Why You Should Always Deglaze Your Pan When Caramelizing Onions

Onions are one of those workhorses of the kitchen home cooks never want to be without. Onions lend their earthy allium flavor to a variety of dishes ranging from long-cooking soups and stews to pasta sauces to salads. They're inexpensive, widely available, and seemingly endlessly versatile. So whether you prefer the white, yellow, green, or red variety, it's never a bad idea to keep an extra bunch of onions on hand.

Onions can be prepared in so many ways. While many enjoy their bold spiciness when eaten raw or pickled, the root vegetables are typically cooked before eating to tone down their flavor and impart a softer texture. One of the most indulgent methods for preparing onions is caramelizing them. Whether incorporated into a creamy dip, folded into buttery scones, or spread onto a rich, savory tart, caramelized onions typically cooked low and slow to concentrate their natural sugars (via Serious Eats) — turn out velvety soft, with an intense, candy-like sweetness. If you, too, love caramelizing onions at home, don't forget the super-important step of deglazing your pan when making them.

Deglazing the pan incorporates flavor-rich fond

Have you ever heard of fond? According to Food Network, the word comes from the French for "base," and refers to the browned bits of food that remain stuck to the bottom of the pan after you've browned meat or vegetables. Full of concentrated flavor, the fond makes an excellent base for a pan sauce – as long as you add some liquid to "deglaze" the pan and loosen the fond from the bottom.

In the case of onions, plenty of fond adheres to the pan during the process of caramelizing, and the substance is full of richness and sweetness from the long-cooked onions. Kitchn advises never letting the fond go to waste. Instead, you should always deglaze the pan at the end of the cooking process, right before seasoning and serving the onions. The outlet advises adding a bit of wine, broth, or vinegar to the cooked onions. Water will do in a pinch but doesn't impart any extra flavor. Also use a spoon to scrape the fond from the pan and reincorporate it into the onions. When reunited with this flavorful substance, your caramelized onions will be the rich, sweet, jammy ones that are the stuff of dreams.