Onion Marmalade: Sweet, Savory, Sticky.

November 18, 2008

Of course marmalade is good. Who doesn’t like marmalade?

But folks, this ain’t no Smucker’s marmalade. No, it isn’t that orange, jewel-toned jelly from a jar. You can’t just spread it on toast, chomp it down and forget about it. No, this marmalade makes an impression. Better still, it makes your dinner (or lunch, or maybe even breakfast).

I don’t mean to imply that it will actually cook your meals for you. But it will elevate them to seldom-seen levels of awesomeness.

This is onion marmalade. It is a rich deep brown, reflecting its roots of caramelized onions, revealing its brown-sugary rich but not burnt flavor, suggesting the hint of bite from its balsamic vinegar reduction. It’s really, really, really (three reallys) good.

Now, you could just eat it by the spoonful, but that wouldn’t unleash its full potential. In the coming days, the hubby will reveal just a few of the ways you can harness its awesome deliciousness. It’s totally worth the time and effort to make it — and, bonus, it will make your house smell like you’re making the meal of a lifetime. Did I mention that it is good? Enjoy!


And now, the husband’s take…

I’ve many people in my life who tell me they don’t like onions. I sort of look at them and think, “You eat right?” And in my head, I’m listing all the foods that most people eat that have onions, but they don’t appreciate.

But, onion marmalade is the exact opposite. I’m told originally it was a staple of French Bistro cuisine in the ‘50’s. It’s an in-your face challenge to onion haters. The onions are browned and then hit with the acidity of wine and balsamic vinegar along with the sweetness of quite a bit of sugar.

The result is an awesome condiment. It is one our pantry items. I make it every few months. Put it in the fridge and wait for a time we want a really quick, tasty meal. The next few posts are going to be quick ideas of what to do with it that makes it an awesome addition to your own repertoire.


Onion Marmalade
4 lbs onions (sliced thin)
3 slices bacon (thick cut)
2 cup/225g sugar
1 cup/125g dark brown sugar
2 cup red wine
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp./20g salt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1. Place a large, non-reactive pan over medium-low heat. Add the bacon. The goal and render the fat. Once the bacon has crisped, remove.

2. Turn up the heat to high to medium-high, add the onions, salt and olive oil. Stir to make sure the onions are coated with the oil and bacon fat. Cook covered with a tight lid for about 20 minutes. Continue to cook stirring every 5 to 10 minutes until the onions begin to turn golden brown.

3. Add the sugar, brown sugar, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium heat until vicious. To test if it’s the right consistency, dribble a bit of the reduction on a plate and it still liquid, but slowly slips down the plate after it cools briefly. I also look to for doneness by dragging a spoon against the bottom of the pot. If it leaves a long valley, then its done. WARNING: Do not walk away from this once it begins to get close. There is enough sugar in this that it can burn and create sugar concrete on the bottom of your pan.

4. Remove from heat and let cool before storing. Place in a glass or heat resistant container. Cover and refrigerate. This is both acidic and high in sugar, so its excellent for long term storage. It keeps in the fridge well for at least 2 months. Some of the fat may become solid at the top after cooling. I simply scrape it off and dispose of it. Additionally, if the marmalade become too thick after cooling, simply reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds and I find it spreads very easily.



  1. Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

    • can you water bath or presure can it??

    • can you cann this? & what do you put this on?

  2. That looks delicious!

  3. […] Yesterday, we brought you the secret of our house burger… onion marmalade. Today, we bring you the secret of our favorite sandwich… it is, er, onion marmalade. […]

  4. Guys, that onion marmalade looks great. But is there any way to pare down the amount? 4 pounds is a bit much for me. I’d just like to try a sample to see how it goes.

    And a slight spelling error made me smile:

    “Cook over medium heat until vicious.” I know you meant “viscuous” but I kinda liked vicious. ‘Sept where are the peppers, in that case? 🙂

    • er, i think that was ‘viscous’!!

  5. That error is one of those classic ‘spell check’ errors. Clearly my eyes missed it when copy editing too. But as my wife is frequent to point out when things get that angry boil… especially high sugar items… ‘the kitchen was angry that day.” so it may be vicious.

    As for the amount, I’m with you. It makes about of quart of actual marmalade when done. It’s why I tried to use weight measurements where it made since. Simply reduce by whatever fraction you want and that should yield about the same results, just a bit quicker. I hope that helps.

  6. No, you know, I like “vicious”. I think I’ll incorporate it into my lexicon of “food words” for my own writing. I’ve actually had quite enough of “toothsome” and “savory” or that ghastly word, “yummy”. No, “vicious” has a certain ring to it . . . “I made a vicious hamburger tonight . . .”

    I’m making burgers tonight so I’ll experiment with the marmalade and pare it down, probably by an eighth!

    Thanks, Husband!

  7. […] two weeks ago I was going on about the usefulness of onion marmalade. I gave you a burger and a sandwich as evidence of its true power as a pantry item. However, there […]

  8. […] Onion Marmalade: This is onion marmalade. It is a rich deep brown, reflecting its roots of caramelized onions, revealing its brown-sugary rich but not burnt flavor, suggesting the hint of bite from its balsamic vinegar reduction. It’s really, really, really (three reallys) good. Recipe found at My Husband Cooks. […]

  9. I made this tonight after seeing it use din a cooking show on tv. It was delicious!!! It came out better than I thought it would since it was my first time making it. I only cooked for 2 so I only used 2 onions and used about 1/4 of the rest of the suggested ingredients. Definitely will be making it again! Thank you!

  10. I know this post was written ages ago but I just wanted to let you know how fantastic this recipe is. I have made this a few times and have given jars to friends and everyone loves it. It is the best thing I have ever made as it is so versatile. Thanks for the recipe!

    • How wonderful and gratifying. We love it too! Slather it on anything and know onion joy! Thanks for the comment, you made our night!

  11. […] from My Husband Cooks‘ Onion Marmalade) […]

  12. […] 1 . Banana  Bread Yeasted Waffles 2. Bloody Mary 3. Liver and Onions 4. Buffalo Chicken Dip 5. A Tasty Fritatta 6. Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake 7. Onion Marmalade. […]

  13. […] those chilled, we got started on the next long project: the onion marmalade. Usually a wellington is topped with either pâté or a duxelles (minced mushrooms, etc. cooked […]

  14. […] those chilled, we got started on the next long project: the onion marmalade. Usually a wellington is topped with either pâté or a duxelles (minced mushrooms, etc. cooked […]

  15. This looks delicious as well! These are all home runs! Be sure to review your dining experience at http://tinyurl.com/26okadh !!

  16. I can’t believe how yum this looks.. Any chance you have tried canning it? I’m thinking it should be pressure canned, but what’s your guess for how long?

  17. like this recipe and the photographs. This will be great with a pate that I make. ONE QUESTION: do you include the nicely crisped bacon in the recipe??? Doesn’t say anything about it in the cooking directions. Thank you for your help. Lee

    • I used the bacon to make a compound butter.
      2 sticks butter (softened to room temp)
      8 oz blue cheese
      chop up the bacon
      a pinch or 2 of your favorite herbs (chives, oregano marjoram…whatever you like)

      Smush it all together and use on beef, chicken, bagels. I plan on having it with the onion marmalade on a bagel in the AM.

  18. maybe you just munch the bacon as a snack while stirring… I was wondering too…

  19. Actually, it mentions that the intent of the bacon is to render out the oil. You are basically wanting the bacon grease to add flavor. I would suspect if you already had a stash of bacon grease (all those southerners out there probably do) or even lard, you could probably use it instead.

  20. Best you could change the webpage subject Onion Marmalade: Sweet, Savory, Sticky. My husband cooks to more generic for your webpage you make. I loved the post withal.

  21. In your receipe you don’t mention about how long it will take to complete…it’s on the stove now and has been for about 45 minutes, I’m thinking it’ll take a while. I’m also thinking, after reading further down the page at many of the comments – the three onions I had in the fridge probably isn’t nearly as many onion as I should have used (as I used all other ingrediants as directed. Yikes. It looks fab, smells even better. I’m sure it will turn out anyway? Fingers crossed.

    • It took me a couple of hours, but boy it was sooooo worth it!!

  22. Do you think there is a way to make this with a non-animal fat? I’m Jewish and plan to eat the marmalade with cheese sandwiches as well. Could I use olive oil for the fat?

    • I think that using olive and/or peanut oil would be fine. I’d use about 1/4 cup.

  23. Absolutely delicious!! I just made it a few minutes ago. Been looking everywhere for onion marmalade. I had first tasted it in South Africa served with brie and crackers. I was instantly addicted. Got back to the States and inquired to every grocery store in my neighborhood including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Nada. Then I stumbled upon you recipe. Perfect! I will serve it tomorrow with our Christmas dinner. Happy Holidays and Thanks!

  24. I found the recipe and made a batch for Christmas presents… we did a handmade Christmas. Everyone loves it almost as much as the bacon jam my son made. I liked it better ( the bacon jam was very hot/spicy). Anyway… can I double the batch? This doesn’t make enough for my crowd and after all the work I’d like some left for my husband and me!

  25. I have been looking for an Onion Marmalade recipe and at long last found a very inviting recipe here!

    But may I please have your help?

    I’ve lived in a non-English-speaking zone for life time meaning our measurements are all metric. I suppose your measurements are all in US measures, but I cannot work out precisely.

    Example, your cup is 1/2 pint?
    With my Pyrex jar 1/2 pint of sugar is already over 200g, yet you mentioned 2 cups = 225g.
    Then I noticed there are fluid measures (pint = 473.18ml) and dry measures (pint = 550.61ml)!

    I am feeling dizzy… Even within English-speaking world there are little consistency between a country and a country.

    If it is not too much trouble, would you please kindly put all the measurements in metric for me as I would definitely like to try your recipe?

  26. Love this recipe, I made it for Christmas this past year and put it in a baked brie. Everyone loved it, many people asked for jars to take home. I wouldn’t worry to much about the size of the recipe. I will most likely double it next time i make it.

  27. Taken from the beginning of your recipe- “Add the bacon. The goal and render the fat.”

    Am I being dense what does ‘The goal’ refer to? I am going to try this recipe today!

    • think this might mean ” the goal is to render the fat “

  28. EVERYONE in this family loves this marmalade!!! On toast… on bagels… as a little condiment on pork or beef…. Did I say “WE LOVE IT!” ? YES we do!!

  29. How much would you say this batch makes? Would love to make it for Christmas gifts!

  30. I made a modified version of this where I used more bacon and added the bacon bits back in at the end. I also added some liquid smoke. It made for an amazing burger topping. I put my version up on our site if you’re interested. Thanks for the inspiration!

  31. Ate this on crostini with chevre in France and been dreaming about it ever
    since. Made it tonight to go with a carmeized onion/asparagus quiche. Fantastic. Thanks for agreat recipe.

  32. Since this recipe includes bacon, Can I can and preserve as I would with other fruit marmalades?

  33. Can this be “put up ” like preserves? Ive made jams and jelly…but dont know if I could do this with this marmlade. It sounds absolutely DEVINE. And Im so broke, I need Christmas gift ideas …gotts start NOW! Thanks so much 🙂

    • I’m about to make and can this recipe so I can let you know how it goes. The major concern with canning is that you have a very acidic food and with all the wine and vinegar in this recipe I don’t think it should be a problem.

  34. absolutely fantastic we loved it but I am going to make it again tomorrow but am going to add some star anise garlic chillies and maybe a bit of ginger because it’s nearly christmas will let you all know how it turns out I have plenty of taste testers who look forward to my efforts xxx

  35. just read Susan Lawlers comments.. Yes you can, I’ve still got some i made 2mths ago and it’s fab bless you we all need good ideas for pressies and there’s nothing I like better than getting a present that someone has put some effort into never mind the cost. I’m just peeling pickling onions ready to pickle for christmas I much prefer homemade pressies to anything bought so good luck with whatever you make xx

  36. Just made a batch and added one dozen fresh figs, chopped up. This stuff tastes amazing hot. I can’t wait for it to cool enough to put on some toast with pate and brie. Thanks for this fantastic recipe.

  37. i have to say,
    currently on my second batch in as many weeks….DEVINE!!!
    my new fave condiment!!!
    i also added chili garlic and mustard seeds…fab as a base on puff pastry, chicken bri and artichoke!!!

    thankyou so so much for this recipe!!!

  38. love this recipe, I going to do it my second time and hopefully will be as good as the fisrt time, me extra pot will be a present.

    Merry xmas and thanks for sharing this wonderful blog!

    Milena in Barcelona

  39. Hi, i feel that i saw you visited my web site thus i came to go back the prefer?.I am attempting to in finding issues to enhance my site!I assume its ok to make use of some of your concepts!!

  40. Making today, we grow our own organic onions & olive oil here in southern Italy! We will be serving this to our guests this season the evenings we have Italian cheeses and wine tastings!


    • You will adore this recipe. I make it without the bacon. The olive oil and onions add just enough savory taste so the bacon isn’t “needed” even though it probably makes it even more wonderful. My guests always rave over this stuff. Your guests are very fortunate to have you as hosts. Just don’t eat it all up before they arrive.

  41. I’m just knocking up some onion marmalade now, this one looks a treat (though we’d probably drop the bacon being veggie types). I love the dynamic here, hubby cooks and wife writes. We have a similar set up at the Beach House, although I seem to be doing the writing as well!!! Jane is too busy with work and all. Great to find you here, looking forward to reading more. Happy blogging, lee (www.thebeachhousekitchen.wordpress.com)

  42. I spent an afternoon making this onion marmalade and then, after it cooled, I threw it out.
    It is so sickly sweet it sets my teeth on edge. Disgustingly sweet. I can’t imagine using it as a condiment for meat, unless you fancy sticky gooey candy with your meat. What a disappointment!

    • I use this most often with liver pate or some super-pungent cheese. It needs a counter-point. I wish you had thrown it out in my direction.

  43. I own a coffee shop in South Africa, and started playing with this recipe- I serve it with a scone, mature cheddar cheese and something we call biltong (something like a softer version of beef jerky sliced thinly). what a hit! I must say, I add some bay leafs, about 3 tbsp of crushed black pepper and 2 tsp of very finely crushed garlic. and a healthy splash of brandy. The spices cutt a bit of the sweetness, and the result is absolutely spectacular. Thank you for a superb starting block!


  44. Like Kit, I too am having a problem with your cups versus grams conversions. General consensus is that one cup of sugar is 200 grams. Therefore if you measured with cups you’ll have almost twice as much sugar as you would if you weighed it out instead.

    So I’m curious which people are using when they make this recipe. Maybe Jeanne (who had a final product that was cloying sweet) used the cups while other are using the grams? Which did you originally do? I’m going to try measuring my sugar and see if it comes out a little less sweet but clarification would be very helpful.

  45. Hi Rachel, you have to be careful – there is a difference between American cups/weight ratio and Metric. Can’t remember it off hand, but if you do a web search for conversion charts you will find it. Been caught with that one before!

    • I’m Canadian so while we’re officially metric we also often cook with cup measures so I’m familiar with both. 1 cup is 250 ml and a cup of sugar weighs about 200-220g (I tested this myself). So I think there is actually a typo in the recipe.

      That said, I did make this recipe by weighing out 225g of sugar and 125g of brown sugar and it was super delicious and not too sweet. I also canned it using a standard water bath canner with a 10 minute processing time. It worked great and made 6 x 250ml jars.

      • so Rachel, I should use 1 cup of white sugar and 1 and 1/4 cups of brown sugar? The rest of the ingredients listed in cups seem accurate? Thank you!

  46. have you tried canning it? either water bath, or pressure canning as has meat in it?

    I make a balsamic caramelized onions, use in grilled Swiss cheese sandwich? to die for!

  47. […] those chilled, we got started on the next long project: the onion marmalade. Usually a wellington is topped with either pâté or a duxelles (minced mushrooms, etc. cooked […]

  48. Love this recipe. Have you tried with different varieties of onions? I’ve mostly only made this with sweet onions.

  49. […] those chilled, we got started on the next long project: the onion marmalade. Usually a wellington is topped with either pâté or a duxelles (minced mushrooms, etc. cooked […]

  50. […] those chilled, we got started on the next long project: the onion marmalade. Usually a wellington is topped with either pâté or a duxelles (minced mushrooms, etc. cooked […]

  51. Not sure if this blog is still active, I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe, I have been using it for about ten years and its always a hit! 🙂

  52. Just made a batch! So yummy but I can’t quite believe it’s a pound of onions per half pint yield! I usually give stuff away but I am going to be stingy with my 4 jars!

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