Belize Onion Sauce – That’s Really Not a Sauce at All

It wasn’t until my third trip to Belize that I discovered “onion sauce.” I was staying on the island of Caye Caulker with five of my best girlfriends (our annual all-girls trip). We had discovered a wonderful street vendor who sold stewed chicken with beans and rice for just $5 U.S. She typically could be found on Middle Street right outside of Chinatown Market, but her hours weren’t necessarily consistent. Along with the chicken and beans and rice she would ask us if we wanted onion sauce. Having no idea what that was, of course I wanted it! And from that experience was born my obsession with what I can only call Belize onion sauce (which is technically a condiment, not a sauce).

Belize onion sauce

You can tell by the ratio of onions to habaneros that this is some potent stuff. A little goes a long way. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

What Is Belize Onion Sauce?

I am currently on my fourth trip to Belize and this time with my husband. We’ve been here three months so far with about three months to go. On this trip I have encountered Belize onion sauce at several different restaurants and street vendors and I am still enamored with the stuff. So far I have seen only two variations of this popular local condiment. One contains cilantro and one does not. I very highly recommend the option with the cilantro. The basic recipe is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely chopped white onions
  • 1 minced habanero chili
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. minced cilantro (optional)
  • 3 parts white vinegar to 1 part water to cover
Belize Onion Sauce

Belize onion sauce is one of the simplest condiments I’ve ever made. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and stir well.
  2. Transfer to a glass jar (wide enough to get a spoon into) with tight-fitting lid.
  3. Refrigerate overnight before using.
Belize onion sauce

This small one-ounce cup is only filled half-way. This is the amount of Belize onion sauce you are given with a take out meal. And you’ll probably have some left over! Image credit: Cherri Megasko

I’ve seen Belize onion sauce recipes online that include other spices – such as whole allspice – but I haven’t actually encountered those in person. I prefer to keep mine simple and unflavored, so I can use it to accompany all types of dishes without changing the basic flavor profile of the dish. A little of this powerful flavor bomb goes a long way, but fair warning – it’s addictive.

Try your homemade Belize onion sauce along with just about any protein: chicken, pork, beef, and especially fish.