Meet your newest weeknight staple. These slightly sweet, deeply flavored onions from the lovely and talented Julia Turshen are equally adept at promoting a plain burger, transforming a slice of mundane meatloaf, even dressing up goat cheese crostini to special dinner fare.Jenny Howard

A red Le Creuset pot filled with red wine onions, that have been slowly cooked together.

Red Wine Onions

4.67 / 3 votes
Red wine onions is a magic amalgam of caramelized onions, red wine, a bit of brown sugar, and chile pepper flakes cooked low and slow. So incredibly jammy and unforgettable.
David Leite
Servings8 1/2-cup servings
Calories153 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time2 hours


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups dry red wine


  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the onions with the brown sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes, and stir. Add the red wine, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer.
  • Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are collapsed and caramelized, 40 to 60 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days, or freezer for up to 2 months.
Now & Again Cookbook

Adapted From

Now & Again

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 153 kcalCarbohydrates: 19 gProtein: 1 gFat: 4 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gSodium: 300 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 11 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Julia Turshen. Photo © 2018 David Loftus. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

After about an hour and a half of cooking, you’re rewarded with an almost jammy red wine onion mixture that is absolutely delicious. The onions have a sweet, caramel-like flavor and a surprising kick from the red pepper.

Most of the cooking time is hands-off, which is nice. The wine I used was cheap Sutter’s Home red wine. As the onions cooled on the stove some of the oil separated out. I poured it into a little ramekin and will use it when cooking vegetables.

The onions taste really rich and would make a wonderful base to a soup. I had them with some grilled sausage and it was a lovely combination.

This recipe for red wine onions is a real winner. The combination of sweet and heat makes the long simmering time well worth it. The sugar comes through initially (both from the brown sugar and the natural sugars in the onions), but you get a little tingle of heat as an afterthought.

I served the onions with meatloaf the first time around but they were equally good on a crostini topped with whipped goat cheese and a crumble of bacon for a quick and impressive appetizer bite later in the week.

The next time I make them, I’m going to make a double batch since I can already think of many other applications. Topping deviled eggs? Stirring into a bowl of lentil soup? On burgers and dogs? They could enhance and “chef-ify” any number of simple dishes.

These red wine onions is delicious dish to keep in your refrigerator. The onions are tender, sweet, and spicy. Use them with hamburgers, sandwiches, toasts with cheese, roast chicken, or any other dish, according to your imagination.

I am a big fan of onions, yes, but really the allium family as a whole. All of its members from shallots and garlic, to onions, scallions and leeks, have a well established place in my kitchen and my cooking repertoire. Some served raw can be just the right touch to a specific dish, others require pickling, roasting, a nice confit, saute or even roasting to reach their potential.

At the top of my list of favorite allium concoctions are a big pan of caramelized onions. Simply thinly sliced onions cooked down in oil or butter, salt and pepper, fresh herbs, and maybe a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan.

The onions release their natural sugars slowly as you stir them over the heat, making for a deep brown finished product that adds a certain je ne sais quoi to a number of dishes and platters. I also love that onions cook this way can be made in a huge batch, frozen, and easily defrosted for later use.

I was ecstatic to see this unique recipe for cooked onions, but not yellow or Vidalia onions, cooked red onions that are flavored with brown sugar, a touch of salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and reduced down with the help of red wine. The red onions cook down to a tender consistency and the gorgeous red hue of the wine-soaked onions is remarkable. The spiciness level was just right with the teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. My only suggestion for the recipe itself is that I think the onions could benefit from some chopped fresh herbs, preferably fresh thyme leaves, but a simple addition of parsley would work as well.

I used a nice California red blend for my wine selection, not a super expensive bottle of wine, but one I know I like to sip in general that has nice body and a rich taste.

We adored these onions and served them alongside some seared lamb chops which was a delight. I also love the fact that I had so many onions leftover. I tossed them in the freezer for later use. Maybe with a meatloaf? A leg of lamb? Underneath meatballs? Even on a black bean burger? Or simply as a topping for a tartine, maybe with some crumbled French goat cheese and chopped walnuts as a first course. The options are endless. Gorgeous and tasty.

These red wine onions were remarkably simple to prepare and yielded a generous 2 cups that will last a good long time. We’ve already tossed them in a warm spinach and bacon salad, scattered them on a spicy Italian sausage wood-fired pizza, and tangled them up with some rare roast beef on a hot French dip sandwich.

The rate of return given the minimal effort makes this a solid keeper in the basics section of my recipe box. That said, I do think that the measure of red pepper flakes called for is too much, as the harsh heat overpowered the mellow sweetness of the onion and tasted out of sync with the wine and sugar. Next time I’ll use half the amount recommended as a start.

I love onions and I am always happy to find cooked onions in my fridge. I have actually been known to freeze cooked onions to use later on in omelets and these prove no exception.

I used a Negroamaro wine. They were delicious. A teaspoon is a lot of red pepper flakes and I would definitely cut that back next time. Also, in an effort to cut back on sugar, I would probably cut that back a bit next time as well. Not sure it needed all of it. These were delicious with a mix of sweetness and heat and would be perfect in all of the ways suggested. Mine are in the fridge waiting to top some burgers.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I’m drooling at the thought of all the wonderful ways to use these onions!

    Secondly, congratulations on your 30th VD with The One. But he’s off celebrating his retirement in Uruguay, and you’re home in Connecticut? REALLY? What’s wrong with this picture? Just sayin’!

    Blessings to you both, from Alberta, Canada ? ??

    1. Terry, the onions are killer. You must make them. And thanks for the warm wishes. Yes, yes, I should be with him. But there were some obligations I had at home (my mom is elderly), and we just got a new furbaby, Georgie.

      A tuxedo cat on a red blanet with small black paw prints.