Caramelized Onion Gratin

Caramelized Onion Gratin
Caramelized Onion Gratin

I have no idea how this recipe slipped through the cracks.  It’s the thing my wife requests I make the most.  It’s

Caramelized Onion Gratin 


What?  Gratin I say?  Yes, gratin.

Wait!  Like au gratin?  Well, sort of.

See, I used to think that all gratins were au gratins, like potatoes au gratin, which is potatoes sliced and then baked with cream, butter, and cheese.  However, I attended a cooking class at the Kansas City Culinary Institute where we made these awesome little appetizers which Chef Cody Hogan called gratins (that’s gruh-TAN rather GRAW-tun like I was used to).  Anyway, it got me scrambling over to Wikipedia to get the 411 on exactly what a gratin is.

According to that venerable font of knowledge, a gratin is a baked dish with a browned crust on it, traditionally from bread crumbs or cheese.  In the case of this gratin, we use Parmesan cheese sprinkled on some slowed cooked, caramelized onions for a little browning.

Making Caramelized Onion Gratin

This recipe is not my own.  It is an adaptation of a recipe from Chef Hogan from Lidia’s Italy.  I made a few minor alterations, but nothing of significance.  Anyway, I am very thankful to him for sharing.  So is Mrs. WellDone.

This is seriously one of the easiest dishes in the world to make.  There’s only one tinsy, weensy little problem: time.  You can’t decide you want caramelize onions and have them show up.  It takes anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour to get them to their appropriate level of sweetness, but that time is so worth it. 

During that forty-five plus minutes in a skillet, magic happens.  Plain old white onions strong enough to make you cry go from offensive to delicate.  Slow cooking the onions brings out the sweatness hidden away and gives them this incredible silkiness like nothing else on earth.  The onions are good enough to eat by themselves, but when they are baked with a little cheese… perfection.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into tablespoon sized chunks*
  • 2 onions*
  • 1 teaspoon pepper*
  • 2 leaves fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil*
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 loaf Italian bread*
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*

* You can double or triple this recipe by multipling all starred ingredients by x2 or x3.  However, don’t overcrowd the pan.

It’s Caramelized Onions Time!

In a skillet for which you have a lid over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the onions, pepper, and a good pinch of salt and cook over medium high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until they start to turn translucent.  Then add the basil, stir, and cover. 

Put the stove on low or medium low and come back in forty-five minutes. 

The onions should have taken on a brown caramel color.  Depending on your stove and the quantity of onions, you may need to leave them on a bit longer.  It’s fine.  You cannot overcook the onions as long as there is liquid left in the skillet.

If the onions look done, remove the lid.  I like to let let the onions dry so I’ll keep them on low an extra 10 minutes or so.  You can always take the skillet off immediately if you prefer.

Make the Gratin

There is nothing to this.  Preheat your oven to 350.  Spray the cooking spray on a baking sheet.

Cut the bread into half inch slices.  Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the cut side over the bread.  Then put on a heaping tablespoon of caramelized onions on the bread and top with some Parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 10 minutes or until the bread gets crisp.  You can put it under the broiler for about a minute after you have baked for 10 minutes if you want, but I always burn my bread when I do that.  Me and Rachel Ray…

Anyway, eat up and ENJOY!


  1. Just have’ta try this.

    Love onions in my food. Can add such a wide variety of flavor depending on prep.

    My fav is candied onions. Caramelized white pearls – butter, sugar, onions, heat and time mixed together for goodness!

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