How to caramelize onions (oil-free)

I’m on a quest to lower my refined oil intake. Why? Because I think we consume way too much unhealthy fat. And too little of the good fats that are high on omega 3 (here’s some details).

But anyway, we’re here to create golden brown and delicious onions without using oil. So let me explain how that works.

On my oil-free journey I stumbled upon a technique called “water frying”. Here’s what we need to accomplish that:


  • Any type of onion (the sweeter the more they will caramelize, though)
  • Non-stick pan
  • Spatula that doesn’t scratch the pan
  • 1l water


Chop onions into equally thick pieces (stripes or cubes).

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Put non-stick pan on high heat and toss in chopped onions. Then pour in water until bottom of the pan is covered with a thin layer.

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Cook until water evaporates fully. Stir onions well until you see that they start sticking to the pan.

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Adding just a couple of tablespoons of water at a time, scrape off what sticks to the pan. Let the water evaporate while stirring well. We’re deglazing here, getting all those flavours and brown colour into our onions. Only let it sit for some seconds, though, otherwise it starts burning.

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Repeat the previous step until you’re satisfied with the consistency and brownness of your caramelized onions. I’m usually satisfied after about 10 rounds.

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That’s it. Now you can add other ingredients or use these brown beauties as a topping.

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