Learn how to Sauté Onions perfectly right in your own kitchen! These tender, slightly-sweet and a little zesty onions are plant-based and gluten-free, making them an incredible side that everyone can enjoy!
Welcome to kitchen basics 101! Today, we’re going over a skill I think just about every home cook and chef alike should know: How to Sauté Onions.
Sautéed Onions are tender, golden-brown, and so incredibly rich. You can serve them up as a side to your weeknight steak, or toss them into your morning scramble!
If you follow along with me, I’ll have you whipping up these delicious onions in no time.
Sautéed Onions Vs. Caramelized Onions
If you’ve ever had the two, you’ll know just how different they are from each other. Sautéed onions don’t spend as much time on the heat; they brown quite a bit and soften but they still retain their sharp bite. These onions only take a few minutes to make.
On the other hand, caramelized onions are cooked on a low heat for a very long time. The result is a much sweeter, softer onion.
Both varieties are super delicious! Keep a lookout for a how-to on my signature caramelized onions!
How To Cut An Onion
The best way to cut an onion for sautéing is what is called a “French cut”. It basically just means you’re cutting the onion into long slivers.
Here’s how to do it:
- Slice off the ends, then cut it in half. This makes it easier to remove the paper and outer layer of the onion.
- Place the onion flat side down and cut parallel to the root. You’re basically just following the curve of the onion. This makes for delicate, yet still substantial slices.
- Repeat with the second half. It’s that simple! Keep in mind that this is just how I like to do it, you can totally cut your onions anyway you’d like!
What Kind of Onion is Best Sautéing?
- Yellow onions are your go-to. As these onions cook they mellow out, becoming sweet and flavorful. Yellow onions also hold up to heat really well which makes them great for sautéing, roasting, and caramelizing.
- White onions are sweeter and cleaner in flavor. When you’re in a pinch, you can use these in place of yellow onions for cooking.
- Sweet onions have a high sugar content, making them much sweeter than other varieties. These onions are great for sautéing and caramelizing. Just be sure to use them when you’re looking for a sweeter touch.
You’ll only need 3 ingredients to make these tender, juicy sautéed onions. First off, you’ll need your onions (duh, I know) but we’ve already covered those.
So, what else are we using?
OLIVE OIL: If possible, using a high-quality olive will astronomically improve the taste of these onions. With a recipe this simple, the quality of the ingredients is super important.
Don’t have any olive oil on hand? Use butter or ghee in its place. Both are delicious substitutions.
KOSHER SALT: Salt helps to break down the onions so that they’ll release their flavorful juices. Feel free to adjust the measurement to suit your own taste.
How To Sauté Onions
Sautéed onions are crazy easy to make. You can basically learn how to sauté onions in about 15 minutes start to finish.
You start by prepping those pretty onions. Peel ‘em, slice, ‘em, and toss them into a bowl.
In the meantime, go ahead and heat up your oil in the pan over medium heat. That should only take a couple minutes. Once the oil starts to shimmer and sizzle, carefully toss in the onions and sprinkle them with salt.
Mix the onions around, then continue to stir those babies frequently for about 10 minutes. By the time they’re done the onions should be soft, golden, and browned in spots.
NOTE: Onions lose a lot of their volume when they’re cooked. They’ll probably be about half their size once they’re done, so keep that in mind when deciding how much to make.
- USE A NON-STICK SKILLET. I find that this recipe works best if you’re using a large non-stick pan. Cleaning up is easiest that way and the onions get a great, even cook.
- DON’T COVER THE PAN. Some folks will throw a lid on in the hopes that it’ll speed up the process but you’d actually be adding moisture and preventing that crisp browning from forming. Be sure to stir the onions frequently.
- USE MEDIUM HEAT. It might be tempting to crank up the heat but that’ll just result in unevenly cooked (and maybe slightly burnt) onions. Sauteed onions thrive when cooked at a steady medium heat, so be patient.
How To Serve
Sautéed onions have so many uses! I love using these bad boys as a topping to any steak, burger, or sandwich. It’s straight up addictive!
You can also throw them onto a taco, add them to any omelet or frittata, or even toss them into your favorite pasta dish.
Let me know how you served ‘em up in the comments below!
Leftover sautéed onions can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Whenever you’re ready to use them, just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds or re sauté them with a little water for a couple minutes.
I would not recommend freezing sautéed onions; they don’t retain their flavor/texture well.
More Amazing Tips
Looking for more of my best kitchen advice? Check out a few more of my best how-tos:
- How to Bake a potato
- How to Convert a Cake to Cupcakes
- How to Make Whipped Cream
- How to Make Brown Sugar
- Learn how to make rice
- Learn how to make cake flour
How to Saute Onions
- 3 medium yellow onions
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Peel and slice the onions. See detailed instructions in the How to Cut an Onion section above.
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan set over medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until shiny and sizzling.
- Add the sliced onions to the pan, then sprinkle the salt over the top. Mix to combine.
- Continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the onions are soft, golden-brown, and slightly tender, remove them from the pan.
- Taste for doneness, adding more salt or some ground black pepper to taste.