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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web And for dessert, try grilling fruit—the heat causes the sugars to caramelize. Saveur Editors, Saveur, "Vegetarian Recipes For When You Just Don’t Want Meat," 30 July 2018 Add 1 quart of water and reduce heat as needed to allow vegetables to soften and caramelize. National Geographic, "Chakalaka," 21 May 2020 The burgers come with Impossible patties, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, caramelized onions and vegan cheese. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "These 2 new pop-up restaurants are bringing vegan tacos and burgers to metro Phoenix," 13 May 2020 The bottom gets crusty and caramelized like a hamburger patty. Los Angeles Times, "Keep meatloaf classic and simple for the best recipe," 4 May 2020 More Tasty Experiments My instant coffee lists just coffee and caramelized sugar. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "How to Make Whipped Coffee, the Internet's Favorite Viral Quarantine Recipe," 7 Apr. 2020 Bull & Bourbon: The new standout steakhouse has a four-star Steakhouse Burger, with melty smoked cheddar, thick bacon and sweet-and-umami red miso caramelized onions on a brioche bun, served with steak fries ($18). San Diego Union-Tribune, "Casinos put the sizzle in red-hot burger trend," 8 Sep. 2019 Cooking a whole chicken (the convection setting, which even many full-size models lack, makes the skin extra crispy and the roasted veggies super caramelized!). Yossy Arefi, Bon Appétit, "If Your Oven Is the WORST, Consider This Precise Multifunctional Countertop Miracle," 27 Apr. 2020 Roast, uncovered, in oven, another 30 to 35 minutes or until cabbage is tender and caramelized and most of the liquid has evaporated. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, "Deeply flavorful, caramelized cabbage is a dish to please vegetarians and meat lovers alike," 6 Mar. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of caramelize

1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about caramelize

Time Traveler for caramelize

Time Traveler

The first known use of caramelize was in 1837

See more words from the same year

Statistics for caramelize

Last Updated

1 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Caramelize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for caramelize


How to pronounce caramelize (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on caramelize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with caramelize

Comments on caramelize

What made you want to look up caramelize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!