Super flavorful, creamy, and easy to make this appetizer is also known as French Onion dip. No more store-bought stuff as it comes together in 30 minutes! Eat it with potato chips, it's the best way.
Originally posted in June 2012, this post has been updated with images and text to serve you better. The recipe remains the same.
For years my friends and I used to buy sour cream, a packet of instant onion soup powder, mix it together, and call it a dip. That was high school, several decades ago. Now, more sophisticated dips and appetizers show up, like my favorite sweet and spiced cocktail nuts or the creamy avocado hummus.
But my quest for a great, made-from-scratch onion dip was a long one. And it bore fruit. Or a great recipe to be more exact.
What do you get with this onion dip:
- Lots of onion flavor.
- Zing from the caramelization.
- A little kick from the cayenne pepper.
- An easy recipe, made in 30 minutes.
I use the same technique taught to me years ago by a French culinary master. It works for any type of onion and was originally part of a recipe for Boeuf Bourguinon where pearl onions were involved. We caramelized them first before adding to the stew.
What happens is that the onions cook for a while and they release their natural sugars. That concentrates the flavor and eliminates its pungency and strong flavor.
- Onions: use white or red. Or even a sweeter one such as Vidalia. They all have different strengths and acid levels to start with, so they all deliver different results. But they're all great.
- Water: regular tap water used to cover the onions. It will slowly evaporate.
- Wine: I use white but you can use red and have a reddish dip. The flavor will be much more intense. Can you not use it? Absolutely! Use only water.
- Salt and pepper: I add them at the beginning so they impregnate the onions.
Steps for caramelizing onions:
As you can see in the image above, the onions brown as they caramelize.
You can vary from light amber to a deep one, sort of like caramel, and that will depend on how long you cook the onions and with how much liquid.
- Cut the onions - I like to cut them in fourths and then slice them (image 1). But you can chop them or any other way you like, thinner or thicker. They will show more or less in this french onion dip.
- Melt butter and oil, add the onions and season them (images 2-3). You're not going to sautee them, just coat them in the fat before adding the liquid.
- Add water and white wine and let it simmer slowly (images 4-5).
- Let the liquid evaporate and start stirring (images 6-7). The onions will start browning because they don't have any more liquid (image 8), but the flavor will be sweeter and deeper.
- For this dip, I like the onions to be very soft and brown (image 9).
Take into account that the longer you cook them the more they will soften (and eventually disintegrate) and you will have more of an onion puree.
Vintage Kitchen Tip
Top tips to make this recipe
- Spiciness: I love cayenne, but have made it with smoked paprika and Merken (amazing smoked paprika from Chile). Sriracha should work, a few drops.
- Milk/cream: the dip should be fluid enough for the potato chips to comfortably scoop it up, so add some extra teaspoons of liquid if needed.
- Chives: they add color, crunch, and a dose of fresh onion flavor. You can also use chopped green onions, white and light green parts.
You can make a large batch and refrigerate it, covered. It will last several days. I don't like to freeze them because they change in texture. But I know some who do.
You can prepare the dip a day before you plan to serve it. Add the garnishes at the last minute.
- Blender: you can also blend the dip if you like a very creamy appetizer. The flavor will be amazing.
How to serve this dip
Potato chips, that's my first choice, always! They go so well with it and are easy to purchase, you may have one at home already.
Hey, you might have all the ingredients to make the dip right now!
You can also use breadsticks, pita toasts, corn chips, or any other similar snack you like.
- Make an onion dip platter with the dip in center stage surrounded with potato chips, bread, etc. Maybe some olives too in another bowl. Beer is always a good pairing.
Other appetizer recipes you might like:
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Also known as French onion dip, this is the ultimate game day and barbecue snack. Easy to make and flavorful!
- 1 large red onion
- 1 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs oil (vegetable or olive)
- Splash or white wine (see Notes below)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 4 oz (115g) cream cheese, room tº
- ¼ cup (80g) sour cream, at room t°
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, you might not want it spicy)
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Peel onion, cut it in half and then slice thinly (see Notes below).
- Melt butter and oil in skillet, add onion and season with salt and pepper.
- Add enough tap water to just cover the onions.
- Cook over slow/medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes, until the liquid evaporates.
- Start stirring the onion constantly for a few minutes, until brown and caramelized.
- Allow to cool.
- In a bowl mix cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and cooled onions, saving a tablespoon for garnish.
- Add cayenne, 1 tablespoon milk or cream and mix well. Make sure the consistency is the right one so the potato chips don't break when scooping it. Add a teaspoon or more liquid if necessary.
- Check for seasonings and adjust as necessary.
- Mix in chives, saving a teaspoon for garnish.
- Serve at room tº topped with some caramelized onions and chives.
- Eat with potato chips.
- Keep leftovers refrigerated.
White wine: I caramelize the onions with wine, it adds a great depth of flavor and much-needed acid, in my opinion. And it evaporates while the onions cook. You can avoid it if you don't want alcohol. Simply use all water.
How to cut the onions: you can slice or chop them, thick or thin. Take into account that it will affect how soft they become, as smaller or thinner slices will soften more while cooking in the liquid.
Spiciness: I love cayenne, but have made it with smoked paprika and Merken (amazing smoked paprika from Chile). Sriracha should work, a few drops.
Milk/cream: the dip should be fluid enough for the potato chips to comfortably scoop it up, so add some extra teaspoons of liquid if needed.
Chives: they add color, crunch, and a dose of fresh onion flavor. You can also use chopped green onions, white and light green parts.
Make-ahead: make a large batch and refrigerate it, covered. It will last several days.
Keywords: onion dip, french onion dip