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Delicious Caramelized Onion Jam with Balsamic Vinegar

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This savory sweet caramelized onion jam recipe is a great way to preserve onions from the garden.  Use this onion jam as a condiment to spice up meat dishes or slather it on a grilled cheese sandwich for a divine meal.

If you love the flavor of onions, you’ll love this easy homemade French onion dip, too!

Contributed by Devon Young

toasted baguette slices spread with goat cheese and balsamic onion jam

Related: Chow Chow Recipe — Green Tomato Relish

It’s no secret in my family that I love onions. I love them in every shape and form – onions make a near-daily appearance in my culinary repertoire. I think that French onion soup is the perfect soup. And a sandwich really isn’t a sandwich without the pungent crunchiness of the raw bulb.

But even I can admit that sometimes a slice of that sulfur-y goodness isn’t the best flavor choice. The solution is simple really – this caramelized onion jam recipe with balsamic vinegar.

That’s right – I said caramelized onion jam.

Caramelized onion jam recipe

Balsamic onion jam recipe delivers a sweet, rich, caramelized goodness with a savory bite.  This is definitely the type of jam that elevates an ordinary grilled cheese sandwich to something a bit divine and altogether wonderful.

Top a round of brie with the stuff and wrap it in puff pastry to make the world’s simplest, and dare I say tastiest, hors d’oeuvre. Serve some up with these fried red potatoes and you’ll wow the dinner crowd. And be sure to try it on this elegant (but easy!) onion mushroom tart.

process cooking onions for jam

Related: What’s the Difference Between Jam and Jelly?

This onion jam recipe calls for humble onions, a bit of sugar, a few herbs and seasonings, and balsamic vinegar. This isn’t the place to break out the expensive imported stuff either – a budget friendly, grocery store balsamic vinegar is perfectly fine to use here.

jar of onion jam with red twine bow

Easy onion jam

Don’t get all flustered at the idea of making “jam.” This isn’t a fussy recipe and doesn’t require any special equipment to make.

Essentially, you’ll sauté the onions until they’re golden, then stir in sugar and balsamic vinegar along with herbs and spices. 

Pop it in the fridge and use it up within a week or so.

When you’re expecting company, make up a batch ahead of time for an inexpensive but gourmet appetizer. Toast up some baguette slices, spread on some goat cheese, and top with this caramelized onion jam. Easy peas!

Or turn a simple grilled cheese sandwich into gourmet fare. Spread some of this onion jam on homemade potato bread, top it with cheese (maybe Gruyere?), and grill.

It makes for a lovely little hostess gift, too.

Preserving this jam

If you want to take it a step further and preserve some of this onion jam for the pantry, you’ll need some basic canning equipment. Use a pH tester to make certain that it has a pH of 4.2 or lower. If you don’t have one, you can preserve this jam simply by freezing it. 

Canning Safety

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. 

  • Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety. 
  • Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. 
  • Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler lids that are intended for such a purpose.
  • For more on canning equipment, please go here

Related: Must-Have Pantry Essentials: 10+ Items to Stop Buying & Make at Home

spoon full of onion jam, and some on bread

★ Did you make this onion jam recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Caramelized Onion Jam Recipe with Balsamic Vinegar

Caramelized Onion Jam Recipe with Balsamic Vinegar

Yield: 3-4 pints of onion jam
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Put up a few jars of this yummy caramelized onion jam -- by way of canner or freezer -- to treat your inner allium lover!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup granulated organic cane sugar
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. finely minced summer savory, or try a combination of thyme and rosemary
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper, crushed

Instructions

To make the jam:

  1. Put olive oil and onions in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat stirring only occasionally; cook until golden, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook until thickened and somewhat syrup-y. Add salt, pepper, and herbs.
  3. Cool then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To freeze the jam:

  1. Cool jam and transfer to a freezer safe container. Be sure to leave sufficient headspace for expansion. Freeze for up to 6 months.

To can the jam:

  1. Test pH. (See notes.)
  2. Ladle hot jam into sterilized half pint jars, leaving about ½” headspace. Wipe rims clean and place prepared lids and rings on finger tight.
  3. Process in a water bath canner at a rolling boil for 15 minutes.
  4. After processing, carefully remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 24 hours. Check for seal and store in pantry for up to a year; refrigerate after opening.

Notes

With the addition of ample vinegar, this recipe registers a water bath canning method safe pH of 3.9 with a freshly calibrated pH meter. Food safety guidelines indicate that is safe to water bath can food with a pH of 4.2 or lower; if you do not have a pH meter, it may be wise to freeze this caramelized onion jam due to variation in balsamic vinegar acidity.

Yields 3-4 pints of onion jam.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 35Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 62mgCarbohydrates: 8gSugar: 6g

Did you make this recipe?

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Book cover, backyard herbal apothecary

In The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, author Devon Young introduces readers to the medicinal plants lurking in plain sight.

Learn to identify, grow, and harvest 50 common medicinal herbs from your landscape. The herbal profiles detail the benefits of each herb, and you’ll discover how best to use each type of plant material in recipes for DIY items like salves, syrups, tinctures, and infusions.

Originally published July 2017; this post has been updated.

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Meet the Author

Devon Young

Devon Young is the founder of the website NittyGrittyLife.com where she writes on herbalism, foraging, homesteading and cooking from scratch, and the author of The Backyard Herbal Apothecary (April 2019).  Devon has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences and devotes much of her time to speaking with clients and making herbal remedies.   When not tending to her duties as an herbalist, author and blogger, Devon can probably be found gardening, dreaming about gardening, or asking for obscure plants at gardening centers.

34 comments… add one
  • Christy Roppel Nov 13, 2017, 9:19 am

    QUESTION: How do you test for PH? I’ve not seen this “requirement” in a recipe before.
    Thank you!

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 14, 2017, 10:53 am

      It’s critical that you use safe canning methods. Those recipes are assured of maintaining a safe pH — you just need to follow the recipe. If you’re using approved recipes, you shouldn’t need to test the pH yourself (though you certainly could!). Devon is just indicating here that her recipe has achieved the necessary pH level so you know it’s safe. If you want to test your own, this is the kind of tool she uses: https://amzn.to/2zXBQAR

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018, 6:28 pm

    So easy. Will make again.

  • John McMulkin Jun 23, 2018, 4:22 am

    Hello, I just made a batch of onion jam, using your recipe. Truly delicious. Thanks, this will become one of my regular go to condiments!
    All the best.
    John

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 23, 2018, 11:10 am

      Glad you loved it!

  • Kim Jul 1, 2018, 3:39 pm

    Can I sub Apple cider vinegar for the balsamic since it is more ph reliable? I know that will affect the flavor, but just asking.

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 5, 2018, 7:50 pm

      The balsamic gives this its rich flavor; cider vinegar should be a *safe replacement, but the flavor will suffer.

  • Kyliejean Pearn Aug 1, 2018, 6:38 pm

    What is the freezer method exactly? Can I substitute organic sugar for brown for a richer flavour?

  • Tessa Aug 14, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Holy cow! I am making this sometime this week, for sure. I thought I’d be winding down canning for a few weeks until the apples come in strong but, uh, Imagonna make an exception for this one.

  • S P Aug 22, 2018, 10:51 pm

    how long will it keep before going bad?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 27, 2018, 7:58 am

      You mean in the fridge? A month or more, I’d say.

  • carol Clark Aug 27, 2018, 12:47 pm

    Can I use my pressure canner for this recipe? If so, how long to process?

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 7, 2018, 7:41 am

      This recipe has been made for a water bath process; no specifics on a pressure canner. Sorry!

  • carol Clark Aug 28, 2018, 7:06 am

    Can I use shallots for this? And can it be pressure canned?

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 4, 2018, 5:59 pm

      This recipe has been tested for a safe ph level for canning. You could certainly use shallots and just keep it in the fridge and use it up quickly.

  • Linda Sep 6, 2018, 4:01 pm

    Looks delicious! . Can’t wait to try these!

  • Lori Stach Sep 13, 2018, 11:49 am

    I made this in my Crock-Pot!!! It turned out fantastic, and I processed the jars in a water bath. My house smelled like french onion soup!! Marvelous, just marvelous!! I’ll be making a few more batches to give as Christmas gifts, along with some tomato Jam, that is currently in the Crock-Pot!! Thank you for this great recipe!!

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 16, 2018, 9:42 am

      Oh, great idea to do it in the crockpot!

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 23, 2018, 1:45 pm

      Thanks for letting me know! Slow cooker — great idea.

  • Dan Nov 17, 2018, 7:26 pm

    I’m thinking about making this as Christmas presents. How many jars does it make?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 23, 2018, 1:44 pm

      eek — thanks for asking. I’ve updated the post to indicate that it will make 3-4 pints. (Depends a bit on how far down you cook the onions.)

  • Neyssa | Latina Mom Meals Nov 20, 2018, 7:50 am

    Two more days til Thanksgiving! I am super excited to make this in like 5 minutes haha. I’m thinking the baguette, cream cheese, and maybe top the onion jam with cranberry sauce? Not sure, but if anything next day, this would be perfect with turkey. OMG I love this recipe!

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 23, 2018, 1:44 pm

      With cranberry sauce! That’s an idea!

  • Jen Dec 28, 2018, 9:48 pm

    Hi Kris, could I make this recipe with regular white sugar or brown sugar? I dont have any cane sugar handy..

    Thanks, Jen 🙂

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 5, 2019, 4:42 pm

      Of course, and apologies for the delayed response.

  • Shannon Mar 22, 2019, 1:06 pm

    How could you have enough left to worry about “how long will it last” if you make the recipe amount as is. I ate nearly half off a spoon when it got cool enough. So easy and yummy………

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 27, 2019, 5:24 pm

      LOL

  • Gail Jul 3, 2019, 8:52 am

    An absolutely great recipe. Easy to make. It seemed a little salty to start but when left to rest it absorbed and tasted fantastic. I am going to make more. Must have with cream cheese.

  • Trixie Aug 19, 2019, 9:55 am

    I currently have an abundance of basil, do you think that would taste ok instead of the thyme & rosemary?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 23, 2019, 2:36 pm

      I think it would taste *different, but that’s not to say bad. Give it a try!

  • Danielle Nov 24, 2019, 5:22 pm

    As long as I follow exact recipe it is safe the can correct?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 30, 2019, 8:00 am

      It should be; see steps 4 and 5.

  • Nicole May 6, 2020, 6:00 am

    “Jam” is great but I have been cooking it down for an hour and it is not syrupy yet.
    Cook time is a bit off.

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