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What kind of onions do you use for caramelized onions?

TorontoJo Sep 19, 2010 05:55 AM

Just curious if anyone has better results with one type of onion over another. I generally cook with red onions (not really sure why, I just like them), but they seem like a poor choice for caramelized onions, so I usually use regular yellow onions or large white onions.

  1. c
    carbonaraboy Sep 19, 2010 06:20 AM

    Onions with low moisture content are best. Regular yellows are what I use -- get the firmest ones you can. Do not use the "sweet" onions like Vidalias -- too much water in them. It will take forever to caramelize them. Maybe that's why the reds don;t work for you.


    5 Replies
    1. re: carbonaraboy
      greygarious Sep 19, 2010 07:11 AM

      Agree on the yellow onions, as does Cook's Illustrated, IIRC. The reds taste okay, but they turn an offputting grayish color when cooked for a long time.

      1. re: greygarious
        TorontoJo Sep 19, 2010 09:31 AM

        Thanks to both of you. I've never actually used reds, as they just didn't seem "right". Apparently that was a good thing, because I don't think I would have cared for gray onions. :)

        1. re: TorontoJo
          greygarious Sep 19, 2010 09:53 AM

          I just noticed something on the subject in an old Cook's Country. They found no real difference between yellow and white onions when caramelized. I suspect that the reason most recommendations are for yellow is that some people don't realize there is a difference between white cooking onions and sweet salad onions. I have bought large white onions when they were on sale for less than yellow. It is certainly faster to prep a big white onion than several smaller yellow ones.

          1. re: greygarious
            TorontoJo Sep 19, 2010 04:43 PM

            Interesting. I definitely prefer dealing with larger onions for just the reason you describe. And since I plan on filling my crock pot with onions, the bigger, the better.

          2. re: TorontoJo
            biondanonima Sep 19, 2010 05:16 PM

            I adore red onions for caramelizing and I've never had a problem with them turning grayish. They turn quite a lovely brownish-burgundy color for me. They're naturally sweeter than yellow or white onions and the sugar content makes for great (and fast) caramelization, although I find they burn rather easily if you don't watch them. I use a combination of oil and butter and add a pinch of salt to the onions to help them get started, then add a little water as needed while they're cooking (if they start to burn before they're fully soft). They never need sugar to help them brown, which white or yellow onions sometimes do.

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