Quick-Browned Sautéed Onions

Bowl of sauteed onions on a black napkin
The Spruce
  • Total: 14 mins
  • Prep: 2 mins
  • Cook: 12 mins
  • Yield: 2 cups (4 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
45 Calories
0g Fat
11g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 cups (4 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 79mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 1g
Calcium 26mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

While these onions are deeply browned and very flavorful, they differ from slow-browned onions in texture. They retain their shape and do not soften completely. Because they aren't cooked as long, they also keep a stronger onion flavor, which may be preferable for sandwiches or on top of steaks or chops.

Choose yellow onions for this recipe. Lower moisture content is best for this cooking method; if your onions are high in moisture, make sure to choose a large pan and don't crowd the onions, so that the moisture can evaporate quickly and the onions can start to brown right away. If necessary, work in batches.

It's interesting to know the differences between white and yellow onions. Most Americans will automatically go toward a yellow onion. In fact, nearly 90 percent of onions grown in the US are yellow. This recipe can be used with almost any onion and it could be fun to discover how each variety tastes once they are quick-browned. 


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  • 2 to 3 onions (large, about 1 pound)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter (or oil)
  • Kosher salt
  • Optional: 2 to 3 tablespoons sherry (dry, optional but highly recommended)

Steps to Make It

  1. Slice the onions into thin half-moons (or dice, if desired).

  2. Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add the butter or oil. If using butter, heat just until the butter stops foaming. If using oil, heat until the oil shimmers and flows easily. You want a heavy coat of butter or oil in the pan, so add more if necessary.

  3. Add the onions. Sprinkle with salt and stir to coat the onions with the butter and distribute the salt.

  4. Cook the onions for a minute or two without stirring, until they start to brown. Stir the onions so that more of them are exposed to the pan and let sit for another minute to promote more browning.

  5. Stir the onions once or twice more, getting as much browning as possible without burning them. When they're thoroughly browned, but still slightly firm (usually about 10 minutes), deglaze the pan with the sherry, if using.

  6. Scrape up any browned bits from the pan and let the sherry evaporate almost completely.


  • Quick-browned onions are great on sandwiches like the patty melt or in French onion soup.