How to Sauté Onions and Garlic?


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Sauteed onions and garlic can turn an otherwise flat dish into delicious food. It brings out the flavor from food and comes with many health benefits, including antioxidant properties.

However, many people don’t know how to cook this mixture of spicey vegetables.

While some recipes recommend preparing onions first, others propose onions and garlic to cook at the same time. Garlic naturally contains less moisture and requires chopping into smaller pieces than onions.

Therefore, cooking the two together can cause garlic to start browning prematurely. The best way to sauté the two vegetables is to cook onions first.

With so many recipes explaining the best ways to cook onions and garlic together, it can be confusing which one to follow. This article provides all the information you need to avoid the myths and only work with the truth.

How Do You Sauté Onions and Garlic?

You can best sauté onions and garlic by heating at most a teaspoon of oil and adding onions first. Once the onions turn translucent, create a small space on the pan and fill it with minced garlic.

Once you can smell the sweet aroma of garlic, mix it up with the onions. After that, you can add your other ingredients, including celery.

Sometimes it can be necessary to add garlic and onions at the same time. In that case, you’ll have to mince the garlic and onions to the same size and mix them before adding them to the pan.

The water-filled onions create a heat barrier around the garlic, preventing burning.

Methods of Sautéing Onions and Garlic

There are various ways you can sauté onions and garlic to soften them and bring out natural sugars that create a sweet food additive.

Sauteing is usually a short process that should end as soon as you bring the natural sugars to the fore—taking it further results in the mixture getting caramelized to a golden-brown color.

You can sauté onions and garlic by either cooking them in a pan with vegetable oil or baking them in an oven until they are tender. First, of course, the easiest method of frying the two vegetables in a pan.

Depending on the recipe, you may have to use onions and garlic in varied amounts, together with other ingredients.

While some recipes recommend that you cook until the onions and garlic are tender, others insist on prolonged cooking until they become caramelized.

Sauteed Onions and Garlic

Cooking sauteed onions and garlic is one of the easiest recipes you can try at home. It takes a short time to prepare. Here is how to go about it:


  • Two large sweet onions
  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • Four to six finely minced garlic
  • Two teaspoons granulated sugar
  • One teaspoon salt
  • Two tablespoons butter
  • One teaspoon finely ground fresh black pepper


Step 1: Peel the onion’s outer skin and slice to make rings. Cutting onions into circles provides the best size to mix with the finely-minced garlic.

Step 2: Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or frying pan until it’s reasonably hot. Remember, vegetable oil and other fat types work perfectly well for this recipe.

Alternatively, you can sauté onions without oil, which means using some vegetable broth or some water in a nonstick pan.

Step 3: Add chopped onions to the heated oil and cook for five minutes until softened, occasionally stirring with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon.

Sprinkle in the sugar and keep cooking until the onions assume a light-brown color. Ideally, it shouldn’t take more than seven minutes to go through this step.

Step 4: Add salt, butter, pepper, and garlic, and cook over medium-low heat. Sautee the garlic for five to eight minutes until all favors get absorbed, and the onions are caramelized to a golden-brown color.

Oven-Sauteed Onions and Garlic

You can sauté onions and garlic in an oven as an alternative to frying. Preparation is approximately 1¾ hour using ¾-pound garlic heads, 1 1/3 pounds onions, and one cup minced garlic. With a food processor, you can significantly slow down the process. Here is how to go about it:


  • 9 ½ pounds peeled and sliced onions
  • 1 1/3 cups peeled and minced garlic cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil


Step 1: Mixing Onions, Garlic, and Oil

Use a large bowl to mix half the onions, garlic, and oil, and pour the mixture into a large pan or skillet. Repeat the process with the remaining diced onion, garlic, and oil, and pour the mixture into another similar-sized pan.

Step 2: Baking

Put the two pans into the oven and bake for one to one and a half hours until the onions soften and assume a golden-brown color. From time to time, stir the mixture pushing it from the sides to the center of the pan. You could use a spatula to do that every 15 minutes to avoid burning and scorching.

Step 3: Use the Mixture in a Recipe

Once you have sauteed onions and garlic, you can use the mixture according to the directions you have in your recipe. You can also keep it for later use by letting it cool to room temperature before freezing in 1-cup portions inside plastic freezer bags.

Step 4: Storing Mixture in a Freezer

The way you package freezer bags depends on the sauteed onions and garlic ingredients. If it has a lot of liquid, set the plastic freezer bags upright in a bowl before filling. After squeezing out excess air, seal the bag. You can provide better protection for the food by closing each filled bag into a second one. Next, lay the bags inside the freezer until they solidify. After that, stack them to store them.

Caramelized Onions and Garlic

If you want something more than sauteed onions and garlic, you can prolong the cooking time to create a soft, golden-brown mixture. You are caramelizing further breaks down the natural sugars in the onions, creating an extra-sweet flavor. Instead of plain vegetable oil, you can also use butter to improve the taste.


  • Two large sweet onions
  • Four to six finely-chopped garlic
  • Half a cup olive or vegetable oil
  • Two tablespoons butter


Step 1: Take each onion and slice it. It will help if the onion bulb is either Walla Walla or Vidalia. However, any onion will do the trick.

Step 2: Put the oil on a large skillet and heat medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and let them cook for five to seven minutes. Keep stirring that the cooked onion and garlic mixture remains consistent and well cooked.

Step 3: Add the butter into the mixture together with the finely chopped garlic and cook for another seven to ten minutes stirring from time to time. Maintain medium-high heat for another three to five minutes until the onions and garlic turn golden brown.

What to Use with Sauteed Onions and Garlic?

Sautéing onions and garlic is one of the best ways to make your food flavorful. Regardless of the recipe, sauteed onions can turn any simple meal into a feast. The two vegetables combine to produce a unique taste that works well with the following foods:

  • Eggs: Sauteed onions and garlic are great to use with eggs, producing a delicate, creamy taste. You can mix caramelized onions into frittatas or drop them on pre-cooked scrambled eggs. If your egg idea is the omelet, don’t forget to tuck in some of the sauteed onion and garlic mixture.
  • Dips and Condiments: If you’ve ever eaten French onion dip, adding some sauteed onions and garlic can only improve it. You can start by cutting onions before sauteing them into a delicate and tender consistency. Then, possibly, you can mix the onions and garlic into mayo to create a sweet and savory sandwich spread.
  • Sandwiches: Your sandwiches can taste much better with sauteed onions and garlic. You can use them on cheesesteaks; patty melts, sausage hero, or pieces of bread with goat cheese. Besides, caramelized onions work perfectly well on country bread with ham and mayo.
  • Soups, Stews, and Braises: With sauteed onions and garlic, you can turn an otherwise flat onion soup into something uniquely supreme. You can include one of the most excellent recipes in chicken noodle soup for a darker broth and a more exciting chicken stew. Don’t forget to add it to a platter of beans and greens and tomato and bean soup.
  • Plates of Pasta: Sauteed onions and garlic have a less aggressive sweetness, making pasta a great meal. Examples include Carbonara, Spaghetti with green olives, Gnocchi with sage, and sausage and tomato sauce. But, of course, you’ll always get the desired sweet taste when you use caramelized onions and garlic with pasta.

Preparing sauteed onions and garlic should start by cooking onions first. Onions have substantially high moisture and are unlikely to burn due to the high heat.

On the other hand, garlic has little water in it. That’s why you’re likely to notice garlic burning when you cook it at extremely high heat. Each recipe spelled out what you should do when cooking onions and garlic.


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