This sweet and spicy onion jam recipe for canning is like a delicious onion marmalade with pieces of sweet onion floating in a lower sugar glaze. It is easy to make and perfect for meat glazes, toppings and great for appetizer plates.
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I've been making this sweet and spicy onion marmalade off and on for years, ever since seeing the original version in Jan Roberts-Dominguez's food preservation column in The Oregonian newspaper when I first started canning.
I love sweet onions and was looking for a way to preserve them through the winter.
This sweet and spicy onion marmalade goes way beyond that though, adding flavor to meats, seafood, and appetizers. It's basically an onion jam canning recipe with larger pieces of the sweet onion like a citrus marmalade.
I used to think of this as an addictive condiment until I started making Addictive Tomato Chutney, but this runs a close second. Maybe I should call it "slightly addictive onion marmalade?"
Well, whatever I call it, it's really just plain good.
I've adapted it through the years to use honey instead of white sugar (and a lot less of it) and lots more red pepper flakes for added spice, though of course you can adjust that if you don't like things as spicy as we do.
This is only slightly spicy with the one teaspoon of red pepper flakes, though–not too spicy at all for most pf the people I've served it to - everyone loves it as much as I do!
Sweet & Spicy Onion Marmalade - An Onion Jam Recipe for Canning
What is onion marmalade made of?
For this canned onion jam, you'll need:
- onions (sweet or a mix of sweet and regular)
- apple juice
- apple cider vinegar
- salt (sea salt or canning)
- black pepper
- ground mustard
- crushed red pepper flakes
- Low or No Sugar Needed pectin - Flex Batch (I usually use this brand's "flex batch" pectin, but you can also use this low or no sugar pectin)
- butter or oil (optional to reduce foaming, but I always use it)
- brown sugar
Even though it's a canning recipe, you don't actually have to can it - it will keep a couple months in the refrigerator or longer in the fridge.
Although it's really easy to can in a water bath canner/pot, too–it's just a matter of adding a few simple steps to the initial cooking process:
- Prep ingredients and add them to a pot.
- Boil, then add the honey/sugar.
- Boil again for a minute.
- Ladle marmalade into hot, prepared canning jars (here's where you'd refrigerate or freeze if not canning).
- Seal and add them to a boiling water canner.
- Boil for 10 minute
- Remove from canner and cool.
So in less than an hour, you can have six small jars of delicious sweet and spicy onion marmalade lining your pantry shelves–or to give away as special gifts (they've been really popular when I've gifted them!)
Would you like more help canning? Get a full tutorial for the easy Boiling Water Canning Steps here or view the video below:
Onion Marmalade Serving Suggestions
This marmalade makes a wonderful glaze for meats and seafood, and is particularly good on a roasted ham.
But one of my favorite ways to serve this is as a simple appetizer on top of cream cheese or a flavored Boursin cheese. It's really good.
And I love serving different foods for guests other than what you can find in stores - it really personalizes it and helps it seem more special.
Canned Onion Jam/Marmalade FAQs
Technically, this is actually a chutney, since a marmalade is made with citrus fruit, whereas a chutney uses vegetables or fruit, vinegar and sugar (although that is in the broadest sense of the term and there are a lot of variations on that). Whatever you decide to call it, anyone who eats it will only call it good!
Canning them in a jam like this is one of my favorite ways to preserve sweet onions when they're in season. You can also dice and freeze them to use in sauces, soups and cooked dishes.
In addition to the suggestions in the recipe card for glazes and appetizers, you can also marinate chicken thighs and drumsticks with onion marmalade plus salt, pepper, and fresh thyme for an hour before roasting as usual.
Another idea is to make onion cheese toast or a grilled sandwich. Spread a layer of onion marmalade onto a slice of good bread, top with the cheese of your choice, and toast open face or top with another piece of bread and toast in a pan for grilled cheese. (Served with a salad, this makes a quick, light, meatless meal.)
I hope you enjoy this onion marmalade as much as we do!
Sweet and Spicy Canned Onion Marmalade
- 2 pounds onions preferably sweet or a mix of sweet and regular
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons Low or No Sugar Needed pectin - flex batch equals 1 box
- 1/2 teaspoon butter or oil optional to reduce foaming, but I always use it
- 1 cup honey
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- Prepare waterbath canner, 6 half pint jars & lids, keeping warm until needed.
- Cut ends off onions and peel; slice in half and cut each in half again, lengthwise (or in thirds if onions are big). Turn halves and cut into 1/4 inch slices widthwise (as pictured in tutorial). Place slices in an 8 quart measuring cup - you should have 6 cups of onion slices.
- Add prepared onions, apple juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, mustard and red pepper flakes to an 8 quart stockpot. Gradually stir in pectin and then add butter if using. Bring to a boil that can't be stirred down over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Add honey and sugar; return to a full boil and let boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat (skim foam if needed).
- Ladle hot marmalade into prepared half pint jars one at a time, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, attach lids, and place in canner.
- Place lid on canner and bring to a gentle, steady boil - process for 10 minutes, maintaining steady boil the entire time. Turn off heat, and let jars cool in canner 5 minutes before removing jars to a towel lined surface to cool for 24 hours. Check lids for seal before labeling and storing in a cool, dark place (with rings removed).
- Use as a glaze for meats like chicken, ham and pork, as well as seafood (my favorite is shrimp).
- Top grilled steak, pork, chicken and seafood.
- Add on top of Boursin cheese or cream cheese as an appetizer.
- Mix into sour cream as a dip for crackers, pretzels, or chips.
More condiment recipes to try
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