Soft, sweet, browned onions go great on burgers, among other dishes. But the time and know-how required are why dishes like French onion soup aren’t often made at home. Here’s how to get from raw to caramelised in just 20 minutes.
Task-minded food wizard J. Kenji Lopez-Alt wanted to make his own French onion dip something bad, but didn’t want to wait over a stove while watching as onions slowly, slowly lose their moisture and begin their Maillard reaction. When they’re done, the onions are sweeter, softer, and just plain tasty, but you’ve also probably spoiled your appetite snacking during the wait.
Lopez-Alt suggests helping along your onions with three modifiers: adding sugar to the pan before cooking, spiking the onions with a very tiny bit of baking soda, and cooking at higher heat with water on-hand to deglaze the pan. Now you’re making mind-bending burger toppings, starting a batch of soup or revelatory homemade dip, and learning a bit of kitchen thermodynamics while you’re at it.