Caramelized Onion Dip

I’ve always been a fan of onion dip, have you? Especially with ruffled potato chips. Most of the flavor in the onion dip with which many of us are familiar comes from a package of dried onion soup, which works if you have only 2 minutes to put together a dip. But if you are looking for something a little more special, you can make your own onion dip from scratch. The key is to caramelize the onions first.

When onions cook for a long time, their natural sugars start to caramelize. The onions lose their harshness, their sweetness intensifies, and they turn a deep, rich brown color, loaded with flavor. If you cook them with a little balsamic and a touch of brown sugar, it not only speeds up the process, but the flavors are even more intense.

This dip is easy to put together. The only thing that takes time is caramelizing the onions, which you can do on a back burner while preparing something else. You can also prepare the onions a couple days in advance if necessary.

I love the way this dip turned out. You know the sign that the dip is good? Your hand reaches for another chip with some dip without you even noticing. And you have to consciously tell yourself to stop. Do you make your own onion dip from scratch? If so, tell us about it in the comments.

Caramelized Onion Dip Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups of dip.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (from about 2-3 onions)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Method

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1 Heat olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed deep pot (I used a 5-quart Dutch oven) on medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent and starting to color, about 10 minutes. If at any point during the cooking of the onions they start to dry out, add a tablespoon of water to the pot. Stir in the brown sugar, balsamic, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat and cook gently, uncovered, for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are nicely caramelized. Then set aside. (You can caramelize the onions up to 2 days ahead and chill until you make the dip.) Let cool a bit before adding to the other ingredients.

2 In a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream and mayonnaise (a rubber spatula works well for this). Stir in the caramelized onions. Sprinkle with garlic salt and stir to incorporate. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

Chill until ready to serve. Serve with potato chips.

Links:

Caramelized onion dip with sour cream and Greek yogurt from Heidi of 101 Coobooks
Caramelized onion dip with cream cheese, sour cream, lemon and chives from Food52

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39 Comments

  1. Barbara

    Just in time for the BG :) Was planning on making a different version of this dip, but after reading yours will have to try this instead! Thanks!

  2. Shawna @ CheekyChicFamily

    I’ve made a similar onion dip by Ina Garten. It’s good, but she doesn’t suggest you chop the onions….just slice….it’s messy to eat but SO delicious. I love how you eat your onion dip with Ruffle Potato Chips. That’s the only way my husband thinks onion dip should be eaten. Classic!

  3. StevyD

    I agree that sliced onions in mine make it messy, will try chopped and the brown sugar next time. I do add some minced Chipotle chiles and a bit of the Adobo sauce since we love it spicy here. 3 cheers for Ruffles, the best!

  4. DigitalSignalX

    This sounds like just the sort thing to experiment on people with the game this Sunday. We’ve never made it from scratch, but looks too easy and delicious to resist! I might add a sprinkle of smoked paprika on the top for color when serving.

  5. Judson

    My family has slathered their Ruffles Potato Chips with an Onion Dip so simple it is not worthy of Simply Recipes. Four generations have been given the task on holidays to mix 2 – 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese (softened) with about a fourth of a medium yellow onion(grated in the smallest blades of the grater so it almost juiced), garlic salt or garlic powder to taste (this generation uses a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt), and enough milk to give the “dipping” consistency (add it a little at a time). Christmas Eve parties rates a sprinkling of paprika & bright green parsley flakes. The dip doesn’t last long but you will taste the onion for days!

  6. goh yi shen

    i have no really tasted a good onion dip before… shall be trying this. :) and eat it with ruffles, which is really the best chips.

  7. Val from PA

    Now this is what I’m talking about! YUM! I bet leftover dip (if there is any!) would be really good on a baked potato. So many times better than the onion soup mix dip!

  8. Al in SoCal

    Favorite dipping technique:

    I slowly push the ruffle chip vertically into the onion dip then ever so carefully and gently I pull it straight up so the dip grabs the ridges of the chip. This method insures you don’t break your chip in the dip, and others are not aghast at how much you take if you try the more selfish “scoop” technique.

  9. Susan

    Oh, my. I think I need to make this, though I’m likely to use just sour cream. Which leads me to ask, does the mayo really add that much to justify buying it just for this? yes, I can be persuaded, it’s just not something I normally have on hand.

    You can try it without. I like it with the mayo. It does add flavor. ~Elise

  10. Mardi

    You can use plain yogurt in place of the mayo, it gives a bit of tartness that balances nicely with the sweetness of the onions. I also use the low fat sour cream.

    I really enjoy your recipes and have tried several. Thanks so much for all you do!

  11. Mark L.

    In coming up with the following recipe I found that using a lot of onion resulted in a sweeter flavor profile than I was after. So Elise I suspect yours is a little on the sweet side for me but I completely agree that it must be accompanied by Ruffles. :-) Re: Susan’s question about omitting the mayo, I often replace half or more of the mayo called for in a recipe with yogurt, but I thought the flavor was off in the dip when replacing all of the mayo.

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 yellow onion diced fine
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 cup sour cream (light or low fat is fine but not non fat)
    3 tablespoons mayonnaise
    3 tablespoons plain yogurt (I like Greek)
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 tsp onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, and stir again before serving.

  12. Nathan

    I made this exactly as written and liked it a lot. But what really made it sing for me was adding about a teaspoon of horseradish.

  13. jonathan

    imagine. dipping bacon in this. whoa. (i’ve made alton brown’s version of this dip and topped it with crispy shallots which really are beyond easy to make. a nice textural contrast.)

  14. The Rev

    I also have made Alton Brown’s Onion Dip, but I doubled the amount of onions. I will have to try this version. It seems to be right on the money! I was skeptical of the mayo until I made the dip. The mayo smooths out the sour cream and adds a great dimension to the taste.

  15. Busanee

    Yummy, I followed the instructions and viola it turned out great. But my son is allergic to mayo so I may try it with ranch dressing as a substitute.

  16. Mike

    I made this, did a side-by-side with the recipe on the Lipton’s envelope. Elise’s won the taste test. As one of my tasters commented, “Oh, yeah–this is definitely better. But come on–it’s onion dip! Do we really care? When we’re just trying to watch football?”

  17. Stacy

    I cannot believe how good this dip is!! Good thing we aren’t having a party for the big game — I get to keep it all to myself!! Will definitely add some crisp bacon next time.

  18. Kate

    Tried this dip today for a super bowl party. It was much sweeter than I thought it would be. Might skip the brown sugar altogether the next time. It was considered okay at the party, not great. Might also try some other savory flavors to enhance the dip.

  19. Cady

    I have had the packet kind of dip you mention before and love the flavor, but never make it because of the salt content in those spice packets. I never thought to make it myself with fresh onions; thanks for the inspiration!

    Also, just as a related aside, I’ve had a lot of luck making similar dips with nonfat Greek-style yogurt. It has a similar tang to sour cream, it’s loaded with protein, and it’s fat free.

  20. Michel

    Hmmm_ I LOVE onion dip and will definitely try this as one of my FIRST attempts with using my new KitchenAid hardware… lol :-)

    I will be putting the onions into the processor to make them a bit smaller before cooking. I do not think I would like having big pieces of onion in my dip, but I bet THAT is what a LOT of you really like about onion dip; the texture of the onions. Me?… more of a ‘smoothie’ kind of guy… lol

    Yes, I KNOW that cooked onions can be ‘mushed down’ manually, but I love using gadgets_ hee hee.

    Elise, thank you SO much for sharing!

    Michel J. Gaudet

  21. semiswede

    Oh no, but Oh yes! Thank you for this. I can’t get the onion soup mix here in Sweden and it’s a definite childhood comfort food of mine. My family actually sends me packets and now my kids eat it just like I did, with a too large scoop that ends up breaking the chip. But it’s so addictive you just have to try and scoop it up anyway, even though you know the chip will break. I will have to give this a try.

  22. Cory

    This was a great recipe for Super Bowl Sunday! I made some home made potato chips with it. I also substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream to cut the calories a bit. I also had a lot of extra so I added pork chops, broccoli, parmesan cheese, and egg noodles to make a casserole concoction that has made a great lunch all week! :)

  23. Da Floozy

    I can smell the onions caramelizing already. Seems that this dip would be almost sweet, and might go really well with veggie chips like carrot, zucchini and sweet potato. I can’t wait to try it!

  24. Judy B

    We made this dip yesterday for a pot luck supper at a friend’s house, and it was amazing! Made it exactly as written except for adding a couple of tablespoons of gorgonzola crumbles. It was stupendous! Oh, we also sprinkled smoked paprika and some chopped parsley on the top for a garnish. Every little bit was eaten. We brought Ruffles as well as unsalted Tim’s Cascade potato chips, which are crunchy and sturdy little scoopers. Another great recipe! Thanks, Elise!

  25. Taube

    It’s hard to find ingredients in Japan, so I was really happy to find this recipe. I made it twice in one weekend and both times everyone ate the entire batch. It’s fantastic! Thank you!

  26. Mike

    This is good, notably more tastey than the Lipton’s freeze-dried recipe. However, it’s a dip for chips in front of a TV football game, not a dinner party appetizer; don’t think the significant extra effort is really warranted. Slightly different: Ruffles used to be the best, but lately they are mostly crumbs–in a 16oz bag, you get about 20 decent-sized chips and the rest are just bits, suitable only for baked chicken pieces. I did a comparison with Lay’s Wavy chips, which were a lot better for dipping.

  27. Shelby

    Wonderful! We made this dip this afternoon. We used 2 1/2 onions and it was a lot of onion, but the dip was savory and sweet. Ate with Wavy Lays. What a treat!

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