Caramelized Onions in the Instant Pot
No more hours spent hovering over the stove; use a pressure cooker to speed up the process for making sweet, buttery, Caramelized Onions in the Instant Pot.
While I know there are some Instant Pot aficionados who are determined to make EVERYTHING in the multi-purpose cooker. Personally I find it works best for me when it can actually make something delicious and save some time and have results that are much like those I would expect if cooking from a standard recipe, like these Caramelized Onions.
Which is probably why you will never see a cheesecake on these pages that used one of these appliances. I like a crispy, solid crust, not a steamed one, you know?
Still I’m always excited when I do try something new and the results are as stellar as they were with this little venture.
Preparing caramelized onions in an electric pressure cooker (i.e. often the Instant Pot brand), results in the same deliciousness in a fraction of the time it would take to do them on the stove-top.
Of course I realize now this might be dangerous; love, love, love these things. I swear if they are handy I can find a reason every day to use a spoonful or two. Eggs for breakfasts? Check. Sandwich for lunch? Another check? On beef, pork, or chicken for dinner? Check, check, check…I”ll even use them in a salad!
And since I made these I’ve used them in two different recipes I’ll be including on this blog; one a re-creation of a burger I had at Ted’s Montana Grill, another in an easy French Onion Gallette; both absolutely divine.
The first one coming up soon will be this French Onion Veggie Burger with Roasted Garlic Aioli and Caramelized Onions.
I LOVE the burgers at Ted’s Montana Grill and have been craving a great burger…but you know, what with a virus and well, the fact that that I’m trying to almost eliminate red meat from my diet, I devised this most delicious alternative to their Avalon Burger.
Cutting back on the bun and making a plant based burger allowed me some indulgence on the toppings and these two were the perfect choice. Still, I didn’t used to make Caramelized Onions very often, they are easy but time consuming and the slicing. Ugh, hate the slicing.
In order to make the effort worthwhile, I like to make a lot of them, and it takes a good long while to slice two pounds of onions and to cook them long enough to melt into something sweet and delicious.
First I used the other tool I wish I had bought 40 years ago, this small kitchen size slicer. It makes such easy work of the one part of the job I have always hated…slicing those onions! I sort of bought this on a whim, and with some encouragement from a friend, and I’ve never regretted it.
If I never used it for anything but onions it would be worth it, but I use it for so much more. Zucchini, cucumber, meatloaf, apples, oranges…I use it all the time. I had planned to store it but instead moved other kitchen items into cabinets, this baby is out all the time!
Of course the real brainiac moment was when I thought…why not the Instant Pot?
This is almost too easy. The sliced onions are combined with butter, salt, and pepper, and pressure cooked on High for 5 minutes.
To clarify…that doesn’t mean it takes 5 minutes though; the unit has to reach high pressure which can take from 10-15 minutes for these onions. But still, I normally saute them on the stovetop for 2+ hours!
After the five minutes of cooking at High Pressure, the pressure valve is released to let out steam and the cooking stops; for the quick version, it’s just a couple of minutes of final sauteing and you’re done and they can be used at this point…but I like to add some additional steps.
I’ve made a delicious French Onion Soup for ages, literally decades. The original recipe came from a local department store cafe in my hometown of St. Louis. It’s always delicious and seriously you can make it using these onions and be very happy.
But I did discover an additional step when I last made French Onion Soup that I think is worth a bit more time. I call it the Ultimate French Onion Soup and the biggest different is a tip I got from Cook’s Illustrated.
After the onions have been sautéed for a few minutes and turn a nice golden brown color, I add a quarter cup of water to them, cook it down until the water evaporates and a crust forms on the pan, then do that a second time being sure to scrap the bottom.
The final step and the one that makes the biggest difference is to add a half cup of sherry and continue sauteing until the liquid has evaporated.
This can take from 15-20 additional minutes so in crunch time, it’s not required…but if you want a deeper, richer flavor…try it sometime; they are amazing!
Fun fact too…you can freeze caramelized onions. I did and the other day I defrosted some and made this delicious French Onion Galette.
While I will often make a pie crust from scratch, this baby was in the oven only minutes after I was inspired with the help of a Pillsbury Crust and my already made onions. I’ll share this recipe soon too…great for an appetizer, or a light meal if combined with a salad. Either way…indescribably yummy!
When I’m asked what I think is the best reason for an Instant Pot, I’ll often cite that I use it regularly as a rice cooker, it makes beautiful hard boiled eggs, it’s the only way I make pulled pork, and now…I can share that it makes the easiest and quickest Caramelized Onions. Those reasons alone are enough for me!
PIN IT! ‘Caramelized Onions Made in the Instant Pot’
Caramelized Onions in the Instant Pot
- 2 pounds yellow onions sliced 1/2-inch-thick (8 cups)
- 2 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine; I used a Chardonnay
- Add onions, butter, salt, and pepper to the container of an Instant Pot or other multi-use pressure cooker and stir to combine.
- Secure the lid and adjust vent to seal. Cook on high "Pressure Cook" setting for 5 minutes. Once cycle is complete, immediately release pressure. Carefully remove lid.
- Cook over high "Saute" setting, stirring constantly, until onions are deeply golden and caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add white wine and cook down again until wine is evaporated.
- Remove from heat and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Mine came out mushy and I had to strain as well. Too much butter would be my guess because it wouldn’t evaporate. Flavours were just fine so perhaps add a quarter the amount of butter.
Did you strain off the liquid after cooking in the Instant Pot? You are supposed to drain the onions after pressure cooking and then continue cooking with the saute function. I have never had an issue so would really like to clarify. After they are sauteed the wine is added and they are sauteed again until it has evaporated…I would suggest less wine maybe but not less butter.
I’ve followed this and other similar recipes a number of times now, and the result is always the same: burnt onions caked all over the bottom of the pot with some underdone onions on top. Fortunately they’re still usable for me since I just chuck them in the Vitamix when making soup, but I’d really prefer to learn what’s going wrong so I can fix it. I have the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, which never seems to be used or mentioned in any online recipes, so I’ve been assuming the instructions are ubiquitous for all Instant Pots—but maybe I should be doing something differently with my pot?
I have a regular IP, and got a burn notice the second it got up to pressure. I think next time, I’m going to try putting the onions in my instant pot basket, so they can’t touch the bottom, and I’m going to add ¼th cup of water to the butter.
We doubled the recipe! There was a lot of liquid left in the pot we drained the liquid and continued on. Thanks for the recipe
Good idea. Onions will be different so glad you took this step!
I just turned 2 pounds of onions into onion applesauce. Disgusting. Don’t try this and waste your onions.
How does this work without liquid? I understand there’s butter and the onions will sweat, but I’ve been told never to pressurize the Instant Pot without sufficient liquid in the pot.
Once his onions start to sweat there’s plenty of liquid in the pot and if you add more then you won’t be able to caramelize them.
Would this work with only a few onions? I don’t typically use 2 lbs of onions.
I imagine that it would but I would suggest you cut back on the time a little bit depending upon the quantity you’re using. It’s very hard for me to make a recommendation when I have not cut back on that quantity like you intend to. I would suggest you make 2 lbs worth and freeze the extra for the next time you want some!
Uh, followed this and got extremely watery, boozy, mushy onions.
Gosh I’m sorry to hear that Remy; my only thought is that they cooked too long? Pressure Cookers can behave differently and since these don’t need a long time at pressure that’s the only thing I can imagine. Mine actually came out just firm enough that I could saute them down a bit in the pot to get them a bit browner but they were never mushy.
Where is the recipe for French Onion Galette.
I haven’t gotten to putting it on the blog just yet. I wish I could promise when I will, but you could sign up for my feed and you’ll get notified of any new posts.
I am one of those devoted Instant Pot fans. I’ve been wondering about caramelizing onions in my IP, and you answered my question! The onions look gorgeous, as well as all of the ways you’ve used them. I do have to say, though, that the reason I like to make cheesecake in my IP, is that it’s small. With just the two of us, the last thing I need is a full-sized cheesecake in my kitchen. I’d eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Still, baking a cheesecake is fun as well.
I had a whole bunch of friends try to sway me but the truth is it’s just me…and I love an excuse to have the neighbors come visit! I do a cake a month of some sort to celebrate birthdays on my street, a little cheesecake would not last long. 🙂
Plus I’m in the cleaning out mode, not the buying a pan for a specific reason mode too. Heck I almost didn’t take a chance on the IP because of that…and I’m glad for that reason I ignored my desire to have less, not more!