Coming from a family of cooks, my favorite holiday traditions center around food (I know that’s shocking coming from me, but it’s the truth). I think no matter what holidays you celebrate food is an important part of it. Love of food is universal.

My family celebrates Christmas, and food is the focus. For this year, I want to share one of the special traditions we have this time of year.

When my father (aka Rick, ice guy) married Eve, she brought her favorite family tradition to our Christmas brunch—yep, we do brunch, not dinner. Eve grew up eating Pearl Onions Au Gratin on Christmas morning. My mouth waters just thinking about them.

It was the only day of the year her family ate them, making them especially special. Eve shared that tradition with us, and having them every year is a fond memory for all of us. I can practically smell them cooking as I write this. There is something about onions and cheese.

You don’t have to trust me on how mouth-watering they are because I’m giving you the recipe. This is one of those dishes that is best homemade, in my opinion. So, make it!

Pearl Onions Au Gratin

Note: as with all recipes in the Thompson household, measurements are more suggestions than hard and fast rules. It’s always about your own taste.

Servings: six
Time: 30 minutes


• 1 pound pearl onions (you can use frozen, but fresh are best. If using frozen, thaw them)

• 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

• 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

• 2 tablespoons flour (or arrowroot if you’re making it gluten free)

• 1/2 cup dry white wine

• 1/3 cup heavy cream

• 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

• 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

• 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

• sea salt, to taste

• Fresh chives for garnish


• Peel the pearl onions or thaw and drain the frozen onions; mince the thyme leaves; grate the gruyere. Set all aside.

• Melt the butter in a 1- to 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions stir as the cook. Cook them over a lower heat as until they begin to caramelize, being careful not to burn them.

• Sprinkle the flour or arrowroot over the onions, stirring for one minute.

• Use the wine to deglaze the onions

• Add the thyme and stir, scraping the bottom, until the wine evaporates.

• Reduce the heat to medium-low.

• Add the cream and stir until the sauce is warm and thick.

• Add the dry mustard, nutmeg, white pepper, and salt.

• Remove from the heat and the grated cheese. Stir until the cheese is completely melted.

• Garnish with thinly snipped chives and serve.

This side is super easy to make and everyone loves it. Enjoy!