Easy Oil-free Vegan Caramelized Onions in the Instant Pot

Recipe by Katie Mae

Makes 4–6 cups | Ready in 1–4 hours | Stores 10 days in fridge


4 yellow or red onions, peeled (More or less as desired)


  1. Thinly slice or dice the onion.
  2. Add the onions to the Instant Pot and then.
  3. Press the “Slow Cook” setting and set the time. You want to cook the onions anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours. The longer the onions cook for, the sweeter and more caramelized they’ll be. I usually set the timer to 2 hours.
  4. Lock the lid in place and OPEN the steam valve because you do not want to build up the pressure for this recipe.
  5. There’s no need to stir the onions as they cook, but if you want to feel free.
  6. When the timer beeps or they’re prepared to your liking, turn off the Instant Pot. Transfer the caramelized onions to a serving dish or airtight container to save and enjoy throughout the week.

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Sweet, caramelized onions can completely change a dish, adding a rich, complex flavor to an otherwise average meal. That’s why I love making this recipe—it gives you enough caramelized onions to enjoy all week long!

AND there’s no butter or oil used.

They’re 100% fat-free!

Caramelizing onions is dramatically easier in the Instant Pot than on the stovetop where they require constant attention and frequent stirring to prevent burning—especially when you’re not using any fat to coat the pan.

The pressure cooker traps all the steam inside, allowing the onions to cook at even higher temperatures. The steam also locks in moisture, letting the onions cook without burning,

The Instant Pot Caramelized Onions are slow-cooked. The gentle heat means a longer cooking time, but it also means less risk of burning and better flavor overall.

As they cook, becoming more and more tender. They’re well worth the wait. The longer the onions take to caramelize, the more sweetness and the more umami they develop!

These onions go great in salads, over baked potatoes, on top a veggie burger, and so much more!

I suggest starting these asap, so you can start adding the sweetness to your meals!



  1. Tracey Meinen


    1. KatieMae

      Thank you, Tracey! I can’t really take credit for the idea though. I have no idea who it was, but I saw someone else do this, but it wasn’t vegan. It’s so simple to do without any fat at all though. Love it!

  2. reine gilmer

    As a new member of only one month, instead of the K.I.S.S. recipes, I would so enjoy having some repeat recipes from 2017/2016 that i’ve seen and so want to try! Maybe you could give us newbies an opportunity to ask for 2 old recipes each month instead of getting the new K.I.S.S. ones?

    1. KatieMae

      Welcome to the community, Reine! Thank you so much for the input!

      I really like the idea of highlighting our older recipes because they’ll always be yummy and great options for our diet. That being said, I’m not sure what you mean by “ask” for 2 old recipes… As a Recipe Club member, you have access to all of the Plantz St. recipes, not just the latest released.

      I know that with so many recipes, it’s easy to forget what’s there, even when browsing the recipes, it’s easy to overlook ones that you may actually really enjoy. And for those who new to this way of eating, I imagine often you’re not even sure exactly what you’d enjoy or what you’re looking for.

      Sooo I’m thinking that I will start doing recipe round-ups to highlight personal and community favorites, and maybe some gems that were never given the attention they deserved. I think this is where you could make a request to see something specific, such as “the top seven salads for weight-loss” or “the best plant-based meals to serve your omnivore spouse.”

      What do you think? Would this help?

  3. Lana Averett

    Thank you for the new basic recipes. I’m new to plant based eating and what might be obvious to some is all new to me. I’m looking forward to these “new” recipes.

    1. KatieMae

      Congrats on making the shift to plants!! I’m so glad you found Plantz St to help you transition! If you have any questions along your journey, our private Facebook community is a great place to ask and get support. <3

  4. Linda Markus

    Love the thought of not so many ingredients. Plan and simple is my life style. Love the K.I.S.S. idea

    1. KatieMae

      Wonderful, Linda!! I think there’s more room for peace when we keep it simple. Thanks for sharing the love! 🙂

  5. Susan Deogracias

    Could you do this recipe in a crock pot? I do not have an Instant Pot.
    Susan Deogracias

    1. KatieMae

      Yes, Susan, you can! With this recipe, you use the slow cooker setting in the Instant Pot. So it would work the same way in an actual slow cooker.

  6. Julia Lindstrom

    Keep it simple! I love it. Thank you for all your recipes!

  7. Poinsettalynn Madeleine Harper

    Anyone try throwing in some cumin and garlic like some recipes call for when caramelizing onions? Any reason why that wouldn’t work the same?

  8. Iris

    I’m curious as to which temp setting of slow cook you use – less, normal, or more?

    TY – can’t wait to do this! I love caramelized onions, but not the caretaking!


    1. theculinarygym

      Great question, Irish. The medium or low heat setting will work. Tried it both ways, but not close enough in time to notice a significant difference. Hope you enjoy them!

  9. Jill Robideau

    Trying in instant pot for first time. Thank you so much your site is very helpful for me. Once you leave Truenorth its definitely harder to stay on track & you help!

  10. theculinarygym

    I hope you like it, Jill! Thanks so much for the appreciation. I’m happy to support you on your journey!

  11. suzanne

    thank you so much for recipe, looks lovely however am just surprised there is no pic of “As they cook, becoming more and more tender, they will turn into a golden brown color, and eventually a rich, dark brown.” Am i blind or not very observant but i don’t see a rich dark brown result on the site?
    am busy with cooking them right now

  12. theculinarygym

    Hi Suzanne! Oh dear, thanks for bringing this matter to my attention. I must have overlooked this erroneous description when I reviewed the introduction for this recipe. I hired a young assistant a few years back to help me write some of the recipe notes, and this was one that she helped with. The photo with the wooden spoon is the finished product. If you let the onions cook longer than I did, I’m sure a little more color would develop, but not really what I’d describe as “golden.” I the post, so it’s not misleading for others. Thanks again. 🙂

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