Fairground Onions

by Jo Kenny

Feeling nostalgic about the fast-food of your youth? This super-simple recipe for fairground onions will absolutely hit the spot. Add them to burgers, hot dogs, or just about anything that needs a warm layer of soft, oniony goodness.

There’s also one twist that will make your onions even more delicious. It’s found in most British households, but usually appears on the morning toast instead of being added to savoury cooking. Marmalade!

Golden Shred marmalade

Fairground Onions Secret Ingredient

Stir a large spoonful of marmalade in to your caramlised onions to create a delicious sticky relish; even better than the ones from your favourite burger van. For my recipe I use Golden Shred, but you can experiment with any jam or fruit preserve; they all add a gratifying tangy sweetness.

White onion

Marmalade is sour as well as sweet, and goes perfectly with a tangy white onion. Some will say this is cheating, but this is certainly a better option than simply adding sugar to the dish! Of course, the marmalade is optional, and you will still create a delicious dish without the addition of this step.


  • 1x large white onion
  • 1x tbsp marmalade
  • 1x tbsp butter
  • 1x tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper


Chop your large onion into long strips, and place in a heated pan with a knob of butter. A heavy cast iron pan is perfect for this, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. You want to cook the onions slowly, so a low heat is ideal. You may want to add a lid to keep the onion’s moisture in the pan, but again, this isn’t essential.

As the onions start to go soft, continue to stir so that they don’t stick to the bottom. Add a big hearty dollop of marmalade, and a good few twists of black cracked pepper.

Marmalade and onions

Once the marmalade has melted in and the onions are bubbling away, loosen up the mix with a a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce. This will help to deglaze the pan if any of your onions have started to stick.

Lea & Perrins for marmalade onions

15 to 20 minutes on a low heat should leave you with super-soft, fairground onions with a little tangy kick. You can experiment with thinner or thicker slices to change the texture of the dish, and you can cook the onions for even longer to reduce them down further, creating a very soft, sticky paste-like texture which is delicious spread in meaty sandwiches.

Fried marmalade onions recipe

Now, call upon your sausages, your burgers, your kebabs and have yourself a Winter feast! Also, if you’re a massive onion fan like myself, make sure to check out my recipe for Chinese spring onion sauce! We also make delicious caramelised onions and sausages in this picnic post!

Recipe Overview

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Fairground Onions

These caramelised onions with a simple twist will instantly remind you of the fairground foods of your youth. Easy to make, with only a handful of ingredients.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time17 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramelised onion, fairground food, onion
Servings: 2
Calories: 105kcal
Author: Jo Kenny
Cost: £0.50


  • Pan


  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tbsp Marmalade
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce


  • Add butter to a heavy pan on low heat.
  • Slice onion in to long strips, and add to pan.
  • Once onions have softened, add marmalade to pan.
  • After 10 minutes, add Worcestershire sauce, and continue to stir onions.
  • After another 5 to 10 minutes, onions should be ready to eat.
  • Season to taste.

More Information

What are the best onions to caramelise?
You can caramalise any onion, although traditionally white onions are used. Red onions are also popular, as they make a great decoration on top of flatbreads and pizzas.

Are caramelised onions healthy?
This recipe only has 105 calories per serving, so whilst it contains some indulgent ingredients (butter and marmalade), the portion size is quite small. You can make a healthier alternative by skipping the addition of marmalade.

Do you have to add sugar to caramelised onions?
Absolutely not! Whilst the sugar from the marmalade in this recipe does sweeten the dish, it is not an essential step, and as the onions slowly cook, they will also naturally sweeten.

Did you know that I have a cookbook?

That’s right, my debut cookbook launched April 2022! Cook It, Eat It, Live It is a vibrant and varied collection of personal recipes straight from my own dinner table, celebrating the everyday joy of food.

You will find recipes to suit all seasons and appetites, with inspirations taken from British, Japanese and Caribbean cuisine. Recipes are punctuated with travel stories, food diaries and a personal philosophy for the every day joy that food can bring to life.

Cook It, Eat It, Live It has received fantastic reviews! Check them out



Jellybean March 12, 2023 - 10:07 am

5 stars
Cooked these fairground onions for last nights hot dogs and they were perfect, took us right back with memories of buying these while at the fairgrounds or from street sellers and at the cinema. We did not know onions were boiled slowly in butter until I found your recipe so I used everyday brown onions and we added Worcestershire sauce while cooking and will now always cook them this way, cant recommend them enough just perfect with Dinos Franks and St Pierre Brioche Baguettes with tomato sauce and mild mustard for me.

Donald Daiper Trump March 9, 2024 - 12:01 pm

5 stars
Marmalade – Grat improv idea – Great band too!


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