Sweet and Sneaky Ways to Eat Your Veggies: Onions

aka “Sweet Machine Malfunctions”

caramelized onion breakfast muffins


A year ago, my friend and I stood glaring at the SPR machine. (Surface Plasmon Resonance, in case you were wondering.) In theory, we could twiddle a few knobs and punch a few buttons to calibrate the monster. In actuality, it hiccuped and laughed in our faces.


So we ignored it to talk about food.  


caramelized onion breakfast muffins


My friend, an avid crêpe-maker, challenged me to come up with desserts based on savory dinner dishes. He named spaghetti, pizza, and—gulp—onions.


I hated onions. They left a permanent B.O. taste in my mouth for hours after eating just one tiny sliver. I avoided them at all costs, on pain of (taste bud) death.


caramelized onion breakfast muffins


Until I discovered caramelization. If I neglected the stinkers for long enough in the pan, they turned soft and golden brown and… Sweet! Almost sweet enough for dessert.


So thanks to the SPR (and my crêpe-flipping friend), I give you the next sweet and sneaky way to eat your veggies: caramelized onion breakfast muffins!


caramelized onion breakfast muffins


Caramelized Onion Breakfast Muffins

modified from CL’s Whole Wheat Apricot Muffins

makes 12

These muffins are so moist! The onions do give the muffins a slightly savory flavor, so if you prefer sweeter muffins, try 1½ cups of shredded carrots or zucchini instead.

2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced

1 c. whole-wheat flour

½ c. all-purpose flour

½ c. packed light brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp butter or margarine, melted and cooled

1 c. milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 egg (or 1½ tsp Ener-G + 2 tbsp water)

  1. Coat a large pan with nonstick cooking spray, and cook the onions over high heat, stirring constantly, for 4-6 min or until translucent. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook the onions for 15-20 min, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°, and lightly coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole-wheat flour and next 6 ingredients (through nutmeg). In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (butter through egg). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet, stirring just until incorporated. Fold in the caramelized onions.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups, and bake at 375° for 15-18 min or until the tops begin to turn golden brown. Cool in the pan for 5 min before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Other Sweet and Sneaky Veggie Treats:

carrot cake oatmeal

pumpkin custards

fudgy beet brownies


caramelized onion breakfast muffins



January 25, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Baked Bliss, Midweek Meals.


  1. amintiridinbucatarie replied:

    I did the same thing with spinach and the results paid off the effort 🙂

    • foods for the soul replied:

      I was actually thinking of making a second batch of these with spinach or broccoli! I’ll have to try spinach first, if your muffins turned out so well.

  2. shopezshop replied:

    Reblogged this on Shop Easy and commented:
    Wow! Such a great idea. I personally do not like onions at all! Can’t wait to try this.

    • foods for the soul replied:

      If you don’t like onions, you could try carrots, zucchini, or spinach instead. While caramelized onions are sweet, they still gave the muffins an onion flavor. Hope you enjoy them!

  3. paprik4te replied:

    Carmelized onions are the best! When I was living in Brazil, my host mom had onions like that for a salad topper every day. I ate so much of them!! I haven’t tried making them myself, though – I really should! This recipe looks great!

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Oh my goodness, that sounds amazing! I eat them like candy, so your host mom would need to buy 2 onions just for me every day… Sad but true.

      Caramelizing them is super easy! Just remember to start out at a high temperature for a short period before lowering the heat to almost non-existant. They take a long time and need quite a bit of baby-sitting, but it’s almost soothing — and so worth it!

  4. Liz replied:

    wow–you make some fun dishes:-)

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Thanks! I’ve really been enjoying playing with flavors and experimenting in the kitchen. I can’t wait to share the next two veggie dishes too!

  5. Brittany replied:

    I loveeee onions. The onion wrapped around that muffin and baked into the sides looks amazing!

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Thanks!! It took me such a long time to realize that onions were sweet… I hated them raw on burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Not a good aftertaste!

  6. IRENA & dots replied:

    I don’t like eat fresh onions. Reasons are the same as yours – strong taste in my mouth and the breath. But caramelized is fine. I have to try these recipe, looks great!

    • foods for the soul replied:

      It took my dad forever to convince me to try grilled and caramelized onions… But now I’ll eat them almost like candy! These muffins would also taste great with cream cheese to mask any possible leftover onion taste. I hope you enjoy them!

      • IRENA & dots replied:

        That’s good as I tried them for a first time by mistake 🙂 I know couple of recipes that are way better with it, so I don’t need something to ‘mast’ its taste. I am sure I’ll like them 😉

      • foods for the soul replied:

        I certainly hope so! I’m excited to hear what you think.

  7. mrswebbinthekitchen replied:

    Brain exploding! This is so different and weird but it sounds amazing! I love caramelized onions… Will NOT eat them raw either, though!

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Thanks! I had so much fun coming up with creative ways to put veggies into sweet baked goods. I think this was probably the craziest I got… At least thus far!

  8. BekAtCrave replied:

    You are so innovative!

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Thanks! I really liked coming up with creative ways to use veggies. It was hard to limit myself to just 4 baked treats… So I may do another mini series again in the future!

  9. lizatemir replied:

    was it the first time ever you cooked this? looks really nice, i should try making these.
    i could never be so creative with baking.

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Yes, it was my first attempt! It takes a little time to start thinking a little differently, but it’s really fun. Start by thinking about your favorite flavor combinations, and see if you could add a twist to it! It won’t take long before you become much more creative than me. :]

      For example, last year I bought pretzels and knew I enjoyed them both dipped in mustard or coated in chocolate. But I also wanted to do something with the pretzels instead of just eating them plain, so I made my pretzel pancakes with two different sauces! (The recipe is here, if you’d like to check it out! http://wp.me/p18CG9-p3)

  10. mydearbakes replied:

    What a delicious looking bake you have there! I’m loving this post!

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Thank you! I was really happy with the muffins; I didn’t expect the onions to make them so moist!

  11. Picky Nicky replied:

    onions and vanilla? :O wow id try it though

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Crazy, I know… But good! The caramelized onions were sweet enough to work with the vanilla. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you tried the muffins!

  12. yummylikecake replied:

    mmmm these look really good! and I like onions! but not when they are raw because, you’re right, the after taste is something that should be avoided at all costs.


    • foods for the soul replied:

      Thank you! The first time I ate raw onions was on a cheeseburger, and I gagged the rest of the day… I tried chewing gum, mints, and brushing my teeth, but nothing worked! Thankfully, these muffins are nothing like that. :]

  13. ieatthepeach replied:

    I love the idea of caramelized onions for breakfast! Normally I steer clear of muffins, because they’re so sweet and cakey, but these look mighty tempting. Keep the secret veggies coming!

    • foods for the soul replied:

      These muffins aren’t very cakey. They’re moist and slightly denser, like zucchini bread, due to the caramelized onions. I hope you enjoy them if you try them! And I’ve got another sweet veggie recipe coming tomorrow!

  14. Angie@Angie's Recipes replied:

    These are my kind of muffins. Onions are a staple in our house 😉

    • foods for the soul replied:

      That’s wonderful! I’ve only recently come around to liking them, but they’re a bit expensive at our local grocery store… Where do you normally get yours from?

  15. M. replied:

    I love caramelized onions as well! This is such a genius idea.

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Thank you! My guy looked at me like I was crazy when I first described the recipe, but they turned out much better than he expected!

  16. snati001 replied:

    Wow! I wonder if this would be good with bacon?! Lol 🙂 Remember learning about SPR when I was in grad school.

    • foods for the soul replied:

      Bacon — what a perfect idea! Served on the side, or even mixed into the muffin batter? Yummy options! Did you study chemistry in grad school then?

      • snati001 replied:

        I did a masters in Biochemistry. Itching to go back to school! What do you work on?

      • foods for the soul replied:

        I’m in organic chemistry. We tried using the SPR as a side project, but it didn’t work out so well. So we’re sticking to columns and NMR instead! Do you have an idea of where you’d like to do a PhD?

      • snati001 replied:

        Kind of miss those days using those techniques. I finished the masters about 3 years ago now I’m waiting to get into a med school. Lol, I guess I like school!

      • foods for the soul replied:

        Med school? That’s wonderful!! What sort of practice do you want to go into?

      • snati001 replied:

        I am going to shout with joy when I get back to school! Lol. I’m pretty open to what I might discover in a specialty that is the best fit for me. Right now I’m interested in family medicine, though I might find that something like nephrology or geriatrics is what I want to do, like my aunt who is a doctor and specializes in both of those. So now while I wait, I have time to experiment with cooking and learn from great food blogs such as yours!

      • foods for the soul replied:

        That’s wonderful that you can talk to family members for help and advice! Whatever field you enter, the patients will definitely be happy to have you as their doctor. :] And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cooking and baking while you wait!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback URI

%d bloggers like this: