French Onion Dip

Homemade French Onion Dip knocks the socks off any store-bought dip and is guaranteed to vanish in minutes!

This French Onion Dip recipe is a party favorite and 1000X better than anything you can buy at the store.  It’s luxuriously creamy, savory, and packed with the rich, complex, umami flavors of French Onion Soup laced with natural caramelized onion sweetness. In this post, you’ll learn how to make French Onion Dip from scratch with caramelized onions, cream cheese, sour cream and/or mayo, and adept seasonings all whisked together into addicting splendor.  The best part is, this French Onion Dip recipe is so easy – if you can stir, you can make this dip!  It also earns major points because it is make ahead friendly and tastes even better the next day for an outrageously delicious, stress-free, crowd-pleasing appetizer.

The holidays and game day mean dips galore!  Don’t miss these popular favorites: Jalapeno Popper DipSpinach and Artichoke Dip, Hot Crab Dip and of course this new French Onion Dip!

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How to make French Onion Dip Video

dipping into French Onion Dip with a potato chip

French Onion Dip Recipe

I am still drooling over this French Onion Dip recipe.  You’ll want to dip everything from potato chips to celery to bread in this savory dip, slather it on sandwiches, stuff it in chicken, etc. any excuse to consume this party must.  

Here’s why it should be your go-to dip:

  • It’s a party sensation.  Bring this dip and watch it disappear in minutes and be prepared for everyone to ask/beg you for the recipe. 
  • This homemade French Onion Dip is 1000X more crave-worthy than using a mix or store-bought dip!  As is the case with nearly everything homemade, it’s better, way better.  By caramelizing your own onions, you infuse the dip with flavor gold.
  • It’s easier to make than you think.  Don’t let the words, “homemade” or “from scratch” scare you – if you can stir, you can make this recipe!  Simply stir the onions in some butter until they are deeply golden, then combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl – voila!    
  • This recipe is pantry friendly.  It transforms humble, pantry friendly ingredients into a luxurious, indulgent feast bursting with rich, deeply complex, sweet, savory flavors you’ll have to taste to believe. 
  • It tastes better the next day.  This homemade version tastes best if it’s allowed to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, so it’s the ideal, stress-free, make-ahead recipe for all of your parties, potlucks, etc.

What is French Onion Dip?

French Onion Dip is an American concoction that channels your favorite French Onion Soup flavorings of caramelized onions and beef broth into a dreamy, creamy, umami forward dip.  It may sound odd, but with one dunk of a potato chip, you’ll be hooked.   

French Onion Dip is made by combining sour cream, mayonnaise, dried herbs and either a packet of French onion soup mix or from scratch caramelized onions (like we are doing in this recipe-so good!).  The dip is popularly served with potato chips but can also be served with crackers, crudites, vegetables, etc.   

Why is it called French onion dip?  Where did it originate?

French Onion Dip is named for its use of dehydrated French onion soup mix, although this wasn’t always the case. 

The dip was created by a cook in 1954 in Los Angeles using sour cream and instant onion soup mix.  Shortly after, the Lipton Company began promoting the dip on a television show using their Lipton French Onion Soup Mix, calling the dip “Lipton California Dip.”  Soon everyone referred to the new hip dip simply as “California Dip” and eventually as French Onion Dip.   

What is the difference between onion dip and French onion dip?

There are many recipes for onion dip – French onion dip, sour cream and onion dip, onion dip, etc., so what makes French Onion Dip different?   French Onion Dip is meant to taste like French Onion Soup by using a packet of French Onion Soup mix, which is made of dried onion flakes, onion powder, paprika, parsley, pepper and the key ingredient…beef bouillon! 

Many homemade French Onion Dips try and mimic the beefy flavor with Worcestershire sauce but it pales in comparison.  Beef bouillon is the secret ingredient your lackluster dips have been missing.  It adds incredible depth of rich, salty, umami flavor that will elevate the dip from really good to dizzyingly delicious. 

French Onion Dip recipe in a bread bowl

homemade french onion dip

Now we’ve got the beef bouillon squared away, the other key ingredient in homemade French Onion Dip is the from-scratch swoon worthy caramelized onions bursting with intensely rich, deeply complex, sweet caramelized flavor.  

Caramelizing onions is a simple, easy, straightforward chemical process – the longer you cook the onions, the sweeter they become.  You’ll need about 30 minutes to cook the onions over medium-low heat in order to break down their sugars, transforming the humble, raw, pungent, crisp vegetable into a soft, luxuriously sweet, utterly addictive delicacy worthy of its very own soup and its very own dip.

Although the caramelization takes some time, the onions can be made days ahead of time and the payoff is HUGE. 

Ingredients in French Onion Dip:

Your mind will be blown at how these everyday ingredients transform into hypnotic homemade French Onion Dip.  You will need:  

  • Onions:  regular yellow onions are the best onions to use in this recipe. Yellow onions exude both assertive sharpness and mild sweetness.  Their sweetness is the perfect depth as it’s exponentially enhanced as the onions caramelize in sizzling butter. On that note, I do not recommend any other variety of onion otherwise the recipe will be too sweet.  Pro tip: you can make the caramelized onions ahead of time.
  • Butter:  used to caramelize the onions.  Use unsalted so we can control the salt.  If you only have salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe to ¾ teaspoon and adjust to taste.
  • Olive oil: is used along with the butter to caramelize the onions so the butter doesn’t burn. Use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Sour cream:  forms the base of the dip with its wonderful tanginess and decadent creaminess.  Full fat sour cream is best.
  • Cream cheese: makes the dip extra luxurious without making it too thick and heavy like some recipes.  I recommend full fat cream cheese but it will also work with less fat, but remember less fat = less flavor and creaminess so adjust your expectations. Please do NOT use nonfat cream cheese.
  • Mayonnaise:  adds a delectable richness and most importantly, binds all of the ingredients together and prevents them from separating.  So, you won’t taste the mayo but you will taste all the flavor that is added to the mayo.  Please use real mayo and not Miracle Whip.
  • Beef bouillon:  is the secret ingredient that adds a complex depth of flavor just like you’re slurping French Onion Soup.  I find granulated beef bouillon the easiest to use but you may substitute with one cube bouillon. Finely crush it and add directly to the onions without dissolving in water first.
  • Soy sauce:  adds an additional blast of umami to compliment the sweet onions.  Please use  reduced sodium soy sauce so we can control the salt.
  • Onion powder:  is needed for bold onion flavor to compliment the sweetness of the caramelize onions.  
  • Seasonings:  garlic powder, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, parsley and thyme infuse the dip with the flavors you’d expect from French Onion Soup.
  • Chives: are a garnish that add a punch of freshness.  Chives tastes like mild onion with a slight garlicky note but they are actually classified as an herb verses an onion.  When purchasing chives, look for plump green stems without brown spots or wilting.
top view of homemade French onion dip on a platter

HOW TO SOFTEN CREAM CHEESE FOR onion dip

Your cream cheese needs to be super soft in order to produce lump-free onion dip.  To soften cream cheese, you have a couple options:

  • Microwave:  this method works great but you must babysit the cream cheese and microwave at small intervals so you don’t overcook/scorch – so proceed with care and caution.  Cube cream cheese and transfer to a microwave safe plate.  Microwave for 20 seconds then at 10 second intervals, flipping cubes and microwave another 10 seconds.  Repeat until cream cheese is very soft. 
  • Microwave + counter:  cube cream cheese and transfer it to a microwave safe plate.  Microwave for 20 seconds then at 10 second intervals, then allow cream cheese to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to finish softening.  This gives it a head start to soften at room temperature without the threat of scorching.  I cheat and cover the microwaved cream cheese with plastic wrap and place it outside to soften more quickly.

How to make French Onion Dip

This French Onion Dip recipe requires time to caramelize the onions, but other than that, you’re just whisking ingredients.  Here’s how (full recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1: Caramelize the onions. First, you’ll give the onions a head start to soften by cooking for 5 minutes at medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the soy sauce, beef bouillon and spices. Continue to cook for about 30 minutes, until the onions are deeply golden and sweet.
a collage showing how to make French Onion Soup Dip by caramelizing onions until deeply golden
  • Step 2:  Cream the base.  Add the sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise to a mixing bowl and whisk by hand or with a handheld mixer until smooth.  If the mixture isn’t smooth, microwave it at 15 second intervals (in a microwave safe bowl) then whisk until limp free.
showing how to make French Onion Dip recipe by whisking together the sour cream and mayonnaise
  • Step 3:  Combine.  Stir in the caramelized onions, parsley and thyme. 
showing love how to make French Onion Dip by adding caramelized onions, parsley, thyme and beef bouillon
  • Step 4:  Chill. Refrigerate the dip for 2 hours, best if overnight. 
  • Step 5:  Serve!   When ready to serve, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, give the dip a stir and let it come to room temperature.

How to serve homemade French Onion Dip

The BEST thing to dip in French Onion Dip is potato chips.  I love Ruffles ridged/wavy potato chips and Kettle salt and pepper potato chips.  You can also serve any sturdy dipper with this decadent dip.  Here are some serving ideas:

  • French Baguette
  • Sourdough
  • Soft pretzels
  • Butter crackers such as Ritz
  • Pita chips
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

Tips for Making French Onion Dip Recipe

  • Cut onions uniformly. Chop the onions into an ⅛ to 1/4-inch dice, trying to keep them as uniform as possible so they cook evenly. 
  • Don’t skip the oil when caramelizing the onions.  The olive oil will keep the butter from burning during the long caramelization process as well as add flavor.
  • Caramelize the onions more than you think they need. If you think your onions are caramelized but not sure, cook on!  The last few minutes of caramelization is crucial for intensely sweet onions, because the deeper the color, the deeper the flavor. 
  • Turn the heat down if the onions are scorching.  A little browning on the bottom of the pan is natural, but if the bottom is scorching before the onions are done, that means the onions are next, so turn down the heat.  The caramelization process cannot be hurried, it’s best to go low and slow or the onions will burn instead of turning golden and sweet.
  • Add water as needed.  Don’t be afraid to add splashes of water to the pot in about 1 tablespoon increments if the onions appear dry and are beginning to scorch on the bottom before they are done cooking (and you’ve already turned the heat down).   
  • Use soft cream cheese.  The cream cheese should be soft enough that you can stick your finger in it. If it is not soft enough, then it will yield lumpy dip. 
  • Lumpy dip solution.  You can remedy a lumpy dip by transferring the cream cheese, sour cream, mayo base to a microwave safe bowl and microwaving at 15-20 second bursts, until lump free, whisking in between.  
  • Season to taste. It’s best to taste the dip before adjusting with salt and pepper with your dippers of choice because potato chips are saltier than veggies!
up close of dipping a chip into French Onion Dip

onion DIP RECIPE VARIATIONS:

You are welcome to jazz up your onion dip up until your heart (and belly) are content.  Just make sure that you don’t go crazy with add-ins or your dip won’t be as creamy. Feel free to try:

  • Sour cream substitute:  if sour cream isn’t your thing, you can substitute with plain Greek yogurt instead.   Keep in mind this will make the dip tangier.
  • Cream cheese substitute:  the cream cheese makes the dip thicker, richer and creamier.  For a less rich dip, swap the cream cheese for mayonnaise (fat and flavor) or sour cream (creaminess and tang).
  • Beef bouillon substitute:  I highly encourage you to use beef bouillon unless you need to make the dip vegetarian. In that case, add 1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce and additional salt to taste. 
  • Make it gluten free:  swap the soy sauce for tamari.
  • Use fresh herbs:  use 1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley and ¾ teaspoon fresh thyme.
  • Use different herbs:  swap the parsley for different herbs such as rosemary, tarragon, sage or basil, keeping in mind they will change the flavor profile.
  • Make it spicy:  add additional cayenne pepper to taste or spice it up with tabasco, red pepper flakes or pickled jalapenos.   
  • Add protein:  stir in shredded chicken, Italian sausage, ground beef, ground turkey, bacon, ham, etc.  If using bacon, ham or Italian sausage, reduce the salt in the recipe and season to taste.  
  • Add vegetables:  sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach, artichokes, etc. could all be tasty.  

HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP HOMEMADE FRENCH ONION DIP?

French Onion Dip should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  It stores beautifully and retains its full flavor. 

can I freeze homemade french onion dip?

You won’t be worried about leftovers once you taste this dip!  I do not recommend freezing homemade French Onion Dip due to the cream cheese/sour cream/mayo base. The fat will separate and become a funny texture once frozen and thawed.

CAN YOU MAKE this recipe AHEAD OF TIME?

Yes, this French Onion Dip recipe is a wonderful make ahead dip!  It can be made in its entirety or you can make it in stages:  

  • Caramelize the onions:  the onions can be caramelized, cooled and transferred to an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  You can even make extra onions to use on Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, pasta, pizza, eggs, etc.
  • Cream the base:  whisk the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise together until smooth.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use. 

WHAT TO EAT WITH french onion DIP?

French Onion Dip is a favorite party food for game day parties, viewing parties, potlucks, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and everything in between!  It is stand-alone scrumptious but also pairs well with these other appetizers:

up close of a chip dunked in French Onion Dip recipe from scratch with caramelized onions

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up close of dipping a chip into French Onion Dip

French Onion Dip

This French Onion Dip recipe is a party favorite and 1000X better than anything you can buy at the store.  It’s luxuriously creamy, savory, and packed with the rich, complex, umami flavors of French Onion Soup laced with natural caramelized onion sweetness. In this post, you’ll learn how to make French Onion Dip from scratch with caramelized onions, cream cheese, sour cream and/or mayo, and adept seasonings all whisked together into addicting splendor.  The best part is, this French Onion Dip recipe is so easy – if you can stir, you can make this dip!  It also earns major points because it is make ahead friendly and tastes even better the next day for an outrageously delicious, stress-free, crowd-pleasing appetizer.
Prep Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

Caramelized Onions

Add Later

  • 2 cups sour cream (full fat is best)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (full fat is best)
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, very soft
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Garnish

  • freshly chopped chives

Instructions

Caramelize Onions

  • Melt the butter with the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the soy sauce, beef bouillon and all seasonings through cayenne pepper (up to Add Later). Continue to cook, stirring every few minutes for 25 to 30 minutes, until the onions are caramelized to a deep golden-brown color. If the bottom of the pan starts to burn, add a tablespoon of water at a time and reduce the heat.
  • Transfer the onions to a bowl and pop them in the freezer for 15 minutes or until they reach room temperature. When cool, set aside a tablespoon for garnish if you’d like.

Make the Dip

  • Add the sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise to a mixing bowl and whisk by hand or with a handheld mixer until smooth. If the mixture isn’t smooth, microwave it at 15 second intervals (in a microwave safe bowl) then whisk until lump free.
  • Stir in the caramelized onions, parsley and thyme.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours, best if overnight.
  • When ready to serve, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed (keep in mind what you are going to be serving with it; for example, the dip will need less salt if serving with salty potato chips verses vegetables). Garnish with freshly chopped chives. Serve with potato chips, vegetables, bread, crackers, etc.

Video

Notes

  • Beef bouillon:  is the secret ingredient that adds a complex depth of flavor just like you’re slurping French Onion Soup.  I find granulated beef bouillon the easiest to use but you may substitute with one cube bouillon. Finely crush and add directly to the onions without dissolving in water first.  
  • Beef bouillon substitute: I highly encourage you to use beef bouillon for the best flavor unless you need to make the dip vegetarian. In that case, add 1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce and additional salt to taste. 
  • Cream cheese:  should be soft enough that you can stick your finger in it. If it is not soft enough, then it will yield lumpy dip. the cream cheese makes the dip thicker, richer and creamier.  For a less rich dip, swap the cream cheese for ¼ cup mayonnaise.
  • Sour cream:  you may substitute with plain Greek yogurt but it will change the flavor of the dip somewhat.
  • Make it gluten free:  swap the soy sauce for tamari.
  • Storage:  store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  It stores beautifully and retains its full flavor.   This dip does not freeze well.
Make Ahead
This French Onion Dip recipe is a wonderful make ahead dip!  It can be made in its entirety or you can make it in stages:  
  • Caramelize the onions:  the onions can be caramelized, cooled and transferred to an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
  • Cream the base:  whisk the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise together until smooth.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use. 

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