Rich, creamy, sweet, and savory, this French onion gnocchi combines all the familiar and loved flavors of the classic French onion soup, but in a hearty gnocchi dish.
Caramelized onions, check. Deep developed beef broth flavor with just a hint of thyme, check. And what would French onion gnocchi be without the bread? Topped with crispy breadcrumbs, this chewy gnocchi is the ultimate comfort dish. This French onion twist doesn’t come together without a little love and attention making it a perfect “save is for Sunday” dinner. Does this dish take a little time? Yes, but is it completely worth it in that it is comfort in a bowl with all the nostalgia feels… also yes.
CARAMELIZED ONIONS… A LABOR OF LOVE
Ah those soft, jammy, rich in flavor onions we all know and love. Hate to break this to you, but you aren’t going to get that flavor in 15-20 minutes. Whereas in my Creamy Shallot Pasta recipe you can get to the end result much faster, onions need much more time to cook down. The size of your onions does dictate how long it will take to caramelize, but somewhere between 30-35 minutes they will be dark golden brown, and ready to eat. If you are like my husband and think you can get these jammy onions faster by increasing the heat, unfortunately you are setting yourself up for burnt and bitter onions. Don’t rush this process, trust me. I break down the entire cook process further below, but here is a little step by step on how to cook caramelized onions.
Add butter to a wide pan, and let it melt before adding in the onions. Wide pot/pan works better since you want as much cooking surface area as possible. Give the onions a quick mix, coating them in the butter.
Cook the onions.
Still not done cooking. They might be light golden brown by now, don’t pull them prematurely.
They are done when they are dark golden brown and soft and jammy.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE FRENCH ONION GNOCCHI
Gnocchi – Pre-packaged potato gnocchi can be found in the pasta aisle at most supermarkets. Fresh is great, but not necessary for this dish. Feel free to swap this out with gluten free gnocchi or mini gnocchi. Heck swap the gnocchi out completely with pasta.
Onions– Vidalia onions or just “sweet onion” work best for this dish. These onions have a mild flavor and a high sugar content making them perfect for caramelizing. If you are unable to find sweet onions then yellow onions are a good substitute. In terms of size, you want to buy the largest onions you can find. Think full fist full, the main flavor of this dish is the caramelized onions so don’t skimp out.
Beef Broth – Just like the soup this dish is made with beef broth which gives a deep richness and complements the fresh thyme and onion flavor. Substitute with beef stock, if you do not have beef broth on hand.
Thyme – Fresh only!
Bay Leaf – Dried.
Gruyere Cheese– Gruyere is definitely a little funky, but it’s the traditional cheese that is used for French onion soup. If Gruyere isn’t your thing you can substitute for Swiss or a mild Gouda, just remember what you choose needs to be able to melt away in the sauce.
Heavy Cream – I went back and forth on this ingredient and landed on that it was necessary. The heavy cream cuts into the deeper flavors here and adds a lovely creamy layer of fat.
Bread Crumbs -Look for breadcrumbs that have a bit of texture, so that is a pass on Italian breadcrumbs. Panko is a great option. If you shop at a market like Whole Foods they typically have homemade breadcrumbs made with their leftover bread.
STEP BY STEP
While this dish takes a bit of time to make it is just as easy as my other creamy gnocchi dishes. The majority of the cook time is dedicated to caramelizing the onions, which I will put it here again, do not rush this process. A beautiful thing happens when you let onions cook for the full 35-40 minutes. Pull them too soon and this dish is going to taste like beef broth and thyme and completely miss the mark on French onion soup.
Caramelize the Onions – Melt the butter in a wide pot over low-medium heat. Once melted add the diced yellow onions, a heavy pinch of salt and give it a good toss, making sure you are thoroughly coating the onions in butter. Then let it be. The more you touch and mix the onions the longer it will take to cook down. My suggestion, mix every 8-10 minutes. If you notice the pan burning, lower the heat. Cook for 30-35 minuted until dark brown (not burnt), and jammy.
Make the Bread Crumbs – While the onions are cooking down, on another burner add a drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and toss to coat. Cook until golden brown and crispy, making sure to mix every few seconds. Place on the side for later.
Create the Base – A few minutes before the onions are done add in the fresh thyme and cook for a few minutes. Then, add in the flour. Toss to coat the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes, mixing every few seconds. Deglaze the pan with broth. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, and a bay leaf. At this point start the pot of salted water to cook the gnocchi.
Simmer + Add – Cover the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes on low, checking and mixing every few minutes. Once done, add in the heavy cream and cook for another 2-3 minutes. On the side drop the gnocchi in the boiling pot of water to cook as per instructions. Turn off the heat for the sauce, add and mix in the grated gruyere. Add the gnocchi. Serve with crispy breadcrumbs.
Leftovers, if there are any, can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Heat up in the microwave in minute intervals until warm.