Balsamic Onion Jam is rich and savory, with a hint of sweetness from caramelized onions and leeks, then it’s finished with flavorful balsamic vinegar to make a complex and delicious condiment that you can use as a side dish on your holiday table or as an appetizer for any party. It’s a versatile spread that’s part condiment, part sauce, and entirely delicious.
I first made this Caramelized Onion Jam to serve as a Thanksgiving appetizer in 2012 after seeing it from Oh Cake Blog. It was perfect over warm baked brie with crackers. But it was definitely time for an update to the pictures and the information. (Look at the bottom of the post to see just how bad the original picture was! LOL)
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Onion Jam uses
So, how do I serve Caramelized Onion Jam?
This jam is amazing when served over a round of warm brie with crackers for a Thanksgiving appetizer. The sweetness of the leeks and onions matched with the creamy softness of the brie. The sharp balsamic cutting through all the richness of the brie. And, then the crackers adding a nice earthy crunchy balance to all that. All so yummy!
And, of course, you can use your favorite cheese in place of brie for this appetizer. Try goat cheese, blue cheese, or even a block of cream cheese. Make it an extra fancy appetizer by topping the round of cheese with the jam, and wrapping the whole thing in puff pastry, then bake it all up so it’s hot and flaky!
But this jam can go far beyond this simple appetizer
It’s great over mashed potatoes, even leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes
It’s great in a sandwich! Try it with sliced mozzarella, zucchini slices, and fresh spinach leaves. It’s fantastic in a simple grilled cheese sandwich, maybe with some aged cheeses.
It’s fantastic as part of a good cheese plate or charcuterie board
Serve it with toast, garlic bread, or biscuits
Spoon it onto pizza. Top flatbread with mozzarella and this jam and bake up nice and hot. Try a Gorgonzola and pear pizza with it.
Use this onion jam as a condiment to spruce up meats, like steak, pork, and turkey. Try it stirred into pot roast as it’s cooking.
Make great appetizer party trays with crostini topped with figs, goat cheese, and prosciutto. Or with some blue cheese on top. Or get some of those puff pastry cups from the freezer section, bake them up and stuff with a crumble of feta and a sprig of thyme on top.
Try it in place of pepper jelly in cream cheese pinwheels
Serve it as a burger topping
Add some to pasta with roasted tomatoes and peppers, or with sausage and goat cheese.
It makes a lovely hostess gift too
I think it would work just about anywhere that your imagination can come up with!
How to make onion marmalade
This is a super simple recipe to make, and doesn’t require any special equipment. Basically, all you have to do is cook down some onions, add in a few ingredients, and you have this exceptional condiment.
This recipe uses a combination of sweet onions, savory onions, and leeks to provide a balance of flavors to the finished condiment. It also adds some additional onions in at the end of cooking to make a wonderful texture to the jam.
Cook up those onions
Make sure to scroll down to the printable recipe card below for detailed ingredient amounts and instructions.
Thinly slice all of the onions and the leeks, reserving some of the sweet onions. Sweet onions can be Walla Walla, Maui, or Vidalia, just look for the word “sweet” on the label at the store.
Heat a large skillet over low heat. I find that I like a low sided skillet with lots of space. You can also use a high sided pot if you don’t have a large skillet.
Add olive oil, sliced leeks, and most of the onions. Reserve 2 cups of the sliced sweet onions. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. The salt will not only help flavor the onions at this point, building layers of flavor, but will help draw out moisture from the onions.
Cook slowly over low heat, stirring often, so that onions caramelize. This will take a long time. Don’t rush it by turning the heat up to high.
If the onions start to burn, add a little water to the pan to slow the cooking, and scrape some of the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
The onions smell so good as they cook!
Once the onions are nicely caramelized, deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add reserved sweet onions, brown sugar, and thyme.
Cover the pan, and cook over low heat about 10 minutes, or until vinegar is cooked off.
The key things to remember when making this are: to keep the heat at low while cooking the onions; don’t be tempted to turn it to high and rush the cooking. All you’ll do is burn them. Stir the onions frequently. And don’t be tempted to walk away and check Facebook or anything, because you again risk burning them.
Can I make this ahead?
Absolutely, make this ahead of time! It lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge.
And, it’s great to keep around for the holidays in case of last-minute company or an invitation to a party comes.
Make up a batch ahead of time for an inexpensive but gourmet appetizer that you can serve spur of the moment, or you can take with you.
Can I freeze it?
This jam freezes really well, and it’s a nice way to keep any jam that you don’t plan on using right away.
You can split it into two batches, using one right away, and freezing the other. Or, make a double batch, one for now and one for later.
Try freezing it in ice cube trays, then storing them in a zip top bag. This makes it easy to pop one cube into stews and soups as you’re cooking them to boost the flavor.
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Balsamic Onion Jam Recipe
Balsamic Onion Jam
- 4 cups sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweets, divided use
- 2 cups yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup sliced leek white and light green parts only
- kosher salt
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar dark or light
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- fresh black pepper
- Thinly slice all onions, reserving 2 cups of the sweet onions.
- Heat a large skillet over low heat. Add olive oil, leeks, and onions, except for the 2 cups reserved sweet onions. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Cook slowly over low heat, stirring often, so that onions caramelize, about 30 minutes. If the onions start to burn, add a little water to the pan to slow the cooking.
- Once the onions are nicely caramelized, deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add reserved 2 cups of sweet onions, brown sugar, and thyme. Cover the pan, and cook over low heat about 10 minutes, or until vinegar is absorbed/cooked off. Turn off heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pack in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and store in fridge for up to two weeks.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.