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Nate Cooks » Party Food: French Onion Dip from Scratch

Party Food: French Onion Dip from Scratch

Picture this. You’re having some people over for some casual drinks. You don’t want your friends to pass out or embarrass themselves by dancing along to the theme song mix your boyfriend has put together for the express purpose of having people embarrass themselves by dancing.

A totally hypothetical scene, of course.

So you want to put out some food to avoid that unfortunate scenario. But you don’t want to actually put any real effort into this. So you run to the bodega and grab a bag of baby carrots and a tub of dip. OH BUT THEN you make the mistake of reading the ingredients list. And you realize that the “dip” you’re holding is actually whipped vegetable oil. You realize you might have just puked a little in your mouth as you literally throw the tub away from you and back slowly from the refrigerator case.

What to do now?

Fortunately, you don’t even need to rely on dried soup mix to make dip happen. Homemade French onion dip isn’t quite as easy as buying the tub, but then there’s no whipped oil either.

Here’s what you’ll need to make French onion dip from scratch:

  • 1 16 oz tub sour cream ($2.59)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise ($4.39)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped ($0.25)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped ($0.75)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil ($3.99)
  • 1/2 cup beef stock or 1 beef bullion cube ($3.99)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce ($2.29)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar ($2.99)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme ($0.79)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley ($1.49)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives ($1.49)

Total: $25.01 for enough dip for about 15 people or $1.66 a serving.

Start by chopping up all the onions and garlic. My friend Michelle helped with this recipe and demonstrates that a wicked big knife is both fun and makes this much easier than a paring knife.


Once the onions are tiny, heat up the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and let them soften for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Let them cook for about 5-10 more minutes until they’re golden brown.


At this point, add the stock or bullion, vinegar, soy sauce, and thyme and let the liquid almost evaporate. Generally I’m not a fan of bullion cubes, but the saltiness is nice for the dip. If you’re passionately against it, use the stock and add about 1 teaspoon of salt. It will also take longer for the stock to evaporate (unsurprisingly).


Pop the onions in a bowl and let them cool. I usually use the freezer for this. Then add the sour cream and mayo. Mix everything together, then add the fresh herbs.


Let the dip sit for a couple hours before serving, although it’s still pretty good if you don’t have time for that.


  • By jennie, May 8, 2009 @ 11:00 am

    this dip rocks. thanks for posting the recipe!


  • By Steven Gdula, May 8, 2009 @ 11:43 am

    Good recipe, well-written and easy to follow! Thanks so much for sharing this Nate. I like the idea of leaving the onion’s bits intact, rather than pureeing them in with the sour cream. Looking forward to trying this! Steven


  • By eatwelleatcheap, May 13, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

    I’d forgotten all about this childhood favorite, and this recipe looks great. Can’t wait to try it. We’re adding you to our blogroll!


  • By Suzee, November 10, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

    I have made the Barefoot Contessa recipe for homemade onion dip, and it’s good, but this looks more complex and less fatty - looking forward to trying it!


  • By Jmiller, May 2, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

    My daughter and I tried this and it was delicious!!!


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