Bourbon Caramelized Onions with honey and whiskey bourbon are an easy way to make so many dishes extra special. Put these bourbon onions on burgers, sandwiches, quiches, steak, chicken, pizza, burritos, and more. Bourbon caramelized onions are buttery decadent with incredible flavor to complement all the foods in your life. The alcohol is cooked off, so no worry about getting tipsy from these boozy onions.
What are caramelized onions
Caramelized onions are where onions are cooked very slowly on low heat to get their natural sugars to caramelize, or in other words, turn to actual caramel. This process imparts a wonderful deep flavor and gorgeous golden color to the onions.
Caramelized onions are always special. They take a little patience and love to make, then they give incredible flavor to so many dishes. I love them on my French Onion Pizza and in Caramelized Onion and Sausage Quiche especially.
Why you will love bourbon caramelized onions
This recipe starts with the classic way to caramelize onions by cooking them slow and low with olive oil and a touch of sugar. But then we finish with a splash of bourbon whiskey and honey, light it on fire to burn off the alcohol, and YUM bourbon onions are the best.
The rich bourbon flavor is heaven with the caramelized onion flavor. And all of the alcohol is burned off – this is an important step because we don’t want to taste alcohol. We want all the delicious notes of honey and oak married with rich onion flavor.
About the ingredients
- Onions. I used 2 large white onions, but yellow or Vidalia onions can be substituted.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Granulated sugar. A little sugar is added from the start to help the caramelization process along.
- Bourbon whiskey. Bourbon is a type of American whiskey, like champagne is a type of wine, and you can read more about the difference here. I prefer bourbon for its deeper, richer flavor with notes of vanilla, oak, and caramel – a combination that is literal perfection with caramelized onions.
I also tend to throw in a pinch of kosher salt, but you can taste for that and add if you feel the need to suit your taste.
How to make honey bourbon caramelized onions
There are 2 easy steps to making bourbon caramelized onions:
- Caramelizing the onions.
- Bourbonizing the onions.
To caramelize the onions, we heat sliced onions in olive oil (having added a little sugar) on low heat for upwards of an hour. How long the onions take to caramelize depends on the heat, the pan, and the onions themselves.
I have had this magic happen in 45 minutes, and I’ve had them take an hour and a half. BTW, the latter was because I used a medium pan rather than a large. More surface area allows more contact of onion and heat – so definitely grab your largest sauté pan.
The onions are caramelized when then are soft and fragrant with a deep golden color. That’s as descriptive as I can be. Just don’t be tempted to turn up the heat because this process will take the time it needs to take. If the heat is higher, you will get sautéed onions, not caramelized onions.
To “bourbonize” the onions (my term), we add the splash of bourbon (a splash being 1/4 cup) to the onions. Then we very carefully and with all hair secured safely back in a hair tie, use a long-stemmed lighter to ignite the liquor.
Though the flame may not be obvious or even visible, depending on the kitchen lighting, you will hear it light. With a long handled spoon, you can even give a stir as the flame burns off the alcohol. Just be super duper careful.
Within a minute or so, the flame will extinguish itself. Then simply stir in the honey and the bourbon onions are complete. But still add a pinch of kosher salt, because.
Yes they can, but they have a tendency to get a bit gummy once cooled and especially if chilled. So in that case, I recommend reheating over medium heat with a pat of butter or olive oil in a skillet to wake them back up and even give a little buttery charred yumminess.
Honey Bourbon Caramelized Onions
- 2 large white onions sliced
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- ¼ cup bourbon whiskey
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- Warm the olive oil on medium-low heat in a large skillet.
- Add the onions and sugar, reduce heat to low, and let the onions cook low and slow for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally. The onions are done when soft and buttery with deep golden color.
- Add the bourbon to the onions. Use a log-stemmed lighter to ignite the bourbon and burn off the alcohol. The flame will extinguish on its own in about a minute. Stir in the honey and salt. Serve.
Calorie count is purely an estimate calculated using an online application to serve as a guide and not to be taken as accurate nutritional information. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.