Serious Eats: caramelizing onions

In this article the writer suggests slightly caramelizing table sugar and after that toss the onions in the caramelized sugar. My question is - wouldn't you need a fat like butter to transfer heat from the pan to the onions? Does he take for granted we add butter to the caramel? Or does he mean we add sweated onions to the caramel together with the fat?

1 Answer 1


You do not add fat to sugar when caramelizing it, you add it to the pan dry. Sugar has water suspended in it, and it comes out when heated. The caramel will transfer the heat to the onions just fine - anyone who's ever gotten splattered with hot caramel will attest to that.

  • And what if the caramelized onions are made as a flavor base for a sauce that calls for 15 tbsp of butter. Do you add the butter right after you finished caramelizing the onions?
    – Bar Akiva
    Apr 11, 2016 at 9:19
  • 1
    I'd add the butter when adding the onions, but be sure to turn the heat down to a normal sauteeing temperature or you'll burn it.
    – GdD
    Apr 11, 2016 at 9:34
  • Do you mean the onions have water suspended in them or are you saying sugar granules have water in them?
    – Preston
    May 10, 2016 at 1:53
  • The sugar granules @PrestonFitzgerald.
    – GdD
    May 10, 2016 at 10:57

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