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Delicious Caramelized Onion Jam with Balsamic Vinegar

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

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.

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

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Ingredients

Onions Sweet onions are the star of this recipe! The recipe calls for the yellow variety, but if you’d prefer to use red, by all means do. 

Olive oil — Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. The recipe doesn’t call for much, but the flavor of the oil will shine through.

Sugar — Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic. You could also use brown sugar or maple syrup.

Balsamic vinegar — Traditional balsamic vinegar hails from the town of Modena in Italy. The process of making it is complex but nets a mild and sweet flavor. Don’t substitute another vinegar here – it won’t work. 

Seasonings — You can play a bit with the flavors you use in this delicious jam. Use summer savory or a combination of fresh thyme and rosemary.

The cooking process

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. 

3 way collage showing sliced onions raw and as they become caramelized

Pop this delicious mixture into 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!

It pairs well with pork and chicken, and can 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. Or use it to top a burger!

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 pH paper 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 popping it into the freezer. (Just be sure to leave enough headspace in the jar for expansion.)

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. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning. Note: The Hawaii Master Food Preservers suggest a pH of 4.2 or lower in the tropics. In other regions, the recommended pH is 4.6 or lower.
  • 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
  • The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.

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!

spoon full of onion jam

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 sweet yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced summer savory, or try a combination of thyme and rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon 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 or pH testing paper, 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

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Originally published July 2017; this post has been updated.

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56 comments… add one
  • Angelica Goldman Oct 20, 2021 @ 17:30

    I made this to go on top of sliders. My family LOVED it! The jam was easy to make and delicious! Thank you.

    • AttainableSustainable Oct 21, 2021 @ 8:09

      Great idea, that sounds delicious! Glad you all loved it!

  • ramesh Sep 22, 2021 @ 20:12

    Thanks For Sharing this amazing recipe. My family loved it. I will be sharing this recipe with my friends. Hope the will like it.

    • AttainableSustainable Oct 19, 2021 @ 10:59

      You’re welcome and glad to hear it!

  • Sherry Aug 27, 2021 @ 5:45

    Can I successfully use “Sweet Onions” like Vidalia in this recipe?
    Would that change sugar used or cook time?

    Thanks,

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 12, 2021 @ 8:45

      Should be fine!

  • Erika May 20, 2021 @ 9:30

    I do not have a ph tester. Would pressure canning be a good option? I just got one but haven’t used it yet.

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 6, 2021 @ 16:46

      Pressure canning will likely turn the onions to mush. You could freeze it. And if you can, grab a pack of pH paper for future (safe) canning! https://tidd.ly/3hlJKag

  • John walker May 2, 2021 @ 13:36

    Can i use english style whole pickled onions already in pickling brine which i havent consumed as yet

    • Kris Bordessa May 4, 2021 @ 8:31

      I wouldn’t suggest that.

  • Beth Dec 2, 2020 @ 8:27

    Can the recipe be doubled or tripled? I got 2 half pint jars from one batch.

  • LAB Nov 25, 2020 @ 5:16

    Can you substitute red onions for the yellow onions? How about brown sugar for the cane sugar? If yes, how much brown sugar – still 3/4 cup? Thanks!

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 25, 2020 @ 13:31

      Sure! And yes, the brown sugar would be equal in measure but may give a bit of a molasses flavor — which wouldn’t be bad!

  • Lois Oct 29, 2020 @ 7:40

    I only got 2x250ml jars, but the consistency is soft and “jammy. Next time I’ll use Red onion and dial back the Thyme to 1tsp. I mis-read the recipe and used 1Tbs each Rosemary and Thyme. I can’t wait to try it on garlicy/cheese Crostini. Thanx for the Recipe. I’ll try your Grilled Cheese idea.

  • Nicole Sep 5, 2020 @ 0:56

    I only want to make this with one onion. Can you help me with how much of the other ingredients?

  • Elisa Aug 7, 2020 @ 14:38

    Is it possible to cut down on the sugar? Maybe 1 T max We don’t like to use so much sugar, relies on is usually sweet enough. Recipe looks delicious! Thank you.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 11, 2020 @ 7:29

      I don’t recommend making any changes to canning recipes. You can definitely cut the sugar and just pop this in the fridge!

  • Lori Aug 4, 2020 @ 11:46

    Any suggestions on changing the recipe to make it in crockpot?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 11, 2020 @ 7:33

      I’m not sure you’d be able to do the browning of onions in a slow cooker.

  • Melissa Storms Jul 31, 2020 @ 8:08

    Mmmm, this sounds wonderful. I am adding it to my next canning day for sure.

  • Elle Jul 5, 2020 @ 16:25

    Can you Pressure cook this Jam and how ?
    Thank you in advance….

  • Nicole May 6, 2020 @ 6:00

    “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.

  • Danielle Nov 24, 2019 @ 17:22

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

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 30, 2019 @ 8:00

      It should be; see steps 4 and 5.

  • Trixie Aug 19, 2019 @ 9:55

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

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 23, 2019 @ 14:36

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

  • Gail Jul 3, 2019 @ 8:52

    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.

  • Shannon Mar 22, 2019 @ 13:06

    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 @ 17:24

      LOL

  • Jen Dec 28, 2018 @ 21:48

    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 @ 16:42

      Of course, and apologies for the delayed response.

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

    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 @ 13:44

      With cranberry sauce! That’s an idea!

  • Dan Nov 17, 2018 @ 19:26

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

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 23, 2018 @ 13:44

      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.)

  • Lori Stach Sep 13, 2018 @ 11:49

    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

      Oh, great idea to do it in the crockpot!

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 23, 2018 @ 13:45

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

    • Cindy Q Jan 25, 2021 @ 8:49

      I’d love to try this in my crock pot! Can you give me some specifics as to how you adapted it for the crock? Thanks!

  • Linda Sep 6, 2018 @ 16:01

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

  • carol Clark Aug 28, 2018 @ 7:06

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

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 4, 2018 @ 17:59

      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.

  • carol Clark Aug 27, 2018 @ 12:47

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

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 7, 2018 @ 7:41

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

  • S P Aug 22, 2018 @ 22:51

    how long will it keep before going bad?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 27, 2018 @ 7:58

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

  • Tessa Aug 14, 2018 @ 15:16

    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.

  • Kyliejean Pearn Aug 1, 2018 @ 18:38

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

  • Kim Jul 1, 2018 @ 15:39

    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 @ 19:50

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

  • John McMulkin Jun 23, 2018 @ 4:22

    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

      Glad you loved it!

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018 @ 18:28

    So easy. Will make again.

  • Christy Roppel Nov 13, 2017 @ 9:19

    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

      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

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