Creamed Onions with Sage

Photo: Marcus Nilsson
Prep Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
45 mins

You can make the bechamel sauce three days ahead (let it cool completely before refrigerating). The onions can be cooked, peeled, and refrigerated overnight. Heat the onions and sauce together over low heat before serving.


  • 8 cups water

  • 2 ¾ tablespoons coarse salt, divided

  • 2 bags (10 ounces each) pearl onions, unpeeled

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 4 sprigs fresh sage (with about 16 leaves)


  1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, then add 2 tablespoons salt. Add onions, and cook until just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, trim root ends with a paring knife, and pop onions out of their skins. Let dry on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.

  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, and whisk until mixture bubbles slightly but has not started to brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk. Raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Stir in remaining 3/4 tablespoon salt, the nutmeg, and sage. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.

  3. Stir in onions, and cook over low heat until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard sage, retaining a few leaves for garnish if desired.

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