We love onions in any form and on any day of the week – whether they’re sautéed, fried, as a supplement to another ingredient, as as the main event…which is what they are here. People were shocked when we told them how simple these caramelized pearl onions were to make – there’s something about the deep, flavorful, juicy bites of onion that seems way more difficult to create than it really is. A handful of ingredients (all ones you already have in your pantry) are all you need to completely transform an ingredient that might otherwise get looked over…and we can’t let that happen.
While French onion soup features caramelized onions that have softened over 30 to 40 minutes of cooking, these caramelized pearl onions cook slowly on their own, so they can brown and maintain their original structure, offering up perfect pops of flavor when you bite into them. They’re sweet, thanks to a touch of sugar that brings out their natural sweetness, and tangy, thanks to the balsamic vinegar. Whether you choose to give these a salty start by cooking them in bacon drippings or butter is entirely up to you, but just know there are no bad choices here; these turn out perfectly every time!
Caramelized Pearl Onions
Serves 4-6; 35 minutes
- 2 (14.5 oz.) packages frozen pearl onions, thawed
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, optional, or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- In a large pan or skillet over medium-low heat, heat bacon drippings or butter until melted, then add thawed pearl onions to pan.
- Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle sugar over onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes.
- Pour balsamic vinegar and water into pan, then reduce heat to low and cover, cooking for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelized.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then serve hot.
Recipe adapted from Kevin Is Cooking