Pearl Onions with Balsamic Vinegar|

Pearl Onions with Balsamic Vinegar

By Sally Cameron on November 29, 2012

holiday dishes, Side Dishes, thanksgiving, vegetables, vegetarian,


Pearls. Lovely to wear and delicious to eat. That would be pearl onions. Petite when compared to their larger family members, pearl onions have a sweet, earthy flavor.

Don’t turn your nose up until you’ve tried them cooked this way. Pearl onions with Balsamic Vinegar, browned in a little butter. You might be happily surprised…or completely amazed.

Pearl Onions with Balsamic Vinegar

Creamed pearl onions are a holiday tradition in my family. I hated them as a kid. Then I grew up, tried them, and finally understood what the fuss was about. Now I love them.

My mom made them with a rich cream sauce. This year I wanted to make pearl onions for our holiday dinners, but a lighter, more modern version. They came out great.

Pearl onions with Balsamic vinegar are good with any roasted meat or poultry. Think roast turkey, roast chicken, lamb, or beef. A great side dish not just for the holidays but for any day.  I’d be totally happy with a bowl of quinoa, some greens and pearl onions for a vegetarian dinner.

Buying Pearl Onions

When buying pearl onions, don’t buy them too small if you can choose. The best size is just a hair over 1″ (2.5 cm) in diameter. Once peeled they are the perfect mouthful.

When shopping you’ll find other small onions called boiler onions. They are usually in bulk so you can choose them individually. The best size is no larger than 1 1/2″ (3.8 cm). If the onions are in netted bags, you just have to do with what you are given.

Pearl Onions|

How to Cook and Peel Pearl Onions

Start by blanching raw pearl onions (peel on) in boiling water for a 1-2 minutes, then immediately place them in a bowl of ice water. This makes peeling them easy. First, trim off the root end with a sharp paring knife. You’ll find the skins slip right off. It’s a good trick.

The short cut – buy them already peeled. Packages are in the refrigerated produce section of many stores these days.

Pearl Onions with Balsamic Vinegar|

Finish Your Pearl Onions

After the pearl onions are peeled, cook them low and slow in a pan with a little butter (or a combo of olive oil and butter) until they became golden and the butter is browned. Be patient and occasionally swirl the pan to coat all of the onions. It won’t take that long, maybe 15-18 minutes.

When they are tender, drizzle them with Balsamic syrup and stir to coat them. Add a little salt. The taste is heavenly. Even people who don’t think they like pearl onions will like these. Make more than you think you will eat. Like I said, you will be surprised.

In terms of the Balsamic glaze, you can make your own with my recipe or buy a bottle ready made. I’ve seen it at stores like Traders Joes or Whole Foods. It just takes 2-3 teaspoons.

Helpful Links:
Here’s my recipe for Balsamic Syrup. Its so easy and handy to have in the kitchen
The pan I’m using is an All-Clad 3 quart sauté. It’s a great size. I use it’s big brother, the 6 quart All Clad sauté pan a lot too for bigger batches or cooking for family.


Leave a Comment
Mary@SiftingFocus | November 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Sally, thanks for the reminder that we don’t have to reserve this recipe just for the Thanksgiving meal. My husband loves glazed pearl onions but I never think to serve them any other time of the year. Now I will!

Sally | December 1, 2012 at 5:28 am

Sally, we always had creamed onions, too! And they weren’t very kid friendly, but I agree, they were worth fussing about. I also agree that a lighter touch is more in keeping with today’s eating–these are definitely on my Sunday supper list to go with roast chicken. I love oven roasted vegetables, but sometimes you need to switch it up. Nice post–your blog looks terrific!

larry | May 5, 2016 at 1:14 pm

I love your recipe of glazed pear onions. Awesome-oh so good!
Family getting together to celebrate our grandson’s birthday. Bringing them with me for a side dish of veggies.
Thanks for sharing your recipe. Larry

    Sally Cameron | May 7, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Thanks Larry! Love to hear that. I was thinking of revising it a bit, cooking the onions a bit longer. Last time I made it they took longer than they used to. A possible update to come, maybe in fall.

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