Friday, March 15, 2013

Fabulous Friday Food: Pan Fried Onion Dip

Have I ever mentioned that I grew up with family all around me? My grandparents lived about a half a mile down the road, and my aunt, uncle, and cousins lived another half mile past them.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of family gatherings--birthdays, holidays, welcome home parties, even the Super Bowl. All were spent with the love of family wrapped around me like a warm blanket.

What I remember most is the food. Lots of it, always good. Fried chicken, jello salads, baked beans, and homemade rhubarb or strawberry pie and ice cream.

Just for starters.

I think these family gatherings primed me to be the food-lover that I am today.

This sounds crazy, being the good-food lover that I am, but I always got super-excited when Grandma served chips and dip. We'd be gathered around the television, watching football, and Grandma would bring out the snacks. Back then it was a bag of Ruffles and a carton of store bought onion dip, but even as a kid I loved me some chips and dip.

I'm still a dipper today. Pretty much with any food, if I can dip it, I will. Sandwiches into au jus. Cookies into ice cream. Bananas into peanut butter.

But especially chips into dip. There's just something comforting about it.

So you can imagine my delight when I saw Ina Garten make her Pan Fried Onion Dip many years ago. I just had to try it, like right NOW! And I'm so glad I did because this has become one of my favorite snack foods.

SO much better than the onion dip in a carton that you buy in the grocery store!

Really, there's no comparison.

I've made Ina's recipe too many times to count over the years, so I've been able to tweak it according to my own tastes and preferences. What you have here is my own, slightly altered version of Ina's original recipe.

You'll need onions (duh!), butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne, cream cheese, mayo, and sour cream.

Sound decadent enough for ya?

Slice up about three or four sweet onions. Vidalia season is almost here, so grab a big bag and get slicing!

Place them in a pan with about 4 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I like to use a cast iron skillet for this because I think you can control the temperature of the pan a little better than with stainless.

Probably just me.

Sprinkle them with just a dash or two of cayenne pepper and a little salt and pepper.

Now here's where your patience really pays off. Keep the heat of the pan at about medium to medium-low. You don't want to FRY your onions, you want to CARAMELIZE them. And caramelizing takes time.

As in, about 40 minutes.

Here is what my onions looked like after about 20 minutes:

But be patient, child. They might look like they're almost done, but they're not.

Here's what they looked like after 40 minutes:

Isn't that better?

Allowing your onions to fully caramelize helps develop the rich, sweet flavor that the onions have hidden in them. And your dip will be just that much better for it.

Remove the onions from the pan and drain them on a couple of pieces of paper towel on a plate. Ina's recipe leaves out that step, and I've found it helpful to get rid of some of the excess grease.

Next, take an 8-ounce package of cream cheese that you have left out on the counter for quite some time, preferrably overnight (it really, really has to be at room temperature, unless you like little lumps of cream cheese floating throughout your onion dip) and beat the heck out of it.

Make sure your cream cheese is really light and fluffy before you add the rest.

Next, add about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 1 cup of sour cream, also best if at room temperature, but not entirely necessary.

Beat that together with the cream cheese until everything is well-incorporated.

Next, add the onions that have been drained and cooled and beat just until mixed together.

Place in a pretty bowl (!) and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving with the best potato chips you can find (preferrably not Ruffles).

Now, invite some friends over to watch the Blackhawks cream whomever they happen to be playing (ha!) and enjoy!

To get a printable version of this recipe, click here.

Did you know you can get all of my 42 (so far!) recipes as printables? Just click on the "Recipes" tab above and have a look around. These are all of the recipes that I have featured here on the blog, and every one has been tested and tried by my family. Many times over.

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Linking this post to Richella's Grace at Home party. So glad you stopped by!


  1. I made carmelized onion dip at Christmas from a recipe in Real Simple. This has a few more ingredients ... can't wait to try it, too.

    Both of my grandma's were great cooks. I have my paternal grandma's recipe box.


  2. Sigh. Is there a dairy free version of that?

  3. Anxious to do this! Wondering what fine cracker or bread you would use for a wine party.