No hassle caramelized onions that don’t need babysitting, now that’s a keeper. Caramelized onions are a cook’s secret ingredient to add that special sweetness that is hard for diners to pinpoint. Traditional caramelized onions take at least an hour and constant attention….I’m guessing you are like me, wanting the delicious, complex taste but not devoting that kind of effort. Pull out your slow cooker and let’s get going, caramelized onions in the slow cooker is the answer.
Caramelized onions in the slow cooker can be as simple as slicing onions, adding some oil and salt and pushing go. Personally, I do add a bit more attention by stirring and removing moisture to give additional flavor and deeper color to the onions. Have you ever noticed that slow cookers retain the liquid to a fault? When cooking you’ll see the liquid condensed on the lid and dripping back onto the food. In certain cases this is a good thing. For caramelizing onions not so much. Therefore I choose to make these caramelized onions in the slow cooker on days that I’ll be around to check on them. Every couple of hours I’ll remove the lid (careful, that dripping water and steam is hot and remember to use a hot pad, that lid is even hotter), wiggle the lid over the sink to remove excess condensation and then stir the onions. Scraping the spoon along the bottom of the slow cooker and pulling the onions from the bottom of the cooker to the top. Removing the lid helps remove excess liquid and stirring distributes the heat so that the onions caramelize and not steam, provides a deeper color and enhances the flavor. Very little effort for supreme results making truly hassle free caramelized onions in the slow cooker.
I’ve researched and experimented with several ways to cook the caramelized onions in the slow cooker and found the best technique requires some stirring, just as I stated above. Cook the onions on low for 6-8 hours (remembering to stir and remove/return the lid every couple of hours), at this point you may be happy with the caramelized onions. I typically like them with an even deeper color than the 8 hours yields, so will remove the top and drain the excess moisture, stir the onions but this time return the lid ajar on the slow cooker to help reduce the moisture. leaving the lid about 1″ askew on the cooker for the remainder of the cook time. Continue cooking until the caramelized onions have the taste and color that you desire, maybe another 3-6 hours, continuing the stirring every couple of hours. You may be wondering why not just leave the lid ajar during the full cook time, you want the lid on during the initial cooking time to help tenderize the onions.
Keep in mind your personal slow cooker will vary from others. I own an older model and the first time I tried the slow cooker method for caramelized onions they burned around the side of the crock. I salvaged the onions from the middle of the pot but there was a lot of waste. I think some slow cookers just cook at a higher temperature than others, even on the low setting. I unfortunately happen to own one of those cookers! If you own one like mine then make sure you are around to stir once or twice, or do what I do and stir every couple of hours and remove the moisture from the lid like I explained earlier in this post.
Traditional caramelized onions use butter instead of oil. I’ve found that in the slow cooker method a neutral oil is best like canola oil.
As great as caramelized onions in the slow cooker smell when they cook, the odor can be a little overwhelming. I luckily have a screened in porch and cook them outside…this also pulls the neighbors over to ask what smells so delicious.
The recipe calls for 6 medium sized onions, depending on the size of your slow cooker you want to fill it about 3/4 full, don’t completely fill the crock. Slow cookers are not meant to be filled anymore than 3/4 full. Don’t worry about making too many caramelized onions, they are easy to freeze. Freezing gives you the convenience of having this time consuming luxury at your fingertips. I measure by tablespoons and by 1 cup portions of onions and freeze in individual resealable baggies marked with contents and date and flatten the onions in the baggies for easier storage. Then put all of the small baggies into a larger gallon size bag before putting in the freezer. This step keeps your freezer more organized. Having the different portion sizes allows for different uses. The tablespoon sizes are great for individual omelets or sandwiches while the cup sizes are more for full recipes.
Caramelized onions add flavor to so many things, they make a gourmet topping for burgers or flatbread, a nice addition to omelets, cornbread or bruchetta.
We use caramelized onions in several recipes, my current favorite is the Butternut Squash Flatbread.
With these no hassle caramelized onions you will create incredible taste and have them ready at a moment’s notice, I love the freezer!
Easy No Hassle Caramelized Onions
- 6 Large Onions I prefer Vidalia or sweet onions but white or yellow will do well
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Remove outer skin from onions and slice in half. Then cut half moon slices about 1/8" thick
Rub the inside of the slow cooker crock with olive oil to prevent sticking. Place onions in slow cooker, add 3 Tablespoons olive oil and mix well. Add Kosher salt, mix well
Replace the lid and cook on low for 8 hours. You can keep this super simple and return 8 hours later. I find that a little extra effort yields superior results. Every couple of hours remove the lid to relieve steam and dump excess moisture in the sink, at this time stir well, bringing the onions at the bottom of the crock to the top.
Test your onions after 8 hours, for some this will be enough sweetness. For die hards like me an additional few hours is necessary. Once again, remove the lid and excess moisture, stir the onions. Replace the lid but keep it askew, about an 1" off kilter. Continue to stir the onions every couple of hours until you have reached the dark color and degree of sweetness that you like. I typically go for a dark brown glossy color and rich mellow taste.