Tennessee Onions


If you’re a fan of Southern cuisine, then Tennessee Onions should be on your culinary radar. This delectable side dish, known for its savory and slightly sweet flavor profile, is a perfect accompaniment to any meal. Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or a festive gathering, Tennessee Onions are sure to be a hit. In this article, we’ll dive into the history, ingredients, and step-by-step instructions for making this delicious dish. Plus, we’ll share some tips to ensure your Tennessee Onions are a standout.


To make Tennessee Onions, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 4-5 large sweet onions (Vidalia or another sweet variety)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat Your Oven

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). This ensures that your onions will bake evenly and achieve that perfect, tender texture.

Step 2: Prepare the Onions

Peel the sweet onions and slice them into thick rings, about 1/2 inch thick. Separate the rings and set them aside.

Step 3: Layer the Onions

In a greased baking dish, layer the onion rings evenly. Aim for a single layer to ensure even cooking. If you have more onions, you can create multiple layers, but make sure to distribute them evenly.

Step 4: Add the Cheeses

Sprinkle the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses evenly over the onions. Then, sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top. The combination of cheeses will melt beautifully, creating a rich, gooey topping.

Step 5: Mix the Liquid Ingredients

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Step 6: Pour the Mixture

Pour the butter and broth mixture evenly over the onions and cheese. This liquid will infuse the onions with flavor and help them caramelize during baking.

Step 7: Season

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top of the dish to taste. You can also add other seasonings if you like, such as garlic powder or paprika, for an extra kick.

Step 8: Bake

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the onions are tender and the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Step 9: Garnish and Serve

Once baked, remove the dish from the oven and let it cool slightly. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, if desired, for a pop of color and freshness. Serve warm as a side dish to complement your main course.

Serving and Storage Tips for Tennessee Onions:

Serving Tips:

  1. Serve Hot: Tennessee Onions are best enjoyed hot and fresh from the oven. The cheese will be gooey, and the onions tender, providing the perfect comfort food experience.
  2. Pairing: This dish pairs wonderfully with a variety of main courses. Serve it alongside grilled meats like steak, chicken, or pork chops. It also complements barbecue dishes, making it a great side for your next cookout.
  3. Garnish: Add a touch of freshness with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or chives before serving. This not only adds color but also a hint of freshness that balances the richness of the dish.
  4. Buffet or Potluck: If you’re serving Tennessee Onions at a buffet or potluck, consider keeping them warm in a chafing dish or slow cooker set to low. This ensures the dish stays at the perfect serving temperature throughout the event.
  5. Individual Portions: For a more elegant presentation, consider serving the onions in individual ramekins. This makes it easy for guests to enjoy their own portion and adds a touch of sophistication to your meal.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: Store any leftover Tennessee Onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep well for up to 3-4 days.
  2. Reheating: To reheat, place the desired portion in an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil. Heat in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 15-20 minutes, or until warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave, though the oven method maintains the best texture.
  3. Freezing: If you want to make Tennessee Onions ahead of time, you can freeze them. Assemble the dish as directed but do not bake. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to bake, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed, adding a few extra minutes to the baking time if needed.
  4. Prevent Sogginess: When reheating, particularly if using the microwave, be mindful not to overheat as this can make the onions soggy. Using the oven or toaster oven helps retain their texture better.
  5. Portion Control: If you expect to have leftovers, consider dividing the dish into smaller portions before baking. This way, you can bake only what you need and keep the rest fresh for later.

Variations for Tennessee Onions:

1. Herbed Tennessee Onions

  • Ingredients: Add 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano to the cheese mixture.
  • Instructions: Mix the herbs with the cheese before layering it over the onions. This variation adds a fragrant, herbal note to the dish, enhancing its complexity.

2. Spicy Tennessee Onions

  • Ingredients: Add 1-2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños to the cheese mixture.
  • Instructions: Sprinkle the red pepper flakes or jalapeños over the onions before adding the cheese. This variation provides a spicy kick for those who enjoy a bit of heat in their food.

3. Creamy Tennessee Onions

  • Ingredients: Add 1/2 cup of sour cream or cream cheese to the butter and broth mixture.
  • Instructions: Mix the sour cream or cream cheese into the butter and broth mixture until well combined. Pour this creamy mixture over the onions and cheese. This variation results in a richer, creamier texture and flavor.

4. Garlic Parmesan Tennessee Onions

  • Ingredients: Add 4-5 cloves of minced garlic and increase the Parmesan cheese to 1 cup.
  • Instructions: Sprinkle the minced garlic over the onions before adding the cheese. Use more Parmesan cheese for a pronounced garlic and cheese flavor combination. This variation is perfect for garlic lovers.

5. Vegetable Medley Tennessee Onions

  • Ingredients: Add 1 cup of sliced bell peppers and mushrooms to the onion mixture.
  • Instructions: Layer the bell peppers and mushrooms with the onions before adding the cheese. This variation introduces more vegetables, adding different textures and flavors to the dish.


Tennessee Onions are a Southern classic that brings comfort and flavor to any meal. With their simple preparation and delicious taste, they are sure to become a favorite in your household. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, this recipe is easy to follow and yields impressive results. Give Tennessee Onions a try at your next gathering, and watch as your guests savor every bite.

FAQ’s about Tennessee Onions:

1. What are Tennessee Onions?

Tennessee Onions are a savory baked dish made with sweet onions, a blend of cheeses, and various seasonings. The dish is known for its comforting flavors and is often served as a side dish in Southern cuisine.

2. Can I use different types of onions?

While sweet onions like Vidalia are preferred for their natural sweetness, you can use other types of onions such as yellow or white onions. However, the flavor may be slightly more pungent.

3. What cheeses work best in Tennessee Onions?

The classic recipe calls for cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. You can experiment with other cheeses like Gruyère, Monterey Jack, or Swiss to create different flavor profiles.

4. Can I prepare Tennessee Onions ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the dish ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to bake. Just add a few extra minutes to the baking time if the dish is coming straight from the fridge.

5. How do I store leftovers?

Leftover Tennessee Onions can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for best results.

6. Can I freeze Tennessee Onions?

Yes, you can freeze the assembled but unbaked dish. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

7. What can I serve with Tennessee Onions?

Tennessee Onions pair well with a variety of main dishes, including grilled meats, roasted chicken, barbecue, and even burgers. They are also a great addition to a potluck or buffet.

8. How do I prevent the dish from becoming too greasy?

Using unsalted butter and draining any excess liquid from the onions before layering them in the baking dish can help reduce greasiness. You can also use a slotted spoon to serve, which will leave excess grease behind.

9. Can I make Tennessee Onions healthier?

To make a healthier version, you can use a reduced amount of cheese or opt for low-fat cheese varieties. Additionally, using less butter or substituting it with olive oil can reduce the fat content.

10. Can I add other ingredients to the dish?

Absolutely! Feel free to customize Tennessee Onions with additional ingredients such as bacon bits, sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, or fresh herbs. These variations can add extra flavor and texture to the dish.

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