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For Faster Caramelized Onions, Just Add Water And Thank Us Later

caramelized onions frying in a pan
caramelized onions frying in a pan - Mindstyle/Getty Images

At their best, caramelized onions offer a trifecta of flavor, texture, and color that goes great with everything from burgers to soups. It can be hard to believe that such a sweet yet savory combination can be made from an ingredient as humble as the onion. But, there are downsides, of course: primarily, that making caramelized onions can be a little tricky and time-consuming.

Countless articles warn of the various mistakes people make when caramelizing onions, with one of the more common issues being rushing the process. That is — unless you add water. You can use water to accelerate the caramelization process: as it heats up, the steam will move things along.

To try this trick, add some agua to the pan with the onions on high heat at the start of the cooking process. Then, when the water boils, cover the pan with a lid. After about 10 minutes you can remove the lid and turn the heat down just a little. Now you just need to stir your onions as you usually would to caramelize them -- and hey presto! You've got yourself caramelized onions in about 15 minutes less time than it would usually take.

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Read more: 15 Tricks For Making The Most Crispy Chicken Thighs Ever

Why Water Causes Onions To Caramelize More Quickly

pan lid with water condensation inside
pan lid with water condensation inside - Valeriy Surujiu/Shutterstock

When the water in your pan with the onions starts boiling, it will begin to evaporate, creating steam. Adding the lid to your pan is crucial: This traps the steam, preventing it from escaping. The steam then condenses on the underside of the lid, dripping hot water back down into the pan and onto the top layer of your onions, where it helps the onions to wilt. This cycle of evaporation, steam, and condensation creates a perfect environment for all the onions to wilt quickly.

With this method, you're not just relying on the pan's heat, which primarily affects only the bottom layer of onions directly in contact with it. You're also using the steam cycle to wilt the top layer of onions not hitting the pan directly. By wilting more quickly, the onions begin releasing sugars and amino acids that help the browning process. So when it comes time to stir them to golden goodness, you're already halfway there.

What To Do With Caramelized Onions

french onion soup cheese croutons
french onion soup cheese croutons - zi3000/Shutterstock

You can use this 'just add water' trick to make proper caramelized onions in just under 30 minutes, and then realize a whole new world of opportunities for where and when you can use them in your cooking. Treat yourself to a quick flat iron steak sandwich with caramelized onions for a delicious lunch, or give your burgers a gourmet French makeover by topping them off with a pile of these sweet and sticky beauties.

Of course, there are also several tried-and-tested recipes and combinations where caramelized onions work really well. If you haven't already, tempt your tastebuds with a caramelized onion and goat cheese tart, or add your new creation to an all-time classic like French onion soup made quicker than ever. And of course, what could be a more American way to use caramelized onions than in an onion dip recipe?

There are also plenty of more time-consuming recipes where caramelized onions can be incorporated, and with these, you'll appreciate the minutes saved by using the water trick.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.