Baked Caramelized Onion Dip has to be the queen of all hot appetizers, and once you learn to properly caramelize onions, this simple dip with incredibly complex flavors can be yours.
Caramelized onion dip will change your life
I’m sure you’ve sautéed onions, you’ve sweated, boiled, grilled, roasted, stewed, fried, and browned them, I bet. But you haven’t truly mastered the onion until you’ve caramelized them. And most of us who think we’re doing it, aren’t doing it at all. That was me, once upon a time. I thought because I was getting my onions nice and brown that they were caramelized. Oh how naive I was!
But when you finally get the technique down, it will change your life forever. NOT an overstatement.
My previous onion dip recipes are amazing, but they don’t call for caramelized onions. This might be because caramelizing onions take some serious time (about an hour) and in the past I guess I was in a hurry to enjoy my onion dip. Understandable. But since then I’ve become a true believer in the power of caramelizing and I actually look forward to my time at the stove, because I know what’s awaiting me at the end 🙂
what you’ll need:
- onions, about 3 good sized. You can use any kind, but I recommend regular yellow onions.
- olive oil, and butter ~ the lubrication that gets it all started.
- cognac ~ this deglazes the pot after you’ve caramelized your onions, and it’s genius.
- mayo ~ gotta have it.
- sour cream
- salt and pepper
- garlic powder ~ kinder and gentler than raw.
- dried thyme (of course use fresh if you have it.)
- Parmesan cheese
- Gruyere cheese (for a nice change try using smoked Gruyere.)
How to make caramelized (jammy) onions
I thought I knew how to do this, but, like a lot of you, I’m sure, I’ve been short-changing the process. Do it this way:
- Peel and halve your onions, then thinly slice. Use more than you think you need (start with a mountain,) they shrink down outrageously.
- Put them in a large heavy bottomed pot with a tablespoon each butter and olive oil. A pot with a wide bottom and high sides works well.
- Start to soften them over medium to medium high heat, stirring often. About 5 minutes.
- Add salt and a touch of brown sugar. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often.
- After about 30 minutes they will have lost much of their moisture and be a nice golden color. You’re not done!
- Keep cooking, turning down the heat if necessary, until they are a nutty brown and you can smell their unique aroma. This may likely take another 30 minutes for the sugars in the onions to slowly caramelize.
- Deglaze the pan! I do it with cognac to get every ounce of caramelized goodness off the pan and into the onions.
- Your 3 large onions will yield just about a cup of caramelized onions. But don’t worry, those shriveled looking strings are flavor powerhouses.
- One cup of properly caramelized onions will flavor this whole dip. It’s a rich, almost decadent flavor, and with the background notes from the cognac, this is one special appetizer.
So now you’ve caramelized onions ~ how will you use them??
You’ll use them to make this dip, of course, but they’re going to be so much more useful…
- Top burgers, hot dogs, and brats.
- Add them to grilled cheese sandwiches.
- Fold them into your batter for quiches and savory tarts and pies.
- Make dips, dips, and more dips!
Tips for baking onion dip
- I like to use a wide shallow pan for a couple of reasons: one, there is more surface area so the dip will cook faster. Two, more surface area means more of that browned top, which is the best.
- Give the dip enough time in the oven to really get bubbly and browned on top. There’s nothing worse than digging into an under-cooked dip :/
- Don’t over bake the dip, because that can cause the cheese sauce to separate. When it’s golden on top and bubbling all around the edges, it’s done.
- This dip is best piping hot from the oven, but I find it ages better than most. It’s ok lukewarm, and is actually pretty good reheated the next day (low oven or judicious use of the microwave.)
How to serve caramelized onion dip
The dip is rich, and I think it goes best with thin slices of grilled bread. But chips would work, too. If you’re seriously all about low carb, then I guess baby carrots or celery would be an option. You might also spoon the hot dip into endive or gem lettuce cups. I could get into that.
I love it so much I’m planning to rework the recipe for baked chicken, I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
Seriously good hot dips
- Cheesy Brussels Sprout Dip
- Smokey Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Cheesy Hatch Green Chile Dip
- Vidalia Onion Dip
Caramelized Onion Dip
- Dutch oven
- gratin dish or cast iron skillet
- 3 large yellow onions
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp (or a touch more) cognac
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme (crush with your fingers as you add it)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- Peel the onions. I chop one of them. I halve the next, and thinly slice. I quarter the last one, and thinly slice. This gives me a nice variety of texture in the finished dip and avoids the 'stringly onion' syndrome that can happen with classic onion dip 🙂
- Melt the butter and oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven and add the onions. Cook them until they start to soften, stirring often. About 5 minutes.
- Add the salt and brown sugar to the pan and stir well.
- Now you'll continue to cook the onions, uncovered, over medium heat, for as long as it takes to caramelize them: this will be about an hour. You'll want to stir every so often. The key here is that you don't want them to brown right away, you want them to soften and lose their moisture. The heat should be high enough to cook them, but not so high that they're browning on the bottom of the pan (this will happen at the very end of the caramelization process.) The onions will release moisture first, then SLOWLY turn from golden to brown. Your nose will tell you when it's close. (See tips in the post for more details.)
- When the onions have reduced way down and have turnd a nice deep golden brown, you can deglaze the pan with the cognac. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan at this point and remove from the heat to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 375F
- Put the mayo, sour cream, cheeses, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper into a bowl and blend. Fold in the cooled onions.
- Spread into a gratin dish, cast iron skillet, or other oven safe baking dish.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the dip is bubbling and golden on top. The baking time will vary depending on the size of your dish.
- Serve hot with thin slices of baquette that have been toasted. Reheat, if necessary, in a low oven, or reheat smaller portions briefly in the microwave.