It's like candy for Vegans..... Caramelized Balsamic Boiler Onions

I've got to confess that I've never made this before; however, the other day while at the grocery store, I ran across these wonderful little boiler onions and they were on sale. I purchased about a half pound and decided I'd try my hand at coming up with a recipe. Boiler onions are very small onions, similar to pearl onions except that they are flatter. They are usually about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and no more than 3/4 inches thick. You most likely have seen them in the antipasto counter of your favorite store, along with the pickled condiments, olives, peppers. You can buy those by the pound and be broke by the end of your shopping. These little ones I found were located in the produce department and were on sale for about $3.00 a pound, skin on.

So I take my new little friends home and realize that they are going to need peeling. There is a very quick and cool way to peel little onions like this. You want to just peel away the first thin layer and try not to cut the ends so that the onion will stay intact and not break apart when cooking. Take a small pot of water and bring it to a boil. Drop the onions in and boil for about 4 minutes. Stir about every 30 seconds or so and you will start seeing the peelings begin to flake off. After 4 minutes, remove the onions and soak in cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled somewhat, begin the remove the thin skin layer off using your thumb and index finger. The skin should easily come off. If you want to trim some of the end off, use a sharp pair of scissors and just the excess off. Now your boiler onions are ready to go to the sauté pan. Here's what you'll need for this delicious treat:

1/2 lb. of boiler onions, peeled as instructed above
1/3 cup of nice Balsamic Vinegar
3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of coarsely ground salt (sea salt is great)
Dash of pepper, coarsely ground

By the way, was there any mention of how simple it is to make this? Well, it's true. For all you vegetarians out there, this will certainly appeal to you. The combination of sweet and tangy is delicious. The onions are so tender and retain good moisture. These flavors will explode in your mouth with every bite.

In a sauce pan, add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Heat over medium heat until butter has melted into the oil. Add the onions and sauté until they have browned to a light golden color. This should take a few minutes or so. Once browned, remove them from the pan and set aside.

Add the Balsamic and the water to the pan over medium heat and stir so as to deglaze the pan. Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining butter, the sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir well and add the onions back in. Make sure the onions are well coated. Continue to cook on low until the liquid has reduced by half. Reduce heat to simmer and cover for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and let sit uncovered for about 5 minutes so that as the sauce cools a bit, it will also thicken. Serve as an appetizer, allow cooling and adding to a salad, or serve hot as a side dish. This is also delicious with a white fish. Poach the fish and serve a few of the onions on top and pour a couple of tablespoons of the sauce over the fish.

The amount in this recipe is good for two; however, if you have a larger dinner party, I would purchase and prepare at least a pound or so. As a side note, if you want to give this recipe an Asian accent, right before you add the onions back to the sauce pan, add a teaspoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil, and stir well. Then add the onions back in and continue as the recipe explains. When serving, sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds over the top and add a few finely chopped scallions. Now doesn't that sound incredible?


  1. I've never tried boiler onions, but these look absolutely delicious!! A great photo!!

  2. What a gorgeous photo! A great side dish for a roast.....nice job!

  3. gorgeous picture! i made them myself for the first time this last Thanksgiving..yours look great!

  4. Great tip about peeling these. The caramelization of these little guys is making me salivate. Perfect side dish!

  5. I think I could eat these by themselves ... great recipe and nice tip...

  6. These really do look like they would be a terrific side dish for any meal. I agree. Great photo!

  7. Great pic, they look yummy!!


  8. Wow, those onions are wonderful!!!

  9. looks delish - thanks for the recipe!

  10. Thanks for a great tip on how to easily peel these babies. That's the primary reason I shy away from using boiler or pearl onions all the time. The prep is annoying!

  11. Just the other day, I walked right by an adorable little bag of these guys. Now I'm going back to my green grocer so I can try your recipe. An excellent post and mouthwatering photo. Thank you!

    ~Cleo Coyle
    author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  12. Tag, you're it. Definitely Top 9 material, and gorgeous pic. Major thumbs up from us vegetarians!

  13. Awesome reminder of what simple ingredients can do when handled properly!

  14. They do look delicious! I'll have to try this soon!

  15. These look really yummy! Did you use regular butter or did you get a special butter? I'm looking for vegan recipes I'm not quite sure I'll be able to user regular butter. Cheers!

  16. Yum! I'm going to have to try these!