Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, July 21

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A few weeks ago, while providing introductory recipes for newer cooks, I referenced a dish I'd recently made called Onion Marmalade. I said that few people were likely to have the desire to make it, but in the comments for that post, someone asked for the recipe.

I intended to provide it last week since the recipe itself is so simple. But the more I thought about this dish, the more I thought about how much could be done with it and how truly versatile it really is. Even though I've only made it once and just a few weeks ago, at least mentally it has become a standard in my kitchen. I see myself making a batch of it every few months and keeping it on hand all the time to liven up simple recipes during the week, or provide an impromptu appetizer for a small gathering of people.

And while it takes one-and-a-half to two hours to make, it keeps in your refrigerator for up to two months and it can keep in your freezer for four months. Which means that unless you use it every day, you can devote eight hours of cooking time every year to keeping yourself in constant stock of this glorious and versatile food. Is it a condiment? Is it an appetizer? Is it a flavoring? Is it an ingredient? Is it all of the above and more? Yep.

It's one of those recipes that I could see Julia Child having whipped up to spread over a crown roast of lamb. (In fact, it is in a few of her cookbooks.) And it's a recipe that I could see people nibbling off a cracker and asking you, "Where in heaven's name did you buy this?" Because seriously, the simplicity is hard to believe once you taste it.

Onions, olive oil, salt, a bay leaf and a little sherry are all you need. And the sherry is even optional if you don't want to cook with alcohol or don't want to buy it for just one dish.

Onion Marmalade
2 large yellow, white or red onions (yellow will be the sweetest and red the least sweet; Vidalia onions are not suitable for this recipe)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
a bay leaf
1/4 cup of sherry (a sweet white wine or even brandy would work)

Slice the onions in half from root to stem end. Place one half flat side down on your cutting board and cut in in half width-wise. Now slice very thinly. Repeat with the other onion half. Place a dutch oven or a small stock pot over low heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin coat of olive oil. Add your onions to the pot along with the salt and the bay leaf, cover, and let it cook for 15 minutes. Stir every few minutes to make sure nothing begins to stick. If things start to stick, add another teaspoon or so of olive oil and stir to combine. Once the onions have turned translucent, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium. Add the sherry and stir. Let the liquid evaporate and stir every few minutes to prevent burning. You'll let everything cook for the next hour to an hour and a half, or until the onions have become sticky and have turned a light caramel color. If you don't use an alcohol it will take longer, because the alcohol helps convert the starches and sugars in the onions so they brown faster.

Once the mixture has turned a light golden, caramel color simply remove it from the heat and serve immediately. You can also place it in a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate it for up to two months or you can spread it in an ice cube tray and freeze the cubes for up to four months. Or you can place it in a plastic zipper bag or bowl and freeze as well for up to four months.

And now that you have this amazingly delicious and surprisingly sweet marmalade, what are you going to do with it? Here are a few ideas:

• Crack two or three eggs into a bowl and mix in one or two tablespoons of marmalade. Combine well and pour into a skillet and cook just like you would scrambled eggs.

• Spread a tablespoon or two of marmalade on a flour tortilla, sprinkle a few tablespoons of quick-melting cheese on top and then sprinkle on a few tablespoons of chopped asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes or bell pepper. Top with another flour tortilla and cook over medium heat for a few minutes on each side. Flip carefully when the bottom tortilla is lightly browned.

• Place a small round of brie or camembert on an oven-safe dish that is shallow. Cover with onion marmalade and bake in a 350° F oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve with a crusty bread or thick cracker.

• Serve on a bun with a grilled bratwurst or sausage and a spicy mustard. (Just because it tastes fancy doesn't mean it has to be eaten like it is.)

• Cut a pork tenderloin into half-inch thick rounds. Pound it flat between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap with the bottom of a sturdy drinking glass. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a skillet that has been heated to medium-high. Place the pork in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side. Spread a bit of warmed marmalade over the pork and serve with your side dishes of choice for a fast and tasty weeknight dinner. And there are only 11 more calories in a quarter-pound serving of pork tenderloin than there is in a chicken thigh. And speaking of, a chicken thigh or chicken breast could also be dressed up quickly with the addition of some onion marmalade.

• Serve onion marmalade alongside some mild goat cheese with bread slices or crackers. The tang of the goat cheese is mellowed by the sweetness of the onions. Perfect appetizer to have on hand for friends.

• A spread of marmalade on bread would be a great addition to a home-packed roast beef, pastrami or even turkey breast sandwich. Spread a little cherry jam on the other side for a truly delicious sandwich. Watch out national sandwich chains!

• Sauté some brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans or broccoli in a skillet with a little olive oil and a splash of dry white wine or vegetable broth. Once they're almost done, stir in a couple tablespoons of marmalade and stir until it is heated through and well coated. You now have a fancy side dish.

• Purchase a frozen tart crust. Tart crusts should have sides that aren't quite as high as those needed for the average pie. Either spread the onion marmalade in the crust and bake according to package directions, or you can spread the marmalade in the crust and sprinkle it with crumbled goat cheese, blue cheese or another flavorful cheese, bake, and then cut into skinny wedges to serve as a great brunch item or even an appetizer.

• Use your imagination and feel free to add in the comments what you would do with this.

For less than a dollar and two hours of your time, an incredibly impressive and delicious dish can emerge from your kitchen. If you can slice an onion, remember to stir frequently and detect browning vs. burning, you can make this dish and impress all your friends. And since each recipe will net you between 1-1/2 and 2 cups worth of marmalade, you'll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor for several months before you need to make it again.

GB store


emyduck / January 15, 2007 10:43 AM

sold - i'm making it tonight!

Jeff / January 16, 2007 9:38 AM


Sounds delicious. I've been looking for a way to season up the pork in my freezer. This sounds like a plan.

If I want to make more -- If I want to bring some to a dinner party, but want to have some for home as well -- can I just double the portions? Or is there something special I have to do?


adam / January 16, 2007 11:52 AM

I had this, and it's everything Cinnamon says it is. I mean, what could be better? Perfect for pork/chicken/fish.

I like your "sort of a pissaladiere" tart idea; so easy and that's got be delicious. Gonna have to try that.

Cinnamon / January 16, 2007 2:29 PM

Thanks, emyduck. Glad to inspire you.

Jeff, you can increase the recipe by doubling, tripling, etc. But the time will increase as well. So don't go cooking 5 pounds of onions at once if you don't have a day to watch and stir.

Adam: I'm off to look up "pissaladiere."

the pet / January 17, 2007 12:07 AM


Thanks for the serving suggestions, too. My tummy is rumbling!

Sue / January 17, 2007 6:47 PM

Try it spread on crostini topped with a sprinkling of sliced kalamata olives.

Or make a thin crust pizza with the marmalade, a layer of thinly sliced boiled red potatoes and foninta or goat cheese.


adam / January 19, 2007 9:05 AM

Looks like Sue has already figured out what pissaladiere is, eh?

What time is dinner?

recipe and more info here

Jill / January 23, 2007 1:47 PM

DISH DELISH! I made this over the weekend and enjoyed it last night with pork chops.

Cinnamon, I appreciate the additional info about how to and how long it can be stored. That was incredibly helpful!

Daphne Tuck / December 18, 2007 3:36 PM

Can I process this in a water bath to seal the jars air tight?

If so, for ho long: 10? 15 minutes?

Daphne Tuck / December 18, 2007 3:37 PM

Can I process this in a water bath to seal the jars air tight?

If so, for ho long: 10? 15 minutes?

marisaa / April 21, 2008 11:56 PM

i'll try it.
i had a delicious sandwich in a restaurant that i'm dying to replicate. it's on whole grain bread with onion marmalade, green apples and melted brie. i've been looking for an onion marmalade recipe. i'll let you know.

lou quinn / June 5, 2008 8:15 PM

I know this marmalade as caramelized onions only I make it with butter, onions and white sugar. this recipe came to me from Wales

Wrigley Girl / June 7, 2009 5:33 PM

I used this on a tenderloin with blue cheese. To.Die.For. Thought I would even give the same combo a try on a good burger.


About the Author(s)

Cinnamon Cooper is an untrained cook. Most of what she's learned has been by accident. The rest has been gained by reading cookbooks, watching The Food Network and by scouring the Internet. Oh, and she also hates following recipes but loves the irony of writing them down for others to follow.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15