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Instant Pot Caramelized Onions

Instant Pot Caramelized Onions add a ton of flavor to any dish. Making this caramelized onion recipe in your pressure cooker cuts the cooking time in half compared with traditional cooking methods. You’re going to love how simple it is to whip up a batch of these tasty onions!

a glass jar of pressure cooker caramelized onions with rosemary and a spoon

Oh my gosh, is there anything better than the awesomeness of caramelized onions? So much more mellow than raw, they can add an incredible amount of flavor to soups, appetizers, main dishes, and roasted veggies.

So why don’t we all use caramelized onions every day? Because they’re a giant PITA to cook!

I got you though friend. We’re making this caramelized onion recipe in the Instant Pot in half the time of the normal way. Go put on some fancy pants because you’re about to rule the kitchen.

Can You Caramelize Onions in an Instant Pot?

You sure can!

Instant Pots are wonderful for cutting the cooking time for so many different dishes. But other recipes for Instant Pot caramelized onions actually have you pressure cook the onions. Do you know what that produces? Onion mush.

Instead, my version has you cook your onions only using the saute function in the pressure cooker. “Why not just do it on the stove” I’m sure you’re asking yourself right now.

I find the Instant Pot saute function creates very consistent heat which means you don’t get any hot/cool spots. My stove is a low-grade janky piece of crap and does not heat evenly. When a recipe calls for me to cook something over a consistent heat for a long period of time it is always a freaking trainwreck.

Psst, if you’re new to using an Instant Pot, check out this post on Instant Pot recipes for beginners.

How Do You Slice Onions to Caramelize?

I recommend you slice your onions how you intend to use them! If your recipe calls for chopped onions, you should chop them. Do you need your onion sliced for something like Instant Pot French Onion Soup? Then, by all means, slice them!

Don’t make your slices razor-thin or your chopped onions too small as they will break down and become too mushy to be appetizing. You’ll want enough heft to keep them looking like onions when all is said and done.

three recipes showing how to caramelize onions in a pressure cooker

I love having frozen onions as part of our freezer essentials. When you’re slicing up some for this dish, freeze some extras for future meals. Learn how to freeze onions here.

How Do You Know When Caramelized Onions Are Done?

It all comes down to personal preference for deciding the “doneness” of your onions and the color of onions you use.

If you using white or yellow onions, your finished product should be a golden brown. Like the color of drawn butter.

I always use red/purple onions and well, you see the finished product in the photos. It’s a smoky purply brown.

Can You Freeze Caramelized Onions?

Yes and yes! 

I freeze mine in the quantities of how I intend to use them. If you just need a small amount for a garnish on Baked Brie With Puff Pastry, freeze your pressure cooker caramelized onions in 4 oz canning jars. 

Need more for soup or a major part of dinner (I mean…caramelized onions with a Paleo Roast Chicken? Heaven!)? Freeze them in wide-mouth pint canning jars or reusable silicone freezer bags during your easy healthy meal prep

Prepped and chopped meal components like these onions are part of our family Freezer Essentials. For more storage options, check out this post on Zero Waste Food Storage Ideas.

How Long Do Caramelized Onions Last?

You can keep your onions in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days, or up to three months in the freezer.

How to Store Pressure Cooker Caramelized Onions

I mentioned above that I prefer canning jars, but you could also use reusable freezer-safe silicone storage bags, plastic ziploc-style bags (my least favorite choice), or even freeze some in muffin tins with liners and then pop them out and put them in freezer storage bags.

caramelized onions in a glass jar with rosemary and onions in the background

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • If you have issues with onions making you cry (I totally do), you could wear swim goggles, onion goggles, or even cut them outside in fresh air. But I find the simplest (and totally free) way to prevent the constant watery onion eyes is to put the onions in the fridge for 1 hour before cutting. This method has never failed me.
  • The pressure cooker caramelized onion method works best with at least 4-6 cups of sliced onions. I found a smaller amount led to burning issues. There is some safety in numbers with this one!
  • Unsalted butter or ghee works best. My first attempt used salted butter and it was scorch city!
  • Use whatever kind of onions you love. I tend to use red (though we all know they’re really purple. Horticultural LIARS) or sweet onions.
  • Onions cook down a lot when you caramelize them. I recommend cooking a bit more than you think you’ll need.

Sustainability Tip

Save the tops of the onions in a freezer bag with other veggie scraps like carrot peels from Canning Carrots and celery leftover from Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings. When you have enough scraps saved, you can make up a batch of Chicken Bone Broth or Turkey Bone Broth.

It’s amazing to make something so delicious and nourishing, all from ingredients that were going to be thrown away. It’s why my husband calls homemade broth/stock “garbage water”. 🙂

More Delicious Recipes Like Pressure Cooker Caramelized Onions

Instant Pot Caramelized Onions

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Instant Pot Caramelized Onions add a ton of flavor to any dish. Making this caramelized onion recipe in your pressure cooker cuts the cooking time in half.




  • Set your Instant Pot to saute. Wait for the display to turn from "on" to "HOT".
  • Add ghee or butter to the Instant Pot and allow it to melt before adding onions.
  • Add onions and salt to the butter, stir, and let everything sit for 2 minutes.
  • Stir semi-constantly for 15-25 minutes or until onions are browned to your preference.


Makes ~2 cups
The pressure cooker caramelized onion method works best with at least 4-6 cups of sliced onions. If you need to cook smaller amounts, it is best to stick to stove top or the slow cooker.
Unsalted butter or ghee works best. 
If you need to speed up the cooking process a bit, add 1/8 tsp of baking soda to the onions when they start to cook.
Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Caramelized Onions
Amount Per Serving (2 tbsp)
Calories 49 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 8mg3%
Sodium 148mg6%
Potassium 88mg3%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 89IU2%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 15mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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4 comments on “Instant Pot Caramelized Onions”

  1. Have you ever tried adding fresh herbs? I have some lemon thyme I think would be delicious with Caramelized red onions on salads, but not sure what point to add it in…

  2. How do you reheat the frozen caramelized onions exactly?

    • It depends on how you intend to use it. I add it (frozen) to beef broth to make French Onion Soup. If I want to use it on something like burgers, I would defrost overnight in the fridge. I’m a fan of a gentle reheat in the microwave.