This caramelized onion dip is sure to be a crowd-pleaser! The best part is you can make it ahead of time for parties and gatherings!

potato chip dipped in caramelized onion dip

Creamy, cool sour cream and cream cheese, swirls caramelized onions flavored with balsamic vinegar and salty potato chips to scoop it all up. Its cool ranch meets a sophisticated caramelized onion dip popped into a pretty dish and put out with an assortment of scoopable ingredients – be it potato, veggie sticks, pita chips, corn chips, or bagel chips. But if you want to grab a spoon and just go to town on the dip, hey, that’s cool. I won’t judge.

There’s something so beautiful about completing a recipe for a get-together and having it ready to go at least a day before the event. And if it can taste better as it sits, then that’s just an added little bonus that tips me further in its direction. Hello, Christmas and New Year’s Eve! I like to get done as much as I can ahead of time!

Since this is an excellent recipe to make ahead, I encourage you to take your time when you’re caramelizing the onions. That is the biggest make-it-or-break-it thing about this recipe. If it takes you an hour, so be it. Set aside some time earlier in the week and make the onions right. Put on a good playlist, grab a drink, dance a little while you stir. 

This caramelized onion dip will treat you exceptionally well if you let the onions do their thing right.

plate with chips and onion dip

Ingredients for homemade caramelized onion dip recipe:

  • Butter: to saute and caramelize the onions in.
  • Onions: You’ll need 3 medium to large onions here. You can use sweet onions or regular yellow onions for this recipe. I usually prefer yellow onions and add just a hint of sugar to help sweeten them. If you use sweet onions, you might want to use less or omit the sugar entirely.
  • Seasonings: You’ll need all the pantry staples for this recipe. I use some dried thyme, sugar, and kosher salt for the caramelized onions. Then, when we combine the ingredients for the dip, I like to add some onion powder to really boost the onion flavor (it is an onion dip after all!) I also add garlic powder.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: If you guys have made any of my other one-million caramelized onion recipes, you know I love adding a little balsamic vinegar near the end of the caramelizing process. The vinegar adds a nice level of complexity. One that’s sweet and tangy and hard to pinpoint. It’ll keep your guests guessing all night long. In the past, I’ve used a full tablespoon, but it does give the dip a bit of brown color. Feel free to use a little less if you don’t want the dip to be as brown!
  • Cream Cheese: Be sure to soften the cream cheese at room temperature for several hours beforehand. It’s crucial to do this so that the dip is lump-free when you mix it up.
  • Sour Cream: Adds a nice tang along with the buttermilk found in the ranch seasoning. You can swap the sour cream for full-fat greek yogurt (I wouldn’t use the 0% kind, it’s simply not worth it!
  • Worcestershire Sauce: helps boost the umami flavor in any dip or dish. If you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative, you can use equal parts hoisin and soy sauce instead.
  • Ranch Seasoning: You can use homemade or store-bought seasoning. As a child, I was obsessed with the french onion dip you can get in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. And this just adds the oomph factor! Onion soup mix would also work, but we’re also using onion powder in the dip recipe, so ranch works the best! It’s my secret ingredient!
  • Chopped Parsley: Adds freshness and some much-needed color to this dip. Sometimes, I’ll swap some of the parsley for chopped chives as well.
caramelized onions in pan

How to make the best caramelized onion dip from scratch:

  1. Start by caramelizing the onions. I like to caramelize the onion in my cast iron skillet or dutch oven with a knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. I let them go for 5 minutes or until they start to sweat and shrink a bit. Lower the heat at the point, to medium-low heat and add the dried thyme, sugar, and cook until they reduce for a good 35-45 minutes. Near the end. we’ll deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar and give the onions a few minutes to soak it all up.
  2. Prepare right away, or refrigerate for later. At this point, you can let the onions cool and pop them into an airtight container if you want to make the caramelized onion dip later. Or you can finish off the dip then refrigerate.
  3. Mix up the dip. If you choose to make the dip right away, you’ll need to make sure you allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature for at least an hour or two before you proceed. It’s really difficult to blend the cream cheese with the other ingredients if it hasn’t had time to soften.Once the onions have cooled, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and ranch seasoning in a bowl. Once the dip is smooth, taste and adjust the dip with more ranch, salt, or pepper. I like to taste the dip with the potato chips I plan on serving the dip with. This way, you don’t add too much salt or other seasonings! 
  4. Let it rest. If time permits, I like to let the dip rest and ‘marinate’ for at least an hour before serving it. Patience here gives the flavors in the dip to mix and mingle and really blend.
onion dip ingredients in glass bowl

Best tips for caramelized onion dip:

  • Like cheese, I prefer to remove the dip from the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. I find the flavors tend to taste better when the dip isn’t cold from the refrigerator.
  • Best served with ridged potato chips. I don’t know what it is, but potato chips with ridges really make this dip taste so much better!

If you like this recipe, you might also like:

spoon with onion dip topped with chives

Recipe originally shared Dec 2017, updated with new images, and minor recipe updates Dec. 2021.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Caramelized Onion Dip

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

This caramelized onion dip is sure to be a crowd-pleaser! The best part is you can make it ahead of time for parties and gatherings!

Caramelized Onion Dip

Ingredients

caramelized onions:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (double if fresh)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (see notes)

dip:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temp-ish
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons ranch seasoning mix
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or chives)

Instructions

  1. Caramelize the onions: In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt butter with a drizzle of oil. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until they start to sweat and shrink a little. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the thyme and sugar and continue to cook for 35-45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the onions are caramelized. If the onions are caramelizing too fast, turn down the heat.
  2. Flavor the onions: Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, and season with salt. Scrape to pick up any stuck-on bits from pan. Remove from heat and allow the onions to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the onions or complete the dip then refrigerate.
  3. Make the dip: Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire, and 1 tablespoon of ranch seasoning. with a spatula, or with a hand mixer on low speed. Once smooth, stir in the caramelized onions and chopped parsley. Taste and adjust with additional ranch seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.
  4. Rest is best. Let the dip rest for at least an hour before serving so the flavors have a chance to blend. Making it 24 hours in advance is even better! Dip is best served when removed from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Balsamic vinegar: I love using 3 teaspoons because the flavor is amazing, but it does give the dip a brown hue. If you'd like for the dip to stay lighter, use 1-2 teaspoons balsamic instead.

Have you made this recipe?

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