Vidalia Onion Cornbread with Caramelized Onion Fans sounds fancy but it's actually a shortcut recipe that starts with your favorite cornbread mix. Thin slices of sweet onions are arranged on the bottom of the cast iron skillet and when the cornbread is turned out, the Vidalia onion slices have caramelized and make an impressive design on top! To gild the lily, there's also chopped sweet onion inside the cornbread.
This post was updated on December 31, 2020 with helpful information.
Vidalia Onion Cornbread with Caramelized Onion looks impressive, simple to make, and tastes amazing! The shortcut here is using your favorite bag of cornmeal mix.
Yellow vs. white cornmeal
We eat with our eyes, ya know, so I prefer a yellow cornmeal mix for this recipe because I think the caramelized onion fans are so pretty contrasted with the yellow cornbread in this Martha White bag. White Lily uses white cornmeal. Both work perfectly in this recipe.
How to make Vidalia Onion Cornbread with Caramelized Onion Fans
For complete, detailed directions scroll down for the printable recipe. The following pictures and text give an overview of the recipe.
Follow the package directions of your favorite cornmeal mix and add the technique of adding the onion and using a hot skillet. If White Lily white cornmeal is what you have in your pantry (and I always have it in mine), I wouldn't run out and buy more. This is the frugal girl in me speaking.
When I use this Martha White yellow cornmeal mix, I omit the flour and just use 2 cups of just the mix. I love the texture it gives me without the flour. It may look like I left out an ingredient, but I like the texture like this.
When I make it with White Lily buttermilk cornmeal mix, I make the batter according to package directions and just add the onion.
Basically, to make this shortcut recipe, you can take your favorite cornbread mix directions and prepare the batter according to the package directions. Just stir in the chopped onions and arrange the onion fans on the bottom of the skillet.
Slice the onion vertically to give you the fanned-out shape instead of slicing horizontally which will give you round slices or rings. Don't cut off the bottom of the onion because that is what will hold the fans together.
The smaller Vidalia or sweet onions work best for this recipe so the fans will fit in the smaller skillet.
Can I make this cornbread in a 12-inch skillet for a crowd?
Yes. You can double the cornbread ingredients, use larger onion fans, and use a 12-inch skillet. Everything else can remain the same.
Arrange the onion slices/fans in the bottom of the cast iron or oven-proof skillet.
The skillet will be hot, so make sure to place it on a cutting board, trivet, or stovetop. Work quickly, so the skillet doesn't cool down.
The hot skillet will give the cornbread that sought after brown crust and help caramelize the onions.
Ta dah! Be sure and wait the 5 minutes after removing the cornbread from the oven before turning it out onto a cutting board or trivet. Otherwise, the cornbread may stick to the bottom of the skillet.
What are Vidalia Onions?
Vidalia onions are only grown in 20 south Georgia counties and have a short peak season from April to August. All Vidalia onions are sweet but not all sweet onions are Vidalias. They are known by their unique flat shape and have a much higher water content than regular onions making them sweeter but more susceptible to bruising.
Can I use another kind of sweet onion?
Although I'm partial to the Southern Vidalia sweet onions, yes, other kinds of sweet onions can be used. Actually, any onion white or yellow can be used if you can't find sweet onions.
What can I serve with Vidalia Onion Cornbread?
Eat it all year round with almost any meal but my two favorite ways to serve it is with ANY soup and on New Years Day with Instant Pot Collard Greens and Navy Beans (or blackeyed peas) or Shortcut Turnip Greens Soup.
How I came up with this special cornbread recipe idea
When my husband bought a 10 pound bag of Vidalia onions from Vidalia, Georgia as part of a Civitan fundraiser this summer.
I immediately started thinking of all the recipes I could make with Vidalia onions- Caramelized Onion Baked Dip, Fajitas, Onion Jam, Grilled Onion Salad, Onion Rings, Onion and Cucumber Salad, Sweet Heat Pickles and Onions, Heirloom Tomato, French Onion Soup, and Tomato and Vidalia Onion Pie.
I made Vidalia onion rings the first night he brought them home. Next on the list was Vidalia Onion Cornbread.
I developed a similar recipe for Christmas with Southern Living 1999 cookbook when I was the test kitchen director at Oxmoor House. It was called Sage and Onion Cornbread.
Other Vidalia onion recipes you will love
Vidalia Onion Cornbread with Caramelized Onions
- Cast iron skillet
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil divided
- 1 small to medium Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk whole or 2%
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 2 cups white or yellow Cornmeal Mix
- Brush 2 tablespoons vegetable oil on the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch cast iron skillet and place in a cold oven.Set the oven to 425 degrees with the skillet in the oven. Set a timer for 8 minutes. This should be enough time to preheat it plus a few minutes. It should take about 8 minutes to prepare onions and batter.
- Meanwhile, remove papery outside skin from onion. Do not cut off the bottom of the onion yet. Slice the onion in half vertically. Slicing from top to bottom, cut 6 or 7 slices about 1/4-inch thick. Cut off the bottom of the remaining onion and other half of onion and dice it (about 3/4 cup).
- Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl with a fork. Add milk, butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and stir with a fork. Add cornmeal mix and stir just until all ingredients are combined. (Or prepare just the batter according to your package directions). Let stand about 3 minutes to thicken slightly. This will help prevent the onions from sliding when you add the batter.When the timer goes off, remove the hot skillet from the oven and place on the stovetop. Quickly arrange the onion slices on the bottom of the skillet around the outside edges of the pan.
- With a large spoon, dollop batter over the onion slices. Pouring the batter tends to make the onion slices move around. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cool on the stovetop for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cutting board or wire rack.