Culinary Class

The Perfect Caramelized Onion Dip

Super Bowl, Super Dip

By: Lia Grabowski
Caramelized onion dip on a tray with chips
Images by Jonathan Boncek

Forget store-bought dips and packets of powdered mix. Making homemade caramelized onion dip from scratch is a cinch. The key is perfectly caramelizing the onions, a skill any home cook can master with a little patience (and when you realize how easy they are to make, you’ll be whipping them up for everything from french onion soup to grilled cheese sandwiches).

Start with the right tools: A wide pan is key—it gives the onions breathing room and allows the liquid they release to evaporate (steam is not your friend here).

Take your time when preparing onions for caramelized onion dip; browned and caramelized are not the same thing. As with so many great Southern recipes, low and slow is the name of the game. You want to let the sugars in the onions break down and develop earthy sweetness, rather than a toasted or burnt flavor. And don’t be afraid to let them sit; constant stirring simply doesn’t make for better food. Keep a watchful eye and lower the heat if the onions are browning too quickly.

Once they’ve softened and deepened in color to a rich golden brown, deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine or water to bring out even more flavor. The liquid helps release stuck-on onion bits and sugar residue from the bottom of the pan, which will then reincorporate with the rest of the onions.

Now you’re in the home stretch. But don’t mix the dip with hot onions—melted sour cream and mayonnaise will mean a soupy end product. Instead, set the onions aside to cool to room temperature first. Make this caramelized onion dip the day before serving to let the flavors meld overnight, and watch it disappear by halftime.

Caramelized Onion Dip heading-plus-icon

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • Salt
  • White wine
  • 1½ cups sour cream
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Pepper
Dicing raw onions to make caramelized onion dip

step 1

Prep the onions

Melt butter and olive oil in a medium pan over high heat. Meanwhile, finely dice onion to make 1½ cups. Once butter is melted, add onions and pinch of salt. Cook without stirring until onions start to soften and take on color, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Caramelizing onions for TLP's caramelized onion dip

step 2

Caramelize the onions

Stir onions and reduce heat to medium. Cook onions until golden brown, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.

Deglazing the pan of onions for caramelized onion dip

step 3

Deglaze

Once onions have reached desired color, add a splash of white wine to pan. Scrape bottom of pan to pick up any caramelized bits and fold them back into onion mixture. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Spooning mayonnaise and sour cream into a bowl for the base of caramelized onion dip

step 4

Prepare dip base

Measure out sour cream and mayonnaise. Mince garlic, then grind into a paste. Finely chop scallions, setting half aside.

Folding in mix-ins for caramelized onion dip

step 5

Combine mix-ins

In a medium bowl, stir together sour cream, mayonnaise, and garlic paste. Add caramelized onions and half of scallions into mayonnaise mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnishing caramelized onion dip with chopped scallions

step 6

Fold and Serve

Fold onions and scallions into mayonnaise mixture. Top dip with remaining scallions. Serve with potato chips, crudité, and crackers.

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