I've seen that you can precook onions in the microwave, discarding the liquid and then put them into a pan in order to quicken caramelizing process, with a bit of added fat of course to prevent sticking. Unfortunately, I've further cooking in the microwave past a certain point simply dries them out, but still fails to allow them to actually caramelize.

Would there be a method of getting microwaved caramelized onions that I might be missing? A product that produces browning? Addition of fat? Something else?

  • 2
    Not that I have found. I use a splash of vinegar and no fat and get no sticking.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 6, 2016 at 3:07
  • @Paparazzi what type of vinegar? Aug 6, 2016 at 3:14
  • 1
    I just grab what is up front and white for something to steam the pan. Typically apple. Once the onions start to cook they let out some moisture so just stir. Not supposed to do recipes here but I also like a Mexican bitter orange marinade.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 6, 2016 at 3:19
  • 2
    altonbrown.com/how-to-make-caramelized-onions-in-the-microwave looks like a good recipe for microwave caramelized onions.
    – Paulb
    Aug 7, 2016 at 11:01
  • @Paulb bakinhg soda and salt (the onions truly don't need the sugar). Who knew? Thanks Aug 7, 2016 at 11:18

1 Answer 1


There are tricks with vinegars and other compounds, if what you are after is chemical breaking down of complex sugars into simpler sugars. Sure you can do this in microwave, technically, but it will never produce the flavor you get from contact heat. Microwave will boil and dry the ingredients. Vinegar acts helps to do this in a water solution – here I mean onion juice.

Or you can improvise with surrounding onions with oil – this way you will get microwave-powered deep fryer. This should produce contact-heat-like conditions and caramelization. But then deep fryer would be more energy efficient.

In other words – there is no substitute for contact heat.

  • Some people suggest using an alkaline to speed up the caramelization... will an acid not slow it down? Oct 12, 2016 at 8:55

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