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Caramelised fennel

Thu, 16 July, 2020

Sliced sautéed fennel, gorgeously caramelised on a knoblet of butter and a glug of maple syrup, sweetness broken beautifully with noble balsamic vinegar.

caramelised pan fried fennel slices

How to cook fennel?

My fennel history – briefly, as this is a brief recipe for a side dish – started with roast fennel. Various add-ons, roasted till scorched, with or without tomato sauce. I was not entirely sold on it being a tasty vegetable but then I discovered how awesome it was raw.

Raw fennel is the real deal

Raw, sliced as thinly as your skills or your mandolin will allow, marinated or not, with ranch dressing or with filleted orange – gorgeous. So much so that for approximately ten years I had consumed fennel only in the salad version – and on at least a fortnightly basis.

caramelised fennel with maple syrup

Until you discover caramelised fennel

Until on discovery of a slightly sad fennel languishing at the back of the veg drawer, decidedly unfit for slicing, I remembered that it can be cooked – and how.

This, my friends, is fantastic – I can happily have a bulb (or two, if small) for my whole main meal; with a crust of fresh bread perhaps.

how to prepare the best fennel ever

Fennel almost dissolves into the caramelised sweetness, tanged up with the vinegar. A little butter is a must for the caramelisation finale but the white balsamic vinegar, though available in supermarkets sometimes under the guise of ‘white condiment’ or ‘balsamic glaze’, can be replaced with good quality wine or apple cider vinegar.

fried caramelised fennel bulb

How to handle fennel

Final note – most recipes advise to cut out the core located in the fennel bottom but I’ve long discovered it to be a redundant piece of advice unless you’re dealing with a huge, overgrown bulb. It will keep the shape better if held through that bottom core and that is handy – I personally prefer to have it in slices rather than a pile of slivers.

Caramelised fennel

Servings: 2-4Time: 20 minutes
Rating: (3 reviews)


  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp butter



1. Trim the fennel bulbs and discard any browned outer layers. Slice them vertically, about 15mm thick.

how to slice fennel

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan, large enough to fit all the fennel slices in a single layer, or work in batches.

how to fry fennel

3. Place the fennel in the pan and fry on high heat until charred, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the slices over and char the other side, seasoning again. If frying in batches, return all the fennel into the pan and turn down the heat.

caramelising fennel

4. Sprinkle over the balsamic vinegar, cover the pan with a lid and cook for a couple of minutes so the fennel softens.

caramelised fennel

5. Take off the lid, add the maple syrup and butter and turn the heat up again to bubble away excess liquid. Serve immediately.

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Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Raadhiya - thank you! You can save any of my images to Pinterest.
30 days ago
Raadhiya Perin
Amazing and super easy! I didnt add the balsamic or maple and it was delicious! PS, it would be great if i could pin your recipes on pinterest, i would use so many more!
30 days ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hello LG - I'm very pleased to hear that. Of course your swaps worked fine, and I might try the dates myself next time as it sounds a great idea!
4 months ago
LG White
Just wanted to say thanks for this easy to follow recipe I made a career woman (education), WHO HAS TIME lol. So when I tried this fennell dishk I was so happy that your recipe is true to your promise. I did not have maple syrup BUT did chop one medjool date and included for sweetness. Too bad I did not have ginger root to grate! I also did not have the white balsamic vinegar...had to use apple vinegar instead. Thanks again!!
5 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Candy - but I don't blame you, I do the same! Thank you for trying my recipe.
2 years ago
Candy Green
This was absolutely scrumptious. Embarrassed to say i nearly finished the entire pan by myself. Oops….
2 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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