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Ready to take your burger game to the next level? Learn how to caramelize onions for burgers perfectly, elevating your burgers from ordinary to extraordinary! With just a sizzle in the pan, these sautéed onions add a burst of sweet and savory flavor that will make your taste buds sing. Get your apron on and get ready to create mouthwatering burgers that will have everyone asking for your secret ingredient!

Hamburger on a grey plate with caramelized onions and curly fries.

❤️ Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy: This sauteed onions for burger recipe takes minimal effort for such amazing flavor. All you have to do is sauté the onions for a little bit of time over low or medium heat and allow the delicious onions to cook down. Caramelizing onions is so easy, any home cook can master this side dish!
  • Healthy: Made with just simple ingredients, this topping is really good for you and packed full of nutrients.
  • Tastes amazing: This is my favorite way to eat onions for burgers. Raw sliced onions are good too, but they can’t really touch caramelized onions. These burger onions have so much flavor!

🧅 What are caramelized onions?

Caramelized onions are onions that are cooked over medium or low heat. This cooking process releases the natural sugars of the onion over an extended period of time and makes them taste super sweet. With a little sprinkle of salt and pepper and a touch of honey (or maple syrup), the caramelization process is quicker and tastes even better!

Close up of sauteed onions in a black frying pan with a wooden spoon.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

Onion: You can really use any type of round onion for this sweet caramelized onions recipe. For me, the best onions are red onions as they are sweet onions and easier to caramelize, however, other onions like yellow onions, white onions, or Vidalia onions are perfect for this caramelized onion recipe.

Oil: A little olive oil is used to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Another healthy oil like avocado oil or coconut oil would also work. Butter can also be used for an amazing buttery flavor.

Honey: To speed up the caramelization process by a couple minutes, I add just a touch of honey. Maple syrup or a pinch of sugar (white or brown sugar) can be substituted if needed, or you can skip it altogether and let the natural sweetness of the onion work it’s magic.

Seasoning: I kept it simple with just salt and freshly ground black pepper. That’s all these caramelized onions need!

🥣 How to make caramelized onions for burgers

1. Begin by thinly slicing the onion on a cutting board. I prefer mine sliced into 1-2 inch pieces rather than diced. It holds onto the burger a little easier.

Slicing a red onion on a wooden chopping board.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. I used a non-stick skillet, but a cast iron skillet also does the trick well.

Adding oil to a non-stick skillet.

3. When the oil is hot, add the sliced raw onions.

Sliced raw red onions in a skillet with oil.

4. Sauté the onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Tip: if they stick, add a splash of water to help deglaze the pan.

Wooden spoon stirring red onions in a non-stick skillet.

5. After 5 minutes as the onions begin to turn translucent, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and add half a teaspoon of honey.

6. Continue to sauté until the onions are soft with a few browned bits, about 10 more minutes.

7. Serve immediately on top of the burger or burger salad.

🫙 Storage Instructions

Store any leftover sauteed onions in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Reheat the cooked onions in the microwave or in a pot on the stove until heated through.

Freeze caramelized onions in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.

🪄 Recipe Notes & Tips

Type of onion: You can use any kind of onion for this recipe, other than green onions or spring onions. Red onions, white, yellow onions, brown, and Vidalia all taste delicious sautéed.

Balsamic vinegar: For a tangy twist, add 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.

Red wine: ​Another variation, add a little red wine to the onions instead of honey. About 1-2 teaspoons will work!

Size: ​Large onions will take a little longer to cook than small onions. You can also make a big batch by caramelizing 2-3 onions. Be sure to adjust the seasoning to taste.

Close up of caramelized onions on a burger.

🍽️ What can I serve sautéed onions with?

Caramelized onions are the perfect addition to homemade burgers! My Best Burger Recipe with ground beef and Worcestershire Sauce is the best you’ll ever taste! You can also serve caramelized onions with Air Fryer Hamburgers, Air Fryer Frozen Burgers, or Oven Baked Frozen Burgers

Caramelized onions also taste amazing on hot dogs. I prefer to use sausages (like Cumberland) rather than traditional hot dogs. They taste so much better and don’t have strange ingredients. Check out my post on how to bake sausage links or my Air Fryer Sausage Recipe, and serve them in buns!

Is it grilled cheese for lunch today? Caramelize onions and add them to your sandwich for a new, delicious twist.

Making French onion soup? Caramelized onions are a great addition to finish off the dish!

A few small pieces of caramelized onion on top of onion dip is mouth-watering! You can never have too much onion, right?

Try caramelized onions on top of steaks or Air Fryer Steak Bites the next time you have steak night! It really elevates the dish to another level. The end result is just phenomenal.

Burger with caramelized onions on a grey plate.

😋 More delicious recipes you will love

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📖 Recipe

Hamburger on a grey plate with sauteed onions and curly fries.

How to Sauté Onions For Burgers

Bethany Galloway
Learn how to sauté onions for burgers perfectly, elevating your burgers from ordinary to extraordinary! With just a sizzle in the pan, these caramelized onions add a burst of sweet and savory flavor that will make your taste buds sing.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sides
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 33 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey optional
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.
    Adding oil to a non-stick skillet.
  • When the oil is hot, add the sliced raw onions to the skillet.
    Sliced raw red onions in a skillet with oil.
  • Sauté the onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Tip: if they stick, add a splash of water to help deglaze the pan.
    Wooden spoon stirring red onions in a non-stick skillet.
  • After 5 minutes as the onions begin to turn translucent, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and add half a teaspoon of honey.
    Adding salt to caramelized onions in a non-stick skillet.
  • Continue to sauté until the onions are soft with a few browned bits, about 10 more minutes.
  • Serve immediately on top of the burger or burger salad.

Notes

  • Type of onion: You can use any kind of onion for this recipe, other than green onions or spring onions. Red onions, white, yellow onions, brown, and Vidalia all taste delicious sautéed.
  • Balsamic vinegar: For a tangy twist, add 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.
  • Red wine: Another variation, add a little red wine to the onions instead of honey. About 1-2 teaspoons will work!
  • Size: Large onions will take a little longer to cook than small onions. You can also make a big batch by caramelizing 2-3 onions. Be sure to adjust the seasoning to taste.

Storage instructions

  • Store any leftover sauteed onions in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat the cooked onions in the microwave or in a pot on the stove until heated through.
  • Freeze caramelized onions in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 33kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 146mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2g
Keyword burger topping, caramelized onions, easy, grilling, hamburgers, July 4th, quick, sautéd onions, summer
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