Spicy red onion jam DSC8973

Spicy red onion jam

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.

5 from 2 votes

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


  • 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.
  • 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.

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  1. Lisa Fain says:

    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!

  2. Becki's Whole Life says:

    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!

  3. 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.

  4. dulceshome.com says:

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

  5. 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.