How to Turn 1 Batch of Caramelized Onions into 5 Dinners

I will never forget my first taste of caramelized onions.

I was 23 years old, and some dear friends had made an extra-large batch of Ina Garten’s pan-fried onion dip just for me. At this point in my culinary experience, I didn’t really do onions, or any kind of creamy-dip that could possibly contain mayonnaise, but here were both in front of me, and I couldn’t be rude. 

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As I took my first bite, I expected something sharp and raw, but it was so sweet! Like candy! It’s quite possible I spent the rest of the night there, in front of the dip, eating until they sent me home.

So I began to caramelize onions. They started again as dip, but soon I began to love them on their own, and they became a staple in my fridge. I would spend an afternoon slicing onion after onion, throwing them into a huge pan to cook for hours. There the rings would sweat out their sting until nothing but sweetness was left, and I would enjoy them all week long: in bread and pizza, puff pastry and pasta.

I followed this post on making caramelized onions and used 8 onions for a week's worth of recipes. Let's begin. 

Caramelized Onion Tartlets
These tartlets come straight from Katie Quinn Davis’ beautiful book What Katie Ate. Just imagine puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, thyme, goat cheese, and reduced balsamic—and then make it. (Bonus: Here's an easy way to fake fancy balsamic.) 

Personal Pizzas
I learned long ago that making everyone his or her own, smaller pizza is worth the trouble. I can make my husband something basic, like chicken and caramelized onions, and I can experiment with pumpkin crème fraîche, caramelized onions, and mixed greens on top. The kids can have whatever they want, too. 

Grilled Sandwich with Prosciutto, Pears, Caramelized Onions, Mozzarella, and Basil
This is a perfect "adult" grilled cheese sandwich. Follow these simple steps, adding all of the above into the mix before you put the second slice of bread on top. Dig in. 

Frittata with Caramelized Onions and Smoked Mozzarella
Another favorite cookbook recipe, this one from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. I took the cauliflower out of his frittata and added caramelized onions, making quite a delicious dinner. 

Goat Cheese Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Butternut Squash
When I was pregnant with my first child, I made this pasta twice a week for dinner. I craved it again during my second pregnancy, and while my husband refuses to eat it now (I can hardly blame him), I still enjoy it frequently. It’s just so good. If you don’t want to cut up a whole butternut squash for this recipe, you can buy frozen, diced squash or substitute a sweet potato. When in season, other vegetables can be substituted as well; in the summer I eat this with roasted cherry tomatoes.

Goat Cheese Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Butternut Squash

Serves 4

1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
1 pound pasta of your choice
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
5 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup dry vermouth (white wine works, too)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 cup caramelized onions
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toasted pecans (optional) 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Sarah Kieffer

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Cristina S. October 26, 2015
I want to eat all the things! Beautiful photos, and five great recipes. Thanks, Sarah!
Melina H. December 9, 2014
this is so nicely written. and as i'm cooking a batch of caramelized onions as i type this, i can't wait for play with the above goodies!
Kimberly R. November 11, 2013
Great recipes Sarah! Love the way you talk about onions too!
fiveandspice November 4, 2013
Gorgeous, Sarah! Like all your work is. I wish I had all of these waiting for me for supper right now!
fiveandspice November 4, 2013
Also, did you say pumpkin creme fraiche?! I want to know more!
sarah K. November 4, 2013
Thank you so much! And, pumpkin creme fraiche is so good! I just mixed a little pureed pumpkin into creme fraiche, and added a pinch of brown sugar and a pinch of salt.
fiveandspice November 6, 2013
Yum. I'm definitely giving that a try.
Laura W. November 4, 2013
Beautiful photos, Sarah! These all sound so great :)
sarah K. November 4, 2013
Thank you Laura! xo
Imen M. November 4, 2013
These ALL sound lovely!!! Well done Sarah =)
Kenzi W. November 4, 2013
Don't they? I'm eyeing that grilled cheese for dinner tonight.
sarah K. November 4, 2013
Thank you Imen + Kenzi! xx