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What Is Onion Marmalade?

By Emily Espinoza
Updated May 16, 2024
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Onion marmalade is a sweet and savory jam-like spread made mainly from cooked onions. It is used as a spread to put on many different kinds of food, including meat, crackers, and bread. The main ingredients usually include onions along with some sort of vinegar, to give it its tanginess, and a form of sugar to add a little sweetness. There are quite a few variations, and some recipes may have additional ingredients that give the marmalade a slightly different flavor and make it unique to each cook who makes it.

There are many possibilities for how onion marmalade can be used. It is spreadable, like a jam or jelly, and works well as a garnish or sauce for entrees. It can add an interesting flavor to savory meat dishes like pulled pork or other roasted meats. Many people enjoy spreading it over crackers or toasted bread slices, like crostinis, and sometimes cream cheese is added, giving creaminess to the combination. Onion marmalade can be made in advance and is easily stored, making it a good recipe for putting into jars, which can be used as gifts during the holidays or for the hostess of a party.

As the name suggests, onions are the first ingredient in onion marmalade. In some recipes the onions are completely caramelized before adding the other ingredients, but other recipes call for them to be just slightly cooked or to be cooked simultaneously with other ingredients. No matter what the cooking specifics are, every recipe involves cooked onions, enhanced with vinegar and sugar. The type of vinegar used can be any variety, including apple cider, white wine, balsamic, or red wine. The sugar might be plain white sugar or brown sugar.

Once the main ingredients are in place, the rest of the flavors in onion marmalade come from the personal embellishment of the cook preparing it. Some common additions are herbs like thyme, bay leaves, or rosemary. Sometimes mustard seed or powder are used to add an extra savory flavor to the mixture. The tangy flavor of the vinegar is adjusted by changing the type of vinegar used or, sometimes, by adding wine to the marmalade. Another way to tweak the flavor is to adjust the sweetness by adding dried fruit or berries, such as cranberries, or by using honey in addition to the sugar.

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