Browned Whole Onions Recipe

Browned Onions

I found a hundred-year-old recipe for Browned Whole Onions that is lovely with a hearty pot roast, game, or other flavorful meat. The onions’ robust flavor nicely complements the meat.

These onions are firmer than the sliced browned onions that are often served today–and they are not at all like the breaded onion “flowers” that restaurants sometimes serve. Instead they have a delicate outer browned layer, and firmer but delicious inner layers.

Here’s my modern adaptation of the old recipe:

Browned Whole Onions

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

8 medium onions

1 teaspoon salt + 1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons bacon drippings or olive oil

1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Peel onions, place in a large saucepan, cover with water, then add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain onions.

In the meantime combine the flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Dust the onions with the flour mixture.

Place the bacon drippings or olive oil in an oven-proof skillet, then add onions.  Pour 1/2 cup water into the pan along the edge. Place pan in oven and bake for  approximately 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and gently turn and roll the onions in the dripping in the bottom of the pan. If needed, add additional water. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  (The amount of time is dependent upon onion size. Larger onions may need to be rolled in the drippings a second time and cooked a little longer.) Remove from oven, and place browned onions in serving dish.

Add 1/2 cup water to the drippings in the skillet, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any flour or cooked pieces of onion. Place on a burner, and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook a few minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly. Spoon the “gravy” over the onions and serve.

Here is the original hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1916)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1916)

58 thoughts on “Browned Whole Onions Recipe

  1. I love onions, and this would be a lovely, “special” side dish. I’m going to give it a try for myself, just to see how it works. Then, I’ll have it on the list for company dinners.

    1. The size of the onions affects how long they need to be cooked. If you make this recipe, you’ll have to let us know how it turned out.

  2. I just love the way your blog transforms the old into new ideas. These onions would be a great complement for many meals.

    1. I have a lot of fun trying to “translate” the old recipes so that they will work today. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy it.

  3. Thanks for sharing your updated version of the onion recipe. It does sound like the perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast dinner.

    1. The texture of the inner layers of onions is firmer (and the onions hold their shape better) than what I think they’d be if the entire cooking process took place in a frying plan on the top of a stove.

  4. Sounds very interesting. I love onions. This does sound like it would be good with a nice roast beef or even pork. And I have a pork roast to cook this week!

    1. It is a unique way of preparing onions. If you try it, you’ll have to let me know how it turned out. And, knowing you, how you adapted it and made it even better. 🙂

      1. We have a lot of flea markets around here, and I occasionally stop and look at old cookbooks. Maybe I’ll buy one sometime. It’s fun inspiration!

        1. I love browsing though old cookbooks. They not only have some interesting recipes, but they also provide so many hints about the culture, technology, and fads at the time they were written.

    1. It nice to hear that you like them. I also enjoy how some of the old recipes (though not this one) include the name and address of the contributor. It gives a sense of which foods were popular in which regions–and somehow makes me feel more connected across time with the cooks who originally made the recipes.

  5. They are pretty, but I am probably one of the few folks who does not love onions. I imagine they would make a roasted leg of lamb look pretty spectacular, though.

    1. mmm. . . this would be perfect with leg of lamb. Even though you don’t like onions, you have a wonderful sense of which foods work well together.

  6. I am ambivalent about onions–I have good and bad feelings. I can’t imagine making these myself–will you come to my house and make them, so I can try them? 😉

  7. I know this recipe will be a hit with the family… I’ve grilled them,deep fat fried them in rings and blooming,baked them with meat,but I’ve never cooked them like this ! I can well imagine the gravy over meatloaf…😋

    1. Your comment makes me want to experiment with the gravy. I ended up with a relatively small amount of gravy–not really enough for a nice sauce over meatloaf, though I think that it would taste wonderful. . . . hmm. . . Maybe add a little more flour to the drippings (in addition to the flour that mixed with the drippings when the onions were rolled while cooking) and more water.

    1. The old recipes are so interesting. They really provide a sense of what foods were popular, cooking techniques, and so on. I like onions–and could eat either small or large. 🙂

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