Moroccan Stewed and Caramelized Onions - Onion Mezgueldi

caramelized onions
Cultura RM Exclusive/Diana Miller/Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 100 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
321 Calories
19g Fat
38g Carbs
4g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 321
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 15mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Protein 4g
Calcium 103mg 8%
*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.)

The Moroccan tradition of cooking onions with spices until caramelized is mostly associated with tfaya, a sweet onion and raisin garnish famously used as a topping for couscous. Here, however, is a lesser known onion garnish known as mezgueldi.

While traditional caramelized onions are prepared by sauteing, Moroccan spiced mezqueldi onions are slowly stewed stove top. Alternatively the onions can be baked in the oven. Although some recipes call for briefly boiling the onions first, it's really not necessary. Neither is stirring – just leave the onions undisturbed unless you'd like to pop them under the broiler for extra color at the end. 

I'm providing two variations – a peppery mezgueldi sweetened with sugar and cinnamon; and a second that's robustly seasoned with paprika, cumin and cayenne. They're adapted from recipes by Moroccan television chef Choumicha and Kayotic Kitchen.

Serve the onions as a garnish to grilled meats, tagines or poultry dishes, or make a vegetarian meal out of them by serving alongside Moroccan bread and a cheese such as Edam .

Also try Chicken Mezqueldi 


  • Mezgueldi With Cinnamon:
  • 1 kg/2 lbs. 3 oz. yellow onions (or white onions)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 to 20 turns of a pepper mill (coarse grind)
  • Optional: pinch of saffron threads (crumbled)
  • Mezgueldi M'chermel:
  • 1 kg/2 lbs. 3 oz. yellow onions (or white onions)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or black pepper)
  • Optional: pinch of saffron threads (crumbled)
  • Optional: small piece of cinnamon stick

Steps to Make It

  1. Cut the onions into 1/4" thick slices, leaving the rings intact.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the onions and gently stir to coat them with the seasoning. Try not to separate the onion rings while you mix.

  3. Transfer the onions to a wide, deep skillet, tagine or baking dish. Swirl a tablespoon or so of water in the bowl to cleanse it of the spices and it to the onions. Cover the onions and cook slowly over medium-low heat (or bake in a 375 F (190 C) oven) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the onions are very soft and caramelized. Uncover and continue cooking if necessary to reduce the liquids.

  4. If you like, brown the tops of the onions under a broiler before serving.

  5. Serve mezgueldi onions as a side dish or as a garnish for couscous, tagines and grilled meats. The onions may also be eaten with crusty bread like a dip.

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.