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Caramelized Tomatoes and Onions Yum Yum

A magical mixture of tomatoes and onions, cooked low and slow until they reach sweet-savory perfection! Use caramelized tomatoes and onions in soups, stews, chilis, and more!

Caramelized Tomatoes and Onions from

I had a very strange and unexpected summer. A long illness and an even longer recovery kept me out of my vegetable gardens for all of August and most of September: the height of heirloom tomato season.

The summer’s unusual heat and abundance of hungry insects had promised an iffy tomato season anyway, but, needless to say, by the end of September, it was clear I would miss out on my yearly homegrown tomato activities: no weekends of steamy kitchen windows with boiling pots of canned sauce featuring my prized Cherokee Purples; no homemade, slow-simmered San Marzano tomato paste; no sheet pans lining the counters with roasted black cherry tomatoes (the best tomato flavor on this earth, ever).

Oh, I had my fair share of fresh-eating tomatoes, sure, but none to look forward to in the depths of winter.

So, not surprisingly, tomatoes have been on my mind.

Caramelized Tomatoes and Onions from

I was preparing a batch of caramelized onions for no reason in particular — Oh, hai! You’re the type of home cook who does that, too? Yaas! {fist-bump} — when I decided to dump a can of crushed tomatoes into the pan. For no reason in particular.

I’ve made long-cooking caramelized onions loads of times … and my irresistible homemade tomato paste gets all of its character from a lengthy turn on the stove, so I figured, like chocolate and peanut butter, the two just had to be great together: slow-simmering BFFs on a fall Sunday afternoon, all of their natural sugars mingling and melting and morphing into a spectacular coating that infuses the thick, rich tomato-oniony amazingness.

And whoa, mama mia, they are great together. An hour in the pan creates a thick spread of onions wrapped in a tomato blanket. Think of it like the best flavor concentrate you wish you had on hand, all the time, because tomatoes + onions = major deliciousness.

Caramelized Tomatoes and Onions from

The Possibilities are Endless for Caramelized Tomatoes and Onions!

So, what do you with this magical mix? Oh my g’uhness, here’s what you do:

  • Stir into soups — I have a soup coming next week that makes great use of caramelized tomatoes and onions!
  • Enhance run-of-the-mill marinara sauce, giving ordinary sauce an instant flavor boost. Serve it all over pasta for the ultimate comfort food.
  • Add to your favorite chili instead of whatever tomatoes your recipe calls for. The best chilis are built on layers of deep, complex flavors created by long cooking times and carefully selected herbs and spices. Caramelized tomatoes and onions were born of the same process, and are a natural companion to slow-cooked meats and spices.
  • Stir into leftover rice with chopped bell peppers, minced garlic and more fresh onions for a super quick Spanish rice.
  • Create a quick weeknight skillet chicken dish with chicken pieces, some chicken broth, your favorite herbs and spices, and a big helping of caramelized tomatoes and onions. Simmer, and serve over pasta or rice for a hearty meal.

And the best part of all of this? It’s perfectly delicious with canned tomatoes from the store, so it’s doable any time of the year.

Karen xo


Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Caramelized Tomatoes and Onions Yum Yum

The possibilities are endless for this magical mixture! Add seasonings to match your main recipe - garam masala for Indian curries, cinnamon for Moroccan dishes, Italian herb blends for pasta dishes. Store extras in the fridge for a few days or up to a month in the freezer.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Author: Karen Gibson


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound onions quartered and thinly sliced (a mix of yellow and sweet is nice)
  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes or 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • Kosher salt


  • Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium until shimmering. Add the onions and tomatoes and stir to mix. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Let cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  • Uncover, add the butter, sugar and a big pinch or two of salt and continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring often. The mixture is done when the tomato sauce has darkened (but not burned) and sticks slightly to the pan. When you pull a spatula through it, it leaves a clean trail behind it.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
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Jane on Whidbey

Monday 14th of November 2016

Funny, I used to make this years and years ago, when I still cooked for others. I'm thinking it might be time to cook it for myself. Thanks for the reminder.