Savory Onion Jam

onion jam jar edit

Hello, everyone!

My heart is still bursting from all the good things that happened this week, and I feel the need to say thank you. I’d like to thank Leela Cyd again for her amazing photography skills and for featuring my kitchen on The Kitchn. I’d like to say hello (and welcome!) to any new readers that discovered my blog this week because of that post. And lastly, I want to say I’m humbled and honored by all of your responses to The Kitchn feature. I’m so glad you like my kitchen (and my bunny!).

It’s been quite the week at our house, and as a result, I’ve had zero time in the kitchen. Thankfully, I had a 3-day weekend (thank you, Presidents!) and so I took advantage of the extra time to dive into kitchen projects.

I will admit, I don’t do a lot of canning and preserving in the winter. I don’t grow a winter garden, and so my access to fresh and seasonal produce is somewhat limited. But, there are always onions. It seems that no matter what time of year it is, I can find boxes of onions at the farmer’s market. They grow year-round and they store well. Even in the dead of winter, onions are plentiful. So, I decided to preserve some onions. And let me tell you, making a big batch of savory onion jam is a great way to preserve onions.

I understand that onion jam might sound weird to some, but I promise you that it is totally delicious. Onion jam is somewhere between a fruit jam and a vegetable relish. It has hints of sweetness, but it’s also dark and savory. I got the idea to make the jam from my friend Beyth, who always brings a few jars of her onion jam to the PDX Food Swap. I’ve sampled her onion jam quite a few times and I’m always so impressed by its versatility. I’ve had onion jam on a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve eaten it on a burger. I’ve had it paired with wine, cheese, and crackers. It never fails: onion jam is good with (almost) everything.

If you’re still not convinced, let me give you a few other ideas of how to use onion jam:

You can spread it on toast.
You could eat it with a bagel and cream cheese.
Try pairing it with steak. Or pork tenderloin sliders.
You could make a potato and rosemary tart with onion jam.
Make a salad dressing with it.
You could add it to rib-eye tacos.
You could include it on a pizza with fresh ricotta.

And so on and so forth…I think you get the idea. This is a very versatile little spread.

So, if you’ve got the itch to do a little canning or preserving this winter, I highly recommend this recipe. This particular recipe makes 4-5 jars, so it’s great for sharing (or keeping it all for yourself. I won’t judge.)

(Adapted from Serious Eats)
Makes 4-5 8 ounce jars

3 pounds sweet yellow onions (about 10 large onions), peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh (or dried) thyme
3 bay leaves
3 to 4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup red wine
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup white sugar


Heat olive oil large pot or stock pot (with a tight fitting lid) over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in onion slices and stir until all onions are coated in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and add in bay leaves, rosemary and thyme sprigs.

Place the lid snugly on the pot, and simmer the onion mixture for 15-20 minutes. The onions should have lost a lot of their liquid at this point.

Remove the lid and add in both vinegars, red wine, honey, and sugar. Add in a bit more black pepper, as well as the red chili flakes. Allow to simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, until half the liquid is gone (about 20 minutes).

Once half of the liquid is reduced, remove the bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary sprigs. Taste, and add more salt (or sugar) if needed. Allow the mixture to simmer until the liquid is reduced and the jam is thick, dark, and sticky (30+ minutes). Be careful not to let the mixture burn.

Transfer to clean & sterilized jars. Seal the jars and store in the fridge. The jam will keep for 3-4 weeks. (Note: The original recipe says that you can preserve the jam via water-bath canning but I personally do not believe there is enough acid to safely can this jam. If you would like to keep the jam for a long time, I suggest freezing it.)

34 Responses

  1. Kiri W. says:

    This looks fabulous – I’ve never had onion jam, but I think I’d love this.

  2. Suzi says:

    This looks and sounds really tasty. I love those vinegars you’ve added. I will be making this one. Thanks for sharing

  3. Kelly says:

    This sounds incredible! What a great recipe! :)

  4. This looks amazing! Love all the ingredients, the flavor must really wow! I’m going to have to make this soon.

  5. Congrats on the feature! A few of my friends have had their Kitchens on The Kitch and it’s so fun! And you have officially inspire me to make Onion Jam, that stuff looks like gold!

  6. LOVING this recipe. I don’t do enough canning in general but I’m particularly fond of onion jam, so this is bookmarked to be made very soon. Gracias!

  7. Kimberly says:

    Water-bath canning with olive oil is a very bad idea! So yes, eat it all or freeze. I’m going with eat it all. I might have to try making this to spread on biscuits at my food cart – I bet that would be fantastic!

  8. seriously delicious — any chance you’ll bring this to the food swap, or do I need to make my own? ;)

  9. Patti says:

    I just discovered your blog and am looking forward to perusing it…this onion jam looks amazing…can’t wait to try the recipe.

  10. sarah says:

    I recently had the best grilled cheese sandwich ever and it was covered with onion jam so I’m completely sold. Can’t wait to try this!

    P.S. I was in Portland for a flitting second this weekend and thought of you…so glad you had such a good week!

  11. kelsey says:

    oh, i do love a good onion jam. sad part is, i always have the intention to “preserve” for later, but we always end up eating it all in a week. alas.

  12. sue says:

    Made a double batch of this last night for holiday gifts… was hard not to eat most of it myself. Thank you for such a delicious recipe!

  13. […] on a wire rack which will allow them to crisp as they cool. The onion dip is even easier. I made onion jam ahead of time.  With that already made, you just mix 1 cup of onion jam with a 8 oz. block of cream […]

  14. declan says:

    hello there have you ever tried mint instead of the rosemary ? i think that might work too

  15. […] farmer’s market. Cook up one sausage and ¼ of the poblano with 2 eggs then add goat cheese and onion jam at the end. Easy. Local. […]

  16. Smiling-daisies says:

    Oh my gosh! I am currently making a batch of this for Christmas gifts and I seriously doubt it will make it into the jars! So good. Thank you for your recipe! I did not have any pepper flakes, so added a few drizzles of my Citrus Habanero Olive Oil with the other EVO and then sprinkled a little cayenne pepper after I added the wine. This is a fantastic recipe. I am going to play around with it to see if I can do something similar that I can process. XO and Merry Christmas!

  17. evie catt says:

    I love onion jam with cheese. I like your recipe and want to make some to put in sterilised jars for presents. I didn’t understand why this recipe is not suitable for this purpose and must be refrigerated, also the comment by another reader about olive oil being a no no for preserves/jam. Can you explain this please?
    kind regards
    Evie Catt

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Evie, thanks for your questions! Here’s the issue with canning onions: “Onions are low acid foods with a pH of 5.3 to 5.85. Thus, if they are to be canned, they must be pressure canned for safety.” I do not have a pressure canner, and they cannot be safely canned with water bath canning (which is the method I use).

  18. Jeannie-D says:

    I know the recipe states it makes 4-5 jars, but I don’t see anything about the size of the jars to use — 4 oz. jars or 8 oz. jars?


  19. Heather says:

    This can be canned easily. The low acid content of the onions can be counter-balanced with a little sprinkle of citric acid (baking) powder in the bottom of the jars before you add the mix. This will make the mix more acidic and prohibit unwanted bacterias. Simply put on the lids, process the jars in boiled water, and should all be fine.

    • Dawn Carlsgaard says:

      Thank you! I made this last year and it was so darn good. I may try some more and can it if I can squeeze it in before the holiday.

      I did make a Rhubard Rosemary jam this year that was killer too!
      Merry Christmas!

  20. Katie W says:

    The addition of vinegar wine etc, should be enough acid to safely water bath

    • Michele J says:

      The addition of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per pint should bring the acid level up to a safe level if it is questionable. I always do this if I am not sure of the acidity, and it generally does not affect the flavor of the final product.

  21. Michele J says:

    I made this jam today and it is fabulous!!

  22. Rob E. says:

    I’d never heard of onion jam before. Tried it, and its fantastic. It’s a bit like some Indian style onion chutneys – sweet and smooth and savoury at the same time. It’s actually really great mixed in with some cumin and brown rice. Thanks for this – another great recipe!

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