How to quickly caramelize onion (without baking soda)

how to caramelized onion, finished caramelized onion in a clear bowl

Learn how to make quick caramelized onion (no baking soda) in less than 20 minutes! Easy and vegan-friendly recipe with only 3 ingredients (onion, oil, and brown sugar)!


  • 1 to 2 large onion, sliced pole to pole (about the thickness of a pencil)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil (or butter)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt (optional)


  1. On a large non-stick skillet, add the sliced onion without adding any oil and turn on the heat. 
  2. Cook the onion without stirring for 3 to 4 minutes on medium-high heat until they are lightly brown in color. 
  3. Stir occasionally and continue to cook onion until the onion pieces are sticking to the pan, about 7 minutes. 
  4. Add the oil to the pan and sprinkle brown sugar on top of the caramelized onion. 
  5. Continue to caramelize the onion with frequent stirring until it’s deep rich brown in color. 
  6. Remove from heat and add a pinch of salt if desired. 


  • It is very important to start cooking the sliced onion without any oil or salt in the pan. Just heating onion in the pan is what quickly caramelizes the onion. 
  • I recommend slicing the onion pole to pole. 
  • If you cut your onion thinner, it will caramelize quicker. 
  • Please refer to the tip section above for more helpful tips. 

Keywords: quick caramelized onion, caramelized onion, onion