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Healthy Eating/ How-Tos/ RECIPES/ Sides

How to Make Perfectly Sweet Caramelized Onions

caramelized onions on a white platter

I am smitten with caramelized onions, and this is coming from a girl who despises raw onion.

One of my earliest childhood memories is requesting that my raw onions would be scraped from my fast-food burger. I would watch my Dad sacrifice a perfectly good french fry and use it as a scraper to get those raw onions off!

Caramelized onions are a whole different food from raw onion. They are soft and oh so sweet!

They add amazing flavor to many dishes and are great for topping sandwiches, burgers, and salads.

They are so popular in our home that they rarely get past the skillet without fingers in them…my Teagan has been known to make a whole pan disappear.


Why You Need Sweet Caramelized Onions

I am not only smitten because of how delicious caramelized onions are but also because they are one of the most healthful foods you can eat!

Research has shown that people with the highest consumption of onions (and other alliums) have a lower risk of several types of cancer, as onions contain several anti-cancer compounds. {referrence}

Quercetin is one of these compounds which has been found to decrease cancer tumor formation and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Onions are antibacterial, antifungal, contain antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties–so don’t be anti-onion–at least until you try them caramelized.

They help maintain gastrointestinal health by creating and sustaining beneficial bacteria.

They reduce symptoms associated with diabetes, improve the absorption of minerals (like calcium and my favorite calming mineral – magnesium) due to the fructans they contain.

With my cancer history and my Todd using a healthy diet to keep blood sugar levels down, getting onions in on a daily basis is a priority to both of us.

I use chopped onions as a foundation of just about every recipe I make, and also am just as happy making them caramelized as a yummy vegetable side to any dish.


skillet of caramelized onions

What I Do To Make My Onions Perfectly Sweet

The key to making caramelized onions perfectly sweet is patience and a wide, flat-bottomed high sided heavy pan. A well-seasoned cast iron pan is my favorite pan to use.

The caramelization process takes a little patience, and as you will see in the video I share below, they soften and sweeten in stages.

For caramelization, it can take 15-20 minutes of cooking time.

This usually is not a big deal for me, as I just get them going at the beginning of my meal-making, and they cook away and are done by the time the rest of the meal our meal is cooked, and only need a little attention with just a bit of stirring.

There are several different ways to make caramelized onions, and many cooks will just use oil, salt and pepper.

Some swear by adding a bit of sugar at the end to help speed up the process, but I believe we get quite enough sugar in the typical American diet and don’t need to be adding it to our healthy onions!

I let the onions sweeten themselves, and sometimes add a splash or two of balsamic vinegar at the end for even more darkened sweetness. Delish!


dish of caramelized onions

Perfectly Sweet Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins

There is nothing like a perfectly sweet caramelized onion! Even if you are not an onion lover, you may just become one after trying them cooked in this way. 

Recipe Type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: onions
Servings: 4 people
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tbsp oil or butter (avocado oil, coconut oil or grass-fed butter)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • water (or chicken broth)
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
Prep onions & pan
  1. Peel and halve onions through root end and slice into 1/4" - 1/8" thick slices, using the onions natural grain to make strips for you.

  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter or oil in a large flat-bottomed heavy pan on medium heat. 

    Note: The video in the post shows a saucepan, but a larger, heavy pan is much preferred. Using a wide base gives water room to evaporate, allowing onions to caramelize rather than steam.

Cook onions
  1. Add onions to the pan and stir. Then season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let the onions begin to soften and turn translucent.

Reduce heat, stir & add liquid if necessary
  1. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook onions, stirring often to prevent them from getting too much color in one place or sticking.

     If onions stick or get too brown in one place, reduce heat.

Add cooking liquid if necessary
  1. If you see bare, browned spots in the pan, add a bit of cooking liquid and stir. The liquid will help scrape the cooked-on bits and will season the onions. 

Keep and eye and keep stirring
  1. Once the onions began to take on a caramel color, keep a close eye on them. For extra-dark onions, this is when you add balsamic. 

  2. This is the point when your onions need constant attention. Keep stirring until they are the desired color. I like mine a caramel color with a few dark edges.

Let cool & store
  1. Let onions cool, then transfer to an airtight container OR you can do what I do and eat them right from the pan! 

  2. Chill any leftover onions. They will keep up to one week and can be eaten warmed or chilled right from the refrigerator. They also freeze well!


Have you over caramelized onions? Do you have your own tried and true method?

If you have not, and even if you are not a big onion fan, making them this way may just change your mind.


Watch this video on The Scene.

{the video uses a saucepan, but I prefer a wide, heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet!}


Grab a bag of onions next time you are at the grocery store and get those health-filled onions into you and your loved ones!

Make sure to comment below and let me know if you do, and what your favorite process toward caramelization is.


5 Reasons To Eat Seeds Every Day + Super Seed Mix in a Jar Recipe

Jar of layered seeds

5 Reasons To Eat Seeds Every Day



Eat super seeds every day! They are a high nutrient food and they are packed with healthy goodness. Seeds contain all the starting materials needed to grow into a complex plant, and because of this, they are a very alive, nutritious food.

Keeping a jar of super seed mix in the refrigerator is an easy way to have these little superfoods on hand at all times.



Many seeds (like pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds) are a complete protein source! Seeds have more protein and minerals than nuts and less saturated fat.



Seeds are rich in ALA Omega 3 fats which feed the brain and plays a key role in metabolism and energy production.

Having a good fat in your diet is important for the absorption of nutrients, including anti-cancer phytochemicals.



Lignans are antioxidants that may help support the immune system and can help balance hormone levels in the body.

They also have anti-estrogenic effects and can prevent naturally occurring hormones from binding to estrogen receptors and exerting their negative effects.

I am especially interested in the lignans in seeds as I am a survivor of hormone-sensitive breast cancer.



Again, as a breast cancer survivor, I am very interested in all of the health benefits of seeds.

My husband has been pre-diabetic in the past, so he also makes sure to get his seeds in every day, too!

Plant foods, in general, can be very disease protective, and so eat your seeds!

Continue Reading…

FAMILY/ Healthy Eating/ HOME/ How-Tos/ Organizing/ Parenting/ RECIPES

How To Establish a Balance Between Healthy Recipes and Non-Healthy Recipes For The Family

A Reader Question:
I can’t help but notice all the healthy things you post about and pin, and yet perusing through your pinterest pages I see that you aren’t shy about ‘non-healthy’ recipes as well.  I am starting to try to eat clean but am wanting to find a balance where I can still go on Pinterest and not have to shy away from everything I see and being able to bake with my kids and actually have them enjoy the finished product, etc.  How do you establish this balance for yourself and your family?

My Answer:
Great question!  We save the fun, unhealthy recipes for our Friday Family nights and for birthdays, holidays and special occasions.  On normal days, we still have some sweets, but they are made with healthy ingredients, like the Apple Pie Bites I just posted.  Most of the time the sweetest thing in the house is frozen or fresh fruit which is great, because then the kids will grab it and eat it!  I work very hard at not having junk in the house during the week, but then always make sure we have a treat on the weekend.

Expanded Answer:
We love food around here, so I make a point of finding a balance between healthy eating and less healthy eating.  I feel good about the fact that we eat very healthy during the week, but then indulge on the weekends or during special occasions.  It is amazing how often special occasions come about, so believe me, my kids are not deprived.  If anything they appreciate food and have a healthy understanding of food that is nourishing and food that is not. They also are aware of how good healthy food makes them feel and how crappy they feel after eating too many sweets….not that it stops them from indulging but it makes them appreciate the necessity of good, nourishing food.

I think key to eating clean and healthy is to know what you are eating.  You are already winning the battle if you are eating from home and making things homemade.  This eliminates fast food & processed foods, artificial flavors and colors, and chemical ingredients that are next to impossible to pronounce.
Another key is finding sweet recipes that have ingredients that are profitable for the body and health.  Below are a few great examples, and my Vegan Desserts board on Pinterest has a bunch more ideas.

Our Favorite Healthy Snacks

Lastly, get your kids involved in the cooking and baking process.  Explain to them why honey is better than processed white sugar, and why whole wheat flour is better than white flour.  Get them used to making recipes with wholesome ingredients and talk about what each of those ingredients will do for the body–i.e. nuts…they have lots of protein that help build strong muscles and give energy!  
My girls are so used to cooking in a mindful manner that this Thanksgiving my 10 year old was appalled at how much sugar we used to make a Cranberry Cake.  It was 1 1/2 cups, and I love that she noticed that it was not the way we usually bake treats.  We also made Potato Casserole and she had NO IDEA what cream of chicken soup was.  I never buy it, and she just couldn’t understand why anyone would want creamed chicken! Then I told her it was really just flavored like chicken, which she very dramatically responded “eww!”  It was a good example to me of how much our eating habits have changed over the years.  A few years ago just about every dinner I made had cream of ‘something’ soup in it…and cheese…and sour cream…and butter.  
Our Not So Healthy Favorite Snacks

Funky Fritos – we make these once a year during football season

I think a balance is important, and I am very comfortable with how we have chosen to eat in our family.  If you are trying to change your family’s eating habits, take it a little at a time, explain why you are making each change as you do, and be patient.  They will eventually adjust and might just start to appreciate mindful, healthy eating.