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Decadent Creamed Onions

A photo of Carolyn BinderCreamed onions are the most beloved side dish that we serve for Thanksgiving at Cowlick Cottage Farm (see also, The Search for the Best Turkey Recipe).  I would be fired from my role as matriarch if I did not serve these sweet little pearls to my family for Thanksgiving dinner.  I make a double batch every year, and every year it is gone by the end of dinner.  In fact, I think the first batch is gone before the pan leaves the stove.  People steal the onions right out of their pot.  My family thinks I am not aware of this, but like all mothers, I have eyes in the back of my head.  There are never leftover creamed onions.  The dish is rich, creamy, and it has a wonderful holiday aroma while it is bubbling on the stove.  Inhale the creamed onions!

By popular request, here is my very simple recipe.  I hope you try it, and please let me know if you like it as much as we do!

Decadent Creamed Onions 


1 bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 pint heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
Fresh ground nutmeg
A dash of sherry (optional, but don’t use cooking sherry—it’s too salty)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, thyme or chives to garnish


What is unusual about my creamed onions is that I do not use the typical butter, flour and milk base. I use straight heavy cream.  Because I like to be different, and I’m a little rebellious. Grab a medium-sized heavy saucepan and pour the entire pint of heavy cream into it.  Add the butter and the thawed pearl onions, including the juices that accumulate from thawing.  Over medium high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium, and simmer until the cream thickens to your liking.  I takes at least 15-20 minutes for the cream to really thicken into a rich, silky sauce.  I like mine thick enough to coat a spoon.  Make sure you keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally while it’s bubbling so that the cream does not scorch on the bottom of the pan.  Season to taste with fresh ground nutmeg, sherry, salt, and fresh ground pepper (I like to use white pepper if I’ve got it).  Once the cream sauce is thickened, you may lower the heat to keep the onions warm until you are ready to serve them. 

A little fresh chopped parsley, thyme or chives makes the dish especially pretty! 

carolyn binder
12/9/2010 9:02:10 AM

Hi Janice: I've only seen one size, and I think it is about 12 ounces. I actually used two bags for Thanksgiving, and that works fine, too.

12/3/2010 12:54:05 PM

What size bag of pearl onions for the creamed onions?

carolyn binder
11/19/2010 6:25:53 PM

Hi Dave: We tend to be pretty traditional, too, with all the usual fixings, but somehow, the cream onions have become a tradition. Maybe you can bring some with you to your friend's house! I agree with you that the leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving, and I also like to make broth. It sure beats the storebought kind, doesn't it? You have a wonderful Thanksgiving, too.

nebraska dave
11/19/2010 5:51:24 PM

@Carolyn, I'm not familiar with creamed onions. That's not to say that folks don't eat that sort of thing here but my family never had them for a holiday meal. We were pretty traditional with turkey, bread stuffing, corn, mashed potaotes, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and gravy. Creamed onions sounds like something that I would like. Maybe I'll give it a try. This year Thanksgiving will be over at a good friend's house. It's good to have friends that can cook. The only disadvantage is that there's no left overs. She always sends a plate home with me, but it's just not the same. I like to boil the turkey bones and make turkey stock for turkey noodle soup. When I'm finished there's nothing bare bones. This year I've decided that at home I'll just have mini Thanksgiving dinners from now until the infamous day of celebration. Have a great Thanksgiving Day.