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The whole family loved it! I’m doubling up on the ingredients for the next batch

Tennessee Onions: A Comforting Southern Delight

Here’s a delightful dish that captures the essence of comfort food with a touch of Southern charm—Tennessee Onions. This recipe takes the humble onion to new heights, transforming it into a creamy and flavorful casserole that’s sure to leave your taste buds dancing. With layers of thinly sliced sweet onions bathed in a velvety mixture of butter, milk, and spices, all crowned with a golden layer of melted cheddar cheese, this dish embodies the heartwarming flavors of Tennessee’s culinary tradition.

The Essence of Tennessee Onions

The name “Tennessee Onions” celebrates the comfort and flavor of the southern state’s cuisine. Inspired by Tennessee’s love for hearty and inviting dishes, this recipe transforms sweet onions into a comforting casserole. The name reflects the state’s culinary heritage and captures the fusion of tradition and innovation that defines the dish.

Versatility in Pairing

“Tennessee Onions” pairs perfectly with a variety of main courses, from succulent grilled meats to hearty vegetarian dishes. Its creamy, flavorful profile complements roasted chicken, tender pork chops, or even a juicy steak. For a vegetarian option, serve it alongside a robust mushroom risotto or a medley of roasted vegetables. This versatile dish also stands on its own as a delectable side, adding a touch of Southern comfort to any meal.

Tennessee Onions Recipe


  • 2 big sweet onions
  • 1/2 cup of butter, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded


Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat the Oven: Heat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Prepare the Onions: Peel the sweet onions and cut them into thin slices.
  3. Arrange the Onions: Place the thinly sliced onions into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.

Cooking Steps

  1. Add the Butter: Distribute the sliced butter evenly over the bottom of the baking dish.
  2. Melt the Butter: Place the baking dish in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the butter has melted and is bubbly.
  3. Prepare the Sauce: In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour and milk until thoroughly blended.
  4. Season the Sauce: Add garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper to the mixture and whisk to combine.

Assembling the Casserole

  1. Combine Ingredients: Pour the milk and flour mixture over the sliced onions in the baking dish, ensuring an even coating.
  2. Add Cheese: Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese on top of the onion mixture.

Baking and Serving

  1. Bake: Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbly.
  2. Cool and Serve: Allow the casserole to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Tips for the Perfect Tennessee Onions

Choosing the Right Onions

Opt for sweet onions such as Vidalia or Walla Walla for this recipe. These varieties have a natural sweetness that enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

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Cheese Selection

While cheddar cheese is recommended for its sharp flavor and excellent melting properties, feel free to experiment with other cheeses like Gruyère or Monterey Jack for a different twist.

Make-Ahead Tips

You can prepare the onion mixture and the sauce ahead of time. Assemble the casserole up to the baking step, then cover and refrigerate. When ready to bake, add a few extra minutes to the baking time if needed.

Serving Suggestions

  • Main Courses: Serve Tennessee Onions alongside grilled steak, roasted chicken, or pork chops.
  • Vegetarian Options: Pair with mushroom risotto, quinoa salad, or a variety of roasted vegetables.
  • Standalone Side: Enjoy as a comforting side dish with crusty bread or a fresh green salad.

FAQs About Tennessee Onions

1. Can I use different types of onions for this recipe?

Yes, you can use different types of onions, but sweet onions are preferred for their mild and sweet flavor which complements the creamy sauce.

2. Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Absolutely! Prepare the dish up to the point of baking, then cover and refrigerate. When ready to bake, you may need to extend the baking time slightly to account for the chilled ingredients.

3. What can I use as a cheese alternative?

You can experiment with other melting cheeses like Gruyère, Monterey Jack, or even a blend of cheeses for a unique flavor.

4. Is this dish suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, Tennessee Onions is a vegetarian dish as long as the cheese used is vegetarian-friendly.

5. Can I freeze the leftovers?

While fresh is best, you can freeze leftovers. Let the casserole cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container. Reheat in the oven until warmed through.

6. What other spices can I add?

Feel free to customize the spice mix. Adding a pinch of cayenne pepper for heat or some dried thyme for an earthy flavor can enhance the dish.

7. Can I use a different type of milk?

Yes, you can use dairy-free milk alternatives such as almond milk or oat milk. Just make sure they are unsweetened and unflavored to maintain the dish’s savory profile.

8. How can I make the dish healthier?

To make the dish lighter, you can use reduced-fat cheese and milk, and substitute some of the butter with olive oil.


Tennessee Onions is a dish that brings the comforting flavors of the South to your table. Its creamy, cheesy layers of sweet onions make it a versatile side dish that pairs well with various main courses or stands alone as a comforting treat. With easy preparation steps and the flexibility to customize, this recipe is a delightful addition to any meal. Enjoy the warmth and tradition of Tennessee cuisine with this delicious casserole!