Pearl onions made creamy and indulgent. (And don’t miss that cracker crumb topping.)
When I first came across an onion gratin, it seemed a little excessive. I mean, who wants a whole mouthful of onion? But it turns out that baking pearl onions in a cream sauce flavored with thyme, parmesan, and a crispy cracker crumb topping isn’t excessive at all. It’s heavenly. It mellows the onions and makes them into a side dish that’s pretty indulgent, as far as side dishes go. You put onions in pretty much everything you cook, so why not just serve them alongside the dish too?
I love a recipe you only need a handful of things for and here you only need a bag or two of frozen pearl onions, some heavy cream, some thyme, some butter, some butter crackers (like Ritz), some parm, and of course some salt and pepper. You know what they say — simple is best!
It’s also simple to prepare. You’re going to boil your pearl onions in a bit of water for about five minutes to thaw them and break them up. Some come peeled, some don’t, but the outer layers will loosen here and it’s an easy time to remove them.
Then you’ll heat the cream and thyme and combine that with the onions in a baking dish. Easy!
Those butter crackers I mentioned? Well, those get crushed up and mixed with butter and parm and sprinkled over the top. I’m not saying it’s my favorite part, but I’m not saying it’s not.
After thirty minutes in the oven that topping is irresistibly crispy and the onions have settled into a nice mellow sweetness, carried by a loved herb-scented cream sauce. That’s just oniony goodness, right there.
Pearl Onion Gratin
5m prep time
40m cook time
- 2 lbs frozen pearl onions, thawed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups crushed butter crackers (such as Ritz)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Combine onions and 3/4 cup water in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir, separating onions as they heat up. When water boils, reduce heat to medium, cover, and let simmer 5 minutes. Drain well and pat dry.
- In the same saucepan or a smaller one, combine the cream and thyme with about a half teaspoon of salt. Place over medium-high heat. Once cream boils, reduce to a simmer and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Brush a 2 qt baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, toss the crushed crackers with the remaining melted butter, the parmesan, and the salt and pepper.
- Spread dried onions in the prepared baking dish. Pour cream over the top, then sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.
- Bake until cream is bubbly and cracker crumbs are golden, about 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.