The More Flavorful Way To Add Onions To Your Next Potato Salad

Whether you're planning on a creamy mayo-based potato salad or a lighter vinegar-based potato salad, onions are probably included on your recipe's list of ingredients. Typically, recipes add raw, diced red or green onions for a spicy aromatic complement and crunchy contrast to the pillowy, earthy potatoes. However, caramelized onions would make for an even more flavorful ingredient to elevate your next potato salad.

Caramelizing transforms onions from pungent and crunchy into a sweet, rich, melt-in-your-mouth delicacy. They will bestow a sweet complement to savory potatoes while also enhancing their comforting richness. With a soft, almost jelly-like consistency, caramelized onions will all but melt into potato salad dressing, enriching its creaminess.

To caramelize onions, you'll simply slice a large yellow, white, or red onion into moderately thin half-moon slices and saute them in butter or oil for around ten minutes before lowering the heat and letting them cook down until they reach a deep brown hue. The low and slow cooking process takes around an hour, reducing the volume of the onions by nearly half. The sweet, rich, and aromatic result is well worth the wait! Once the onions have caramelized, you'll want to cool them completely, then roughly chop them before adding them to the potato salad.

Ingredient pairings for caramelized onion potato salad

Since caramelized onions undergo such a drastic transformation, you can still use them along with the raw onions that a classic potato salad calls for. They'll only enrich the aromatic flavor and add a sweetness to pair with the spicy bite or their raw counterparts. They'd pair well with both a creamy herbal potato salad, like this creamy dill potato salad from Tasting Table, or an oil and vinaigrette-based French potato salad full of scallions, dill, and parsley.

Caramelized onions are nice and sweet, so a tangy or salty ingredient would offer a nice balance. For example, cornichons, capers, or kalamata olives would all be excellent additions to a vinaigrette-based potato salad. You could also add caramelized onions to a classic Southern potato salad with tangy pickle relish and chopped celery for flavor and textural contrast. Salty, crispy bacon would also balance the sweetness of caramelized onions and tack on a decadent umami richness to pair with earthy potatoes, boiled eggs, and diced red bell pepper.

At the same time, caramelized onions are complex enough to be the star of the show. You can simply add them with boiled or roasted new potatoes to a tangy vinaigrette foundation and toss to coat. If you want to add some crunch, you could toss in some toasted pine nuts or add diced shallots to the vinaigrette.