2 x 400jars

Ready In:

2 hours

Good For:

Relish, flavour advancer


  • 20 onions- thinly sliced

  • 150g butter
  • 6 cloves garlic-sliced
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 300ml red wine
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 90ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp milled black pepper
  • 3 sticks of fresh thyme
  • 2tsp Dijon mustard

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

As some chefs call it, this type of onion relish or marmalade has been used for years in professional kitchens in some form or another.

At Family Kitchen with Mark, we use this in some of our savoury doughnut recipes.

Let us begin by heating a thick-based pot over high heat, add the butter and melt. Continue cooking the butter and when it starts to brown, add the fresh thyme.

Browning the butter adds a nutty flavour to the base. Brown the butter and thyme for 1 min and then add all the onions and garlic.

Step 2

Using a wooden spoon, stir the onions through the browned butter. Lower the heat to medium-high, cover with a lid and steam for 5 mins or when the onions are translucent. 

Remove the lid, and season with sea salt and milled pepper. Stir through and add bay leaves.


Step 3

The onions should be very lightly browned at this stage. Now its time to add the aromatics.

Let’s start by adding the wine and cooking out the alcohol. Add the wine and cook for 1 min. 

Stir the onions and now add brown sugar, vinegar, and mustard.

Lower the heat to a low temperature.

Step 4

Cook the onions stirring every 10 mins or so for between 60- 70 mins. The relish is ready once the onions are softened but with a light firmness, the colour is dark brown and you’re happy with the sweet-to-sour ratio.

The trick with this dish comes towards the end of the cooking. Once the onions are well browned and the consistency softened stir through the darkened caramelised base of the pan that has and adds to the flavour profile.

It’s like the crispy pastry base of an apple pie, the last morsels of chips, or the over-cooked sticky date pudding. 

Step 5

To add more acidity add vinegar, cook for 5 mins or add fresh lemon juice towards the end of cooking. More sweet, add sugar or honey. 

Step 6

This recipe can be adapted in so many ways. Change the wine to cider or beer, or maybe brandy or whiskey. Adding the following spices go perfectly with this flavour of sweetened onion: all-spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, caraway, sage, rosemary, tamarind, fennel, celery seed and many more.

Step 7

Once cooked, cool the relish fully and store in sterilised jam jars for up to 4 months. Stored in a covered container in the fridge, it’ll stay fresh for up to a month. 

Store them in the freezer in freezer-tight bags for up to 6 months. 

Step 8

The onion relish will go perfectly in sandwiches, pasta dishes, lovely on crackers and bread with cured meats & cheeses, and added to cream cheese for bagel and smoked salmon breakfast or lunch treats. 

If you make this recipe we’d love you to share and hashtag #familykitchenwithmark. Another option is to allow us to share your creation.

Happy cooking and please remember that if you have any issues with this recipe, send us a message. 

More Recipes