Caramelized Onion Confit & Ricotta on Crostini Recipe

There’s something magical about the way the scent of caramelizing onions fills the kitchen. It brings a comforting depth that simply can’t be replicated with fried onions. The key is low temperature and patience; the onions transform from sharp to velvety-sweet over an extended cooking period.

Caramelized Onion Confit and Ricotta on Crostini

While delicious on their own, caramelized onions make an ideal base for a whole world of appetizer ideas, perfect for the Holiday season or anytime you need a satisfying crowd-pleaser. Forget the same old recipes – let’s explore some unexpected ways to level up your crostini.

Pairings that Shine

I’ve been whipping up variations of crostini for years, and some of my absolute go-to combinations go beyond the expected. Think of caramelized onions as a foundation:

  • Creamy & Tangy: Pair the onions with the classic richness of ricotta cheese, or get playful with tangy variations like Herbed Goat Cheese with a hint of fresh herbs.
  • Sweet & Savory: A touch of sweetness takes things to the next level. Try a drizzle of whipped honey, regular honey, or balsamic reduction – the Balsamic Blueberries variant is a personal favorite!
  • The Main Attraction: Caramelized Onion Confit doesn’t have to be a topping – serve it in a little dish alongside grilled steak, chicken or turkey breast, or even use it to deepen the flavor of soups and sautéed vegetables.

Crafting the Perfect Crostini

Of course, the perfect topping needs the perfect base. A sliced baguette, toasted to golden-brown perfection, provides the ideal textural contrast. Feel free to pair this with a glass of your favorite wine –  a crisp white or a light red complements the rich, savory flavors beautifully.

Caramelized Onion Confit & Ricotta on Crostini

Recipe by Whisk and NibbleCourse: AppetizersCuisine: French


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Cooking time




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Transform basic crostini with savory-sweet caramelized onion confit and creamy ricotta – endless topping possibilities make it a versatile crowd-pleaser.


  • 3 tbsp of butter: Provides richness and helps with the caramelization process.

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil: Adds a touch of fruity flavor and helps prevent burning.

  • 1 red onion, 1 sweet onion, 1 white onion: This trifecta of onions offers a delicious blend of sweet, savory, and slightly sharp notes.

  • 2 tbsp of coarse sea salt: Enhances the natural sweetness of the onions.

  • 1 tsp of freshly cracked pepper: A touch of spice complements the sweetness.

  • 1 tbsp of sugar: Helps deepen the caramelization and adds a hint of complexity.


  • Slice the onions into thin rings and set aside.
  • Grab a large frying pan or sauté pan and place it over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil, allowing them to melt.
  • Once the butter is melted, carefully add the sliced onions, along with the salt, pepper, and sugar. Mix well to ensure everything is combined.
  • Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they become soft. Then, turn down the heat to low and continue cooking for approximately 45 minutes. This slow cooking is key to achieving the perfect caramelization.
  • When the onions are a beautiful golden brown, they’re ready! Allow them to cool slightly.


  • Adjust the Sweetness: Control the level of sweetness by the amount of sugar used or by adding a drizzle of honey or balsamic reduction when serving.
  • Double the Batch: Caramelized onion confit stores well, so consider making a larger batch and freezing portions for later use.
  • Onion Variety: Feel free to use your preferred onion types or a mix of what you have available.

Nutritional Information

Nutrition FactsValues
Serving Size1 Serving
Calories from Fat40
Total Fat4g
Saturated Fat2g
Trans Fat0g
Cholesterol10 mg
Sodium180 mg
Potassium35 mg
Total Carbohydrate5g
Dietary Fiber0g
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A2%
Vitamin C0%


*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Food ItemAmount
Other Carbohydrate0
Skim Milk0
Low-Fat Milk0
Very Lean Meat0
Lean Meat0
High-Fat Meat0


Once cooled slightly, store the caramelized onion confit in a clean jar and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

Can crostini be made in advance?

Yes! One of the great things about crostini is that you can prep components ahead of time. Here’s how:

  • The Crostini: The crostini slices can be made in advance and stored at room temperature for up to 2 hours before you plan to assemble them.
  • The Caramelized Onion Confit: This star topping can be made days ahead and refrigerated.
  • Assembly: Just before serving, top the crostini with the ricotta cheese and your other favorite toppings. This ensures the bread stays crunchy and crispy.
  • Timing: To maintain optimal texture, it’s best to assemble the crostini within 30 minutes to 1 hour of serving. If they sit longer, the bread may begin to soften.

Tips for Caramelizing Onions

The transformation of regular onions into the intense, sweet-savory magic of caramelized onions isn’t about achieving a pasty texture or even a dark caramel color. It’s achieved by gently coaxing out moisture and reducing the onions, slowly browning them over the course of about an hour. There’s no lying – this process requires some patience, but trust me, friends, it’s well worth it!

Here are some additional tips:

  • Slice Evenly: Consistent-sized slices ensure even cooking and caramelization.
  • Don’t Rush: The key is low and slow heat. Resist the urge to crank the burner – let the onions take their time.
  • Deglaze as Needed: If you notice browned bits sticking to the pan, deglaze with a splash of water or broth to loosen them and add depth of flavor.

Health Benefits

  • Nutrient-Rich Base: Onions are a good source of vitamins C, B6, and potassium. They also contain antioxidants and fiber, good for overall health.
  • Potential Blood Sugar Support: The natural sugars and fiber in the caramelized onions may offer some support for managing blood sugar levels.
  • Gut-Friendly Topping: When paired with ricotta, you get additional protein, calcium, and gut-healthy probiotics depending on the type of ricotta you use.

Precautions & Handling

  • Mind Your Fats: While butter adds rich flavor, be mindful of the overall fat content, especially if you’re adding cheese and other toppings. Consider an olive oil and butter combination for a healthier balance.
  • Portions Matter: Even with healthy ingredients, a crostini appetizer can be high in calories if you’re not mindful of portion sizes. Enjoy in moderation.
  • Food Safety: Always store ricotta cheese properly in the refrigerator. For tips on handling and freezing ricotta cheese, see our article [Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese]. Use fresh ingredients to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Please Note: It’s best to consult a doctor or registered dietician regarding specific dietary needs and the impact of caramelized onions on blood sugar management.


Think of this Caramelized Onion Confit & Ricotta on Crostini as your new go-to appetizer. The make-ahead components and endless topping possibilities make it perfect for casual get-togethers or elegant holiday parties. With its rich, savory-sweet flavors balanced by creamy cheese, this simple recipe is sure to become a crowd-pleasing favorite


Frequently Asked Questions

What cheese is best with caramelized onions?

While ricotta provides a creamy base, many cheeses complement caramelized onions beautifully. For a classic melt, Gruyere (common in French Onion Soup) is a natural match. Other great options include:

  • Goat Cheese: Adds tanginess and freshness
  • Fontina: Creamy and melts well
  • Parmesan: Salty and sharp

What is the secret to caramelizing onions?

Time and patience! Caramelizing onions isn’t a quick process, but the results are worth it. Start with onions over medium heat, then shift to low and slow. The onions will first soften and take on a golden hue. Once you see this, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking for the remainder of the time.

What is the best fat to caramelize onions with?

Our Test Kitchen finds butter produces the richest flavor when caramelizing onions. If you’re avoiding dairy, a combination of margarine and olive oil works well. Just make sure there’s enough fat to prevent the onion slices from overlapping and sticking as they shrink and cook down.

Do onions caramelize faster covered or uncovered?

Start with the onions uncovered to release some moisture. Once they’ve softened, you can partially cover the pan for a period to trap steam and heat, aiding in the caramelization process. Uncover as needed to continue releasing the onions’ natural sugars for that sweet, flavorful caramelized onion.

Does cheese and caramel go together?

Absolutely! While we generally think of cheese as savory, its naturally buttery, tangy characteristics (especially in something like cheddar) pair wonderfully with caramel.

Is caramelizing onions healthy?

The process of caramelization, cooking onions slowly over low heat, concentrates their natural sugars, creating a sweet, rich flavor. Although the cooking method reduces water content, the overall nutrient content remains relatively unchanged.

Why add vinegar to caramelizing onions?

A small splash of apple cider vinegar (for white or yellow onions) or balsamic vinegar (for red onions) is a Whisk and Nibble’s tip! It helps deglaze the pan and adds acidity, balancing the sweetness and bringing the whole recipe together. The tangy, savory flavors boost the caramelized onions perfectly.

Can you caramelize onions without butter or oil?

Yes! You can caramelize your favorite veggies, including onions, using water instead of oil. Check out ready-made oil-free products, or try plant-based dishes from services like MamaSezz for delicious inspiration.

Whisk and Nibble

Whisk & Nibble is a blog devoted to all things related to food - from sharing recipes for meals and drinks to highlighting the latest dessert trends and culinary lifestyle content. Visitors can find ideas and inspiration for all eating occasions while enjoying engaging writing about food culture. Whisk & Nibble aims to bring readers together over the shared joy of cooking and dining.

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