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Best Cipollini Onion Recipes

Best Cipollini Onion Recipes

Top Rated Cipollini Onion Recipes

Try this simple recipe for roasted Pacific salmon, honey caramelized turnips, cipollini onions, and pinot noir.Recipe courtesy of Chef Yaffe, VUE 24, Foxwoods Resort Casino.

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Balsamic Cipollini Onions

Cipollini onions are “little onions” in Italian. They are about the size of a slightly flattened golf ball. With their thin skin and high sugar content, they are ideal for caramelizing, and perfectly balanced by the acidity of the vinegar in this show-stopping recipe! Cipollinis are a great complement for meats and roasts…or simply perfect on their own.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds cipollini onions, unpeeled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Blanch: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add onions and cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with very cold water. Peel onions, leaving the ends intact.

Cook: Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir only until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, wiping down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush (do not touch the mixture). Do not stir. Keep boiling until mixture turns a pale golden color. Start
swirling the pan until color is a deep amber (color will change quickly). Quickly remove from heat and carefully add wine (the steam will explode upwards so be careful). Return the pot to the flame and simmer, stirring until the harden sugar that has formed, has dissolved.

Simmer: Add onions, red wine vinegar, oil, salt, peppercorns and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove onions from liquid and transfer to a serving bowl. Continue to boil liquid until reduced and slightly thickened, approximately 3 minutes. Watch
carefully as the liquid can quickly burn. Add balsamic vinegar and pour liquid over onions.
Cool to room temperature, and serve.

plan ahead - This dish can be prepared up to 2 weeks in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator. The flavors deepen with age.
simplify - Use frozen pearl onions when fresh cipollini onions are not available.


The possibilities are truly endless for these braised cipollini onions.

One last thing to note—Five Quarters was first published in the UK. That is the edition I ordered (Book Depository has free worldwide shipping to 140 countries). Should you choose to buy this edition, it is exclusively in metric measurements. If cups and volume are your preference, then you’ll want to look for the US printing, titled My Kitchen in Rome. Both the same wonderful cookbook, just tweaks to some of the language and measurements (the US version has been carefully converted into cups and volume measurements).

Okay one last, last note. Cipollini onions can be a bit tricky to find, but I highly recommend seeking them out. I found mine at Whole Foods. Rachel suggests using shallots, if need be, and they’re certainly easier to peel. One taste of a cipollini, though, and you’re ruined for life, realizing that nothing is a real substitute for their natural sweetness. As for me, I’m stalking Whole Foods daily, awaiting their next delivery.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 ½ pounds cipollini onions
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the cipollini until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water. Trim and peel the onions and pat dry.

Transfer the onions to a large ovenproof skillet and stir in the olive oil, thyme leaves, sugar and 1/4 cup of the sherry vinegar. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Cover the skillet with foil and roast the onions in the upper third of the oven for about 20 minutes, until soft. Remove the foil and roast the onions for about 10 minutes, basting a few times with the juices, until lightly glazed.

Transfer the skillet to the stove. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar and stir over moderate heat until the onions are richly glazed, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and plenty of pepper and serve.


Roasted Cipollini Onions with Thyme

If you’re not familiar with them, Cipollini onions (pronounced chip-oh-lee-knee) are a thin-skinned, mild onion about the side of a golf ball. They’re pretty easy to recognize because they have a flattened, almost UFO-ish shape that’s very distinctive. The name literally means “little onion” in Italian. Go figure.

These little guys are my all-time favorite onion to roast because they caramelize beautifully and become incredibly soft and sweet.

Like all little onions, they are kind of annoying to peel but if you boil them for 30 seconds and then run ice-cold water over them, it’s really not too bad. My advice is to make more than you think you’ll need because they will disappear quickly.

Trim off the little root end and peel back the brown skin.

Very often, I’ll roast them with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil but if you happen to be cooking duck in some form or another (say, for example Crispy Duck Breasts with Sherry and Figs), then you should absolutely use the rendered duck fat instead.

If you’ve never tried cooking with it, you’ll soon discover that duck fat is pretty much the culinary elixir of the gods. I’m not exaggerating (I’m exaggerating, but just a little). Seriously though, if you want to make the best, most outrageously divine roasted potatoes in the history of mankind, follow this recipe from Nigella Lawson. She uses goose fat, which is not that easy to find in the U.S. but we’ve made it several times with duck fat and it is insane. I’ll blog it sometime but we don’t make it very often. Another thing I love to do is sauté kale or chard in a tiny bit of duck fat with a little garlic and chili flakes.

Okay, back to Cipollinis. I’ve seen many recipes that call for roasting cipollinis with honey or balsamic vinegar, but personally I don’t think they need anything more than a few sprigs of thyme and and a good sprinkle of course salt and pepper.

You can use a sheet pan or a ceramic baking dish.

They would make a fantastic side-dish to roasted chicken or pork. They would be great on a pizza or a tart with mushrooms and gruyere cheese. Now I’m getting excited… I think I might need to make more of them later this week.


White Onions

Softer and milder than yellows and reds, these have thin, papery skins and, while still sharp, less of a lingering aftertaste. We prefer them cooked quickly or served raw, like in pico de gallo or atop huevos rancheros (they’re particularly popular in Latin and Central American cuisine), or whenever you need one in the dish and as a garnish (think chili).

A white onion sheds its skin.

You can further tame their flame by slicing one thinly and giving it an hour-long soak in cold water—they'll be so sweet, you can practically eat them like a salad. (Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic, but the flavor will mellow dramatically, and you can probably eat a lot more of them.)


Balsamic Roasted Cipollini Onions

This dish is based on a favorite recipe for Caramelized Shallots, from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchenblog. It’s such a favorite, in fact, that it has been a fixture on the Thanksgiving menu for quite a few years now. In the original recipe, the shallots are peeled and seared with salt in so much butter that you might accidentally summon Paula Deen. After a good caramelization, they get splashed with red wine vinegar and then transferred to the oven to roast until they are irresistibly tender and deeply colored. Over the years, the red wine vinegar has given way to balsamic, as it imparts a much more complex flavor and even deeper color. It also became evident that this preparation would lend itself just as well to any member of the allium family. When considering the next best option to shallots, these small, flat, sweet cipollini onions quickly rose to the top of the list.

Naturally, you can opt to use the butter like in the SK version, but for our purposes here, we wanted to offer a vegan (but no less spectacular) version. The butter was replaced with olive oil and the overall amount of fat was reduced by half, making the dish more heart-healthy. Always a plus, especially when you don’t have to sacrifice any flavor, like, at all.

Cipollini can be a little challenging to peel, but a quick trim of the root end, a few minutes in boiling water followed by a shock in an ice bath, and that stubborn outer layer will slide right off. The final product is spectacular enough that those extra steps are well worth the effort.

The initial browning is helped along by a tablespoon of sugar, after which you add the balsamic vinegar and continue cooking on the stovetop until the vinegar begins to reduce, then everything goes into the oven. That’s when the real magic happens. The vinegar reduces even more, combining with the olive oil and juices from the onions to make a divine, vinaigrette-style “sauce.”

These onions can be served a few ways. They make a brilliant, slightly unconventional side when served hot. If left to cool to room temperature, they make a stellar addition to any antipasto platter. They just might steal the spotlight from the other denizens of said platter. If there happen to be any left over, you can refrigerate them and use them as the topper for a simple salad for the next day’s lunch. They’ll even supply their own vinaigrette, which is ever so considerate of them. We love a recipe that can do double (or even triple) duty.

The onions themselves caramelize even further, the color being helped along by the vinegar. What you end up with are tender, enticingly browned and ridiculously flavorful little orbs. As a side note, this is one of those savory recipes that will leave the kitchen—actually, the entire house—bathed in mouthwatering aromas. Brace yourselves.

The other great thing about this dish is that showcases perfectly how a few simple ingredients can come together to create a fairly broad flavor profile, touching on sweet, tangy, salty, savory and spicy without a lot of fuss or expense. It has left us wondering how this technique will work with whole peeled garlic cloves…Could be dangerous. We’ll keep you posted. Enjoy!


  1. Put raisins into a small bowl cover with hot water and let soften for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until golden brown, 8–10 minutes pour off oil. Drain raisins. Add raisins, vinegar, and sugar and season with salt. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, 2–3 minutes.

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WineBookGirl

We ended up making two batches, some packed in standard wide-mouth pint jars and others layered, as above, in taller, thinner jars.

8 cups peeled cipollini onions (approximately 3 pounds purchased onions)
5½ cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons canning salt
2 cups sugar
4 scant teaspoons mustard seed
2 scant teaspoons celery seed
Thyme (optional)
Yield: 3 pint and one 1/2 pint jars

Peel onions. I find that cipollini onions hold their shape well when peeled (see the photo above.)
Combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a stockpot. Bring to a boil and continue to boil gently for 3 minutes. Add the peeled onions and bring the pot back to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the onions are half-cooked (about 5 minutes).
Meanwhile, place 1 scant teaspoon mustard seed and 1/2 scant teaspoon celery seed in the bottom of each clean, hot pint jar. I always add an optional thyme sprig, both because it looks nice and because I like the taste. If you are not a thyme fan you can omit it and/or experiment with a different flavor.
Ladle the hot onions into your jars, leaving 1-inch head space. Cover the onions with the hot pickling liquid, (a funnel helps with this) leaving ½-inch head space. Finger seal your jars and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
If you have any brine leftover, as we did, I recommend using it for other pickles. We used our leftover brine for pickled carrots. For our usual pickled carrot recipe, see here. You could also use it for a refrigerator pickle of your choice, keeping in mind that the brine will have an onion flavor.


  • 1 ⁄3 cup plus 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 3 small cipollini onions (about half a pound), thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • juice of 1 lemon (approx 1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 ⁄2 tsp. salt
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 12-15 minutes. Remove onions from heat.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, tahini, salt, remaining 1 ⁄3 cup olive oil, and 2 ⁄3 of the browned onions. Process until smooth and creamy. (If the hummus seems dry, add additional tahini one teaspoon at a time, reprocessing between teaspoons.) Taste and season with additional salt, if desired. Serve topped with remaining browned onions and drizzled with additional olive oil.

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