Caramelized onion in a frying pan.
Sugar Is The Simple Ingredient For Caramelized Onions In Record Time
By Julia Mullaney
Caramelized onions add a rich, deep flavor to dishes, but they take time to cook down and become tender. If you want to speed up the process, try adding some sugar.
Onions release their sugars when cooked, which causes the Maillard reaction, a series of chemical processes that help foods develop deep, bold flavors while they cook.
Adding sugar speeds this process up by reacting with the heat. It causes the Maillard reaction to occur more quickly, giving your onions a deeper color and flavor in no time.
Pure sugar caramelizes when it hits heat, so next time you're caramelizing an onion, simply add a little brown sugar — no more than ¼ teaspoon for one onion.
Without sugar, this slow process can take up to an hour because the onions are delicate, meaning they must be cooked slowly and deglazed frequently to avoid drying out or burning.