Dad’s Sherried Pearl Onions

My dad makes these pearl onions on special occasions – Easter and Christmas, I think were the big ones. Along with everything else my parents had on the menu – these were usually the dish that required the most prep time, especially when made for a crowd of family.

So when I went to try and recreate his dish, I made two mistakes. One, I did not call him first to confirm, with total certainty, the exact recipe and the exact preparation process. Two, which is related to the first part, was I had already peeled each onion, raw, by hand.

Don’t do this. I spent 90 seconds peeling an onion. I bet you’re an experienced pearl onion peeler. I am not.

The key is to parboil the onions for a couple minutes, giving the onions a slippery-er bulb which allows the skins to peel slide right off. I had a moment while attempting to keep the outermost layer intact while peeling them bone-dry, that there has got to be a better way to do this. It turns out, there was.

I also would have assumed there was nutmeg in the cream mixture. Wrong. No nutmeg!

I have yet to come across a dish more complemented with a strong pour of cooking sherry. I don’t cook with it often, but I know it adds a nice kick to tomato soup. The sherry is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet, delicate onion flavor. And the heavy cream – do I need to elaborate? It becomes perfumed with the onions, and the kitchen begins to take on a holiday dinner aroma, or maybe that’s just me.

Thanks to my dad for giving up this secret recipe for mankind’s benefit – I hope you feel the good feels I get eating this dish on special occasions.


Serves 2.

  • 1 10 oz. package raw white pearl onions
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons cooking sherry
  • Minced parsley, for garnish


  1. Cut both ends off the pearl onions. Bring a small pot of water to boil and add the onions. Boil for 2 minutes. Strain. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins off the onions, being careful to leave the bulbs intact.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the heavy cream, cooking sherry, onions and a pinch of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil, and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the cream is heavily reduced and warm in color, being sure to stir every couple minutes to prevent the heavy cream from burning.
  4. Serve hot, and sprinkle with minced parsley, if desired.