Caramelized Onion Dip

By • January 16, 2011 • 52 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe is very simple and so delicious. You will never go back to pre-made onion dip after you have this. I prefer to eat this with potato chips, but would be great with veggies as well. It is amazing how much sweetness is created through the natural caramelization of the onions. - ADRIENEADRIENE

Food52 Review: Patience pays off here -- take your time caramelizing the onions. First, the onions will give off a lakeful of liquid. Let it boil off slowly, and by the time the onions begin to caramelize -- it took ours at least an hour -- they'll be as soft as pudding and deeply concentrated in flavor. Their sweetness infuses the entire dip, and while the rest of the ingredients are the classic onion dip foundation -- sour cream, cream cheese, and chives -- this one will be better than any you've had before. Note: We halved the recipe and had plenty for 6-8 (not ravenous) dip eaters. - A&MA&M

Serves 6-8

  • 5 pounds Spanish onions
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Peel and cut the onions in a small dice. Get a large pot on the stove with the olive oil and throw in the diced onions. Cook on medium to low heat until they are caramelized (a nice golden brown color). This should take somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Put the cooked onions, cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice and zest (if your lemon is large, you may want to start with half of each and add to taste) in a food processor. Blend until combined well. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Mince the chives, fold the chives into the dip and sprinkle some on top to garnish.
Jump to Comments (52)

Tags: dips, onion

Comments (52) Questions (1)

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3 months ago ghainskom

This was nice, if not outstanding. I halved the recipe and still had A LOT of it so watch out.

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9 months ago Danny

I am an onion dip addict from birth, so I was intrigued by the recipe creator's comment that I would never buy onion dip again. I loved making this dip—loved how the onions cooked down into a pudding-like substance, just like she said. And I found no problems with the measurements at all, though it did make an insane amount of dip. But it's not accurate to compare this to other pre-made dips because this is sweet and those are savory. My eyes see onion dip, but my mouth tastes sweetness and it doesn't work for me, no matter how many chipfuls I eat. Glad I tried it, though. It's got me thinking about ways to work caramelized onions into other presentations.

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9 months ago Nathan Grisham

Great recipe! It makes a ton of dip though. I don't think that seven of us are going to get through all of this.

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9 months ago Marina Membreno

This recipe was great! It was an absolute hit, and so easy to make! A great app for football parties, pic nics, etc. Thank you for sharing.

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over 1 year ago LeeLeeBee

Loved this recipe. I used the full five pounds of onions, and was glad I did. Since I had a lot of time to cook them but didn't want to be bothered to chop, I just sliced them thickly and caramelized them for about two hours. I blended about 2/3 of the onions with the other ingredients, and then stirred in the other third for a textural contrast.

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over 1 year ago Kwelicakes

I made this for the Super Bowl. The crowd went ((((wild))))! They loved it! I tinkered with it a bit, after reading the comments. I cut the onions. I added pink Himalayan salt and Red Rooster hot sauce. I blended it -- just enough to remove major lumps. Oh! I used a Meyers lemon. This dip was fabulous!

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over 1 year ago Muse

Will have to whip some up quick today before the Super Bowl...thank you for posting the recipes!

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almost 3 years ago Summer of Eggplant

I made this for the cookbook party, total hit. By request I'll be making it again for an open house next weekend. I also did not use all of the onions 3-4 lbs. would be enough. Loved the lemon in there.

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over 3 years ago KitchVega

I loved it! I used two large onions and about two cloves of garlic. Very delish. Having it tomorrow for pre party for the Trueblood premiere! Thanks!

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over 3 years ago Chicago Mike

One tip that has worked well for me to caramelize onions faster is to place a piece of parchment paper directly on top of onions as they cook. Read this in the newer Gourmet cookbook by Ruth Reichl. Not sure why it works but it's something I will always do now when caramelizing onions.

New_face

over 3 years ago ADRIENE

Great tip, I never heard of that!

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over 3 years ago kmartinelli

Just made this for company and it's delish! I was planning on making the full amount but then used only as many onions as would fit in my largest pan, which I think was about three pounds. At that point I decided not to even measure the cream cheese (I used a whole 200 gram container) and sour cream, just added and tasted until it tasted right. It is definitely addictive! Next time I will take dymnyno's suggestion and not blend it, I like the pieces of onion too. Although I can't say I will make this often (nearly two hours for a dip is a little longer than I can usually spare for something that will be gobbled up so quickly) I will definitely make it again!

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over 3 years ago Finnegans Wake

While this dip was given a positive response, I have to agree that the ratio of onions used could be tweaked. Were I to make this again, I would use half the onions originally called for: the dip was, IMO, far too sweet from all the onions using 5#, and they made the dip too thick.

While I realize that water content of onions can vary greatly, and the degree to which cooks utilizing this recipe fully extract this water in the caramelization process may likewise vary, I am reminded of a wonderful onion tart recipe I've used for years that calls for 3# of onions and an hour to cook them down (rather like risotto, adding liquid -- white wine -- just as the liquid is cooked off from the onions). The result of 3# of onions being more than enough for a tart should have given me pause, but I was multi-tasking and just went with it.

Another problem with 5# of onions is that it's simply too much for one large pot. The diced onions made a layer that was 5-6" deep initially, so the time for proper caramelization was actually closer to 2 hours. If you're caramelizing that many onions, you'd need two pots to more effectively caramelize the onions (or you would need to do them in batches).

A good idea, with caveats. Not sure this was worth my time, but it was fun to try out!

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over 3 years ago schmaltzy

I originally halved the recipe, but it was too sweet, so I used the full amount of cream cheese and added a little salt and grated garlic as suggested. That balanced the sweetness perfectly. I also used a blender as my food processor is broken, but that was a mistake. It is way too perfectly smooth. It would have been better if I didn't process it at all and just mixed it. Still, my husband is eating it up.

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over 3 years ago SoCoolAZ

Delicious! I bit sweeter than I expected, but the salt tip worked well. I love my wife's food processor...!

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over 3 years ago annaknitsetc

Just made this dip -- so delicious!! Thanks Adriene!

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over 3 years ago ADRIENE

your welcome :)

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over 3 years ago dymnyno

I used a lot less onions too. When they had cooked down and were really soft, I added them to the other ingredients, but I did not use a blender. That way the dip had lots of little pieces of onion throughout and intensified the flavor.of each bite a little more. You could just caramelize another cup of onions and add that to the dip.

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over 3 years ago ADRIENE

good tip!

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over 3 years ago brownhut

Like Chez Nana, I used three pounds of onions with all the other ingredients the same as the recipe. They cooked down nicely and resulted in a great texture.
Any ideas for additional ingredients to add? I like it, but it seems as though it could have more depth of flavor.

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over 3 years ago Food52

This is from your friendly editors at Food52.

A bit more salt might help coax out more flavor (it usually does). Or try a little more lemon or some grated garlic (not too much -- it's potent stuff), depending on which direction you'd like to take it. Hope it turns out well!

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over 3 years ago brownhut

Thanks!! I'll give it a shot. Thank you for sharing the recipe!!

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almost 3 years ago WileyP

I have been making the old standard California dip for so many years that it would be embarrassing to mention. Over the years I made additions and adjustments that really made it a special and unique dip. I plan to make and enjoy this recipe just as Adriene has written and so kindly posted it, because it does sound perfect the way it is. However...(isn't there always a caveat?!)...here are some things I have added to that California dip in the past and might (or might not) add if I end up with an extra cup or two: Diced pre-cooked shrimp, diced green chiles, diced jalapeño, finely grated sharp cheddar, a splash of Worcestershire, even (gak!) a tablespoon or two of chile sauce or tomato based seafood sauce. [Please don't shoot me or send evil people to beat me up, Adriene - I'm really sure that none of that stuff is really necessary!]

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over 3 years ago chez nana

I made this recipe the other evening and used 3 pounds onions ~ it worked perfectly for me! And it is wonderful!!

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over 3 years ago Francescap

I am making this as I write. I am looking at my beautiful caramelized onions and thinking is this quantity correct? Plus the photo shows the dip looking very white, so adding this many onions, I don't think will yield the same coloring. I'm going to go for it and get back with the results!!! May the force be with me.

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over 3 years ago dymnyno

I have a recipe for French Onion Dip that is almost identical to yours. So I thought I would compare the few little differences. Are you sure that you use 5 pounds of onions? An average onion is about that 6 to 8 ounces so 5 pounds of onions is more than 10 cups of chopped onions(that is conservative) and they don't cook down all THAT much. Plus with 2 cups of sour cream and a cup of cream cheese, that is more than 10 people could eat. Are you sure your ingredient amounts are correct?

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over 3 years ago arielleclementine

hi dymnyno! i don't want to answer for adriene, but it looks like the editors cooked the recipe as written (in the slideshow and video) and found the ingredient ratios to be correct. if it sounds like more dip than you can eat, perhaps you could halve the recipe like amanda did in the video? looking forward to making this soon!

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over 3 years ago dymnyno

I thought that perhaps she meant 5 cups of onions.. 5 pounds yield well over 10 cups of onions (medium onions). It looked like Amanda used about 3 cups of onions. I am not disputing that this sounds delicious, but if this is a recipe contest we should be able follow her directions.

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over 3 years ago Food52

This is from your friendly editors at Food52.

For the record, we did halve the recipe for both the photo shoot and the video shoot, which would probably keep 6-8 dainty dip eaters happy. However, we did cook the full 5 pounds of onions all at once on the photo shoot day, to get ahead for the video the next day, so the mountain of chopped onions you see in the slideshow is the full amount -- as you can see, they cook down a ton! Sorry if this led to added confusion.

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over 3 years ago ADRIENE

My directions are correct as well as my measurements. And yes, they do cook down that much. When I get together with friends and we are eating good food, we usually eat a lot...so it is not more than 10 people can eat. Sorry that you found so many flaws with my recipe.