Spicy red onion jam

Spicy red onion jam DSC8973

Have ever bought an ingredient just because it’s so darn pretty? That happened to me at the farmers market this week—I saw a basket of red onions and was dazzled by their deep color and delicate texture. They were exquisite and while I didn’t need them, I sure did want them. So I paid the farmer and proudly brought the basket home.

Then it occurred to me—what am I going to do with all these onions?

We eat a lot of onions in my family. My grandma grows them at her farm, and is always tossing them into dishes—raw or cooked. My mom is also an onion fanatic. If you ever hear her talk about her favorite Tex-Mex dish, you’d swear that the cheese enchiladas were merely a vehicle for her true desire—that shower of diced, white onions on top.

Spicy red onion jam | Homesick Texan

With an onion-loving lineage such as that, it’s kind of strange that I didn’t embrace them until later in life. Growing up, if a few onions made it onto my plate I’d quickly pass them to someone else. Fortunately, those dark days are long gone and it’s a rare meal where I don’t do something with an onion.

That said, when confronted with so many, I was stumped as to why I thought it was a good idea to bring them home. Onions last a long time and it’s a rare savory recipe that doesn’t call for them. But my kitchen is tiny with little storage space; I needed a way to use a lot, fast. When exploring my options, I considered making soup or a tart until a friend said, “You should make red onion jam.”

And you know what? She was correct.

There are countless recipes out there for onion jam and I took inspiration from one I found from Texas Monthly. One thing that struck me as strange about most recipes is that they called for brown sugar. I decided to scratch that ingredient, as I find slow cooked onions are plenty sweet on their own. But I do like a little heat with my sweetness, so I threw in some chipotle chiles to give the onion jam some spice and spark.

Have you ever cooked something and been unable to stop tasting it? Yep, that was me with this jam, and as it neared the end of the cooking process, I kept marveling at how a huge pile of onions could reduce to something so rich, sweet and savory. This stuff is good.

Spicy red onion jam | Homesick Texan

So what do you do with spicy red onion jam? Well, it’s a natural partner with roasted or grilled meats, and would be incredible on a cheeseburger, a steak or even a cheese quesadilla. And if you stir it into softened cream cheese, goat cheese or sour cream, you will have just made the world’s best onion dip.

Though, if you’re like me, you might find yourself eating it straight from the jar with a spoon.

Spicy red onion jam DSC8973
5 from 1 vote

Spicy red onion jam

Cook Time 45 minutes
Author Lisa Fain


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds red onions, peeled and sliced into slivers
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, diced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt to taste


  1. On low heat, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic, and while occasionally stirring, cook for 10 minutes or until softened.

  2. Cover the skillet, and cook for 20 more minutes, stirring once. Uncover the skillet and add the chipotle chiles, balsamic vinegar and cayenne. Stirring often, cook until the vinegar is reduced and onions are softened and a dark, red brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

  1. Yum! I would eat that straight out the jar as well. I need to try this.

  2. Stephanie

    This looks so delicious! I've always loved savory more than sweet (despite having a mostly sweets baking blog) and I'm on a big canning kick right now. I'm going to make this this weekend

  3. Rocky Mountain Woman

    There's a local burger joint here that has a burger with red onion chutney that is basically this lovely jam.

    Guess I'll go see if they have some lovely onions at my Farmers' Market this weekend and give it a whirl!

  4. Used to make this almost 20 years ago in my restaurant, I served it with my game pate!

    Richard Westwell

  5. Mel and JP

    Can't wait to try this! Sounds delicious!

  6. Mary @ stylefyles

    I saw your tweet about chopping onions (and not wearing mascara) – but I never would have guessed you were making a jam. This looks awesome!!!

  7. Lisa Fain

    Anna–It's great right out of the jar!

    Stephanie–I'm with you, I'll take savory over sweet any day.

    Rocky Mountain Woman–Yep, it's so terrific with burgers.

    Oddies–That sounds like a terrific pairing!''

    Mel and JP–Enjoy!

    Mary–Those onions really got my eyes going!

  8. Are you already starting on recipes for the second book? 😉

    Not much of an onion fan, but this recipe does sound interesting. If I were making it, I would probably mince the onions as fine as possible — it would probably work better when making onion dip.

  9. Lisa Fain

    Janus–I'm always thinking of new recipes, and do have a few I'll be saving for a second book. If you mince the onions, just keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

  10. Gretchen

    My grandpa likes to eat a raw onion sandwich–toast with mayo and a giant thick slice of raw onion in between. I don't know about that, but your jam looks fantastic!

  11. Lisa Fain

    Gretchen–I'm pretty sure my grandma would say yes to that sandwich!

  12. Heather @ chiknpastry

    I am definitely a fan of red onion jam. I've never made it before, but it seems easy enough!

    I remember picking onions off my burgers at restaurants all the time, but now i pick off the tomatoes instead, because they are never ripe and always really gross.

  13. Lisa Fain

    Heather–This jam is definitely easy. And I hear you about tomatoes–they're only worth eating when they're in season, like now!

  14. I like the flavor of onion, but I really don't like the texture of them. That's the main reason I would want to chop/mince them as small as possible. If I were to chop everything as small as I possibly could, would that reduce the cooking time necessary? Or would I need to reduce the temperature to prevent burning?

  15. Lea Ann (Highlands Ranch Foodie)

    Well, you know that I won't be able to resist buying a batch of red onions this week at the Farmer's Market. Will be trying this recipe.

  16. Lisa Fain

    Janus–Probably reduce the cooking time. And keep an eye on it!

    Lea Ann–Those red onions are hard to resist.

  17. susan credeur

    Into the shredded brisket and on to the bun, thank you.

  18. janiemagoo

    I so appreciate your site. Always entertaining, I am so glad to get the red onion jam recipe. It goes well with everything, especially those hot seasoned crackers made with Hidden Valley Ranch mix. Be glad that you are not in Texas(Dallas) at the moment…..temperatures ranging 110 F daily. Regards, Jane

  19. Smoothmoves

    After shopping for the red onions at the Dallas Farmers Market this morning I came home and made this. It was so delicious and went well with grilled chicken. I see jars of this as gifts in the near future.

  20. Lisa Fain

    Susan–Oh, yes. It would be excellent with shredded brisket!

    Janiemagoo–I sure hope it cools down in Texas soon!

    Smoothmoves–That was fast! I'm so pleased that you liked it!


    I'm going to try this today! They look wonderful!

  22. itsnoteasyeatinggreen

    Oh yum. Now I have a project for this week.
    Oh, and I'm always buying things at the farmer's market just because they are pretty or interesting. A few weeks ago I bought purple beans that turned green when you cooked them. They were tasty and like a some sort of cool crayola product!!

  23. crazycat

    I love reading your blog! I'm a Tex-patriot living in Indianapolis, and reading your blog makes me feel I haven't left it all behind.

    BTW, your mom and I have the same way of thinking about cheese enchiladas. 😉

  24. Anonymous

    Made this two nights ago. Such an easy recipe. Had it over scrambled eggs the next morning. Awesome like that, or just out of the jar. Just out of the jar rocks. Thank you!

  25. Pete the Brit

    Is the yield right for this recipe? My 1 1/2 pounds of red onions (as slivered as I could make them GRIN) made just over 2 pints of jam!

    I'm not complaining as it tastes great, but it did take me by surprise 😀

  26. I suddenly have visions of pulled pork sandwich topped with spicy red onion jam. I need to make this soon! Thank you for sharing this!

  27. Pete the Brit

    So, I just made a sandwich with Ham, Brie, Apricot Jelly and Spicy Red Onion Jam all put on Italian Bread and then toasted…WOW!!! A great combo!

  28. Lisa Fain


    itsnoteasyeatinggreen–I love those purple beans! And that's my favorite thing about shopping at the farmers market–the rich, colorful variety of fruits and vegetables.

    Crazycat–They do make the dish, don't they?

    Anon–So pleased you liked it!

    Pete–That's wild! My yield was always much, much less. That sandwich sounds fabulous!

    Alisa–It would be excellent with pulled pork.

  29. soupaddict

    I love onion jam with a passion! I've been eyeballing red onions at the farmers markets, and now I'm thinking I have a reason to buy loads and freeze this jam. I can think of so many uses (including a French-Texan onion soup?).

  30. This sounds amazing! I love the onion dip idea.

  31. This looks amazing! I often make a sweet onion jam and use it for everything from sandwiches to risotto. But spicy and smokey jam? I can't wait to try it! I am so sure it must be awesome as dip, or on grilled steak. Maybe in a quesadilla? Yum!

  32. Omnatura

    Just made my first batch and immediately burned my tongue on it!! It's delicious!! Thank you for this great recipe, I never thought I can have too much onion one day, but had a great harvest this year!!

  33. Lisa Fain

    Soupaddict–Yes! A French-Texan onion soup sounds fabulous!

    Jen–Watch out, that dip can be addicting!

    Katie–It's so fab in a quesadilla!

    Omnatura–So glad you enjoyed it and happy to help you figure out ways to use up your harvest!

  34. Kimberley

    Every time that I caramelize onions I wonder how they'd be if they were properly jammed. Like this. Perfect.

  35. I have no desire for onion jam, but I just flew back from Texas into California yesterday, so of course I had to visit this blog!

  36. Kathleen

    That frantic scribblng sound you hear? Is me copying down this recipe (my printer is on the fritz) and then biking to the store to buy red onions right this second. This sounds absolutely amazing. I love red onions, I love chipotle, I really love a recipe titled "jam" that doesn't use half a cup of sugar…I can't wait to eat half of this out of the skillet while I cook it. 🙂

  37. I have never heard of onion jam. That's absolutely awesome. It just so happens I'm a homesick Texan also. I'm in Wisconsin.

    I know what you mean about red onions. I buy use them more because of the looks than the flavor. But they are tasty!

  38. crazycat

    We have a kitchen garden and my husband was talking about how he'd planted 200 onions (half red, half yellow). I was excited because I thought "Wow! I can make that red onion jam!" So I told him to go harvest the red onions. He came back with a largish lunch sack.
    Me: What's this?
    Him: Your red onions.
    Me: (laugh)Very funny. Where are the onions?
    Him: Their in that sack.
    Me: (dumbfounded look) What?!?

    That's right, our red onion haul consisted of 80+ red onions small enough to fit in a large lunch sack.

    Do you think that'll be enough? lol

  39. Fishygal

    Good call leaving out the sugar. The balsamic would add plenty of sweetness. I may use regular jalapenos as I have an abundance. Looking forward to trying this one.

  40. Author Rebecca Nab Young

    This sounds great. I love cooking with fresh, local foods. I grew up on a ranch and remember the color of the beets during harvest.

  41. Lisa Fain

    Kimberley–That was my exact thinking.

    Shelley–Welcome back to Texas!

    Curt–I love them, too!

    Crazycat–If you have 1 1/2 pounds, it should be fine. Though that will be a lot of peeling!

    Fishygal–Indeed, I find balsamic vinegar along with the onions plenty sweet.

    Rebecca–What a great memory!

  42. Becki's Whole Life

    These would be great on tacos. When I was at one of my favorite local restaurants they had something similar on their beef tacos and it was wonderful. I will have to try these – the sweet spiciness must be awesome!

  43. Chiles? That's a nice idea for onion jam. I usually use fresh or candied ginger – or both, they work really well with onion jam.


    These are amazing! Will post about our ABC burgers shortly, but what a great idea!! (as usual!)

  45. Fishygal

    Just finished making this but boy is it bloody hot. I think I can save it by mixing with other ingredients but we can't eat it plain as I had planned. I used 2 tablespoons of chipotle puree.

  46. I made this recipe over the weekend to go with a smoked pork shoulder I made. The entire batch was gone in an hour. Great recipe and I will definitely make again.



  47. I love onions too, almost never cook anything without them to layer flavor. Red ones almost came into my life late…I worked for an Indian family as a personal chef and she preferred them over others, so now I am hooked!

  48. Anonymous

    oo This would be lovely on brie and mini hamburgers for an appetizer.

    (homesick Texan ex-pat living in New Hampshire)

  49. sparkles365

    Is this recipe safe for water-bath canning? If so, do you have and recommendations on processing time? I'm at about 200 feet above sea level.

  50. Lisa Fain

    Sparkles–I've never done it and onions are low acid so it might not be safe. I'd check with these guys:

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