Don’t be intimidated by the fancy sounding word, to sauté onions simply refers to cooking the onions in a pan coated with a little bit of oil or butter on very high heat in order to make them tender and brown them just a little bit in the process.
Sauté is a French cooking term that means “to jump” and that’s what you want to be doing when you saute onions- keep them jumping!
Sauteing onions draws out their flavors. If this is done just right, sauteed onions will add a lot of flavor to your meals.
Just in case you were wondering: no, it is not a complicated process and yes, it could prove disastrous if done the wrong way. You don’t want to end up with burnt onions on your plate now do you?
The trick to getting the right amount of char on the onions without overcooking them or allowing them to burn is to constantly move the onions around while in the pan. Remember we are using high heat here, so the onions could get burnt pretty fast if left on one side for too long. Below is a step-by-step tutorial on how to sauté onions like a pro! You’re welcome.
1. Add some oil to the pan
First, prep your onions by peeling them and slicing them into thin slices. Be careful not to make them too thin though as they begin to break down and sweat once they are in the pan.
Meanwhile, add about 2-3 tablespoons of good quality cooking oil such as extra virgin olive oil or canola oil to large pan with sloping sides. You want just enough oil to cover the base of the pan.
2. Get the oil to the right temperature
Heat the oil until it’s sizzling and not quite smoking (Don’t let it actually smoke, that will ruin it). Check it regularly, the amount of time it will take to hit this temperature depends on the size and material of the pan and what heat source you’re using.
To test if your oil or butter is hot enough, simply drop one sliver of onion into the pan of oil. If it immediately begins to sizzle. you know it’s ready for use.
3. Add the onions
Pour in the rest of the onions and break them apart with a wooden spoon. Periodically stir the onions with a wooden spoon to ensure even cooking. Alternatively, you could shake the pan occasionally.
4. Bring to a lovely charred brown
Within 3-5 minutes, the onions will begin to take on a lovely translucent color and turn brown, with the edges slightly charred. This means your onions are done!
Congratulations! You just sauteed those onions like a pro. Now all you have to do is plate, and enjoy. Alternatively, you can go ahead and incorporate them in your main dish as a topping or a filler.
If you missed out on any of the steps, simply click on the video to get yourself caught up.