French Onion and Browned Butter Pasta is a rich and indulgent dish that combines the deep flavors of caramelized onions and nutty browned butter with creamy pasta. Pair the flavorful pasta with some vegetables or a side salad for a delicious meal! It’s like enjoying your favorite bowl of French Onion Soup in a pasta dish! If you want added protein, check out my French Onion Chicken Pasta, too!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Onions: Yellow onions are the top choice when it comes to caramelizing onions due to their flavor profile and sweetness. You could also experiment with other onion varieties like sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla) or red onions.
Browned Butter: Browned Butter, also known as “beurre noisette,” is a way of cooking butter until it turns into something special. First, you melt regular butter in a pan, and as it cooks, it loses some water and gets a nutty and toasty taste that makes it delicious and unique.
Pasta: Linguini, the recommended pasta for this recipe, is long, flat, and narrow, similar to spaghetti but wider. Its flat shape allows it to hold onto and absorb the creamy sauce effectively, providing a great balance between pasta and sauce in each bite. Of course, you can use pasta you have on hand or make homemade pasta! After cooking the pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta water to use in the sauce.
Heavy Cream: Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, adds a creaminess to the sauce, making it velvety and smooth. For a lighter substitute, you could use half-and-half or whole milk. However, using substitutes may slightly alter the taste and texture of the sauce.
Parmesan Cheese: When grated and added to the sauce, parmesan cheese imparts a savory and slightly salty taste that enhances the overall depth of flavor in the dish. The cheese also helps thicken the sauce.
What To Serve With French Onion Pasta
French Onion and Browned Butter Pasta is a rich and flavorful dish, so it pairs well with sides that complement its flavors and provide balance to the meal. Here are some ideas for what to serve with this pasta:
- Wedge Salad
- Roasted Vegetables (like carrots, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus)
- Crusty Bread like a baguette or Ciabatta
- Garlic Knots
- Fruit Salad
Can I Add Vegetables and Protein To French Onion and Browned Butter Pasta?
Certainly, you can add vegetables or protein to the French Onion and Browned Butter Pasta to customize it to your liking. Here are some suggestions:
- Vegetables: You can sauté or roast various vegetables to add color, texture, and nutrition to the dish. Some good options include sliced mushrooms, spinach, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, or bell peppers. Sauté the vegetables separately and mix them into the pasta when tossing with the sauce.
- Protein: Adding protein can turn this pasta dish into a heartier meal. A few options are cooked and diced chicken breasts, cooked and crumbled bacon, sauteed or grilled shrimp, or cooked sausage (like Italian sausage), just to name a few!
Storing & Reheating French Onion and Browned Butter Pasta
To store French onion pasta, first, let it cool completely. Then, store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 3-4 days. When ready to enjoy, reheat the pasta in the microwave or in a skillet on the stovetop. When reheating the pasta, you may want to add a little bit of water or heavy cream if the sauce has thickened too much. You can also freeze the pasta in a freezer-safe container for up to 1-2 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight when ready to reheat.
French Onion and Browned Butter Pasta
- ¼ cup (½ stick / 57 g) unsalted butter
- 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced into half-moon shapes
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup (1 stick / 113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces linguine
- 1 cup (238 g) heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup (100 g) parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- parsley, chopped for garnish
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.
- Once melted, add onions and saute for 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally until the onions are very tender and caramel color.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the onions to a plate.
- In the same skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Constantly stir and scrape the pan as you go.
- As soon as the butter turns chestnut brown and smells nutty, remove the pan from the heat, and set aside to cool slightly.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
- Add the caramelized onions, browned butter, and ½ cup of pasta water to the bowl of a high-powered food processor (or high-powered blender). Blend until well combined. (You could also use an immersion blender.)
- To the original skillet over medium heat, add the blended onion mixture, heavy cream, and parmesan. Cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is heated through.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss until the noodles are evenly coated with the creamy sauce. If the sauce appears too thick, add a bit more of the reserved pasta water to reach your desired consistency.
- Serve hot, garnished with additional grated parmesan cheese and parsley.
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What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:
This pasta grew on me when it came to the flavor. Each bite definitely showcased the caramelized onions, so if you are a fan of that, this would be your kind of dish!
I loved this. You can taste the caramelized onions but they are blended into the sauce so you don't get any of the onion texture. The browned butter-onion mixture makes a delicious sauce for the pasta. Love it!
Super creamy and flavorful. This would also be good with some grilled chicken or even mushrooms!