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How To Sauté Onions Until They’re Soft & Sweet!

Sautéed onions (a.k.a. caramelized onions) add a rich flavor to a dish without much work, but it does take more time than you might think.

From burgers to french onion soup, adding sauteed onions to any sandwich or side dish adds a lovely sweet and crisp onion flavor.

Yesterday, I made an apple and goat cheese flatbread for lunch.

It was AHmazing: It was topped with roasted apples, arugula, candied walnuts, sauteed onions, and other yummies.

Sauteing onions bring out the natural sweetness of the onion.

They cook down and reduce into a golden brown.

Cook them even longer in a dry pan and you get a beautiful char that goes great with fajitas.

Now, it is important to note that truly, truly sauteed onions take about an hour to create.

In our quick saute method we cook the onions for about half that time.

This quick method has always proven to be perfectly fine for us and create the exact flavor that we are going for with each dish.

When I created the flatbread for lunch yesterday, I did the quick onion saute method and it was delicious.

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What is the best onion to saute?

You can technically saute any type of onion but some onions saute up better than others.

We love to saute sweet yellow onions and Vidalia onions.

You can also caramelize white onion and red onion as well.

How long does it take to saute onions?

It takes about 30 minutes on medium heat to get onions to a translucent, soft but still crisp state.

However, some folks saute onions on low for about an hour.

The key is to cook the onions just until are they are reduced, soft, slightly caramelized, and aromatic.

Why saute onions?

It is a fast method to cook sliced or diced onion and enhance the flavor.

Sauteed onions have an earthy, sweet, and complex taste that dramatically changes the flavor of onions.

Sauteing onions release their sugars and softens the onion to make them mild and sweet.

What do you need to saute onions?

Sauteing onions are one of the easiest things that you will ever do in the kitchen and it only takes 2 ingredients.

We prefer to throw in a third ingredient but it isn’t technically required.

Onions: While you can saute any type of onion that you can get your hands on, we generally only saute yellow, red, or Vidalia onions. The sweeter onions create a better flavor when sauteed.

Olive oil: We love to saute with olive oil but you can saute with butter.

You can also experiment with sauteing with just water, broth, or even wine.

How to cut an onion for sauteing

We prefer to saute thinly sliced chunks of onion but you can also saute diced onion.

The key factor is to not cut the slices too thin because they will over crisp.

First, cut the ends off the onion.

Then cut the onion in half from root to stem.

Remove the outer skin of the onion. Next, cut the onion half into thin slices.

I try and cut the onion slices about ¼” thick.

When I am cutting an onion for sauteing I cut it in half—root to stem—so that it falls apart easily.

That way when I cut slices it isn’t onion rings but rather half rings, which saute more quickly.

How to saute onions (delicious and caramelized!)

How to saute onions (delicious and caramelized!)

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

How to saute onions and bring out their natural sweetness in 10 minutes. This method only requires onions, olive oil, and salt.


  • 1 onion
  • 1 t olive oil
  • ¼ t salt


  1. Peel and slice your onion.
  2. Place a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat.
  3. Add olive oil, onion, and salt to the hot pan.
  4. Spread the onion out in the pan and allow it to cook. Stir occasionally until the onion is lightly caramelized. This should take about 10 minutes but cook times do vary.


Be sure to stir the onions every couple of minutes so that they cook evenly.

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