On the weekends I’m happy to spend tons of time in the kitchen but on weeknights I try to make it speedy but I still want dinner to be delicious. These creamed onions help me make that happen.
We have some type of meat with most of our weeknight meals and I’m always looking for ways to make it interesting. I love spooning this creamy sauce over grilled or roasted beef or chicken or even wild game when we have it — or even just having it as a tasty side dish.
What makes this sauce special is its creamy consistency that’s dotted with the pretty pearl onions. It’s so simple but elegant enough that you could serve it at your next dinner party.
The next time you’re looking for an easy recipe that will kick your meal up a notch, try this creamed pearl onions recipe.
Why You’ll Love Creamed Onions
There are tons of reasons to love these creamy onions. They elevate nearly any dish from being dull to seeming decadent.
- Easy – With just a few quick steps this creamy onion recipe comes together easily.
- Delicious – The sweet onions are a perfect pairing for the earthy, rich sauce.
- Versatile – This dish is amazing on beef, pork, and poultry alike and you can also use it on veggies. Baked potatoes are also a great base to pour these onions over.
- Customizable – You can spice it up, make it smoky, or use any creative add-ins that you like.
What are Pearl Onions?
The pearl onion is a small white onion with many names, some depending on geographic location. Other names are button onions, baby onions, creamers and in French, oignon grelot.
Popular in soups and stews, these little onions have a milder flavor profile more reminiscent of a leek. When cooked they release their flavors and softens lightly so the outside is tender but the inside has a little tooth to it.
White Pearl onions are crunchy and mild with firm, juicy, and crisp flesh. Perfect for an onion-centric dish. This is a purely glazed pearl onion recipe.
Fresh vs. Frozen
I am generally all about fresh foods… unless we are talking about fresh pearl onions. I’ve bought fresh before to make Beef Bourguignon and let me tell you- they are a pain in the butt to peel!
Little cuts under my nails from the papery skin and it burned. Ugh. You can’t cut off the tops and bottoms like you would to peel a regular onion because then they just fall apart. What a mess. So for these glazed pearl onions, I use frozen.
So now I buy the frozen white pearl onions. Don’t diss frozen veggies! If frozen correctly, they actually retain nutrients really well. And here, they save you oodles of time. You can also use quartered white onions.
If you are using fresh onions, cut them at the stem end and the root end and then use a paring knife peel the outer layers.
What to Serve Creamed Onions With
This is a great side dish for nearly any meal, but here are a few of my favorite dinner ideas and of course, they are very popular to serve with a holiday meal like Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner.
Most of these ingredients are likely in your kitchen but you can easily find them at your local grocery store (or your own garden) too.
- Frozen pearl onions – As mentioned, using frozen pearl onions makes this recipe so much easier to make. Also, when vegetables are frozen they often retain more nutrition than fresh veggies.
- Low-sodium chicken broth – You can opt for a broth that isn’t low-sodium but if you do, you may want to adjust the amount of Kosher salt that you use.
- Sherry – I love the flavor that dry Sherry imparts in this dish. If you don’t have regular Sherry, cooking Sherry will work too. I use it in my seafood stuffed shells too and it is amazing!
- Bay leaf – Bay leaves bring an earthiness to a dish so I always make sure to use it in dishes like this (and my soups and stews). Remember to take it out after cooking, though.
- Fresh thyme leaves – If you have some from your garden, that’s great! Otherwise, find the fresh leaves in the produce section at your grocery store. Other fresh herbs are good options too.
- Heavy cream – This ingredient is responsible for the creaminess of the dish. Try to make sure to use heavy cream and not a lighter variety.
- Flour – All purpose flour works just fine for this recipe.
- Kosher salt – I prefer using a coarse Kosher salt for this dish. However, if you have another type of salt that you like to use you can swap it in.
- Black pepper – Use this to taste — if you like a lot of pepper, add what you prefer. You can also try using white pepper.
How To Make Creamed Onions
You are going to be pleasantly surprised at just how easy this entire dish is to make.
- Combine ingredients. Combine the frozen pearl onions, chicken broth, sherry, bay leaf and thyme leaves in a large saucepan that has already been warmed on low.
- Boil. Allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil, thawing the onions. It’s not necessary to stir the ingredients constantly, but do stir occasionally.
- Whisk cream and flour. While the ingredients on the stove heat, add the heavy cream and flour to a small bowl. Whisk together the cream and flour until they are completely combined.
- Add cream mixture to onions. Next, add the cream and flour mixture to the onions, broth, thyme, and bay leaf.
- Stir until smooth. Stir the ingredients together until the mixture becomes silky smooth and streak-free.
- Cook until thickened. Allow the completely combined mixture to continue to cook at the barest simmer. When ready, the sauce should be the consistency of thick gravy. Finally, remove from the pan from the heat.
- Remove bay leaf and season. Remove and discard bay leaf using a slotted spoon. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper.
Creamed Onions Variations
This recipe is a standard one that you can completely customize with flavors that you love.
- Bacon – Who doesn’t love some bacon? The flavor of the onions is complemented well by the rich flavor of finely chopped bacon (and even a little bacon grease).
- Sausage – Try browning some ground sausage and adding the small bits to the sauce.
- Heat – A few dashes of red pepper flakes or some cayenne will spice these up nicely.
- Paprika – Standard paprika will add a little flair of flavor. Or, pack a more flavorful punch with smoked paprika.
- Garlic – Garlic always works well with onion and this recipe is no different. Make sure to use a garlic press or very finely mince the cloves before adding — you may want to sauté them first, too. Roast garlic is another amazing option.
- Garnish – A sprinkle of fresh green onions or parsley on top will make for a pretty presentation.
- Herbs – Incorporate other herbs like rosemary, sage, or whatever may be seasonal in your garden to add layers of flavor.
- Lower carb – To make this recipe gluten-free and lower carb, switch out the all-purpose flour for your preferred alternative flour.
- Caramelize – You try sautéing or roasting the onions. Using caramelized onions will impart an added layer of flavor.
- Cheese – Experiment with adding cheese to the sauce. Parmesan cheese is an ideal choice — it melts well and will add a slight salty flavor.
You can store creamed onions in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. If the consistency has thickened more than you’d like, you can add a bit of heavy cream or milk.
Make-Ahead: If you’re prepping meals for the week, or you’re having guests over, you can make these onions ahead of time. They will probably be at their freshest for a couple days, but they will last up to a week.
Freezer: Store these in the freezer in a tightly sealed ziploc bag or a freezer safe storage container for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
The short answer is yes, they are one in the same. They are small, sweet and perfect for adding to other dishes.
They originated in England, but have also been popular in places like Ireland and France. They are meant to complement meals that are very meat and potato heavy.
If you buy them frozen like this recipe calls for, they will already be peeled and you won’t have to peel them yourself.
Creamed Onion Recipe
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the frozen pearl onions, chicken broth, sherry, bay leaf and thyme leaves. Bring to a low simmer and allow onions to thaw, approximately 5-6 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy and cream and flour. Combine with the onions mixture, stirring until no streaks are left.
- Continue to simmer on low heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!