Creamed onions, a classic side dish, are a true comfort food that can elevate any meal. These tender pearl onions enveloped in a velvety, creamy sauce bring warmth and richness to your plate. Whether you’re preparing a holiday feast, a cozy Sunday dinner, or simply craving a hearty side, creamed onions are a versatile and timeless choice. Clear step-by-step instructions guide you through making the perfect creamed onions, making this easy recipe one of your favorite side dishes in no time.
When to serve Creamed Onions
Creamed onions are a timeless and classic side dish that is often associated with special occasions and holiday meals. Though they can be enjoyed at any time of the year, they are particularly favored during Thanksgiving and other celebratory gatherings. Creamed onions are a perfect addition to any meal where you want to add a touch of comfort and indulgence.
Creamed onions are a popular and traditional side dish on many Thanksgiving dinner tables in the United States. They provide a creamy and slightly sweet contrast to the savory turkey and other classic Thanksgiving dishes. They serve as a favorite side dish during Christmas dinner and are enjoyed with holiday feasts.
Some families enjoy creamed onions as part of their Sunday dinner tradition, particularly when they prepare a roast or a special family meal. They can also be a unique and comforting side dish option for dinner parties or gatherings of friends.
Furthermore, creamed onions can be incorporated into vegetarian or vegan meals as a side dish, adding a creamy element to the plate. And of course, there’s no rule that says you can’t enjoy creamed onions whenever you have a craving for them. They can be a delicious side dish for a variety of meals throughout the year.
What you need to make Creamed Onions
Want to whip up a quick and easy Creamed Onions dish? You probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.
Here’s what you’ll need: Pearl onions, some vegan butter, flour, dairy-free heavy cream, nutmeg, vegetable broth, parsley, salt, and pepper.
It’s a delicious and simple recipe perfect for a cozy night in.
What is the difference between pearl onions and regular onions?
You see from the above that this recipe for Creamed Onions needs pearl onions. If you are unfamiliar with them, here is how they differ from regular onions:
- Size: The most noticeable difference is their size. Pearl onions are much smaller than regular onions. They typically measure about 1-1.5 inches (2.5-4 cm) in diameter, whereas regular onions can range from a few inches to over 4 inches (10 cm or more) in diameter.
- Appearance: Pearl onions are usually round or oval and have thin, papery skins. Regular onions come in various shapes, including round, oval, or elongated, and have thicker, layered skins.
- Flavor: Pearl onions tend to have a milder and sweeter flavor compared to regular onions. This makes them a popular choice for pickling, roasting, and use in dishes where a mild onion flavor is desired.
- Preparation: Pearl onions can be a bit more labor-intensive to prepare than regular onions due to their small size and thin skins. They are often blanched briefly in boiling water and then peeled to remove the skins. Regular onions are easier to peel and chop in comparison.
Fresh vs frozen Pearl Onions
If you’re a fan of pearl onions and enjoy cooking with them, you might be interested to know that there are some differences between using fresh or frozen ones.
Firstly, when it comes to convenience, fresh pearl onions require some extra preparation before you can use them in your dishes. This entails a process called blanching, which involves boiling them briefly, cooling them in ice water, and peeling them one by one (more about this below).
As you can imagine, this can be quite a time-consuming task. In contrast, frozen onions are already blanched and peeled, which means they’re ready to use straight from the freezer. This makes them a much more convenient option for those who are short on time.
Another factor to consider is availability. Fresh pearl onions are typically in season during the fall and early winter, which means they may not be available all year round in some regions. On the other hand, frozen pearl onions are usually available in most grocery stores throughout the year, making them a more accessible option.
I go with frozen pearl onions for this Creamed Onions recipe.
Do pearl onions taste different from yellow onions?
Certainly, pearl onions are quite distinct in taste when compared to yellow onions. They are known for their unique and subtle flavor that sets them apart from regular onions and that makes them so delicious in Creamed Onions.
Unlike yellow onions, pearl onions have a milder taste that is less pungent. This makes them an excellent choice for dishes where you want to add a gentle onion flavor without overpowering other ingredients.
When cooked or caramelized, pearl onions have a distinct sweetness that can balance out other flavors in a dish. This subtle sweetness is one of the reasons why they are often used in glazes, pickles, and side dishes, and why they are also known as sweet onions.
Due to their small size, pearl onions have a tender and less fibrous texture than larger onions. This makes them enjoyable to eat, whether pickled, roasted, or added to various recipes. Despite their unique taste, pearl onions are versatile in the kitchen. Their mild and sweet flavor makes them an ideal ingredient for a wide range of culinary applications, from stews and braises to glazes, pickles, and side dishes.
How to prepare fresh pearl onions
If you want to give preparing fresh pearl onions a try for this Creamed Onions recipe, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prepare fresh pearl onions.
All you need are fresh pearl onions, boiling water, and a bowl of ice water. Start with picking the pear onions which have clean, unblemished skins. Trim the root end of each onion using a sharp knife. Leave the stem end intact; it will help hold the onion together during cooking.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. You’ll need enough water to submerge the onions completely. Carefully place the prepared pearl onions into the boiling water. Let them blanch for about 2-3 minutes. Blanching helps loosen the skins, making it easier to peel onions.
After blanching, quickly transfer the onions into a bowl of ice water. This stops the cooking process and helps cool them down for handling. Let the onions sit in the ice water for a few minutes.
Drain the onions from the ice water. To peel the onions, gently squeeze the stem end with your fingers. The skin should slip off easily. If the skin is stubborn, you can make a small slit at the stem end with a knife to help with peeling. Once peeled, the pearl onions are ready to use for Creamed Onions or any other recipe.
How to make Creamed Onions
Make cream sauce or basic bechamel sauce: In a medium saucepan melt butter. Set it to medium heat first and slowly whisk in flour.
Keep whisking and slowly pour in the vegetable broth, milk, and heavy cream. Bring it to a simmer and the cream sauce should start getting thick and creamy.
As seasonings, add nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and black or white pepper.
Now the final step is to add in the cooked pearl onions and warm them in the rich sauce for at least 2 minutes. Serve creamy pearl onions in a serving bowl and garnish with parsley on top.
If you have leftovers of the creamed onions, let them cool down to room temperature before you transfer them to an airtight container.
Put this container into the fridge, and you will have delicious creamed pearl onions ready for about 4 days.
Freezing the leftovers is also an option, but I do not recommend it if you have already used previously frozen onions.
What to serve creamed onions with
Creamed onions are a classic and comforting side dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses, especially during holiday meals or special occasions.
Here are some dishes to serve creamed onions with:
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Butter Scalloped Potatoes
- Creamy Potatoes
- Salisbury Steak
- Bangers and Mash
Another idea is to use creamed onions as a filling for savory pastries, such as pies or tarts. They can be a delicious component of a brunch or light lunch.
- 1 lb pearl onions, frozen
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 4 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup dairy free heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- salt, pepper
- Make cream sauce or basic bechamel sauce: In a medium saucepan melt butter. Set it to medium heat first and slowly whisk in flour.
- Keep whisking and slowly pour in the vegetable broth, milk, and heavy cream. Bring it to a simmer and the cream sauce should start getting thick and creamy.
- As seasonings, add nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and black or white pepper.
- Now the final step is to add in the cooked pearl onions and warm them in the rich sauce for at least 2 minutes. Serve creamy pearl onions in a serving bowl and garnish with parsley on top.
- If you have leftovers of the creamed onions, let them cool down to room temperature before you transfer them to an airtight container.
- Put this container into the fridge, and you will have delicious creamed pearl onions ready for about 4 days.
- Freezing the leftovers is also an option, but I do not recommend it if you have already used previously frozen onions.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 380Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 215mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 4g