How To Caramelize Onions Without Butter

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Ah…caramelized onions! The epitome of perfection and flavor. Caramelizing onions is a time-honored technique that is one of the tastiest ways to prepare onions. This cooking is often used in French cuisine (and now the whole world); as a consequence, the onions produced are flavorful, soft, and have a golden-brown hue.

How To Caramelize Onions Without Butter

Caramelized onions mans makes beautiful toppers and additions to many dishes like hamburgers, cheesesteaks, and hotdogs to name a few. But as flavorful they might be, caramelizing onions isn’t a simple or I dare say healthy affair. Why? Because there’s a lot of frying-in-fat involved.

Caramelizing onions may be accomplished in various ways, but one of the more typical methods involves cooking the onions in a pan containing butter (I mean a lot of butter, oil and at times even some sugar). On the other hand, not everyone can or chooses to use butter when they cook.

If this describes you, there is no need for concern since you can still caramelize your onions without using butter. Yes, this is true and you can rejoice. You can still make these beautiful caramelized bits without using butter. There are few ways to caramelize onions without butter; using olive oil as a butter alternative or other alternative methods to caramelize onions.

How To Use Olive Oil As a Butter Alternative For Caramelizing Onions

Caramelized Onions

If you don’t have or don’t want to use butter, olive oil is also a great alternative. You’ll need some olive oil and also some reduced chicken broth and some onions, of course! Here’s some with olive oil as an alternative preparation method. Let me tell you the things you’ll need to caramelize onions using olive oil.

Caramelizing onions using olive oil, even though time consuming, is possible and yields great results. Let me tell you what equipment and ingredients you need to do this. Don’t worry! I won’t miss the instructions.

What Equipment Will You Need To Make Caramelized Onions With Olive Oil?

  • Chopping Board and Knife – You’ll need a chopping board and knife to slice your white onions.
  • Non-Stick Pan – Use a non-stick pan to caramelize your onions. Make sure your pan has a lid.
  • Sautéing Spoon and Tongs – Use the spoon and tongs to sauté and toss the onions for an even caramelization process.

How Much Time Will You Need To Make Caramelized Onions With Olive Oil?

Preparation TimeCooking TimeTotal Time
5 Minutes40 Minutes45 Minutes

What Ingredients Will You Need To Make Caramelized Onions With Olive Oil?

  • Onions – It is obvious that you need onions for making caramelized onions. White onions will be the best choice for the same.
  • Olive Oil Olive oil will help tenderize the onions and make them flavorful and rich.
  • Chicken Broth – Some reduced low-sodium chicken broth will add flavor to the onions.
  • Kosher Salt – Add a pinch of salt to add some salinity to the onions.

Steps To Make Caramelized Onions With Olive Oil?

Here are the steps to make caramelized onions with olive oil and without butter.

1. The Non-Sticky Situation

Place your non-stick pan over heat. After warming the pan, add olive oil over medium-low heat. After that, you may add your onions, which have been cut very thinly along with a pinch of salt. After 15 minutes, add one-fourth cup of the chicken broth and let the onions cook. Make sure you scrape the bottom so no onion is left behind.

2. From Broth To Brown

Once the broth has evaporated, add another one-fourth cup of broth and let the onions cook for ten minutes or so, until the broth has evaporated. Make sure to cook the onions with the lid on and every five minutes, use a sautéing spoon and tongs to toss and turn the onions. After until they have reached the desired level of browning and caramelization.

Recipe Card

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions With Olive Oil Recipe

Here is how you can butter-less caramelized onions using some olive oil and chicken broth.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 39 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine French
Servings 2 cups
Calories 48 kcal


  • Chopping Board
  • Knife
  • Non-Stick Pan
  • Sautéing Spoon
  • Tongs


  • 2 lbs. Onions (sliced thinly)
  • ½ cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Olive Oil (as required)


  • In a pre-heated pan, add olive oil. Then, add the onions and the kosher salt.
  • Sauté the onions for 5 minutes and also toss with tongs.
  • Cover the pot with a lid on the pot and cook the onions for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, remove the lid and toss the onions. Cover the pot again and repeat this step every 5 minutes for15 minutes.
  • At the fifteen minutes, pour half of chicken broth to the pan. Scrape down bottom of the pan using a sautéing spoon and cover the pan with a lid again.
  • Cook the onions for another 5 minutes. Then, add the remaining half of the chicken broth and put on the lid.
  • Cook with a lid on for another 5-10 minutes until the onions are a richly brown and completely caramelized.


Calories: 48kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 154mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword Caramelized Onion, Caramelized Onions Without Butter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Other Methods To Caramelize Onions Without Butter


Okay olive oil was an option for caramelized onions but what if I tell you there are some more options for caramelizing options. There are two more ways you can caramelize onions without butter. Let’s read some more about it.

Caramelizing Onions Using Vegetable Broth

This option is a great one for vegans. All you need is a sliced onion and low-sodium and oil-free vegetable broth. You need a non-stick pan and you need to heat it to optimum temperature. After that, add your onions and broth to the pan and then cook your onions for thirty to forty minutes.

The trick here is to check and toss your onions every five minutes until the vegetable broth dries up. You need to dry up the broth and sweat the onions out until they become tender and soft. Make sure your onions have a rich brown color and not a golden brown one when you remove the pan from the stove.

Caramelizing Onions Using Water

You may try caramelizing your onions in water if you’re searching for an alternative that doesn’t involve using oil. As you have to continue cooking the onions until all of the water has evaporated, it will take a little more time.

However, it is feasible to do so; place your onions that have been sliced very thinly in a skillet over medium-low heat, and then add water to the pan in an amount that is sufficient to cover the onions. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring the mixture regularly until all the liquid evaporates and the onions have become richly brown and caramelized. 

Caramelizing Onions Using Garlic

If you want to enhance the flavor of your caramelized onions, throw some garlic into the mix. Add some olive oil to a non-stick pan. When the oil is heated, add your onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions with a lid on for five minutes. Check the onions every five and toss the onions every five minutes.

If the onion bits are sticking to the bottom of the pan, pour a little broth in the pan and scrape the bottom. Cook the onion for 30-40 minutes while checking them periodically. The onions will be soft, tender, and flavorful after this, I guarantee.

Benefits Of Caramelizing Onions Without Butter

Caramelized Onions In a Bowl

Caramelizing onions without butter is a wonderful and more healthful way to enjoy this time-honored culinary technique. It is done in several ways, but the result is the same.

Caramelizing your onions without butter offers several benefits, one of the primary ones being that it is a healthier alternative. Butter has a high percentage of saturated fat, which may lead to a rise in cholesterol levels and an increased risk of developing heart disease. Olive oil, on the other hand, is a healthy alternative to butter that may help decrease your cholesterol levels and minimize the risk of heart disease. Butter is traditional cooking fat.

Caramelizing your onions without using butter is an alternative that is better for your wallet, which is another perk of this method. Butter can be quite pricey, particularly if you purchase a brand known for its superior quality.

On the other hand, Olive oil may be reasonably priced and is not difficult to locate. Last but not least, if you attempt to avoid dairy products, you may want to try caramelizing your onions without using butter.

Difference Between Onions Caramelized With and Without Butter

Onions that are cooked without butter may be caramelized to the same mouthwatering perfection as onions that have been cooked with butter. They have a pleasant taste, are quite soft, and have a golden-brown appearance. The most notable distinction is that they are made using olive oil rather than butter throughout the cooking process, making them a healthier alternative.

Caramelizing your onions without using butter may produce a few different results, each unique. This option is healthier for your health since it is cooked using olive oil rather than butter. It makes it a much more desirable choice.

Second, it is a better decision for your current state of finances than other options. Olive oil may be obtained with very little effort and is available at a reasonable cost. Last but not least, if you are trying to avoid consuming dairy products, this is a wonderful option to consider replacing them.

If you want to reduce the amount of butter you use but keep the mouthwatering flavor of caramelized onions, you may try doing the process without the butter. To prepare your onions, sauté them in a little oil until they become tender, after which you should add a splash of vinegar and continue to sauté them for a few more minutes. The vinegar will provide a touch of acidity, and it will also assist in bringing out the natural sweetness of the onions.

Final Word

Caramelizing onions without butter is a wonderful and more healthful way to enjoy this time-honored culinary technique. It is done in several ways, but the result is the same. You may use olive oil instead of butter, a pan that does not adhere to the food, or you could even sauté the onions in water.

Whatever technique you pick, the final result will be onions that are flavorful, sweet, soft, and have a golden-brown color. These onions will add flavor to any recipe. Therefore, caramelize onions without waiting for a good product to be brought up. I hope you liked this article. I’ll see you another time. Until then, happy cooking!

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