8-12 hours unattended
makes up to 4 pints
Slow cooker caramelized onions are so easy! Put butter, onions, and herbs in your slow cooker (crockpot). Cook for a couple of hours, stir once, then cook more for hours and hours, blissfully unattended with no worries about burning.
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 6 pounds large Spanish onions (about 6 of them)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh thyme

Have you ever caramelized onions on the stovetop? First you melt butter in a big heavy pan, then you add a bunch of onions, and stand there, stirring and cooking, for an hour or more. Stand there. Stir. Monitor the heat. Check for any signs of burning. Stand there. Stir more.

This is a better way! Put butter, onions, and herbs in your slow cooker (crockpot). Cook for a couple of hours, stir once, then cook more for hours and hours, blissfully unattended with no worries about burning.

I used a 6-quart oval slow cooker for this – if yours is smaller, use fewer onions.

slice onions and load the slow cooker

Peel and cut the onions in half, then slice them about ¼” thick. Cut the butter into eight pieces and scatter them over the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Layer the sliced onions and fresh thyme leaves into the slow cooker. Don’t be afraid to completely fill the pot – they will cook down and not spill over.

cook, stir, then cook a lot more

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Stir the onions well, then replace the cover and cook on high at least 6 hours more, until the onions are tender. When the onions are tender, if there is a lot of liquid in the pot, remove the lid and continue to cook on high another hour or so, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the slow cooker and let the onions sit, uncovered, for an hour to cool.

refrigerate, or freeze if you like

Transfer to pint jars and store in the refrigerator.  These onions freeze very well. They have a zillion uses from onion soup to caramelized onion pizza to perfect accompaniments to meatloaf sandwiches to … you get the idea. Make a big batch, freeze them in pints or half-pints, and thaw them as you need them. You won’t regret it.

Quick tip: freeze some onions in ice-cube trays, so you can easily add just a bit of caramelized onions to something as you’re cooking. You’ll get a burst of flavor for almost no work.

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