French Onion Dip with Caramelized Onions and Thyme

by Maris Callahan on June 9, 2009

For some, football season is prime chips-and-dip season. For me,  every season is chips-and-dip season. Because there is no time like the present to revive an old favorite, I’ve decided to revamp a once famous but now somewhat neglected dip from my childhood: onion soup dip.

The classic onion soup dip recipe that I recall from my, er, more youthful days, involved folding a packet of dried soup mix into a container of sour cream. It was served with chips or vegetables and had all of the factors that make a snack near impossible to stop eating: a creamy texture, sweet and salty flavors from the onion soup mix…and a cocktail of chemicals and preservatives (like MSG) that created the ultimate flavor bomb.My new take on this iconic dip was inspired by a version I saw on the Food Network by Alton Brown. I loved that it’s simple and cheap, perfect for when you’re short on time but need to bring a contribution to a party….and stopping at the grocery store to buy a dip that you can pass off as your own just isn’t an option.

I’ve made this dip a touch healthier by using Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream and real onions and fresh herbs in place of the…well, more questionable ingredients that you’ll find in the store-bought dip.

The ingredient list on this is short, but there is one time consuming step, which is caramelizing onions. Caramelizing onions, or slowly cooking them in olive oil until they are browned, pulls sweetness and flavor out of one of the simplest ingredients. Here’s a quick science lesson: onions are naturally sweet and caramel comes from cooking sugar. Therefore, when you cook onions slowly over a longer period of time, the natural sugars in the onions caramelize, resulting in a wonderfully sweet and savory flavor.

Give yourself about a half an hour to caramelize onions, but we have a pro tip: if you stir with one hand and drink your favorite grown up beverage with another, time will fly,

French Onion Dip with Caramelized Onions and Thyme

Serves 8-10

What You Need:

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
3/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

How-To:

Heat olive or canola oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat on the stove. After about a minute, add the onions and salt.

Cook the onions until they have become soft and deeply browned, about 20 minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn. The trick is to leat them cook enough so they brown, but not so much that they burn. If you find that some of your onions are burning while others are still cooking. lower the stove temperature and add more oil by the teaspoon. If your onions are still getting crispy, use a metal spatula to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, adding more flavor. As the onions cook down, you may find you need to scrape the pan every minute, instead of every few minutes.

Once your onions have browned (but not burned!) remove them from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl and once they cool, add the onions.

Refrigerate and stir again before serving. Serve with your favorite chips or fresh vegetables.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

jshively June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

Single people should be able to get a single party where we register for all the cool gifts that we end up shelling out money for married people.
I too am a love giver and I find myself constantly telling people they rock but rule will never get old.
I am a huge fan of caramelized onions too!

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mandy June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

This will be perfect for summer cookouts with friends for a veggie dip. I will have to get on planning the next one now.

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Carissa June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

I love onion dip! but I have never made it from scratch. I always get that onion soup mix at the store and just stir it in to sour cream! ha, what a cop out. this recipe you posted is surprisingly easy, so I will have to remember that the next time I decide to bring onion dip to a party. reach for an actual onion, not a mix!

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Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

It looks wonderful! I’m all for caramelised onions too! I try and keep some in my fridge in one form or another (Simon Johnson makes some lovely ones in oil). If only I didn’t cry like a baby every time I cut them!

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Kate June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

I am seriously crazy about caramelized onions as well, and am also quite precise about my application to attain them; a long slow and brown-sugared simmer that makes them more of a special occasion than a daily habit. Which is fine.
This dip is one of my favorites. Nothing like a deeply onion-ed spread for a whole variety of options. I won’t tell you about making it with cream cheese and spreading it on grilled baguette slices. Oh wait…. ;-)

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ksgoodeats June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

Caramelized onions are so good! That dip looks amazing!! Your grilled cheese sounds like my PBJ ;)

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kat June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

Oh onion dip is the best I too love caramelized onion

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The Food Hunter June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

I love onion dip. I’ve never made it totally from scratch. I bet it was amazing.

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Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

Onion dip is one of those flavors that resonates with me from my own college days, only it was Lipton Onion Soup dip back then — mostly salt, I think, with a bit of dried onion. Caramelized onions have so much more flavor. I’m bookmarking!

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Run DMT June 10, 2009 at 12:00 am

Onion dip from scratch?! Who knew there was such a thing?! I think I’m in love too. ;-)

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Cate O'Malley June 10, 2009 at 12:00 am

Although I confess to liking the Lipton Onion Soup mix for onion dip, I have made Barefoot Contessa’s from scratch and love it. This one sounds just as yummy!

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Sunny June 10, 2009 at 12:00 am

lol, i loved pacey too!!
homemade onion dip with veggies sounds delicious, i will give this a try for sure! i bet it would be good with potato chips too. :)

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Leslie June 10, 2009 at 12:00 am

I could probably live on caramelized onions alone!

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Kristen June 10, 2009 at 12:00 am

I love caramelized onions too – I feel badly that I haven’t publicly professed my love for them yet :)

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Sara June 11, 2009 at 12:00 am

I love onion dip – even the stuff made from a packet! I would really like to make it from scratch, this is going on the “to-make” list.

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burpexcuzme June 11, 2009 at 12:00 am

LOVE it! this must be SO rich and deep in flavor with the caramelized onions. yum!

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Sophie June 11, 2009 at 12:00 am

Looks yummie! Could you use fresh garlic instead of the garlic powder? Because I like fresh garlic!

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AMMMMY June 11, 2009 at 12:00 am

Why aren’t you on the Food Network yet with your own show?! Nice pictures too, they make it more mouthwatery!

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taylorsoutback June 12, 2009 at 12:00 am

Will give this one a try for my next Tuesday stitching group get together…sounds wonderful! And there are lots of “Easter Egg Radishes” ready in the garden…wish our carrots were a little bigger.
Thank you!

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taylorsoutback June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

Just to report back on your onion dip recipe…made it up for my quilting group last night – it was a big hit and we really enjoyed the Riesling you suggested to go along with it. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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