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
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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 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.
★ Did you make this onion jam recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
To make the jam:
- 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.
- Add sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook until thickened and somewhat syrup-y. Add salt, pepper, and herbs.
- Cool then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
To freeze the jam:
- 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:
- Test pH. (See notes.)
- Ladle hot jam into sterilized half pint jars, leaving about ½” headspace. Wipe rims clean and place prepared lids and rings on finger tight.
- Process in a water bath canner at a rolling boil for 15 minutes.
- 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.
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
Originally published July 2017; this post has been updated.