Glazed Pearl Onions with Bacon

5 from 4 votes

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This recipe for pearl onions is smoky, salty, savory, and sweet. Between the natural caramelization, sweet balsamic glaze, and salty-sweet bacon bits, this dish is outrageously tasty. Whip up a batch for your next potluck or any day of the year!

pearl onions in balsamic glaze with crispy bacon pieces

Glazed pearl onions add an intense punch of flavor to anything they are paired with. The robust flavors of balsamic, bacon, and sweet caramelized onions combine to create a mouthwatering side dish that’s perfect for holiday dinners or any time you want to crank up the flavor of your meal. 

This pearl onion recipe is also really easy to make. It takes around an hour to cook, but only 15 minutes of prep time. Plus, you only need a handful of simple ingredients. I make a batch of this simple, robust side dish for just about every potluck.

pearl onions in a copper bowl with more on the counter

For more yummy onion recipes, check out my Marinated Roasted Onions, Slow Roasted Red Onions, and this French Onion Soup.

closeup: glazed pearl onions cooking in a skillet

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Pearl Onions – Sometimes you can find these dwarf-sized onions fresh in the produce section, next to the larger-sized onions. Alternatively, you can use two 14.5-ounce bags of frozen pearl onions. Be sure that they are thawed and thoroughly drained before starting. 
  • Bacon – Adds irresistible sweet, smoky, salty, and savory flavor to everything it touches. Choose thinly sliced bacon for the best crisping and crumbling. 
  • Butter – Infuses the onions with an extra layer of rich, creamy, and subtle sweetness. 
  • Sugar – Adds sweetness to this pearl onion recipe and helps thicken the glaze. White sugar is fine, but feel free to substitute brown sugar for an added hint of caramel flavor. 
  • Balsamic Vinegar Robust and complex, balsamic vinegar is tangy sweet with hints of fruit, chocolate, molasses, and smoke. 
  • Black Pepper – Compliments the dish with a dash of sharp flavor and subtle heat. 
  • Parsley – Freshly chopped parsley adds a pop of freshness, color, and a clean, peppery flavor.

Tip From Kevin

Did you know that pearl onions have a unique trick up their sleeve?

They’re often used to add a burst of flavor and sweetness to various dishes, but here’s the fascinating part: pearl onions are a type of multiplier onion. That means when you plant one, it can produce multiple bulbs! So, these tiny alliums not only enhance your recipes but also multiply in the garden, making them a gardener’s and a chef’s favorite.

overhead: pearl onion recipe cooking in a skillet with bacon

How to Make Pearl Onions

  1. Cook the Bacon. Render bacon strips in a skillet until crispy brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then crumble into pieces. Keep the bacon fat in the skillet. 
  2. Blanch the Onions. If you are working with fresh onions, first trim and discard the roots. Bring a pot of water to boil, add the onions, and cook for 1-2 minutes — just enough to blanch. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Once cooled, pinch the stems of each onion to pop them out of the skin. 
  3. Saute the Onions. Place the skillet with the bacon fat over medium-low heat along with a tablespoon of butter. Add the onions and cook for about 20 minutes. Occasionally stir the onions and give the pan a gentle shake back and forth. 
  4. Add the Glaze. Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the onions. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the vinegar and water. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. 
  5. Add the Bacon. Mix in the crumbled bacon and black pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
closeup: a wooden spoon lifiting pearl onions over a skillet filled with more

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are pearl onions just baby onions?

While they are often referred to as “baby onions,” this isn’t exactly correct. Pearl onions are not regular onions that are prematurely picked. They are a special cultivar of the onion plant, Allium cepa, and have been adapted to only grow to a certain size. Even when fully grown, true pearl onions will not grow to the size of regular onions. 

White is the most common variety, there are also yellow and red onion cultivars. Each has its own unique flavor profile but, in general, they are all milder and sweeter than their full-grown cousins.

Can I thicken or thin the glaze for this pearl onion recipe?

If the glaze has gotten overly thick, simply add a bit more liquid and stir until you reach your desired consistency. Depending on how much you aim to thin the sauce, you might add more water, more vinegar, or a combination of the two. 

If instead you find the glaze on your pearl onions to be too thin, start by letting the dish simmer for a few more minutes. If needed, gradually stir in a bit more sugar, simmer, and make adjustments as needed. It will also thicken as it cools.

What do glazed pearl onions pair well with?

Whether it’s beef, lamb, pork, or another protein, glazed pearl onions make any meal better! Here are some ideas to get you started:

– Pair with lamb dishes like Leg of Lamb or Lamb Chops
– Serve with Corned Beef, Beef Ribs, or any of your favorite beef dishes. 
– Offer as part of a Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday spread. 
– Enjoy with pork entrees like Pork Tenderloin, Pork Chops, or Pulled Pork.
– Serve with side dishes like these Mashed Potatoes, Rice Pilaf, and Green Bean Casserole.

These Balsamic Glazed Pearl Onions with Bacon are perfect for any dinner table as a side dish or spooned over roasted or grilled meat. The caramelization!

Glazed Pearl Onions with Bacon

5 from 4 votes
Tender pearl onions are simmered in a rich balsamic glaze and topped with loads of crispy bacon. Easy to make and loaded with flavor!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes



  • Render bacon until crispy brown in skillet. Drain on paper towels and crumble. Reserve bacon fat in skillet.
  • For Fresh White Pearl Onions: Trim and discard the root end of the onions. Place the onions in a pan of boiling water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to blanch, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Pinch each onion at its stem end and it will pop out of its skin.
  • Heat bacon fat and 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook 20 minutes, stirring or gently shaking pan back and forth occasionally.
  • Sprinkle sugar over onions and cook 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar and water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 25 minutes. Stir in crumbled bacon and pepper to taste. Top with parsley and serve.


  1. If you’re unable to find fresh pearl onions, you can use two 14.5 oz bags of frozen pearl onions, which should be thawed and drained before using.


Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 133mg | Potassium: 272mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 195IU | Vitamin C: 12.9mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 0.6mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: side dishes
Cuisine: American
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
glazed pearl onions in skillet with bacon


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    I used fresh onions & 2 oz of diced pancetta as I had no bacon. Thought they were delicious. HOWEVER, I put them back on higher heat / no lid after simmering to reduce the balsamic/water mixture to get a more syrupy consistency, which I think was a game changer. Kept warm in oven prior to serving….the sprinkled with the parsley. Served along side beef tenderloin.

    1. 5 stars
      I made this for Thanksgiving and it was delicious! Everyone ate it up, and it was easy. One of my guests requested those gross pearl onions in that wierd white sauce that comes frozen in a box, but luckily, I couldn’t find them.
      I used plain, frozen, store brand pearl onions as that was all I could find. I had no parsley, so I used fresh dill instead. I think any substitutions you have to make, because you’re out of a certain ingredient, would still work out fine.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Kevin,
    My family doesn’t like the pearl onion in white sauce recipe that I grew up with so I made your Balsamic Glazed Pearl Onions, I will never go back, wonderful!

    1. Wow, it beat a family recipe. I love it. It’s a tasty one for sure. Sadly I have never tried a pearl onion in white sauce recipe. Feel free to email your so I can try it! Thanks so much Maddock. 🙂

  3. Hi Kevin! When preparing with frozen onions, do they need to be thawed first? Looking forward to making these tomorrow!

  4. These look delicious. Can they be prepared without any added sugar? If omitted, how does that affect the flavor?
    Thank you

    1. I’m sure they could, but we’re looking for a great balance of flavor here. If anything I would try it with just half then (1 tablespoon), or as you like. If yo umake this with ou the sugar, please let me know your thoughts. Cheers!

    1. Definitely Libby. I would just not reduce it as much so it gets all glazed when you reheat for the big day. Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday.

    1. Now that sounds like a good idea. I have mashed them a bit and spread them on toast with an egg too. Good, savory breakfast!

      1. 5 stars
        As I was reading your recipe I kept thinking of using garlic instead but now I think using both onions and garlic and adding some parmigiana Reggiano at the end and then mashing slightly would be about the best topping for crostini ever!

  5. Swoon. These seriously look amazing. Really truly amazing– even thinking about the smell of these has me drooling!

      1. Trying to find your recipe for ribs and grits that you sent recently. For some unknown reason I lost it while scanning. I’m looking forward to making your grits for my Louisiana husband.
        Thanks much, Diane

  6. Hey Kevin! These look amazing! I made something similar a few years back that used chipolini onions, but this sounds much better. This will be a great side to go with my Christmas prime rib roast! Of course, I’ll have to do a couple of test runs first 🙂

    1. Hey there Dorothy!
      Thanks, they are fantastic and so rich in flavor. I actually had some leftover the other day and blitzed them in the processor and it was fantastic as a spread with some sliced roast beef!
      Wish I was there to help Gary taste test, too. 😉