Make Ahead

New-School French Onion Dip

June 21, 2014
4 Stars
  • Makes about 2 cups
Author Notes

There is no denying that homemade usually tastes better than store-bought. And lucky for us, this is definitely one of those times. It's no surprise to me that sliced red onions, slowly cooked down with thyme, olive oil, a little sugar and white wine until they reach a dark caramelized jam taste better than a packet dehydrated who-knows-what. And it's also no surprise to me that good quality cream cheese and sour cream whipped together in front of my eyes tastes better than whatever stabilizers and thickening agents have gone into a tub of store-bought French Onion. Once the creamy base and the dark sticky onions come together, it's game over. I'm sorry, but that plastic tub never stood a chance. Homemade's got it beat hands-down. —Sarah Coates

  • For the onion jam:
  • 2 large red onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth
  • For the dip:
  • 12 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup fried shallots, optional, to garnish (these can be found in the asian food section of your supermarket)
In This Recipe
  1. First, make the onion jam. Peel and slice the onions into fine half-moons. Place them into a wide heavy-based pan, along with the olive oil, and sweat over a medium-low heat until they begin to caramelize and brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the thyme leaves and granulated sugar to the pan, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the sugar is melted and the onions are well caramelized.
  3. Pour the white wine or vermouth into the pan, and working quickly, stir and scrape any sticky, browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring and scraping until the pan is basically clean, and the liquid has completely evaporated. Turn off the heat, and set aside to cool. (If packed into a sterilized jar, this mixture can be kept in the fridge for up to a week)
  4. To make the dip, beat the cream cheese (either with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer) until it is completely smooth. Add the sour cream and beat again until smooth, thick and combined.
  5. At this point, you can either add the cooled onion jam and mix the two together, or do as I like to do, and serve the smooth, creamy dip spread out on a plate, and topped with a tangle of onions. Either way, sprinkle with the crisp fried shallots and serve!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Austin Burges
    Austin Burges
  • Rhonda35
  • Kaite
  • Virginia Martin
    Virginia Martin
  • nbk2101
Sarah is the author and photographer behind The Sugar Hit, a blog solely devoted to the joys of eating. She is a typical 21st century creative type, totally obsessed with food, writing, design, photography and styling. She lives in Brisbane, Australia and regularly eats mountains of crudités in a misguided attempt to offset the staggering amounts of butter she consumes daily.

21 Reviews

Austin B. November 27, 2018
So is there a difference between French Onion Dip & Sour Cream and Onion Dip?
Alison July 4, 2018
This was too sweet. Next time I would cut the sugar and maybe consider using regular brown onions instead.
Rhonda35 May 26, 2017
So good! I caramelized the onions, let them cool, then pulsed everything in the food processor until the onions were broken up and the mixture was combined well. Worked out perfectly!
Kaite January 20, 2017
Seriously delicious stuff! I don't know how others caramelize their onions but it took me nearly three hours to get mine nice and dark. I do it low and slow. I also chopped up my caramelized onions before mixing them with the cream cheese/sour cream. I would classify this more as a spread rather than a dip. Loved the addition of the fried shallots on top. A keeper for sure!
Beth June 20, 2017
That's how I caramelize mine! I just let them go over very low heat, in a small amount of oil (less than 1 T). I don't touch them again until they just start to get a little color. Once they do, I stir them every now and again, watching carefully to make sure they don't brown too fast (if they start to stick I add 1-2 T water to deglaze a little.) Once they're where I like them (avg cook time at this point is at least 2 hours), I add any herbs I'm feeling and hit the pan with whatever wine I'm feeling (usually just w/e is on hand) and sometimes I finish it with 1/2 T butter, for a little extra richness.
Virginia M. March 22, 2015
Very yummy, highly addictive. I "whipped" the cream cheese and sour cream together in the food processor and the texture turned out great, very light and spreadable. As others have suggested, I chopped up the onions before folding them I into the dip so they'd be even throughout and easy to pick up on chips. I can't wait to put this on some bagels!
nbk2101 January 1, 2015
An easy, crowd-pleasing dish! And there's something so satisfying about watching the onions slowly brown and take on that wonderful caramelized aroma. Next time, though, I might cut back on the cream cheese (or up the sour cream) to make it more spreadable. Thanks for the great appetizer!
betty888 July 27, 2014
I love this recipe. I made a few batches over the July 4th weekend - delicious. Since red onions don't sit well with me, I substituted shallots, and it took me a bit longer to caramelize the onions than noted. This is officially a favorite.
Sarah C. July 27, 2014
I'm so glad you like it Betty! Shallots would be gorgeous - next level deliciousness!
Aliwaks July 7, 2014
Sarah... I find myself staring at this recipe over and over again, its goregous, the bagels are driving me crazy.. I fear that if I do make it I will eat it all by myself standing in the kitchen the second its done
Steffen July 1, 2014
Super delicious.
sianbum June 30, 2014
LOVED this dip. Came together exactly as promised with the only comment being that if you want the onions mixed into the dip, you might consider chopping them up post-caramelizing. It's tough to dip chips with such long onion strings.
Sarah C. June 30, 2014
Yes, that's a great tip! Thank you for the feebdack!
Ralf S. June 29, 2014
i just drove halfway through town to get some decent bagels for this (harder than it should be in berlin) and it's gorgeous, very very nice. didn't have any white wine/vermouth around, so i replaced it with sake. turned out fine!
Sarah C. June 29, 2014
I am so impressed by your commitment to bagels! I'm glad you like the recipe, too! Thanks Ralf. :)
Courtney June 28, 2014
This. And on a sesame bagel too. I'm mad I didn't think of it first, but I'll forgive you because it's just perfect.
Sarah C. June 28, 2014
I'm so glad we can still be friends. Bagels for everyone!
Counselorchick June 26, 2014
I can't believe there are no reviews for this one yet. Sounds like a kick-ass dip. I shall return with my results. Thanks!
Sarah C. June 27, 2014
Thanks Counselor Chick! Can't wait to hear how you go!
Counselorchick July 6, 2014
It took me way longer than 15 minutes to caramelize the onions. The finished dip was delicious. I took siambum's recommendation and chopped the red onions rather than slice thin. After being in the fridge, it hardened but I just whisked in a bit of extra sour cream and all was right with the world. Yummy! Everyone at our 4th of July gatherings raved.
Sarah C. July 6, 2014
I'm so glad you liked it!