Instant caramelised onions

In my fantasy life (the one where I am Martha Stewart crossed with Cate Blanchett and maybe a little Jess Cartner-Morley thrown in,) I am one of those people who effortlessly whips up meals for all-comers without blinking an expertly curled eyelash.

In my real life (the one where I feel most like, well, a more tired and less able version of myself), I occasionally try to create the illusion of organisational marvellousness by Doing Things Ahead Of Time. These onions are a good example. My new rationale is, if you’re going to spend five minutes chopping onions for tonight’s dinner, you may as well make it 10 minutes and chop enough for several more. Then you can whip a package of caramelised onions out of the freezer and throw them into whatever you fancy – soup, stew, scones, hummus – and feel all smug and organised. It won’t help you feel like Cate Blanchett, but you can’t have everything.

Instant Caramelised Onions
I cottoned on to this after making some scones recently that required ‘100g caramelised onions’. I don’t know about you but I don’t think that’s worth putting my apron on for – if you’re going to cry over one onion you may as well sob over six or eight. I’m not big on standing over the stove for hours waiting for onions to do their thing either. I just bung a trayful in the oven and come back to shake it occasionally. Much easier. If you do a big load like this you can then portion it out into ziplock bags and freeze them. They defrost super quick (and don’t take up much room if you have a small freezer). Genius, if I do say so myself.

6-8 large onions (or as many will comfortably fit, when sliced, into your biggest roasting dish
slosh of olive oil
2-3Tbsp brown sugar
2-3Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a large roasting dish with baking paper. Slice the onions into thin rings and put in bowl. Add the other ingredients and toss well with your hands. Tip the onions into the roasting dish and bake, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and sticky. Cool before freezing.

Do you have any get-ahead/be like Cate Blanchett tips?



  1. May 7, 2012 / 8:39 pm

    Great idea, I love things like this, which with just a bit of forethought can transform several meals. Not sure about NZ but in the Uk you can by eazy onions, 55p for onions slow cooked in olive oil. They come in a tin, which is a bit disturbing, but mean when the cupboard is virtually bare, there's always French onion soup 10 mins down the line.

  2. May 7, 2012 / 9:41 pm

    Yes – genius! Caramelised onions are one of my favourite things – on pizza with blue cheese, on steak sandiwches, in scones, just by themselves sometimes. But I never seem to make enough – I'm usually standing out the back door of the kitchen with tears streaming down my cheeks by the end of the first onion. Getting to six or eight seems like crawling over broken glass.
    Mum has ingeniously filled our freezer with leftovers, cooked chickens broken down into servings and sauces we can use to make meals after she's gone back to Chch. Genius.

  3. May 8, 2012 / 7:02 am

    Great idea! Shame its not a magic potion to whip us all into Cate Blanchett though 🙁 You do make me smile. Becks xxx

  4. May 8, 2012 / 6:46 pm

    Hmm, hadn't thought of doing them in the oven. Will have to try that soon, I do like a good caramelised onion!

  5. October 5, 2012 / 9:36 pm

    If you light a candle or two and put them on the bench right beside your chopping board — like an alter to the onion gods — you'll be spared the stinging eyes and tears. It's true. I don't think it helps with the Cate Blanchett factor though.

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