How to Make French Onion Tea Sandwiches
The thing with this sandwich is that it takes time to do it right, but if you take that time the final product will be one you won’t soon forget. The same thing goes for a traditional French onion soup.
Start with mild and sweet tasting yellow onions that are cooked down low and slow until they have browned and softened. At this point they become sweetly caramelized, packing a punch of flavor that is the signature of the namesake soup. Next, a splash of beef broth and additional butter is used to deglaze the pan and impart a depth of flavor to the onions. Additionally, the butter helps to thicken the sauce just a bit.
The key that brings the whole thing together is the salty and earthy flavor of the Gruyere cheese. A young Gruyere is the perfect choice here as it melts well and has a milder flavor that doesn’t overpower the onions. In a pinch, swapping the Gruyere for Swiss or provolone is perfectly fine. However, you will want to try to find an aged version of these cheeses in order to get a similar flavor profile to the Gruyere.
Finally, the sourdough bread is the vehicle that makes this amazing flavor combination into a sandwich. Sourdough typically has just enough tang to stand up against the bold flavors of the onions and cheese, without being overwhelming.
Once the sandwich is assembled, the whole thing gets toasted in a pan until the bread achieves a golden and crisp crust. Inside, the caramelized onions mix with the cheese as it melts to finish off the dish. This one is best served piping hot, so your guests get to enjoy the view of melty cheese. It will be sure to get them excited for the meal at hand.
Tea Party Menu and Pairings
If you are looking to add this amazing tea sandwich to a tea party menu, we suggest pairing it with a creamy soup such as spinach artichoke or spinach asparagus. A light and tangy salad such as our strawberry blueberry salad would round out the main course. Finish up this decadent menu with a delightful dessert scone such as red velvet scones or almond cherry scones.
For tea pairings, we suggest something strong such as our Kitchen Table Blend. Its simple yet subtly complex flavor makes it a perfect pairing for this rich tea sandwich. If you are looking for something a little sweeter to balance the flavors of the entire menu, we suggest a more fruit forward choice such as our Easy to Be Green tea with natural sweetness instilled from its hints of blueberry and hibiscus.
French Onion Tea Sandwiches
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated, plus more for buttering the bread
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut in half, and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
- 1 scant teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
- pinch of granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons beef broth or white wine, to deglaze the pan
- 1/2 – 3/4 cups finely shredded Gruyere cheese
- 4 slices sourdough bread
In a medium heavy-bottom sauce pan, heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
Add the sliced onions all at once and stir well to coat. Allow onions to cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes.
Add salt, thyme, and pepper, and stir. Place lid on the pan and allow to onions to cook for another 6 to 7 minutes, stirring regularly.
When onions are entirely browned and completely soft, add beef broth or wine to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any burned bits off the bottom of the pan, stirring well. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter and stir.
Let the liquid reduce for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thickened slightly. Remove pan from heat and allow to rest while you assemble the sandwiches.
Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the unbuttered side, add a good sprinkling of gruyere, then top with warm onion mixture, more cheese, and the final piece of sandwich bread. Repeat process in assembling the other sandwich.
Cook sandwiches in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side or until golden on the outside and melty on the inside.