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 recipe for a French favourite.
Foie grass and other delightful French charcuterie inclusions like pâté, rillettes and saucisson go well with it 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.
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.
Confit onion is one of my favourite condiments. When we are in France, we buy so much of it. It’s often available in small bottles at most of the markets and gourmet stores like these food stores in Paris. The more local the better though, so we strive to buy from local markets. They will all taste slightly different depending on the region where they are made and of course the recipe. There are lots of traditional French recipes, handed down from generation to generation.
Our own tip that we follow all the time now though, is wherever we buy it, we taste it straight away. This is so if it is really good, we can go back and buy more while we are still in that town.
Tip: This is usually a great product to bring home from France as it is commercially produced, sealed and labelled. In Australia, we have very strict quarantine rules however I have always been able to bring it home. I always declare it. Always be sure to check your own country’s quarantine rules before bringing it home with you.
Why this recipe works
- It is simple to make and requires very few ingredients.
- If you have a lot of onions or they in 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 when being able to use it in other ways as a true savoury addition.
- It’s great for gifts.
- A little goes a long way so a jar will last you a while.
Recipe ingredient notes
- I prefer using red onions but they can be easily substituted for white or brown onions.
- The white sugar can re 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.
- Thyme is traditional but if you have another favourite herb you could substitute.
- The red wine vinegar can also be substituted for other vinegars 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!
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 you can.
In a medium/large saucepan, add the butter and melt it gently over low heat. Add the onions and continue to cook at a 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.
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.
Keeping it on low heat, allow to simmer for one hour, continuing to stir regularly.
Cook’s tip: Patience is a virtue here. Don’t be tempted to short cut by turning up the heat or cooking it for less. Slow and steady will definitely win this race.
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.
- 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 courtesy of 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.
You might like to make more of our French recipes
- How to make classic French Beef Bourguignon (Boeuf Bourguignon)
- How to make French Bouillabaisse
- How to make Potato Dauphinoise
- How to make French Quiche Lorraine on a road trip
- Follow our detailed step by step guide on how to make French croissants