Caramelized Onion Jam – Balsamic and Chili (video)

The sweet, sour and heat in this Caramelized Onion Jam, with balsamic and a bit of chili flakes, is an excellent accoutrement to a variety of dishes. 

BEST Caramelized Onion Jam With A Bit Of Heat!
BEST Caramelized Onion Jam With A Bit Of Heat!

The Best Caramelized Savory Onion Jam

What, onion jam?

I thought a jam was sweet! Well, aren’t onions?

Yes in deed they are. The sugar that’s released from onions, when they are sautéed, adds so much flavor to many recipes. 

Add an extra sweetness from maple syrup and a sprinkle of brown sugar, counter that umami with a drizzle of balsamic and you’ve got a luscious sweet and sour jam. 

Toss in a few hot chili peppers or flakes, and now we’re talking about an absolutely delectable jam to add to your charcuterie board! 


A savory jam on a cheese board adds deep flavor to your favorite cheese selections. 

A great condiment to spread over a puff pastry baked with brie or goat cheese inside, or over a simple grilled cheese sandwich, or cheese filled crepe, for that matter. 

Keeping a savory preserve tucked away in the fridge, means last minute appetizers can be quick and satisfying.

A savory caramelized onion jam definitely brings an umami addition to whatever you serve it with, or on.  

What Are The Best Onions For An Onion Jam?

The types of onions used to make a great onion jam, are not as important as knowing that you simply need lots of onions!

As a large mound of onions cook, they shrink down, become caramelized, and their sweet juices will thicken, just as sugar does. 

If yellow onions, white onions, or a variety of hodge-podge onions are what you have on hand, they will work just fine.

Once the onions caramelize and the additional ingredients are added, you will have a rich thick onion jam, no matter the type of onions used. 

This balsamic onion jam recipe is a simple recipe that is easy, and cooked in about 20-minutes. 

Chili Peppers For A Hot Sweet Jam

If the words you are now reading could have an emoji, I would definitely have a spark of fire right here!

Do you like heat in your food? Ghost peppers rank wayyyyy up there in the heat index, like, one-million scovilles (measurement of heat)!

I grow scotch bonnets in my garden every year, and am still learning ways to use them. 

However, when I treat them the same as I do my Homemade Smoked Paprika – grow, smoke, dehydrate and grind to a powder – they are just as hot as Ghost chilies! 

Gloves Are A Must When Working With Chilies

We can not talk about chopping onions, garlic and hot peppers without talking about wearing gloves when you chop, food safe gloves, that is!

Look, I wear contact lens, and if I chop chili peppers without gloves, I have to do a scream, song, and dance trying to get the contacts out with fingers that touched chili’s HOURS AGO!

Wear gloves when working with chilies, even when picking them from your garden. 

What’s The Big Deal About Onion Jam

Something luscious happens in the pan when slow simmering onions, sugar and vinegar.

If onions had eyes, they would take on a glassy glare, in this concoction. 

The sugar melts and caramelizes, the natural sugars in the onions do exactly the same.

The balsamic vinegar contrasts the sweet with sour. 

Toss in some garlic, maple syrup and hot chili flakes and you’ve created a condiment that will replace all others!

How to use onion jam with heat? Try a schmear on everything!!

So Many Ways To Use Caramelized Onion Jam – Especially With Added Chili Heat

I’ve simmered beef or lamb in it, or spread it on grilled burgerswhich provides so much flavor, little else was needed. 

Chili Onion Jam Over Beef or Lamb Kabobs
Chili Onion Jam Over Beef or Lamb Kabobs

Definitely a great addition to spread on top a small wheel of brie baked in phyllo or a pastry dough.

If you are like me and love a great onion soup, especially given its powerful health benefits, then the addition of this onion jam will quick turn that soup into a lovely French onion soup, needing only a crusty loaf of bread

However, my favorite way, so far, has been the spunk it brings to boring vegetables! 

In fact, I first created this recipe to serve with my (also new creation) Onion Jam Brussels Sliders, now my favorite way to eat Brussels sprouts!

Chili and Caramelized Onion Jam Brussels Sprouts Sliders
Chili and Caramelized Onion Jam Brussels Sprouts Sliders

How To Make Caramelized Onion Chili Jam

This jam couldn’t be easier to make. 

No special equipment is needed, simply a sharp knife and a saute pan. 

Slicing the onions as thin as possible, helps to evenly cook when they are heaped into the pan. 

Once the onions are sliced, chop a little garlic and some fresh herbs to toss in for added flavor.

I used thyme but any fresh herb of your choice adds brightness to the jam.

Sauté the heap of onions in a pat of butter with a drizzle of olive oil, a bit of sugar, a drizzle of maple syrup and add the heat of chili peppers  or flakes. 

Marrying Great Flavors With A Large Heap Of Onions
Marrying Great Flavors With A Large Heap Of Onions

The processing time is fast, and the medium heat cook time is about 20 minutes to produce the best homemade onion jam. 

If some of the onions cook too fast, while others are still caramelizing, simply add a little water to the bottom of the pan to keep them from burning. 

Once the jam cools to room temperature, it is ready to serve, be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze in small batches in ice cube trays for a quick flavoring in soups and stews. 

Ingredients Needed

  • Onions
  • Butter
  • Good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil – one of the best olive oil brands (Atlas), I’ve come across in a long time are in the link!
  • Brown sugar
  • Maple syrup – good quality Vermont Maple syrup (in link), without added ingredients.
  • Garlic
  • Balsamic vinegar – the brand in the link is ages 3 years therefore offering a rich thick consistency to the onion jam.
  • Smoked chili powder – this divine chili powder is a bourbon smoked chili powder.
  • Salt
  • Ghost pepper powder – or red chili flakes
Best Onion Jam Ingredients
Best Onion Jam Ingredients

Equipment Needed

  • Saute pan – you can never go wrong when making a Cuisinart stainless steel saute pan, one of your valuable tools in the kitchen.
  • Slotted spoon
  • Cutting board
  • Chopping knife
  • Airtight jar – Mason jars are always my go-to for an airtight container.
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Stovetop or burner
Caramelized Chili Onion Jam Served With Many Recipe Options
Caramelized Chili Onion Jam Served With Many Recipe Options
Ghost Chili Onion Jam

Caramelized Onion Jam – Balsamic and Chili

The sweet, sour and heat in this Caramelized Onion Jam, with balsamic and a bit of chili flakes, makes an excellent accoutrement to a variety of dishes. 
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Caramelized Onion Jam
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12 ounces


  • Saute pan
  • Airtight container


  • 4 Large onions red onions or other sweet onions
  • 4 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Brown sugar or cane sugar
  • 3 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 3 Garlic cloves crushed
  • 3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Smoked chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dried thyme
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • pinch Ghost chili or red pepper flakes at your own risk!


  • On a cutting board with a sharp knife, or a food processor fitted with a slicer, thinly slice the onions. 
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter along with the olive oil.Cover the bottom of the pan with onions. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients, turn down to medium heat and cook until the onions are golden brown, about 20-minutes. Good caramelized onions should glisten and begin to look like a delicious jam. 
  • While different flavors can be added to the caramelized onion jam, the best flavor will come from a hint of sweetness from the onions, and the tartness of the balsamic vinegar. 
  • Cool to room temperature and store in a glass jar or airtight container in the fridge for about a week.



  • A great way to extend the life of this red onion jam, small amounts can be frozen in ice cube trays, once frozen, store the cubes in an airtight container to thaw and use at another time. 
Caramelized Onion Jam - Balsamic and Chili
Caramelized Onion Jam – Balsamic and Chili
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