Instant Pot Carmelized Onions 19-Jun-2021

I tried the original recipe on May 31, 2021 and am a bit disappointed. The onions don’t truly caramelize, they just get soft.

Excerpt from original:

Get soft, sweet onions in half the time with the help of your Instant Pot. These Instant Pot caramelized onions are so tender they almost melt in your mouth without feeling mushy. If you decide to use sweet onions instead of yellow, omit the sugar. Be sure to stir as not to stir the onions. If any browning occurs, scrape it up with a wooden spoon. Serve it on a hearty sandwich, like a burger, or tossed with mushrooms on top of a steak.


  1. 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 2 1/2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
  4. 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  5. 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  6. 2 teaspoons Liquid smoke (way optional)
  7. ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  8. ¼ teaspoon black pepper


The main problem in the original is the onions don’t get a proper char on them to start the caramelizing process before they’re subjected to the cook down in the pressure cook phase. I’m adding a much longer sauté period at the beginning to get that lovely lovely char.

  1. Select SAUTÉ on Instant Pot, and add butter and oil.
  2. When butter is melted, add onions and sugar; stir well to coat.
  3. Leave sit for 5 minutes, then stir to put another bunch of onions on the bottom.
  4. Repeat until all the onions have some char on them, but not burnt. Turn off Sauté mode.
  5. Cover cooker with lid, and lock in place.
  6. Turn steam valve to SEALING position.
  7. Cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 5 minutes (pot may take 7 to 10 minutes to build pressure).
  8. Select CANCEL, and carefully release pressure using the Quick Release procedure.
  9. Remove lid and set safely aside to drain any condensation out.
  10. Turn on SAUTÉ, setting the time to 18 minutes.
  11. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized. Add Worcestershire and Liquid smoke if desired.

    In the original recipe this ended up taking a lot of time because there is a lot of water in the onions. I’m hoping the original char will get rid of more of that. Nevertheless, stir this occasionally but also let it sit so a good amount of caramelization forms.

  12. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Storage: These freeze readily. I stored double servings (shrug? 🤷🏼‍♀️) in little zip-lock snack bags in the freezer. I try to take them out before I use them, but sometimes I forget. You can microwave them to thaw, but I wouldn’t trust the plastic bag at all. Another great option a friend does is store them in large cubes, using a cube holder for baby food or large ice cubes. You fan just pop one out when you need it to either thaw naturally, or nuke.


Original recipe’s photo

original recipe photo

The original yielded onions that aren’t really caramelized.

My version’s photos

Proper Caramelization of Onions

This is what I would call properly caramelized.

Yield of 2.5 pounds onions is about 1.5 pounds

2.5 pounds of raw onions yields 1.5 pounds of caramelized onions, which isn’t really that bad.

Yield of 2.5 pounds onions is about 1.5 pounds I put an empty container on first to get the tare weight.

Close up of caramelized onions You can really see the caramelization here.