Red onions in pasta sauce

A few years back, I discovered caramelized red onions in pasta sauce work better than white onions.

 Let me tell you how!

So, it was the age of COVID-19, and I had been getting groceries delivered. That time, the shopkeeper substituted red onions for the yellows I usually utilize. I had made sure to order all the ingredients required for a meat-based pasta sauce. I normally caramelized the red onions for flavor. It came out super good. From that turning point, I still prefer red onions over white onions.

I also want to share my exciting childhood memories related to onions.

Onions have been my favorite since childhood; I love Carmela’s chicken. I used to call onions “brown noodles.” After experiencing them in the COVID era, I realized they were actually caramelized onions.

How Innocent I was! HAHAHA!

Jokes apart! Now let’s learn how caramelized red onions in pasta sauce are made and can ramp up flavors.

Wait a minute before going further,

Do you know my marinara sauce pasta with cheese tastes like heaven? Haven’t you experienced it yet? Hurry up to learn about this secret recipe just by clicking.

How to caramelize red onions in pasta sauce?

Caramelizing onions in pasta sauce makes a whole different flavor from sautéing onions. Onions form the vegetal foundation in cooking. Cooked onions are rarely noticed directly, providing a platform for other flavors to stand on. Without them, most other vegetal flavors would appear watery or weak. You can cook without them, but it would be akin to making a soup with water instead of stock.


Extra-virgin olive oil2 Tbsp
Unsalted butter2 Tbsp
Onionsthinly sliced, about 3 large
Garlic2 thinly sliced/minced cloves
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)1/4 tsp
kosher salt1 1/2 tsp (according to taste)
Linguine or other long pasta12 oz
Parmesan (finely grated)4 oz (about 1 cup), plus more for serving
Parsley (optional)½ cup, finely chopped, plus more for serving
Black pepper2-3 piches, freshly ground


Step 1

Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy pot. Add onions and garlic to butter and stir occasionally. Cook for about 30 minutes until tender and deeply golden brown. (Stop cooking before the onions become dry and shriveled.) Add red pepper flakes (optional) and salt.

Step 2

Add pasta to a separate large pot of boiling salted water, stirring often, until al-dente(preferably)—reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking water.

Step 3

Add pasta and 1 cup pasta water(reserved) to the onion mixture and stir to combine. Add a generous amount of cheese and stir until melted. Add more pasta water as needed to create a glossy sauce that covers the pasta. Stir in parsley.

Step 4

Dish out cooked pasta in serving bowls and garnish top with Parmesan and parsley.

This caramelized red onion Pasta is a delicious and simple dish that is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner and a fancy dinner party. This recipe is easy to make yet sure to impress!

Matching onions with recipes: A guide:

There is no rule regarding which onions you can use in different recipes. Use white or red onions for bright and crisp flavors, whereas for raw, as in a salad, salsa, or tacos. For this, yellow onions can come off as acrid when raw.

When cooking, white onions can appear weak when paired with much stronger flavors (where yellow would sit happily underneath), and red may provide unwanted color changes. If you like green onions, run water over them, dip the stalks into salt, and eat them raw as great snack.

Frequently asked questions

Can you use red onion in pasta sauce?

If you like red onions more than other types, use them. Cooked onions are rarely noticed directly in sauces, but they provide a platform for different flavors to stand on. The onion type doesn’t matter.

Is it OK to use red onion instead of white?

Yes, all types of red, white, and yellow are acceptable and suitable for each other. When cooking, white onions can appear weak when paired with much stronger flavors, and red may provide unwanted color changes.

Can I use red onion instead of white in Bolognese?

It’s OK to use red onions for classic Bolognese; when you don’t have white onions, they are much stronger than white or yellow, and their color may wash out during cooking. But you can use them, there is not much difference.

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