How to Make Fried Onions for Burgers?

Fried onions have been used as a condiment in burgers for many decades. The sweetness of the caramelized onions compliments the taste of the beef and enhances the flavor. Adding some fried onions to your burger instantly improves its flavor by a huge margin.

But frying onions can be a tricky thing to do as the onions can get burnt easily making them taste bitter. They might also not get cooked properly which will leave their raw taste and smell ruining the entire burger. So frying the onions with care is vital to make sure that your burger does not get ruined.

I will discuss all the steps of peeling, chopping, and frying the onions in great detail as well as the things to be careful about while frying onions for your burger. Afterward, you will be completely ready to caramelize the onions to perfection every time you make yourself a burger at home or cookout.

How to Make Fried Onions for Burgers?

Frying onions in the pan with vegetable oil results in sweet caramelized onions. Cooking heats the cells in the onions to the point where the complex chain molecules break down into simple sugars. These simple sugars give the sweet taste of the onion that we all love and enjoy.

This process is called pyrolysis, the act of combustion without oxygen. This process does not only break down the chain polymers into simple sugar but it also changes the color of the onion to brown or golden brown.

There are three main steps to caramelizing onions which are chopping the onions, preparing the pan, and frying the onions in the oil or butter.

You can use vegetable oil like soybean oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, olive oil, etc. or you can use butter and clarified butter. But I would suggest that you use a combination of oil and butter to enhance the flavor.

All types of onions caramelize so you can use any type of onion to make your fried onions for your burger. In my experience, I have found that using yellow and white onions works the best to make fried onions because they caramelize better than other onions. However, you can use red onions, shallots, pearl onions, scallions, etc. as well.

You can thinly slice the onions or you can cut them in cubes. Slicing is perfect if you have smaller onions and chopping into cubes is for when you have a larger onion. You do not need to chop it too finely but leaving them too thick can result in undercooking the onions. I like to cut them into cubes because they caramelize this way the best.


Here is the list of ingredients to make fried onions for your burgers.

  • Onion- the measurement depends on how many burgers you are cooking. 
  • Vegetable oil- one tablespoon or enough to coat the bottom of your pan completely.
  • Butter- a knob of butter. This is optional but it enhances the flavor
  • Water- only a few drops. You might not need it if the onions do not start burning accidentally.


Here are the necessary kitchen tools to make fried onions for burgers.

  • A pan or iron skillet. Non-stick pans are the best for caramelizing onions as they do not stick as much but any flat-bottom pan or pot will do.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Cutting board
  • Spatula


The step-by-step instructions for frying onions for burgers are given below.

Cutting and Peeling

Cut the stem and root of the onions and peel them completely.

Chopping the Onions

Chop the onions into thin slices or small quarter-inch cubes.

Setting the Pan

Put a pan on the stove on medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan.

Testing the Oil

Add the sliced or cubed onions to the pan when the oil is hot. You can test the temperature of the oil by putting a single slice of onion on it. The oil is ready if that slice sizzles instantly. 

Stirring Frequently

Stir the onions every 30 seconds to make sure that they are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir and flip the onions to the other side so that all of the sides of the onions get heated properly.

Adding Water, Vinegar, or Other Liquids

Add a splash of water and turn down the heat a little if you feel like the onions are burning too quickly.

Finishing the Cooking

Take the onions from the pan after they have become brown or golden brown. Now, you have fried onions ready to be put in between the buns of your burger.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Onion Is Best for Burgers?

Yellow onions and sweet onions are the best for burgers. They caramelize well and become quite sweet which balances the flavors of the burger very well. You can use other onions such as red onions, pearl onions, shallots, etc. to make fried onions for burgers as well. But be careful to not burn the onions while cooking them. 

Do You Fry Onions Before Making Burgers?

Yes, it is better to fry the onions and keep them ready before you start cooking the burger patties. Onion takes a long time to get caramelized properly so if you cook your burger patties before preparing the fried onions, you will have cold burger patties that will not taste good.

I highly recommend that you fry the onions before starting to cook the burgers. Fried onions will not lose their flavor if you keep them on the countertop for a while as you cook the burgers.

How Long Do I Cook the Onions?

You need to cook the onions for at least 5-10 minutes depending on how many onions you have. The timing will also depend on how sweet you want your onions to be and what you want the colors to be like. You can take the onions away from the heat when it starts to turn brown or golden brown.

What Can I Add for Extra Flavor to the Onions?

You can add different types of sauce or liquids to the pan while frying onions to increase the flavor. Common sauces that are used with onions while caramelizing them include Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, Sriracha sauce, etc.

Be careful while adding the liquids as they might sizzle violently as they come into contact with the hot oil in the pan. I usually add a splash of vinegar to enhance flavor.

Should You Put Raw or Fried Onions in Burgers?

Yes, you should put raw or fried onions in burgers because the raw onions bring a crunch and spiciness to the burger and the fried onions bring a slight sweet flavor. Both of them enhance the flavor and the texture of the burger. I usually cut the onions into large rings and put them on top of the patty.

Why Do Onions Go Well With Burgers?

Onions go well with burgers because it enhances the taste and texture of the burger. Onions have a crunchy and sweet taste to taste to them when caramelized properly. This balances the spice and the heat of the burger patties and improves the flavor.

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