Savory German Onion Tart: A Comfort Food Classic

It’s time to bring onions back into the spotlight.

Top down view of a German onion tart on a wooden cutting board.

As a follow-up to our beloved, comforting, stuffed and baked onion recipe, today I am going to provide you with another wonderful, hearty oven dish that is perfect to serve with the last rays of summer sunshine, or on the first cold days of winter.

May I present to you the classic German onion tart, aka Zwiebelkuchen?

An oblique view of a German-Style Onion Tart with several slices removed. Two yellow onions are in a diffused background.

When you think about onions, you probably relegate them to the category of basic additions to a recipe. They rarely get a chance to play the leading part.

But this tart is going to change that perspective.

Close up, oblique view of a traditional German onion tart.

During the process of sautéing the onions, their sulfurous smell and pungent flavor take a delicious turn towards a softer, lightly sweeter direction – which is just what we need for a savory dish like this one.

Unfortunately, you are still left with the step of slicing them in preparation for addition to this dish, which might regularly bring you – and even myself – to tears.

Close up and top view of a classic German onion tart with several slices removed.

To prevent a seemingly inevitable flood tears in the kitchen, take a look at Foodal’s tips to avoid onion-cutting misery.

And for you folks following a low FODMAP diet, you may want to avoid this oligosaccharide-heavy dish! Take a look at our quiche recipes. Leave out the onions, or create your own fillings. You’ll still get plenty of delicious flavor!

A Popular Treat in Its Home Country

This kind of hearty tart is much-loved and well-known in Germany, especially in wine-growing regions like Rhineland-Palatinate. This area enjoys an excellent reputation around the world.

Throughout autumn, you will find lots of wine festivals and restaurants that serve this kind of onion pie with a glass of white wine – they definitely make an excellent couple.

Top down view of an round German onion tart on a wooden serving board with a slice removed.

Traditionally it’s eaten warm, but it can also be consumed cool or at room temperature one or two days later, or warmed up after freezing.

Tarts and Quiche: What’s the Difference?

In case you’re wondering about the difference between a quiche and a savory tart, it’s all in the ratio of ingredients. While both often have an egg-based custard filling, you’ll usually find a lot more of this in a quiche. But the real defining line between the two wavers.

Neither is baked with a crust on top, and both are supremely delicious. Though you will find both sweet and savory tarts, quiche is always the latter. So, if you’d prefer to call this dish a quiche, you wouldn’t technically be wrong.

In contrast to Alsatian tarts – another popular variety – this one does not include raw onions. The crust is also not as thin as what you might usually find. Plus, the filling ingredients are mixed together instead of being layered individually, like you would do it for the Alsatian kind of savory pastry.

My personal tip for this pastry would be to put the butter into the freezer for half an hour, and to coarsely grate it. This will help with kneading the dough. This way, the butter can be handled and incorporated perfectly.

And what goes just fabulously with onions?

A small slice of a German onion tart on a white plate.

That’s right – bacon! Add some chopped slices for a delicious flavor note. Or, if you choose, leave it out for a vegetarian version.

Concerning side dishes, there are lots of options. A fresh, green salad is a nice complement to the delicate flavor, but roasted root vegetables or steamed veggies come highly recommended as well.

The Recipe

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How to Make Savory German Onion Tart | Foodal.com

German Onion Tart


  • Author: Nina-Kristin Isensee
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 tart of 8 slices
  • Category: Savory Tart
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: German

Description

Serve up this classic German onion tart to change up your ordinary fare. Add a green salad or roasted veggies, it makes a tasty choice for for lunch or dinner anytime of the year. Enjoy the savory and delicious combination of onions, bacon, and creme fraiche in every slice.


Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 7 ounces flour (200 g)
  • 3 1/2 ounces cold butter (cubed (100 g))
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces creme fraiche (100 g)
  • 5 ounces bacon (150 g) ((optional))

For the filling:

  • 1 1/4 pounds onions (600 g)
  • 1 1/2 ounces butter (40 g)
  • 5 ounces creme fraiche (150 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

To make the crust:

  1. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, salt, and creme fraiche, and knead to form a dough. Place in the refrigerator to rest for 2 hours.
  2. Grease a 10-inch springform pan or tart pan. Roll the crust out and line the pan with it. Stick it with a fork a few times and put in the fridge for one hour to rest.
  3. Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C). Cover the cake crust with a sheet of parchment paper or foil. Add pie weights, rice, or dried beans to blind-bake the dough. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the weights and the paper, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Leave in the pan to cool on a wire rack.

To make the filling:

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Halve and finely slice the onions, and turn the heat down to low. Sauté in the pan until soft (they should not become brown).
  3. If you are using the bacon, dice it or cut it into strips and combine it with the onions. Season with salt and pepper, and take off the stove. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the base of the crust.
  4. Separate the eggs, discarding one of the whites (or reserving it for another use). Whip the egg white until stiff.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the creme fraiche and egg yolks together. Fold the egg white into the yolk mixture. Pour the custard mixture on top of the onions.
  6. Baked in a 390°F oven for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.

Keywords: German Food, Onion Tart, Oktoberfest, Octoberfest

Cooking By The Numbers…

Step 1 – Make Dough

First, grate the chilled butter so it will be easier to incorporate into your dough. I like to do this with a box grater.

Grating chilled butter is the first step to making this Savory German Onion Tart. Get the recipe now: https://foodal.com/recipes/comfort-food/german-onion-tart/

Combine the flour, creme fraiche, salt, and butter.

Combine cold grated butter, creme fraiche, and flour to make the crust for this delicious German Onion Tart: https://foodal.com/recipes/comfort-food/german-onion-tart/

Knead to form a homogenous dough. Then leave it to rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

Step 2 – Roll Crust

Roll the dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to the size of your springform pan or tart pan.

Carefully line the pan with the dough, creating a decorative edge if you like by folding over the excess, and molding it between the thumb of one hand and the first two fingers of the other, to make a scalloped edge.

For more tips on making the perfect pie, quiche, or tart crust, check out Kendall Vanderslice’s informative post.

Poke a few holes in the base of the crust with the tines of a fork, and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Step 3 – Blind Bake

Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C.

Savory German Onion Tart for Brunch | Foodal.com

Line the crust with a sheet of parchment paper or foil. Fill with pie weights in a single layer – ceramic balls made for the purpose, rice, or dried legumes. I used red lentils for this.

Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove your weights and liner, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Our recipe for Savory German Onion Tart starts with a buttery crust. Make your own at home: https://foodal.com/recipes/comfort-food/german-onion-tart/

Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Step 4 – Prep the Onions

Halve and finely slice the onions.

Thinly slicing onions is the first step to make this delicious German Onion Tart. Get the recipe: https://foodal.com/recipes/comfort-food/german-onion-tart/

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and sauté the onions until soft, over low heat. Stir these occasionally, and be sure to keep an eye on them – they should not be cooked until they become brown.

Sautee onions and bacon to make the filling for our German-Style Onion Tart. Get the recipe now: https://foodal.com/recipes/comfort-food/german-onion-tart/

If you like, cut the bacon into small strips, and add to the onions. Season with salt and pepper, and take off the stove. Spread the mixture in an even layer in the base of your crust.

Step 5 – Make the Custard

Whip a single egg white until stiff. You can use a large wire whisk for this, or make lighter work of the job in your stand mixer.

In a separate bowl, whisk the creme fraiche and two egg yolks together.

Gently fold the whipped egg white into the yolk mixture. Then pour the custard into your pan, on top of the onions and bacon.

Instead of your usual quiche recipe for brunch, try this delicious German Onion Tart: https://foodal.com/recipes/comfort-food/german-onion-tart/

Step 6 – Bake and Serve

Bake in a 390°F oven for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown. All ovens run differently and some are not calibrated exactly to the right temperature, so it is important to keep an eye on your tart as it bakes.

How to Make Savory German Onion Tart | Foodal.com

If you notice the crust getting brown too soon for your liking, you can create a foil collar to place around the edge to keep it from burning.

Allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before slicing. Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

A slice of this German Onion Tart makes a delicious light lunch. Get the recipe: https://foodal.com/recipes/comfort-food/german-onion-tart/

Have We Whetted Your Appetite?

If you enjoy baking but would like to try something a little different, why not start with this savory pie, and take a new approach to the usual oven-baked dishes?

The Best Savory German Onion Tart | Foodal.com

If you loved my recipe for stuffed onions, this will definitely become your second favorite onion-based recipe (if not your first)!

Try it out, and let us know about your thoughts and results in the comments below.

Photos by Nina-Kristen Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 1st, 2016. Last updated: January 8, 2019 at 12:59 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Nina-Kristin Isensee

Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.

7 thoughts on “Savory German Onion Tart: A Comfort Food Classic”

  1. I would love to try your recipe: Savory German Onion Tart, but I’m a Canadian, and we measure in cups and teaspoons, not by weight. Can you convert for me? Thanks!!

  2. Hi Nina,
    Would your recipe be the same as Zwiebel Kuchen? I lived in Germany for four years and a friend and I would go for Zweibel Kuchen and Neu Wein after our visits to the Spa. We lived near Baden Baden. I’ve been up in your part of the country as well, as I have a nephew there. I would have the same problem as Rebecca if I were to try your recipe and I really want to do it!

  3. For those who are trying to convert the ingredients to US Imperial or Metric measurements, this website does that for you. Look at the bottom of the recipe, right under the number of servings. There’s a drop down menu there that lets you choose your measure style.

    • Hi Teresa,

      The onions should be sauteed (or “sweated”) just until they begin to soften and are translucent, for about 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!

  4. Is it possible to make the tart crust and onion mixture the day before and put it together the next day? I’m trying to serve it fresh for a luncheon.

    • Absolutely, Nancy! You can complete the first two crust steps to prepare and shape the dough, and the first and second filling steps to prepare the onions. Let the onions cool completely and transfer to a lidded container, and store both the shaped crust and the vegetables in the refrigerator overnight until you are ready to use them. Enjoy!

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