car·​a·​mel·​ize | \ ˈkär-mə-ˌlīz How to pronounce caramelize (audio) ; ˈker-ə-mə-, ˈka-rə-mə- \
caramelized; caramelizing

Definition of caramelize

1 transitive : to subject (sugar or the sugar content of a food) to caramelization : to change into caramel (see caramel sense 1) by heating at high temperature … flan bathed in caramelized sugar and topped with whipped cream …— Penelope Casas At a restaurant, some unlucky prep cook gets to peel, slice, and caramelize bags of onions in the morning.— Stephanie Alleyne
2 intransitive : to change to caramel Fructose begins to rapidly caramelize at around 200 degrees …— Matthew Card : to undergo caramelization These sweet potatoes caramelize slightly in the oven, which gives them a sweet crunch as their flesh remains creamy.— Lesley Porcelli

Examples of caramelize in a Sentence

The onions will take five minutes to caramelize. Caramelize two cups of sugar. Continue stirring until the sugar caramelizes.
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Recent Examples on the Web Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize. Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2021 Cook, stirring frequently, until pears have softened just a bit and are beginning to caramelize, 6 to 8 minutes. Kelly Brant, Arkansas Online, 3 Nov. 2021 The potatoes roast and caramelize as the artichoke hearts soften. Washington Post, 8 Oct. 2021 This longer cooking process allows the sugar in the apples to caramelize, giving apple butter its dark brown color and intense apple flavor. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, 10 Oct. 2021 Deeply savory bases such as soy sauce and fish sauce complement sugars in different forms, which also caramelize if cooked. New York Times, 6 July 2021 During the clarification process, when the butter is cooked, the milk solids begin to caramelize, giving ghee a nutty flavor. Jane Black, WSJ, 21 Sep. 2021 Heat oil in a pan before trying to caramelize Brussels sprouts, or almost anything else, to avoid burning whatever is sauteed or braised. Mary Bergin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4 Aug. 2021 Portland’s oldest restaurant, the instituation is famed for its Spanish Coffee – where rum is set on fire to caramelize the cocktail’s sugar rim – and traditional turkey dinners. Katie Chang, Forbes, 28 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caramelize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of caramelize

1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of caramelize was in 1837

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Last Updated

23 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Caramelize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for caramelize



English Language Learners Definition of caramelize

: to cook (something, such as a fruit or vegetable) slowly until it becomes brown and sweet
: to change (sugar) into caramel by cooking it


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