Whiskey Smoked Caramelized Onions

The best caramelized onions are made on your smoker! Use these whiskey caramelized onions to dress up a steak, top a burger, or garnish brats and hot dogs.

Keep reading for detailed instructions and serving suggestions. For the nuts and bolts, click this link to jump to the recipe card!
Side shot of a glass bowl filled with smoked caramelized onions on a teal blue surface with the corner of a whiskey bottle in the upper left corner.

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This recipe for caramelized onions is not only the best because it’s made on the smoker, but it uses whiskey to add even more amazingly rich flavor!

Ingredients and Substitution Tips

  • Onion
  • Butter: I wrote this recipe with salted butter. Feel free to swap it out for unsalted butter if you need to watch your salt intake. To really up the flavor, switch out half of the butter for bacon fat!
  • Whiskey: Choose your favorite whiskey, bourbon, or scotch. If you’d like to make a ‘virgin’ version without any alcohol, use a mixture of 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Best onions for caramelized onions

You can use any variety of onion you prefer, but I recommend any of these types:

  • Yellow onions: these are sometimes also called brown onions. They’re the most common and are perfect for caramelizing.
  • Sweet onions: these mild tasting onions are delicious raw, and taste even better once cooked!
  • White onions: another neutral tasting choice easily found at your local grocery store.
  • Red onions: the flavor in these purple is sharp, but comes through beautifully after caramelizing.

How to Make Smoked Caramelized Onions

  1. Cut the onion into slices as evenly as possible. Try for 1/4 inch or thinner.
  2. Add the onions and butter into a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Stir to melt the better and coat the onions.
  4. Cook until browned, about 15-20 minutes, stirring only once or twice.
  5. Sprinkle with salt, stir in the whiskey, and remove from the heat.
  6. Carefully transfer the cast iron skillet to a smoker preheated to 275°F.
  7. Smoke for at least one hour, or until the onions are tender.

Helpful Tips

  • Make a batch of these while you have your Traeger going for something else if you have some extra room in the smoker. Multitasking for the win!
    • If the temperature is higher than 275°F the cook time may need to be decreased.
  • Don’t try to rush it. Caramelized onions take time to do them properly.
  • If you do not have smoker you can still make these on the stovetop.
    • Instead of transferring to a smoker, reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions are tender and brown, about 1 hour.
    • To recreate the smoky taste, add a dash or two of liquid smoke when mixing in the whiskey.

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Seal these whiskey smoked caramelized onions in an airtight container.
  • Refrigerate for up to 1 week.
  • To freeze smoked caramelized onions, portion them out, seal in a freezer safe container, and store for up to 3 months.

Uses for Caramelized Onions

There are numerous ways to serve these smoked caramelized onions, pair them with all of your favorite savory dishes! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Burgers
  • Brats
  • Hot dogs
  • Pork Chops
  • Tacos
  • Pizza and flatbread
  • Steaks
  • Grilled cheese
  • Patty melts
  • Cheesesteaks
  • Pasta
  • Soups and stews
  • Risotto
  • Egg scrambles
  • Dips
  • Crostini – spread on some soft cheese then top!

More Recipes That use Whiskey

Fell madly in love with these whiskey smoked caramelized onions? Ready to cook with alcohol a little more? Check out these other boozy recipes:

Overhead shot of a glass bowl filled with smoked caramelized onions on a teal blue surface with the corner of a whiskey bottle in the upper left corner.
Side shot of a glass bowl filled with smoked caramelized onions on a teal blue surface with the corner of a whiskey bottle in the upper left corner.

Whiskey Smoked Caramelized Onions

The best caramelized onions are made on your smoker! Use these whiskey caramelized onions to dress up a steak, top a burger, or garnish brats or hot dogs.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Appetizer, Condiment
Cuisine American
Servings 0.5 cup

Ingredients
  

  • 2 1/2 Cups Onions sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Whiskey
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Instructions
 

  • Slice the onion as evenly as possible.
  • Heat the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the onions and stir to coat in the melted butter.
  • Cook until browned, about 15-20 minutes, stirring only once or twice.
  • Sprinkle with salt, stir in the whiskey, and remove from the heat.
  • Carefully transfer the cast iron skillet to a smoker preheated to 275°F.
  • Smoke for at least one hour, or until the onions are tender.

Notes

  • The smoker can be at any temperature between 160°F and 275°F but the cook time may vary. 
  • Store caramelized onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • See the blog post for more detailed preparation, serving, and storage suggestions.
Keyword Boozy, Smoker


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