Pearl Onions au Gratin


Inspired by the pickled pearl onions that became a family tradition ("Mom just served them straight out of the jar and threw a toothpick at them"), Barbara Lynch bakes fresh pearl onions in a mixture of cream, garlic, shallots and bacon, then tops it all with a crispy panko crust.

Pearl Onions au Gratin
Photo: © Maura McEvoy
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins


  • 2 1/2 pounds red or white pearl onions

  • 4 thick strips of bacon, finely diced

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or coarse, dry bread crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Use a sharp knife to trim off the root ends, then pinch the onions to remove the skins.

  2. In a medium, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the bacon fat into a heatproof cup and reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons. Drain the bacon on paper towels.

  3. Add the butter to the skillet along with the shallots and garlic. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pearl onions to a large, shallow baking dish and cover with the cream.

  4. In a small bowl, toss the panko with the bacon, parsley and the 1 1/2 teaspoons of reserved bacon fat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the crumb mixture over the onions and bake until the crumbs are toasted and the onions are bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Make Ahead

The onions can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Return to room temperature before baking.

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