Virginia Willis’ Baked Caramelized Vidalia Onions

Kyra Watts
Southern Kitchen
Virginia Willis’ Baked Caramelized Vidalia Onions

About the recipe

The classic bistro dish, French onion soup, crowned with a golden brown crouton that’s topped with gooey, molten Swiss, is a superior example of achieving balance in a dish. It showcases the magical taste of tender, slow-cooked onions with just enough nutty cheese. With this soup, and a nod to Virginia Willis’ French culinary training, as inspiration, she developed a recipe for baked, caramelized dish that can be served as a dip or as a vegetable side dish — a perfectly simple celebration of first-of-the-season Vidalia onions.

Serves: Makes about 3 cups

Hands On Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese (about 4 ounces)

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 Vidalia onions, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped

1 cup low-fat milk, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon freshly picked thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste


Heat the oven to broil.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the cheese with the panko and paprika.

In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook until the skillet is dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and garlic until thoroughly combined. (The mixture will be slightly dry and pasty.)

Stir in the milk and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup of cheese with the thyme and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to level out the onions and top with the reserved panko mixture.

Broil until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, about 5 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler. Serve immediately.