Holiday Standbys, Thanksgiving Edition: Sweet Onion Dip

This addictive dip is the thing to eat while the turkey roasts.

Sweet Onion Dip or 'Crack Dip' for Thanksgiving

(Photo: Rebekah Peppler)

Rebekah Peppler is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, food stylist and recipe developer.

Fifteen years ago, when a friend of Diane Cu and Todd Porter, the couple behind the food blog White on Rice Couple and the new cookbook Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden, dictated an artichoke dip recipe to them, they never expected a tweaked version of the dish would feature at their Thanksgiving table in 2013. Their now-standby recipe, which they make for friends and family every Thanksgiving—and on many occasions in between—swaps sweet onions for the canned artichokes used in the original version and amps up the savory flavor with an intensely charred crust and loads of freshly cracked pepper.

What’s more, the dip is addictively easy to make. Not only is the ingredient list a mere five lines long, but the two simply walk out the front door of their Southern California home to harvest the main component: sweet onions. “I grew up close to Walla Walla, Washington, and have always loved sweet onions,” says Porter. “Once we moved to a place with a garden we began growing them to make this dip.… They’re right next to the Mexican limes.”

The diced onions, which are sweet enough to eat out of hand, seamlessly infuse the cream cheese–Parmesan mixture with their perfumed flavor. The dish only gets better over time, says Cu. “Put it straight in the baking dish, and let it sit in the fridge for a few days to allow the onion’s umami flavor to seep into the whole dip. When you’re ready to serve it, just bring the dip to room temperature and bake it off. It’s the easiest thing ever.”

Yet another friend, further exemplifying the dip’s staying power, christened the dish with an apt name: crack dip. “Our friend kept asking, ‘Are you guys going to make that crack dip again?’ ‘When is the crack dip happening?’ And the name stuck.” The couple traditionally serves the appetizer hot and bubbling alongside country bread, but it can sway gluten-free too, set on the table beside thick slices of cucumber, jicama, and radishes.

The dish doubles, triples, even sextuples for a make-ahead appetizer that disappears swiftly. “We tend to make five or six batches of the dip for Thanksgiving,” says Cu. “The dip is the first thing on the table and gone before the turkey comes out. I just can’t walk away from it.”

Sweet Onion Dip or “Crack Dip”

Diane Cu and Todd Porter

Serves 4 to 6 

1 eight-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup full-fat mayonnaise

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium sweet Vidalia onion, diced

1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste

Crusty bread, crackers, tomato slices, or crunchy vegetables such as radishes, carrots, celery, or jicama, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan, onion, and black pepper until everything is thoroughly combined.

Pour the mixture into a 6-inch baking dish or any oven-safe dish. Bake until the top crust is brown and almost burnt-looking, 40 to 50 minutes. (The darker brown the crust becomes, the better the flavors are.)

Serve warm with crusty bread, crackers, tomato slices, or crunchy vegetables.

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