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Sweet and Sour Balsamic Glazed Onions - A fantastic side dish to grilled steak!

As much as I love summertime grilled meats, sometimes a side dish – like these Sweet and Sour Balsamic Glazed Onions – really steal the show!

This simple dish is inspired by a recipe that my husband Jack and I brought back from our culinary honeymoon in Italy.  You start by removing the peel from cipollini onions or the small boiler onions – whichever you can find at your local supermarket – by boiling them for just a few minutes in hot water. (This trick makes them very easy to peel!)

After the skins are removed, sauté the onions with olive oil, salt and pepper – then add some balsamic vinegar to the pan, which gives the onions a wonderful tangy-sour flavor!

Sweet and Sour Balsamic Glazed Onions - A fantastic side dish to grilled steak!

Once the vinegar evaporates, add a small amount of water to the pan and simmer the onions until tender. The final step is a sprinkle of sugar over the onions (which adds some “sweet” back to this dish) – and allow the sauce to caramelize to a dark golden color.

The finished Sweet and Sour Balsamic Glazed Onions can be served as a side dish or spooned on top of cooked grilled steak. Either way, they are incredibly delicious – and you might want to consider doubling the recipe!


Sweet and Sour Balsamic Glazed Onions

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


*Note: Once the peels are removed, the volume reduces by almost half so plan accordingly. In other words, the skins, root and end make up half the weight and get discarded so 2 pounds of onions yield just over a pound once cleaned.


  • 2 pounds* cipollini or small boiler onions
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar


  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and plunge in onions, skin and all.
  2. Boil 2 minutes for cipollini and 4 minutes for small boilers.
  3. Drain water and plunge into ice water.
  4. Drain and remove to your counter. Cut off root end and mark the side with a slit from a knife. Then squeeze the other end and the onion will pop out. The slit is so the whole onion pops out instead of the inside squeezing out. If the brown stem end is still connected, cut that off. Reserve peeled onions in a bowl.
  5. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat with the olive oil and add onions, salt and pepper. Cook for about five minutes tossing and turning to brown outside skin.
  6. Add vinegar and cook until most of the vinegar has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes
  7. Add water and for cipollini, cook for about 3-4 minutes covered or until tender. For the boiler onions, cook for a few more minutes until tender.
  8. Remove cover and add sugar. Cook a few more minutes to caramelize, taste for salt and pepper and serve as a side dish or over cooked steak.

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Sweet and Sour Balsamic Glazed Onions - A fantastic side dish to grilled steak!

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  • Sarah Merc wrote:

    I love your site, all your recipes remind me of my mom’s cooking, some forgotten….wonderful to see familiar foods.. looking forward to trying them and sharing with my family….. thank you!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Aww…you’re very welcome Sarah! I hope our recipes are as good as the version your mom made! <3 Thanks for writing to us today!

  • josef rueschli wrote:

    if I could eat all of your posted website enticements I would not fit on the chair that I am sitting on, in order to type this. thanks so much for your generosity . if you have ever eaten the antipasta type verdure-eggplant that so many of the Italian restaurants (particularly in Rome)serve or allow you to help your self to eat, I would appreciate your example as to how to prepare this recipe. we always have an abundance of eggplant at this time of the year.
    always with thanks , josef

    • Martha wrote:

      We’re so glad you are enjoying our recipe Josef! (We’re very happy to share…) 🙂 We don’t have a recipe of our own but think we know this you are asking about and it is simple and delicious! I’m wondering if this recipe from Mario Batali might be what you have in mind? Hope this helps – and thanks again so much for taking the time to write to us today!

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