This onion dip, made with onions, sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and scallions, is a riotously great way to dip, dunk, or otherwise devour your way to snack-induced satisfaction.
“To me, caramelizing onions is one of the most pleasurable acts of cooking,” explains writer Dana Bowen. “The standing and stirring and staring into the pot…inhaling the subtle changes in aroma from sweet to sweeter….” She goes on to confess that sometimes she caramelizes onions with no particular recipe or destination in mind. We understand where she’s coming from. Though honestly? When it comes time to find a noble purpose for caramelized onions, this onion dip recipe immediately comes to mind. Each and every time.–David Leite
What To Serve With This Dip?
Nothing is sadder to us than this spectacularly inspired onion dip surrounded by spectacularly uninspired and lifeless carrot or celery sticks that were obviously languishing in the vegetable bin for weeks before being called to duty. So let’s think beyond boring dippers. And if you want, you could think beyond even the lovely but expected vegetal goodness like radishes, cucumbers, cauliflower and broccoli florets, even multicolored carrots. We’re thinking…
Steamed new potatoes
Blanched green beans
Colorful strips of bell peppers
Homemade potato chips
Toasted baguette slices
Water crackers (you know, the ones that are pricey yet possess that sturdy snap that goes so well with dips)
- Restraint (so you don’t inhale it all yourself)
- 2 pounds yellow onions half quartered lengthwise and half finely chopped
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco sauce to taste
- 4 scallions (white and green parts) minced
- Cut raw vegetables such as cucumbers, radishes, and carrots, plus other dippers, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place the quartered onions on the baking sheet, being careful to keep the wedges intact. Drizzle the onions with 2 tablespoons oil, season with salt and pepper, and gently turn the onions to coat, again being mindful of keeping the wedges intact. Roast the onions, turning occasionally, until softened and slightly caramelized, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of your onions.
☞TESTER TIP: Keep a careful watch toward the end of the roasting time to ensure the edges don't scorch, which would lend a bitter taste to the finished dip.
- Let the onions cool. Dump them in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, and salt and pepper to taste and purée again until smooth.
- Scrape the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight to let the flavors meld.
- About 45 minutes before you want to set the dip out for guests to demolish, heat the remaining 3/4 cup oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high to medium heat. Add the finely chopped onions and cook, stirring almost constantly, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are crisp and deep golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes more. Keep a careful watch on the onions toward the end of the cooking time, as they tend to go from perfectly golden brown and crisp to incinerated in seconds.
- Using a slotted spoon, dump the onions into a strainer placed over a bowl to drain for a few moments. Then spread the onions on a brown paper bag to drain a little more. Reserve the oil in the bowl and skillet for another use, such as stirring into mashed potatoes or dribbling over steamed vegetables.
- To finish, stir the scallions and 2/3 of the fried onions into the dip. Taste and adjust accordingly with salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce. Transfer the dip to a serving dish, scatter the remaining fried onions on top, and serve with the raw vegetables.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I took this onion dip as my date to a ladies’ night. I had prepared various crudités and discovered the firmer ones held up best against the thick dip. The girls were also slathering it on crackers and brown bread. But in the privacy of my own home, my favorite dipping vessel was my finger (shhh!). Someone asked to take the leftovers home, as she wanted to slather it on a grilled steak. Works for me!
The finely chopped onions had more integrity and intensity of flavor than the roasted onions and next time I’ll prepare all the onions this way. I definitely could have used a lot less olive oil. The onions didn’t crisp as I had envisioned, so after draining them, I refried them, stirring carefully, until they were beautifully brown and crisp, and I folded part of them and the scallions into the dip. The flavor was just to my liking. I added the nice crisp onions to the top of the dip while I was prepping ingredients for a spinach salad, and it was all I could do not to toss some fragrant crisp bacon bits with the fried onion—next time!
When I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, my mother would often throw cocktail parties that always included various chips and dips. A mainstay for her was onion dip, which normally came from adding dried soup mix to a container of sour cream. I have so many fond memories of sneaking out of my room and pillaging the dips when nobody was looking. This dip stirs those memories, but it’s light years beyond what came from those soup packets.
The sweetness of the onions cooked 2 ways was kind of surprising. I thought it would be more savory, but I don’t think I realized how sweet Vidalia onions can get. I love this dip even really sweet, but next time I’d use regular white or yellow onions. (I will say the onions at the market were huge! I needed just 2.) The cooking times were spot-on, but know that you should make this a day ahead for the flavors to properly meld. While the recipe calls for just under 1 cup olive oil for frying the onions, I reduced mine to a 1/2 cup, which was perfect in my 12-inch cast iron pan.
The smell of the frying onions was pretty darn amazing. I ended up serving this dip as an appetizer course for dinner. I paired the dip with my weekly local CSA treasures, which included purple carrots and black Spanish radishes. So sweet and creamy, this dip is a must-try with the contrast of crunchy vegetables.
This is the onion dip to end all onion dips. It’s quintessentially American in its excess with 3 types of onions (roasted, fried, and raw) plus 3 types of creamy stuff (mayo, sour cream, and cream cheese). This dip is not for the faint of heart—nor the frail of heart. But then, if you’re going to compete with that glutamate-laden packet of instant soup, you need to pull out all the stops.
There is only one tricky part to this recipe, and that is the frying of the onions. You want fried onions here, not sautéed onions, so yes, you really do need all that oil. While the recipe calls for olive oil, extra-virgin would be wasted here. So just go for the “pure” olive oil or any neutral oil of your choice. The tricky part is that the fried onions will go from brown to black in the blink of an eye, so you really need to watch them closely towards the end. You want them deep brown but not burnt. They will continue to crisp after you take them out of the oil, so don’t obsess about the texture, just go by color. (Save the oil that you drain off the onions! You’ve got a nice onion-flavored oil here that you can use in other dishes.)
I did feel that this recipe needed a bit more salt. I added more to taste, and it ended up being an extra teaspoon and a half. That sounds like a lot, but this recipe makes a ton of dip. If you plan to serve the dip with salty store-bought chips, you might not need the extra salt. Taste with whatever you are planning to dip in it. The time in the refrigerator is also important, as right out of the food processor the dip is a bit thin, but it firms up in the fridge. You can fry and drain the onions while the dip is chilling.
I first tried the dip with carrot sticks. That was good. Then I tried it with some homemade potato chips, and that was better. But my favorite way to have it was spread onto thin slices of toasted baguette. That was sublime.
For the frying, they go from brown to burnt very quickly—I looked away for 2 seconds and incinerated a batch. I paid more attention the second round. I feel strongly that you DO need the full cup of oil called for in the recipe. Otherwise the onions will sauté and not fry. They might get caramelized after an eon or two, but they won’t get crisp. With the full amount of oil, you’ll get crunchy brown nuggets of oniony goodness. I’m pretty sure that’s what the author is going for.
This onion dip took some work, but most of it was hands-off time, and the result was pretty great if you’re looking for an onion dip with lots of zing and less of the preservatives found in the tubs and that instant powdered stuff.
Beware of lingering fried onion smells in your house, but it’s nothing a few candles and open windows won’t cure.
I served this at a party with the traditional veggie tray, as well as potato chips. What little dip was left over also tasted great on some broiled cod the next day.
Originally published April 27, 2015