Alternatives to Caramelized Onions

Caramelized onions are one of the most common, and most unappreciated, side dishes in any chef’s repertoire.

People either love them or hate them, and there’s really no middle ground. But whether you love them or you could care less, you can’t deny that they’re an essential part of any good meal.

And while they do have a strong flavor on their own, they also have a number of other uses that make them a staple in many kitchens.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the usual way of preparing caramelized onions, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some great alternatives to using caramelized onions in your everyday cooking.

1: Marmalade

A quick and easy way to add sweetness to any meal is to simply add a few tablespoons of your favorite jam or preserves. This works especially great with sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

You can also try making your own preserves or jam out of any combination of these three veggies!

You can use any type of sweetener you prefer, as long as it’s something you can eat.

2: Sautéed Onion Rings

Onions and shallots are a classic pairing and make for a great addition to soups and stews. But when you sauté them in a little butter, they take on a whole new level of flavor.

You can also try adding a few cloves of minced garlic while they’re sauteing, or try pairing them with a garlic herb butter.

3: Toasted Onion Paste

Onion paste is another great alternative to using caramelized onions. They can be used in place of traditional powders and liquids, particularly when you’re working with delicate fish or seafood. You can also try mixing onion paste into egg dishes like omelets, frittatas, and quiche.

4: Balsamic Reduction

Balsamic reduction is another great alternative to using caramelized onions. It’s delicious drizzled over roasted vegetables or pasta. You can also try pairing it with roasted meats like pork loin or steak.

5: Browned Butter

If you’re trying to cut back on calories or saturated fat, but still want that delicious buttery flavor, you can try browned butter. Simply saute some shallots or onions in some butter until they’re browned, and then remove from the heat. Add a little soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce for an added depth of flavor.

6: Red Onion Marmalade

Red onions have a stronger flavor than yellow onions, so if you want to cut back on the intensity of the onion flavor without sacrificing too much, this is the way to go. Simply slice red onions, coat them in a combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and let them sit in a sealed jar in the fridge for at least a couple of days.

7: Baked Onions with Bread Crumbs

Bread crumbs can be substituted for almost anything, and they’re particularly delicious when baked with onions. You can use almost any type of bread, though sourdough, white, and whole wheat are always good choices.

Simply slice the onions and then sprinkle the bread with salt, pepper, and any other herbs you prefer, and then add the onions.

Place in a oven-safe dish and drizzle with olive oil, and then bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown and crispy.


Caramelized onions are an essential part of any chef’s toolkit, but they’re not always the most popular in the kitchen. If you’re looking for some great alternatives to using caramelized onions in your everyday cooking, here are some great options.

If you love onions, but don’t love the intensity of flavor that comes with them, marmalade, sautéed onion rings, toasted onion paste, balsamic reduction, browned butter, red onion marmalade, and baked onions are some great alternatives to try.