Easy-To-Make Caramelized Apples and Onions Are the Tastiest Combination of the Season

Feel that touch of crisp chill in the air, that whisper of things to come?

That’s fall. And it’s the perfect time for curling up on the couch with a mug or bowl of something warm and comforting.

Vertical closely cropped closeup of a gray serving dish of caramelized apples with onions, with a white platter of bone-in pork chops in the background, on a blue cloth with white speckles, and orange and white text.

The first time I met Tim, he said something in passing about how he’d much prefer a night in to endless social activity, with one party or get-together after another, and I couldn’t believe how much he sounded like me.

They say opposites attract. But, almost one year into marriage, all I have to say is that it sure is nice to share life with someone who also finds pleasure in picking a new Netflix movie to watch on the couch, or reading side by side at home before falling asleep at night.

Vertical image of a rustic ceramic bowl of caramelized apples and onions with a sprig of fresh thyme, with a platter of pork chops in soft focus in the background, on top of a blue cloth with white dots.

If it weren’t for the great enjoyment we both also find in hosting big dinner parties, attending outdoor gatherings, and making meaningful connections with other human beings, and the growing desire we both have to stretch outside our comfort zones, I wonder just how easy it would be for us to settle in at home with a big pot of something brewing on the stove and stay there, content…

A gold spoon piles caramelized sliced apples and onion onto a bone-in pork chop, on a white platter garnished with sprigs of thyme, on top of a blue cloth on a beige tabletop.

It’s a desire that we’ve thought about so deliberately recently that, in an effort to find ways to love and enjoy the company of others outside our relationship, we’ve recently filled our social calendars nearly to capacity.

We’ve been hosting and attending and gathering and joining. And it’s been good, all of it – delighting in conversations with friends old and new, hearing how people are doing, laughing and crying and learning, seeing how much there is yet to know.

But still, in the midst of it all, I have to say there remains something equally special about those quiet, cozy days (or even hours) spent at home, the kind where there’s nothing much on the agenda besides laundry and reading and making dinner – and the more rare these chunks of time become, the more precious they feel.

A bone-in pork chop topped with a small pile of caramelized onions and apples is on a white plate with a sprig of fresh rosemary for garnish, with a fork and a blue cloth napkin, and more of both dishes in a gray serving bowl with a gold spoon, and on a white serving platter.

Fall is good for reminding us of this. As the days darken and turn cooler and and we turn on our heaters for the first time in months, there’s an unspoken push towards cuddling under fluffy blankets and sipping cocoa and enjoying the comfort of a warm kitchen.

The autumn season beckons, driving us to roast and to caramelize, to slow cook and to stew. There’s nothing quite like coming in from the cold to the smell of something simmering in the kitchen. And this easy caramelized apple and onion side dish is perfect for that.

A gold fork holds a bite of caramelized apples and onions up to the camera, with more in a gray bowl in the background, in front of a white platter of pork chops with fresh thyme sprigs for garnish, on a blue cloth with white spots, on top of a beige tabletop.

By the time the onions are soft and translucent, your home will smell as good as it does when you’re about to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.

Standing over the stove with your hair pulled back and your slippers on, the house quiet and still, save for the soft susurrations of sizzling, you will know that this dish right there is going to be so good, so rich, all you can do is give thanks for such a moment, and enjoy.

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A gray rustic ceramic serving bowl of a caramelized apple and onion side dish, with a gold-colored serving spoon, on top of several piece of plain blue cloth and blue cloth with white spots.

Caramelized Apples and Onions


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegetables

Description

Cozy up with caramelized apples and onions for dinner this week. The flavor combination of this simple side is perfect for fall, alongside chicken or pork.


Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 lbs onions, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 medium onions/4 cups sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lb cooking apples, peeled and sliced (about 3 medium apples/3 cups sliced)

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter or coconut oil. Add onions, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in thyme sprigs and apple slices. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high, and cook for 10 more minutes while stirring occasionally, until the apples and onions are caramelized.
  4. Remove thyme sprigs and serve.

Notes

Nutritional information below was calculated using butter. For a dairy-free version, try coconut oil instead!

Keywords: fall, autumn, apple, onion, side dish

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Peel, Slice, and Measure Remaining Ingredients

First, wash all of your produce well. If you like, you may choose to leave the peels on the fruit in this dish, for a heartier texture and added nutrients.

Three onions, three green apples with a pink blush, and several sprigs of thyme are arranged on a beige wood surface.

If you don’t prefer to go that route, get out your trusty vegetable peeler and peel the apples. I prefer Golden Delicious for this recipe, but you can use any type that’s firm enough to stand up to cooking. Remove the cores and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside.

Closely cropped top-down image of two stainless steel mixing bowls, one filled with sliced white onion, the other with sliced peeled apple, on a beige background.

Peel the onions and slice thin. Not a fan of this kitchen task? Check out our tips to stop those tears!

Measure all of the remaining ingredients as listed.

Step 2 – Cook Onions

A large frying pan of melted butter, on a beige surface.

Melt the butter or coconut oil in a large saucepan.

Stir in the onions, salt, and pepper.

Top-down shot of a frying pan of sliced onions sprinkled with salt and pepper, on a beige background.

Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes, until they are soft and translucent. Be sure to stir occasionally as the onions cook, so they don’t stick to the pan and start to cook unevenly in spots.

Step 3 – Cook Until Caramelized

Add the thyme sprigs and apple slices to the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, you’re still focusing on softening the apples, and beginning to just barely brown the onions.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until the apples and onions are caramelized to a deep, golden brown, and some are beginning to fall apart in places.

Any juices that have been released should be syrupy at this point, but the pan should not be completely dry – again, you don’t want anything to burn. Adjust the heat slightly if necessary.

A large frying pan of caramelized onions and apple slices, on a beige wood surface.

Remove thyme sprigs before serving, or cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

How to Enjoy this Beautifully Caramelized Mixture

This particular recipe is perfect for fall and winter dishes, when apples are at their peak and hearty meals are a mainstay at the dinner table. The combination of rich onions and tart apples, once caramelized, really provides a punch of flavor that can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways.

My personal favorite is serving them up with homemade apple cider pork chops. The vinegar from the marinade on the pork plays nicely with the topping, so you get savory, sweet, and tangy flavors in every single bite.

A gray rustic ceramic serving bowl of a caramelized apple and onion side dish, with a gold-colored serving spoon, on top of several piece of plain blue cloth and blue cloth with white spots.

You can also serve this over pork tenderloin, grilled sausages, or roasted chicken for a new textural addition to some of your favorite classic main-dish proteins. The sweetness of the apples and the richness of the onions make a fantastic combination with lighter meats.

How would you enjoy this incredibly flavorful dish? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe once you’ve tried it.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published October 9, 2012. Last updated: September 9, 2018 at 18:13 pm. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.

14 thoughts on “Easy-To-Make Caramelized Apples and Onions Are the Tastiest Combination of the Season

  1. My soon-to-be hubby and I are also “homebodies,” and we love to sit and enjoy a meal together, or watch a movie cuddled on the couch on a Friday night. Sometimes we even sit in the comfort of our own silence, deep in our own thoughts, reading, doing homework, etc. – but sharing the space together, without a word exchanged, and that is sometimes the most comforting thing of all.

    I love apples and onions together. The restaurant where I work serves apples and onions over roasted pork chops around Thanksgiving every year. Yum!

  2. This looks so good. Bet it would be marvelous with roast pork! I can’t wait to try this. I’ve discovered I like caramelized onion with just about anything! I just discovered this week what magic it does for sauteed kale!

    • Loving how both you and Rachel (above) thought of pork chops with this recipe. We don’t eat pork and I didn’t grow up eating it either, but I have to say this dish brought them to my mind, too!

  3. Perfect. If I hadn’t spent my cozy home-day yesterday making French onion soup, thereby using up all my onions (need to add those to the market list!) I’d be making this for dinner tonight.

  4. This reminds me of one of my favorite autumn recipe- add a little cream, a glug of wine, and a few bratwurst, and you’re there.

    Beautiful words, Shanna!

  5. Lovely writing, Shanna. Such an admirable thing, to be in love, yet intent on staying open to the outside world… I don’t know for sure, but I would bet that’s one of the secrets of a long lasting marriage… As for the recipe… onions and apples, talk about opposites attracting! I am intrigued!

  6. I’ve not been able to get this recipe out of my head since reading it. Finally got the chance to make it tonight – SO GOOD! Thanks!

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