Skip to Content

Get recipes, tips and more! Get free recipes and exclusive content. SIGN UP!


Home » Cuisines » American » Caramelized Pearl Onions

Caramelized Pearl Onions

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Caramelized Pearl Onions just got an upgrade. Whether you’re looking to elevate a quick weeknight dinner or add a flavorful side to a holiday meal, this bacon and pearl onions recipe is your go-to. Armed with bacon, the ultimate secret weapon, and a few other items, you’ll transform simple ingredients into a recipe that’s both easy and elegant. 

A serving dish with caramelized brown sugar pearl onions.

Here is Why This Recipe Works

  • Simple Ingredients: This recipe transforms basic ingredients into a rich and flavorful side.
  • Quick Preparation: With minimal prep and cooking time, it’s perfect for busy days.
  • Optional Flair: The addition of bourbon or brandy enhances the depth of flavor, making it suitable for special occasions or everyday meals.

Don’t miss my Caramelized Onion Recipe, which uses large onions.

Bacon and pearl onions in a skillet.

The Ingredients

Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for this recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.

Meat: Bacon
Produce: Pearl onions
Pantry: Brown sugar, Salt, Pepper
Condiments: Apple cider vinegar
Optional: Bourbon or brandy

Ingredients: pearl onions, bacon, bourbon, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Bacon: Substitute with turkey bacon or pancetta for a lighter version.
  • Brown Sugar: Maple syrup or honey can be used for a different kind of sweetness.
  • Bourbon/Brandy: Omit entirely or use a splash of non-alcoholic vanilla extract for a similar depth without alcohol.
Slicing the tops off pearl onions then blanching them and removing the skin.


  • Spicy Kick: Add a pinch of red chili flakes or chili garlic paste. 
  • Herb and Butter: Toss in a teaspoon of dried thyme or rosemary then finish with a pat of butter.
  • Cheesy Delight: Sprinkle grated Parmesan over the top just before serving for a cheesy finish.

Tips for Success

Here are a few tips to help you nail the recipe. 

  • Maintain a medium heat to ensure even caramelization without burning.
  • Regular stirring helps each onion get evenly coated and browned.
  • Depending on your preference, adjust the sweetness or acidity by adding more sugar or vinegar respectively at the end of cooking.
Sauteeing bacon then browning pearl onions in a skillet.
Adding brown sugar to the skillet with pearl onions then adding the bacon back to the skillet.


Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a pan over low heat or in the microwave.

A skillet filled with brown sugar caramelized pearl onions.

The Best Baby Onion Side Dish

This recipe for Caramelized Pearl Onions proves that simple ingredients can be elevated into a dish that stands out with minimal effort. Whether you’re dressing up a weeknight dinner or adding a special touch to a holiday meal, these onions offer a delicious mix of sweetness and tang, with an optional hint of warmth from the bourbon. 

Connect With Savor the Best:

Please follow us on our social media accounts

Facebook * Instagram * Pinterest * Youtube * Twitter

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Drop us a comment below. 

A serving dish filled with caramelized pearl onions and bacon.

Caramelized Pearl Onions

These caramelized pearl onions with bacon and brown sugar make a great side dish or party appetizer. A splash of bourbon adds a smoky flavor that takes them to the next level. Plus, you can make them in advance and warm them up before serving.
If you are using fresh pearl onions, check the notes for an easy tip for pealing these little orbs.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Calories: 169kcal
Author: Dahn Boquist


  • 8 to 10 slices of bacon cut into 1 inch sections
  • 16 ounces pearl onions peeled (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • cup water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or brandy optional


  • Slice the bacon into 1 inch sections and cook it in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon pieces to a plate. Pour the bacon fat in a jar or bowl then measure 3 tablespoons of the fat and transfer to the hot skillet. 
  • Add the pearl onions to the bacon fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently until lightly browned. 
  • Add the water, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until tender. 
  • Remove the cover and add the bourbon (if using). Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid reduces and thickens. 


To Peel Pearl Onions

  • Cut off the tip of the onions (opposite the root end)
  • Drop the onions in boiling water for 60 to 90 seconds, then drain them and let them cool.
  • Squeeze the root end of the onions and the skin will slide off.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 169kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 504mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g

Dahn Boquist

Dahn is a retired nurse, recipe creator, home cook, baker, and self-proclaimed foodie. She loves creating in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends. She lives in Washington State with her husband and dog. When she isn't cooking or baking, you can usually find her spending time with her grandchildren or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Related Recipes

Never Miss a New Recipe!

Enter your email address below to sign up for our newsletter and get your free copy Weeknight Dinners from Scratch eBook!

An AI generated photo next to a real photo of a dessert.
Previous Post
Is AI Taking Over the Kitchen? Our Showdown Between AI vs Human Hands!
Slices of banana bread on a counter.
Next Post
Whole Grain Einkorn Banana Bread: Wholesome Goodness
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)
Recipe Rating


Tuesday 7th of May 2024

This looks absolutely droolworthy!

Dahn Boquist

Tuesday 7th of May 2024

Thanks Angie!

Shop Our Kitchen