What is confit onion?
Confit onion, or as the French know it, Confit d’oignon is a simple but very tasty condiment made almost entirely from onions. In France, you’ll often find it alongside cheese, where it’s a perfect accompaniment. This is a simple, fail-proof and tasty confit onion recipe for a French favourite.
Foie grass and other delightful French charcuterie inclusions like pâté, rillettes and saucisson go well with confit onion. Anything cooked in confit style is usually cooked slowly in oil. Examples of this are fresh salmon and duck, a speciality in France. This confit onion recipe however is not made like this. It’s more of an onion jam, cooked slowly to take the sharpness out of the onions and leave a mild, sweet-flavoured delight. You’ll also see it written as oignon confit or confit d’oignon when in France.
Why this recipe works
- a quick and easy recipe that takes very little time to make
- the process is a simple one with very few ingredients
- if you have a lot of onions or they are in season, this is a great way to use them up and have beautiful onion confit on hand for months to come.
- it’s not a sweet recipe, so it is very versatile and can be used in many other ways as a savoury addition.
- makes a perfect gift
- a little goes a long way so a jar will last you a while
Recipe ingredient notes (full recipe at bottom)
- Onions – I prefer using red onions, but they can be easily substituted for white or brown onions
- Sugar – sugar can be reduced in quantity if you prefer less sweetness. It is used mainly to balance out the acidity from the vinegar, but if you like it more on the sour side, you can definitely reduce the sugar. Raw sugar can be substituted for white.
- Herbs – thyme is traditional, but if you have another favourite herb, you could substitute it
- Vinegar – red wine vinegar can be substituted for other vinegar including sherry, balsamic, white wine or apple cider
What goes into this recipe
How to make confit onion
This recipe is all about the onions, and not surprisingly, it is the preparation of these vegetables that takes the most time; that and stirring!
When it comes to choosing which onions to choose, it doesn’t really matter. I have made this recipe using ones with red, white and brown skin and they have all turned out great.
Cook’s tip: Use fresh onions. If the onion is old or soft and squishy, it will impact your final result. This is not the recipe to use heaps of old onions you have had lying around for ages. Save them for making stock!
Step 1 | Prepare onions
Peel the onions and then finely slice them. I always use my mandolin as it’s a more efficient method, especially when processing one kilogram of onions. A food processor with a slicing function can also be used.
If you don’t have access to any of this equipment, it’s not a problem. Using your sharpest knife, slice the onions as evenly and thinly as possible.
Step 2 | Prepare to cook onions
In a medium/large saucepan, add the butter and melt it gently over low heat. Add the onions and continue to cook at low heat for around 20 minutes.
The idea here is to soften the onions without adding any colour. Stir occasionally during the 20-minute period.
Step 3 | Add additional ingredients
Season with salt and pepper. Add the sugar, continuing to stir so that it is all mixed through. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
Add the red wine vinegar, white wine and thyme and stir.
Step 4 | Simmer slowly
Keeping it on low heat, allow it to simmer for one hour, continuing to stir regularly.
Cook’s tip: Patience is a virtue here. Don’t be tempted to shortcut by turning up the heat or cooking it for less. Slow and steady will definitely win this race.
Step 5 | Bottle the onion confit
When the onions have reduced enough and are soft and sweet, put them into sterilised jars. Close them tightly. They will store on your shelf or in the fridge for many weeks. Mine just doesn’t ever last that long.
**You can read more about sterilising bottles at the bottom of the “How to make cumquat jam article”.
This recipe made two bottles (400g) of confit onion.
Cook’s tip: If this has been kept in the fridge, warm a little before serving to release the butter that would have solidified around the onions.
If the jars have been well sterilised, confit onion will keep for a long time. I recommend keeping them in the fridge because of the fat content (butter)
They sure can. I prefer using red onions, but white or brown onions will work.
Not necessarily. If you want to eat them all quickly, you can just store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks.
No, they are completely different. Caramelised onions is the name given to onions that are sauteed in a pan, sometimes with butter and/or oil, just long enough to give them a brown, caramelised coating. They are soft and super tasty. Confit onion is made without colouring or caramelising the onions, cooking slowly and softly for a longer period of time in order to produce onions with a jam-like texture.
Where can confit onion be used?
I’m quite sure the French would disagree here, but it’s also very tasty on pizza, and I’m a huge fan of it with goat’s cheese, especially if they are both sitting slightly warmed and sitting inside a pastry case. It’s a beautiful canapé.
It adds a wonderful flavour to a burger or toasted sandwich and is great in an omelette too. Use it as a condiment on cold meats, especially leftovers at Christmas, or alongside beef or pork. It’s very versatile.
Step By Step Photos Above
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- 1 kilo onions
- 100g butter
- 100g white sugar
- 20ml dry white wine
- 10ml red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Finely slice the onions, and in a medium saucepan, sweat them on a low heat in butter for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season with salt and pepper, and then add the sugar and continue cooking for 10 minutes until caramelized.
- Add the white wine and vinegar, sprinkle with thyme and stir.
- Simmer for 1 hour over low heat, stirring every 10 minutes.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 39Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 24mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.
This recipe comes from one of my favourite cooking schools in Paris, La Cuisine Paris. We learned how to make croissants here as well as a stunning millefeuille, one of my favourite French pastries. In our opinion, they offer the best hands-on cooking classes in Paris.
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