Caramelized mushrooms and onions are a deeply flavorful and versatile dish that can be eaten stand alone as a side or as an addition to hamburgers, steaks, pork chops, and more!
What's The Difference Between Caramelized and Sauteed?
Time and flavor. Sauteed onions and mushrooms are made in a similar manner, but spend much less time on the heat. They are cooked until just soft and fragrant and the onions retain their sharp flavor. Caramelized mushrooms and onions require more time in the pan and results in a sweeter taste, with or without adding sugar.
What Kind of Onions and Mushrooms are Best For Caramelizing?
Literally any onion will caramelize, but I like to use yellow or sweet (Vidalia) onions as they already have a baseline sweetness. Often, I don't even add sugar when caramelizing those types of onions.
As for the mushrooms, I have used cremini (baby bella) or sliced white mushrooms, but I imagine you can use any mushroom that you have on hand and they'll work just fine.
Tips For Success
- Use Dry Mushrooms - mushrooms are dirty and rinsing them free of dirt is a must prior to cooking, but you don't want to toss wet soggy mushrooms into the pan as this will cause even more liquid to be drawn out into the pan. After rinsing, make sure you dry the mushrooms very well.
- Don't Salt - adding salt will draw out additional moisture and leave you with too much liquid in the pan.
- Don't Cover The Pan - you don't want steam to build up inside, this will affect the texture of the mushrooms and onions.
- Low and slow - don't use too high of a heat setting since caramelization is a slow, steady process. You don't want the outsides of the onions and mushrooms to char before they start to caramelize.
- Use a Large Pan - a wide saute pan like this one is ideal because it gives the mushrooms and onions plenty of room.
Can I Make This In Advance?
Yes, you can. Because caramelizing takes a bit of time, I often make this in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will be fine for several days. You can reheat by tossing them into a warm pan or just use the microwave.
How Do I Serve This Dish?
If you're a mushroom and onion lover - like myself - you can pile these up on your plate and eat them standalone as a side dish. But here are some other fantastic ways to use caramelized mushrooms and onions:
- On top of a steak or pork chop
- Stuffed inside a juicy hamburger or grilled cheese sandwich (that last one is a particular fav of mine)
- Use as a topping on pizzas or flatbreads
- Use in chutneys or savory jams
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