12 Thanksgiving Onion, Leek, and Shallot Recipes for Layers of Flavor

Onions, leeks, and shallots are building blocks for so much flavor, but sometimes people forget they can be stars in their own right. We’ve gathered recipes to shine the spotlight on alliums that deserve a prominent place on your Thanksgiving table.

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Vicky Wasik

Onions, leeks, and shallots are undoubtedly staples on the Thanksgiving shopping list—we buy them to use in stocks, stuffings, and salad dressings, or as aromatics. Aside from the obligatory pearl onion side dish, they're not often the star of the show or even a featured player. Well, that's all about to change! We've gathered up some recipes that prove onions, leeks, and shallots deserve a more prominent place on your Thanksgiving table—from sweet cipollini onions that are caramelized and tossed with green beans and mushrooms, to cheesy, bacony onion potato gratin and savory French onion soup-inspired bread pudding. These recipes will have you loading up your shopping cart with more onions, leeks, and shallots—no complaints here!

Creamed Leeks

creamed leeks in a bowl
Liz Voltz

Sautéed in butter and bathed in cream and Parmesan, these soft and sweet sliced leeks provide a luxurious accompaniment to any holiday entrée, and a nice alternative to pearl onions.

French Onion Strata (Savory Bread Pudding)

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Emily and Matt Clifton

Here, the flavors and luscious texture of French onion soup are repackaged into a hearty, cheesy bread pudding that's perfect as a side dish or an entrée.

Red Cabbage Salad With Roasted Cipollini Onions

Red cabbage salad with roasted cipollini onions, crumbled goat cheese, and walnuts on a blue and white platter
Emily and Matt Clifton

When you roast cipollini onions, they get wonderfully soft and sweet, which helps them stand up to all sorts of assertive ingredients. In this salad, that means bitter chicory, funky aged goat cheese, and crunchy cabbage and walnuts. With so much going on, we keep the dressing simple with just balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic.

Easy Roasted Cipollini Onions

Whole roasted cipollini onions in a cast iron skillet
Vicky Wasik

Cipollini onions are full of sugar, which is a double-edged sword—they caramelize beautifully if you're careful, but they're also prone to burning. In this recipe, we cook them slowly, starting them on the stove over medium heat and finishing in a 325°F oven. Do it right and they'll come out tender, sweet, and deeply browned but not at all burned.

Sautéed Green Beans With Mushrooms and Caramelized Cipollini Onions

Caramelized cipollini onions with sauteed green beans and mushrooms
J. Kenji López-Alt

Sort of a deconstructed green bean casserole, this dish combines blanched green beans, sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized cipollinis. Each component of the dish can be cooked ahead of time—mix everything together and reheat it all just as your guests are about to sit down.

Glazed Pearl Onions

A white bowl of glazed pearl onions
J. Kenji López-Alt

Pearl onions don't have the same intense sweetness as cipollinis, so we're fond of serving them with a light glaze. One of the easiest ways to do that is to simmer them in water or stock with butter, salt, and sugar. Take our advice and start with frozen peeled onions here—peeling fresh pearl onions is a huge pain.

Creamed Pearl Onions

Creamed pearl onions in a small cast iron pot with lid propped on the side
J. Kenji López-Alt

If you'd rather embrace the more savory flavor of pearl onions, try slowly cooking them with stock and cream. We like to keep the rich sauce fairly simple so as not to overshadow the onions—all you need is a single bay leaf and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Cheesy Onion, Bacon, and New Potato Gratin

A serving spoon lifting up a portion of cheesy onion, bacon, and new potato gratin
J. Kenji López-Alt

A traditional gratin made with sliced potatoes requires too much prep—if you use small new potatoes you can just throw them in whole. Here, we cook the potatoes with tiny pearl onions, bacon lardons, and heavy cream, then finish the casserole with a layer of Comté cheese and bread crumbs that bakes into a crunchy crust.

Roasted Shallots With Buttery Sweet-Tart Glaze

A pan of roasted shallots tossed in a sweet-tart glaze
Vicky Wasik

Minced shallots are great for adding a mild onion flavor to a variety of dishes, but they're delicate enough to work wonderfully on their own, too. One of the best ways to serve whole shallots is to roast them until spoon-tender and coat them in a sweet-sour glaze made with butter, sugar, and vinegar.

French Onion Soup Tarte Tatin

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Vicky Wasik

This golden-brown, flavor-packed tart is what happens when French onion soup and tarte Tatin are brought together. While a sweet tarte Tatin calls on apples, this one incorporates big slices of rich caramelized onion. For best results, use Stella's recipe for old-fashioned flaky pie dough as the base, and build from there.

Microwave Fried Shallots and Garlic

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The dehydrating power of a microwave offers the easiest and most convenient way to achieve optimum crispiness in the least amount of time with zero mess. Zhoosh up your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes with microwave-fried shallots and garlic to your heart's content!

Sweet Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts with Thyme

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Kerry Saretsky

These little tarts are inspired by the classic French pissaladière. They hit all those crisp, gooey, sweet, and savory notes we want in ideal grazing food during the holidays.