Caramelized Onion Quiche

Rich and creamy quiche with caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese.

Note that although this recipe calls for making a pie crust from scratch, you can easily use an already prepared frozen pie crust. Just pre-bake it using the directions that follow.

  • Yield: Serves 6-8.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pie dough (see Pâte Brisée recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 large red onions (about one pound total), French-cut (see below)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)

Method

Slicing Onions Stem to Root

To caramelize onions, you'll want to slice them lengthwise, or from stem end to root end. That way the onions will hold their shape better during the long cooking involved in caramelizing.

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1 First, use a sharp knife, get a firm grip on the onion, and slice off the stem end of the onion, by about a 1/2 inch. Then place the onion cut side down on the board to stabilize it, and cut it in half, straight through the root end.

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2 Peel back the papery skin of the onions. If you want, to keep your cutting area clean, cut off the roots with the skins, but cut only enough to cut off the messy roots. Keep the root end intact. It will make it easier to slice the onion.

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3 With an onion half cut-side down on the board to stabilize it, make angled cuts into the onion, from stem end to root end, cutting to, but not through the root end. Work your way around the arc of the onion, aiming your knife's blade toward the center of the onion.

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4 Make a "V" cut in the root end of the onion to cut out the tough root end, to release the onion slices.

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Pre-Baking the Crust

1 On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-by-1 1/2-inch round tart pan, pressing dough into corners. Transfer to freezer to chill for 30 minutes.
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2 Preheat oven to 350°. Line pastry with parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil, pressing into the corners and edges. Fill at least two-thirds with baking weights - dried beans, rice, or aluminum pie weights. Bake first for 15 minutes, remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and weights. Poke the bottom of the pie pan with the tines of a fork and return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or until lightly golden. (Fork holes are for any air to escape.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool while making filling.

 

Caramelizing the Onions and Preparing the Quiche

The onions will take about an hour to cook on the stovetop before they are ready to go into the quiche. So timing-wise, if you are making the entire quiche from scratch, it makes sense to get started on the onions once you've put the crust into the freezer to chill before pre-baking.

1 Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle a little salt over them. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened and are translucent. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for an additional 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are well browned. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 10 minutes more, until onions are completely caramelized. Remove from heat.

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2 Place tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any run-off there might be. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Spread onions over the cheese and then top with remaining cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, and eggs. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour over cheese. Transfer to oven, and bake until just set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.

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Comments

  1. Sarah

    My husband’s best friend says that most men would like quiche just fine if people called it “what it really is,” which is, according to him, “meat-egg pie.” Or, I suppose, in this case, “onion-egg pie.” Maybe next time you’re making quiche, you should just call it that.
    :-) It looks delicious to me no matter what you call it!

  2. Kristen

    This looks great and I’m planning on trying – but what is the benefit to french cutting the onions as opposed to thinly slicing in strips?

  3. joy

    That recipe looks delicious! It might just be tonight’s dinner…
    I’ve always called that method of slicing onions ‘crescents’; a term I think I absorbed from several vegetarian cookbooks or possibly from macrobiotic cooking, but I think ‘frenching’ sounds more fun.

  4. Sylvia

    Hi Elise,
    When there are recipes calling for a certain kind of cheese, could there be a reference to similar kinds that would work as well? I am not always familiar with the flavors of all the different kinds and don’t feel like running out to purchase a specific kind. For instance…would Havarti be similar to Gruyere?
    Thanks for any help. I sure do use your recipes a lot. Love “em.
    Sylvia

  5. Liane Bautista

    Hi Elise
    This looks really yum. I can’t wait to try it. Can I make it ahead and freeze..how long will it keep or will it not be as good if I freeze then heat up?

    Liane

  6. Jim Addison

    I recently tried making the pie dough from scratch for the first time. Even with my pathetic first effort, it turned out much better than any frozen crust I’ve ever had. Remember to cover the edge of the crust with foil or crust-guards to prevent it from browning too fast.

    For a much lower-fat version, substitute 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream and 1/2 cup fat-free half’n’half (yes, it exists, and it’s great) for the milk and cream. I promise no one will know the difference if you don’t point it out to them.

  7. Kim

    My husband occasionally makes carmelized onions – they usually become pissaliere. He does them in the fryer- it’s easier to maintain the low heat for a long time than on the stovetop.

    Also, when I cut the onions like that, I leave the flat cut at the bottom, and make all of the cuts downward (sometimes at an angle), and not through the root ball. Then cut the root off, and they’re all detached. Or, you can then cut slices for each chopped onion. Learned that at the knife skills class that you and Dr. Biggles encouraged me into!

  8. Elise

    Hi all, when I informed dad that the gruyere had cost me $15 a pound, I think he had second thoughts about skipping the quiche (never one to pass up good cheese). Of course $15 a pound was a stupid amount to pay for this cheese, but I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to go to Trader Joe’s where perfectly good Gruyere is a lot less. Anyway I told him that I had several takers here for any quiche he refused and it got a good laugh. So thanks for the support!

    Regarding the question about what cheeses to use. If I couldn’t get Gruyere, I would use regular Swiss cheese. I’ve never made quiche with cheeses other than Swiss or Swiss Gruyere, have any of you? I suppose any good melty cheese would do, the quiche would just take on the particular flavor of the cheese you are using.

    Regarding freezing quiche, I don’t know about that, as it has never lasted here long enough to require freezing. It chills well in the refrigerator and is even good cold.

    Regarding cutting the onions. I think I did cut the onions with the halves laying down, it’s just the last cut or two I made with them standing on end. If I can ever get myself over to one of Shuna’s knife skills classes I’ll learn how to do it right. In the meantime any way you can cut these onions and keep your fingers intact is the way to go. As for the reason to keep the ends together? Perhaps it is easier to cook them as fewer onions will go flying out of the pan? I don’t know. They do look prettier that way.

  9. Linda

    I once made a quiche using mushrooms and cheddar cheese. I really liked the taste but I still think swiss cheese or gruyere is best-probably because it is the French tradition and they always seem to know what tastes go best with others. My husband isn’t an onion fan but I think I will make this anyway–and get to eat the leftovers.

  10. Jim Addison

    On cheeses: I’ve used cheddar, asiago, Parmesan, and Monterrey Jack as well as Swiss and Gruyeres with success. Surprising, considering how differently they melt . . .

    Instead of layering the ingredients in the crust, after making the egg batter I add in all the ingredients and mix well, then pour the mixture into the crust after pre-baking it.

    I would be very hesitant to freeze a quiche. I suspect there would be some serious separation upon thawing. I have made the batter up the night before and kept it in the refrigerator, since I hate getting too complicated too early. Just stir it up well and pour into crust . . .

  11. Tami Perry

    I’ve never posted here before but have been reading for sometime now. This is now on my recipes to try list. Gotta go grocery shopping first though. As to freezing quiche. I make a crust less spinach quiche and freeze it in serving size portions with no ill results. When I wanted it for breakfast I would just take it out the night before and put it in the fridge to thaw.

  12. edenz713

    I tried this recipe this afternoon – it was fantastic! My husband used to be prejudiced against quiches, but once I made one and he actually tried it he loves them. He was very excited about this one b/c he also loves caramelized onions.

  13. Claire

    Regarding other cheeses and freezing quiche: I’ve been making quiche with my mom since I was a child. There is no problem freezing it. I have also used other hard cheeses when I mistakenly thought I had gruyere in my fridge….(it is ALWAYS in my fridge!) It might have been a Jarlsburg or a Harvarti and I know I’ve even added some medium Cheddar before. As Elise says, it changes the flavor of your quiche, so it is really a matter or taste. And of course, throw in whatever vegetables you have in your fridge. My kids love spinach quiche (I use chopped frozen) and brocolli quiche (I use both fresh and/or frozen), ham, etc.

  14. Lisa

    My goodness that looks so tasty! I’d have to skip the cheese altogether or my hubby won’t eat it. A word about carmelizing onions though; I usually add sugar as well as salt and it really brings out the flavor. We love onions so I tend to make them often. Recently I added brown sugar and used regular yellow onions (sometimes called “Hamburger” onions)and they were delicous! I usually use the ratio of twice as much sugar as salt. Looking at how many onions you use, I’d try a teaspoon of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt. Now I’ve gotta go buy a tart pan!

  15. Rasa Malaysia

    I think I could use this recipe and make them into mini quiches and serve them as party appetizer!!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Rachel

    My boyfriend and I made this quiche last night and it was incredible…sort of tastes like French onion soup in pie form. Next time, we’re adding bacon! We loved it!!

  17. lucette

    I’m with Sara, above–call it onion pie. This recipe is similar to an onion pie in one of the older Joy of Cookings, which I’ve made for years.

  18. Fany Yannatou

    Hello from Greece! I loved this recipe though I haven’t tryed it yet. Could you please suggest another kind of cheese because I am not sure i can find the exact one here. Is it salty or sweet? A hard or a soft one? I would appreciate any details about its taste. Thank you.

  19. Angela

    Thanks for this recipe! For those who have been asking about using other cheeses, I only use Swiss in Quiche Lorraine — the rest of the time, I use cheddar or muenster and the quiches come out great!

  20. Suzanne

    This was excellent – I made it the day you posted it! I had crust leftover from when I made your fabulous pecan pie, so that part was a cinch. At first I wasn’t sure about cooking the onions for a full hour, but am so glad I was patient. They turned out incredibly sweet and the flavor of the quiche was amazing. The only change I made was to just use 1 cup of milk instead of 1/2 cream, 1/2 milk. I don’t think the consistency suffered from this substitution. Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. Mike

    Thanks for the pictures Elise. As a novice cook, a picture is worth a thousand words. This looks quite yummy, looking forward to making it this weekend. Cheers!

  22. KIM

    Made last night for company, and it was fab!! Got lazy and bought store crust, and used jack cheese since I had tons in the fridge. Turned out wonderful, every last person loved it and were begging for the recipe.

    Thank you for such a great site, I’ve made tons of your recipes and they always turn out to be our family’s favorites.

  23. Wesaturtle

    We were expecting more quiche than onion pie. it had great flavor, but we couldn’t eat it. Next time, we’ll try double the eggs and half the onion.

  24. Carol

    I have used caramelized onions in quiche also. I do not know if onions have components that are alcohol soluble, but I add a splash or two of white wine to the onions and it really makes the flavor special.

  25. carmen mooney

    Elise,

    Thank you for your inspired web site. This is an unbeliveable recipe. The directions are so easy to follow, now I alway french my onions. It’s fun. I’ve never had so many requests for a recipe before. God bless you and your family.

  26. alt68

    Very interesting variation. I make my quiches with other cheese but usually mix 2, one of which is parmezan for taste. Also my version is with low fat milk only and it has never turned out poor in taste. Of course gruyere is an amazing cheese!

    I bake the crust for 15 mins and then put the filling in and bake immediately. What I do is bake until the last 5 mins low in the oven so that it gets nicely baked at the bottom before getting golden on top.

    Another thing…I always caramelised onions using a little wine and then sugar. Thanks for the alternative with the balsamic.

    This quiche is definitely my next do. As I’ve said before, thanks for bringing me back for more Elise!!!

  27. Sara

    With regards to cheese and quiche, really anything will do. My host mom used to make me little vegetarian quiches to take with me to places that would only serve meat-based dishes; they were just basic egg quiches, with no crust, with a bit of emmental/gruyere or blue cheese or just regular camembert on top. Usually whatever was in the fridge.

    Quiche can be one of the easiest to make, and this recipe seems a little daunting to me… I’m lazy.

  28. Susan

    Hi Elise,
    Love the blog! I actually make quiche on a daily basis at my job (I work in a bake shoppe and tea room) and I made one similar to this, but added fresh spinach to the onions near the end of cooking so they wilt a bit, then mixed in sun dried tomatoes and added feta for the cheese. I added the mixture to the pie shells, and also added some fresh leaves of spinach on top, then poured the egg mixture on top of that. This was probably my favorite to make, but with everything else I have to prepare for the day, I don’t have time to keep an eye on my onions. But the onions have a magnificent sweetness, and the feta gives a nice contrasting bite.

  29. Katy

    I made this for a dinner party, and literally everyone said that it was the best quiche they had ever eaten! Can’t wait to make it again.

  30. steven

    I love this recipe, I used this the first time I attempted to make quiche and was pleased on how easy it is to make. Each time we make this we change it slightly and found that substituting the 6 ounces of Gruyère cheese with 6 ounces of goat cheese, a few cubes of brie and the added tomato’s and broccoli on top are a nice compliment to the caramelized onions. Warm Goat cheese is FABULOUS with the oinons.

  31. Marjy

    I’ve been lurking for a while, and I just made this for a potluck. It was delicious and an absolute hit! Every crumb disappeared. I should have made two…It definitely goes in my “make again” list.

  32. Tim

    Hi Elise,

    I made a variation of this tonight using, instead of red onions, white onions, green onions, leeks and shallots. It was phenomenal, and probably my new favorite. I have used sharp cheddar and parmagiana reggiano before in quiches and had them turn out well, and I made a mexican-fusion quiche once with pepper jack, and it was good. Any cheese with plenty of character will do the job.

  33. 1kookiepie

    The pie was great. I used large yellow onions,2 large eggs to have a less eggy taste,1 cup of skim milk, it was fine tasting, don’t worry.I used nearly 2cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and around 1/4 cup of parmesean cheese,finely ground. I baked it at 400 degrees F. for 56 minutes,I didn’t use the vinegar, that scared me. Elise, what is the vinegar for?
    I had to drape foil over it for the last 10 min to avoid over browning the top. Also, I covered the crust edge with foil for the whole baking time.
    It was gorgeous and wow, light,fluffy,delicious! Thanks, Elise
    ps, I made broccoli quiche the other day,and even though it had only a small layer of small flowerets,it dominated the quiche flavor in a bad way, I won’t use broccoli again,and I love broccoli. Quiche is about cheese and crust, you know?

    The vinegar is there for balance and brightening of the flavors. ~Elise

  34. Kevin

    I am in the process of making this now…and I just completed the crust from the linked recipe. Maybe I did something wrong but I had a lot of trouble rolling out the dough because no matter how much extra flour I used to keep it from sticking it stuck to everything. I do have to say this is my first attempt at a pie crust, so it could be errors on my part! I am also using Whole Wheat Pasty flour which might be effecting the outcome. Any suggestions?

  35. Jules

    Made this with goat cheese as Gruyere was the only item not in my fridge. It was fabulous and the crust was probably the best I’ve ever made. Not only that, but the onion “Frenching” kept my eyes from watering. Amazing! Thanks for this.

  36. Marianne

    Help novice cook! can I make the whole thing the night before? Or should I do the filling beforehand and compile & bake the day of (Thanksgiving)? I will be short on time & must bring the pie with me.

    Quiches are pretty easy to make ahead and reheat day of. I would imagine that this one is no exception. ~Elise

  37. Jamie

    Can just the crust be made the day before? I’m thinking if the “pieces” were made (crust, caramelized onions) the day before, it’d be a snap to put together and bake Christmas morning.

    I would roll out the crust and freeze it the day before (or several days before) but blind bake it that morning. You can also make the onions in advance. While the crust is cooling, assemble and prep the remaining filling ingredients. Then add to crust and bake. ~Elise

  38. Casey

    I made this recipe exactly as written for a Christmas dinner. My daughter, a vegetarian, is visiting and I wanted something special for her. It was perfect. So perfect that even the meat-eaters wanted seconds of the quiche before more of the roast. I will make this recipe every Christmas from now on. I use the pie crust recipe from Cooks Illustrated that uses vodka for half the liquid. If you are still making pie crust without vodka, y’all are working too hard.

  39. Joan

    Thanks for the marvelous-sounding recipe and site, which I found while hunting for Quiche Lorraine. I’ll try this one first. I wanted to send a (probably very late) suggestion to Kevin about pie crust: instead of toughening the crust by adding more flour, after chilling it (dough can also be made ahead and chilled overnight) roll out the dough between two pieces of waxed paper. Peel off the top layer and invert over your pie pan. This from an old Joy of Cooking. I have made their cold water crust using this method for about 50 years, and it has never failed to bring praises. Hope this idea is helpful to the neophytes out there -

  40. Alicia

    I just tried this out and it’s the first time for a number of things for me on this recipe. First time making quiche, first time caramelizing onions, first time using sun dried tomatoes… I just went crazy on this, and it was delicious. I don’t have a metal, high walled skillet, it’s only a non-stick and it’s not very good but it gets the job done, so it took a while to caramelize but the time was so worth it.

    I added sun dried tomatoes and some spinach. I did what another reviewer did and added the spinach in five minutes before my onions were done, and added a splash of the white wine I had left over from the night before. It made them amazing.

    This quiche is top notch. I’m so proud to be able to say I made quiche. And a fantastic one at that.

  41. PAM

    I thought your video was a very good idea. I often make a caramellised onion tart and arrange circles of goats cheese on top before browning in the oven. This is very popular with all my guests.

  42. Heather

    I thought the flavors in this recipe were absolutely delicious. Gruyere, caramelized onions, and flaky pie crust are an unbeatable combination. However, in spite of my love of onions, I found the onion/egg mixture balance in this recipe to be a little onion heavy. Next time, I’ll use one large red onion, along with extra egg, milk, and cream to compensate.

  43. Mike

    I made one of these last night, and it was delicious! Failing to locate any gruyere locally, I used asiago cheese instead; red onions must be smaller where you are: the ones I bought were nearly a pound each; I used a deep casserole dish with a ready-made crust and it worked beautifully, with enough room for 1-1/2 pounds of onion (we like onions).

    I doubled the custard mix for a second, ham-and-Jarlsberg quiche in a pie plate to use the second crust in the package.

    Photos:
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=1212705356&aid=112680

  44. Loema

    I made this quiche the other night for dinner and have to say it was absolutely delicious. I just discovered your blog/website recently and am looking forward to trying out many more of your recipes! I used the pate brisee recipe to make my first from scratch pie crust and it was a breeze. I did add some spinach and sundried tomatoes to the quiche. I also used cheddar and parmesan cheese which is what I had on hand – delicious!

    Thanks for the recipe.

  45. Ellen

    Made this recently since my husband was out of town and is, apparently, a “real man” since he doesn’t touch the stuff. Realized at a critical moment that I had nothing resembling gruyere or even swiss, so I subbed in a combo of cheddar, mozz (since it’s bland) and some 5-year aged gouda that our local Wegmans has been hawking. Turned out delicious, if a bit odd. But then, I’ve rarely met a quiche I didn’t like. I think any permutation of cheese, eggs, and caramelized onions must be good :-)

  46. Madeleine

    I love this recipe … it was the start of making many quiches and trying various combinations of cheeses and vegetables. The crust is pretty time-consuming to do from scratch, but I’ve found that the Trader Joe’s crusts are still pretty good and save some time, as Elise writes. One of my favorite quiches right now is one with sweet potatoes, sage, red onion, and goat cheese.

  47. Pam

    Since the recipe for today is caramelized onions and fennel, I think a caramelized onion and fennel quiche would be great.

  48. Edie

    I read this entry simply to know what “Frenching” an onion refers to. I currently live in France after finishing my ecole du cuisine Francaise, so I can only refer to what I learned in my cooking school, but I thought I’d offer input. For a quiche au l’ognion, we did julienne our onions using a mandoline and then cutting fine, even strips. There was a strict rule about not adding anything to aide or enhance caramelizing onions. A julienne cut is quite thin and fine, compared to a batonnet which is more like a skinny fry size. Cutting things into wedges, irregular, or larger shapes is called a mirepoix. Hope that helps.

  49. melissa

    I just made 2 of these tonight. One for my in-laws who live next door. They loved it with the French Onion soup I made as well. This is a keeper! BTW I bought shredded cheese from Safeway a Gruyere and swiss mixture and it turned out yummy!!

    Thanks for Sharing!!
    Melissa