pan-fried onion and chive dip

Over the last few years – well, since we moved into a bigger house — I’ve learned that I love to entertain. There is something special, something completely gratifying, about opening up one’s home to friends and family with the sole purpose of sharing friendship and good food, whether it’s an entire meal or just a few snacks.

Because of my work schedule, I look for recipes that I can make in advance, either in the day or two before I plan to serve the dish or at least the morning of the event. I prefer to have all of the kitchen work doneย  when that first guest rings the door bell. Some of my favorite make-ahead appetizers include these dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped with bacon and this spinach and artichoke dip from Cooking Light.

Before my husband’s 40th birthday in October, I went on the search for a new appetizer to add to my somewhat limited repertoire. I found a recipe for pan-fried onion dip by Ina Garten and knew that it was the recipe to try. My husband would be happy to dip his chips or veggies into dip made of a packet of dry onion soup mix stirred into a carton of sour cream – his own specialty – but I just couldn’t bring myself to go that route.

I increased the amounts of the ingredients in the recipe to accommodate the larger group of guests that I was hosting, and I decreased the amount of oil that the onions are cooked in. There was still a fair amount of oil, so straining the onions of excess oil after they are finished cooking is essential.

pan-fried onions, not yet completely caramelized

I was tempted to call the recipe a Caramelized Onion Dip, but it’s really not. These onions, as you can see from the photograph, are truly just pan-fried. For the onions to be caramelized, I would have needed to sautรฉ them for a bit longer to get that golden caramel color.

I added some chives to the onion dip for color, sprinkling some on the top as well, and the onion dip was just right. It’s great with chips, especially the kettle-cooked type, or with fresh veggies, and I served it with both. And thankfully, my husband – the man who is incredibly resistant to change (i.e., new recipes) – liked it.

Yield: About 3-1/2 cups.

Pan-Fried Onion & Chive Dip


3 large Vidalia onions (or other large sweet onion)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise [I used Hellman's Light Mayonnaise]
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives [or more or less, depending on your taste]


Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. Feel free to cut them in half again if you'd like smaller pieces in the finished onion dip [you should have about 5-6 cups of onions]. Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper, and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes more until the onions are somewhat browned. If you wish, you can cook them longer, until they caramelize [see Helpful Tips, below]. Allow the onions to cool, and strain the onions to drain them of any clinging oil and butter.

Place cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Stir in chives. Serve at room temperature.

If you like this, here are two more onion dip recipes you may want to try out:


For more information on caramelizing onions, check out these:


    Pin It

17 Responses to “pan-fried onion and chive dip”

  1. 1
    Leigh — December 6, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    I can attest to how wonderful this dip was. I’m totally wishing I had some right now. You are a great hostess, lady!

  2. 2
    May Ling Wu — December 6, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

    This looks amazing! Will have to take it to my next potluck!

  3. 3
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — December 6, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

    This has all the good things in life… butter, sour cream, mayo. My heart hurts just thinking about it… but gosh darn it, when has that stopped me from enjoying things in life? Nom!

  4. 4
    Jennifer (Savor) — December 6, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    OMG – gorgeous!

  5. 5
    Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels — December 6, 2010 @ 9:16 pm

    I LOVE this dip recipe, it is beyond amazing. Thank you for reminding me to make it again soon! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your photos are gorgeous by the way!

  6. 6

    Ina is the best and all of her recipes are wonderful for entertaining. Homemade onion dip versus the store bought version is so much better. Your photos look great! Wish I had a bowl of dip and chips right now.

  7. 7
    Tes — December 7, 2010 @ 6:51 am

    Love your photographs!
    This sounds super simple but looks so delicious ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. 8
    Kristina @ spabettie — December 7, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

    this sounds and looks perfectly delicious… I WILL be making this before the year end!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy Holidays !

  9. 9
    briarrose — December 7, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    What an interesting dip. So tasty.

  10. Pingback: Tweets that mention pan-fried onion and chive dip | the merry gourmet --

  11. 10
    Nancy@acommunaltable — December 8, 2010 @ 12:08 am

    Wonderful remake of a classic – and much, much more delicious!!
    I am like you – even though I am a personal chef, when I have people over I don’t want to have too much to do in the kitchen and so make ahead dishes are the best!!

  12. 11
    Jara — December 8, 2010 @ 12:27 am

    I adore anything and everything with onions. It’s something I’m known for in my family and this couldn’t be more my style. I definitely have to make this dip for my next family party. thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. 12
    Jason Phelps — December 8, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

    I can’t find anything wrong with this at all! I’m always looking for new appetizers to try. Party on Sunday.


  14. 13
    Aggie — December 8, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

    The BC onion dip is one of the first “entertaining” recipes I have ever tried! I love that you added chives…the color is so pretty! One of my all time favorite dips!! (great photos!)

    • 13.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — December 8, 2010 @ 9:08 pm

      Thanks, Aggie! Her recipes never let me down.

  15. 14
    Chris — December 12, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

    I am going to have to try this with the rotisserie onions that I made yesterday! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Pingback: Friday Favorites – Christmas Entertaining (Episode 75) | my kitchen addiction

Leave a Comment