Not Martha

Freezer Pantry: caramelized onions

Scott and I have schedules that mean during the workweek we only cook dinner together about two times a week. This makes it impractical to keep a lot of fresh food in our fridge (cleaning it out got depressing, so many unidentifiable items) so we tend to pick something up to cook earlier in the same day. To make it even easier I’ve been figuring out what half-prepared foods to keep in the freezer. For whatever reason if I made something complete (say lasagna) and freeze it we never seem to actually eat it, we prefer to make something we are craving so having components that will cut down on dirty dishes and chopping time have been making a big difference. It nearly makes me feel like I’m qualified to be an adult.

I’ve mentioned a few things I keep in the freezer before — kale, bacon layered so it’s easy to just grab a few slices, bolognese sauce — and the latest staple I’ve added is caramelized onions. I use the recipe from Tea and Cookies which mostly calls for “time, patience, and faith” which isn’t an exaggeration. The first time I caramelized onions I had to restrain myself from them off the stove too early. They need to be nice and dark:

Image by Tara Austen Weaver, Tea and Cookies.

Basic technique: two sliced onions in a 10-inch pan, 1/4 cup olive oil, medium high heat, stirring every five minutes and patience. It will take about 30 minutes. For a more detailed description go read the entry at Tea and Cookies and follow her tip about slicing bits a little thicker than others. I let these cool, put them in ziplock bags pressed flat and freeze them. Then I break off a tablespoon or so as I need it.

So far we’ve mostly been using them in egg dishes. For the omlette pictured above I used mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese left over from a salad with some of the caramelized onions to create a way more delicious breakfast than I usually have. Tara describes caramelized onions as the bacon of the vegetarian world, they are smoky and salty and add a hit of flavor whatever you add it to. And people, yum. Also, having them on hand will make you feel like a genius.

· comments [11] · 02-27-2014 · categories:food · freezerpantry ·

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Karan // Feb 27, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I love caramelized onions so much that I struggle not to eat the whole bunch hot out of the pan!

  • 2 megan // Feb 27, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Last time I made them I did two large pans so I could sneak a few forkfuls without feeling guilty of eating half the bounty.

  • 3 jamie // Feb 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

    do you have a slow cooker? i’ve been meaning to try the recipes i see for crockpot caramelized onions (google turns up a lot). they take a while (like 10 hours) but you can do a bunch at the same time.

  • 4 megan // Feb 28, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    jamie – I do have a slow cooker tucked away somewhere, this is a great option to know about thanks! I have to wonder if it makes the house smell more or less though – I have an open kitchen plan (curses) and last time I made caramelized onions I actually put old plastic paint canvases over the two doorways in the hopes that it wouldn’t saturate the house with onion smell for days to come. It kinda worked :)

  • 5 liz // Mar 3, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I do this too. They’re great to mix into mashed potatoes also.

  • 6 Jen W. // Mar 3, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    This is genius! I did a big batch over the weekend! Thanks so much for sharing this idea.

  • 7 nazilam // Mar 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Iranians call this piaz dagh (hot onions) and they are fabulous stirred into soups and stews. My father hates the smell of the onions, so my mom makes them outside or when he’s not around.


  • 8 megan // Mar 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    nazila – Your mom is smart! In the summer I’ll make these in our cast iron pan over the grill and avoid getting the house stinky, thanks for mentioning it.

  • 9 mamacita // Mar 8, 2014 at 12:23 am

    I am so looking forward to this series. I am completely dependent on my freezer. My specialties are IQF things like meatballs and raw cookie dough. Carmelized onions are a great addition.

  • 10 Lilly // Mar 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Trader Joe’s needs to sell frozen caramelized onions. Let’s all write them letters.

  • 11 the weekender 3/14/2014 | a week from thursday // Mar 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    […] tip this week? Freeze caramelized onions to use them […]

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