Caramelized Cipolline Onions

Course Appetizer, Main Dish, Salad
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 24 onions


  • 2 pounds cipolline small, flat onions, pearl onions or shallots
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ΒΌ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt


  1. Fill a medium saucepan or skillet broad enough for the onions to fit in a single layer with water; bring to a boil. Add the onions (they will bob to the top) and let them cook for about 20 seconds; drain and cool slightly. Pull off the papery outer skin; trim any dangling roots or tips but leave the root ends intact (otherwise, the onions will come apart when cooked).
  2. Return the onions to the saucepan; add water half way up the sides of the onions. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer the onions for about 20 minutes, stirring at least once, until tender and about half of the water has evaporated. Add the olive oil, butter, vinegar, sugar and salt; continue to simmer slowly, with the lid ajar, stirring often, until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
  3. When the onions start to sizzle, pay close attention. This is when they begin to brown--a good thing, but you must be careful not to burn them. Add a little water and reduce the heat if they seem to be cooking too quickly. When they are a burnished golden brown, consider them done.