How to Caramelize Onions

3 Ways (Stovetop, Instant Pot, Slow Cooker)

Caramelized onions offer a deep, rich and sweet flavor that can’t be beat. We’re walking through three methods to achieving the perfect caramelized onions including methods for stovetop, the Instant Pot and in the slow cooker.

There are so many ways to use caramelized onions – in a dip, French onion soup, topping off a burger, on pizza – the possibilities are endless. While caramelizing onions is a low and slow process, the payoff is always worth it. As the onions cook, the natural sugars in them caramelize, resulting in the sweet flavor. No need to add sugar, they’re sweet all on their own!

For this how-to, we’re using RealSweet® Vidalia® onions in celebration of Vidalia season, which runs late April to early August. Did you know Vidalia onions are derived from a combination of weather, water and soil uniquely found within 20 South Georgia counties? This unique flavor is truly what makes a Vidalia onion! Be sure to look for RealSweet® Vidalia® onions in your local grocery store.

Prepping Your Onions
For all three methods, it’s important to slice your onions as thinly as possible and to keep the slices uniform in size so they caramelize evenly. Using a sharp knife, slice the onion from root to stem in thin, uniform slices. Then choose your favorite method to caramelize them. We used 4 large onions for testing, with each yielding just under 2 cups of caramelized onions. Feel free to adjust as needed.

Storing Caramelized Onions
Store extra caramelized onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

How to Caramelize Onions on the Stove


  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 large RealSweet® Vidalia® onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chicken, beef or veggie stock


  • Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring every 5 minutes, 30-40 minutes. Once onions are browned, add stock, 1 Tbsp. at a time, to deglaze pan. Cook additional 1-2 minutes and remove from heat.

How to Caramelize Onions in the Instant Pot


  • 4 large RealSweet® Vidalia® onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda


  • Set Instant Pot to saute. Add onions, oil and baking soda and stir to combine. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until onions begin to soften.
  • Place lid on Instant Pot, set value to sealing and cook on high 20 minutes. Once done, release pressure and remove lid.
  • Set Instant Pot to saute again and cook additional 5-10 minutes, or until liquid evaporates.

How to Caramelize Onions in a Slow Cooker


  • 4 large RealSweet® Vidalia® onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • ½ tsp. salt


  • Add onions to slow cooker. Drizzle with butter and salt. Stir to coat onions.
  • Cover slow cooker and cook 10 hours on low. If possible, stir onions occasionally for even cooking. If there’s too much liquid in the slow cooker, take lid off for last 2 hours of cooking to evaporate.

For even more tips, tricks, and ideas for caramelizing sweet onions, check out this how-to post from our friend Tracy at Food Wine Sunshine.

Find RealSweet® onions near you