Jenny's Onion Tart from Outlander book Voyager

Jenny's Onion Tart from Voyager

I caught up with her just outside the barn; she heard my step behind her and turned, startled.  She glanced about quickly, but saw we were alone.  Realizing that there was no way of putting off a confrontation, she squared her shoulders under the woolen cloak and lifted her head, meeting my eyes straight on.

"I thought I'd best tell Young Ian to unsaddle the horse," she said.  "Then I'm going to the root cellar to fetch up some onions for a tart.  Will ye come with me?"

"I will."  Pulling my cloak tight around me against the winter wind, I followed her into the barn.

Voyager (Chapter 38 - I Meet a Lawyer)

Nothing like a little confrontation to clear the air between good-sisters.

Their tête-à-tête in the root cellar is tense to start, but by the end, Claire's and Jenny's anger has followed the path through mutual sadness and fear of rejection, then climbed to the peak of hope, promise and renewed friendship.

All accomplished face to face in a matter of minutes.

I love my modern life, full of social media and connectivity...but sometimes, I long for the simple 70s of my childhood -- when nobody phoned after 8pm, TV was 13 channels, and we all made friends on the playground instead of Facebook.

egg yolk for onion tart

The simplicity this onion tart makes it one of my favourite foods on earth.  It's on my brunch table, in one form or another, 9 times out of 10, and I always miss it when it's not.

Lightly sauteed onions and bacon are nestled in a buttery tart shell and blanketed with a velvety, egg-enriched bechamel.  It's creamier than a quiche and the onions are mild, despite the fact that they fill the crust.

This is also a favourite of my Chef Instructor from culinary school, Chef Patrice.  A regional dish from the French province of his birth, Alsace, he was very definite about how it should be prepared.  I've risked his wrath and made the bacon optional, but that's the only change I've made to his master recipe.

julienned for an onion tart

The knife skill that we learned before tackling this recipe for the first time was a julienne.  Julienned onions are used more often in professional kitchens than sliced because their size is relatively consistent, which means they cook more evenly.

To julienne an onion, trim the ends and peel.  Cut the onion in half lengthwise, then put the cut edge on the cutting board.  Work right to left - unless you're cack-handed ;) - and angle your knife to make graduated 1/8" to 1/4" thick slices.  When you get to the middle and your knife is at 90° to the cutting board, clear away the cut onions and tip the freshly cut edge down to the cutting board.  Again, working right to left, finish julienning the first half of the onion.

Repeat with the second half.

Confused?  There are more pictures here that will explain it all.

freshly ground nutmeg

What differentiates this tart from an onion quiche is the béchamel.

A béchamel is a basic white sauce made from milk, roux and seasonings.  A roux is equivalent amounts of flour and butter, cooked together.  Traditionally, the seasonings are salt, white pepper and nutmeg.

It's pretty much a cheese sauce before you add the cheese, with a little nutmeg to make it fancy.


All of the components of this dish - the crust, the bacon, the onions, the béchamel - can all be made up to 2 days ahead, then assembled and baked on the day you plan to eat it.  That said, I think this tart is even better a day or two after it's baked, so I always prepare it the day before, then pull it from the fridge a couple of hours before service, to give it time to come to room temperature.

Toss a green salad to go on the side, and brunch doesn't get much easier than that!


Show/Hide Comments


11 Mar 2013 - 12:56pm

Aaron Brown

When Jenny said onion tart, I thought, hummm I am not so sure of that. But this looks and sounds delicious!!!


Hi Theresa,nn Wow, this recipe really resonates with me. It is very similar to my sisters bacon cheesecake (without the cheese). I like to add a little more bacon though, (everything is better with bacon)! Our ancestors are from Alsace as well as Scotland so this will fit in with our foodieness quite well.nnBuidheachas, mo charaid!nnJeanne


Extra bacon makes everything better in my world. Enjoy, Jeanne!


As long as you don't HATE'll love this tart. :D


I think you'll love it, Aaron. I had this one for lunch several times last week. :D

11 Mar 2013 - 2:15pm

Georgia at In …

This sounds downright luscious. Could one perhaps add some shallot to replace part of the onion?

Anne E

I make something quite similar, calling it an Allium Overload tart. I slice 2 brown onions, 2 shallots, 1 red onion, 1 white onion, 1 bunch chives , 1 or 2 leeks ( up to where the leek leaves begin to get coarse); all caramelized and softened over low heat in 2 or 3 T. unsalted butter and 1/4 cup olive oil. I blanch my garlic in boiling water , then add the peeled and sliced cloves later into the saute pan when the onion mixture is 80% soft. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. ( I use very little salt.) Set aside. Whisk together 2 eggs, with 1/2 c. table cream ( or half and half) and 1 cup ricotta cheese. Spread onion mixture in bottom of a 9 inch pie crust pour egg cream mixture over. Grate 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese over pie, place on a cookie sheet and slide into a preheated 425* F oven. After 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 350*F and finish baking. To check for done-ness, slip a knife blade into the custard of the tart. If it comes out clean, the tart is done. Cool to luke-warm or room temperature before slicing.


An even better idea would be a tad of shallots and then use Leeks, the sweet buttery taste would be perfect for this and make it taste ever so much more rich and decadent while not being so. I use those two as a pasta topping and it is scrumptious.

11 Mar 2013 - 5:05pm

Laurie Brett P…

Thanks for this recipe! I like tarts far more than quiche. I'm always looking for a new taste & I think this will fit the bill!

11 Mar 2013 - 5:38pm

Christiane KYPREOS

Hello Theresa ! Too bad my husband HATES onions AND garlic !!! Since in French and Greek cooking nearly everything you cook has onions and/or garlic in it, you can understand my problem...! No need to add that I LOVE onions and garlic. Onion tart is a regional dish from Alsace indeed, I love it very much, it is sweet tasting. Cheers from Paris, Christiane


You'll have to make a small one for yourself, Christiane...and tell your husband to order a pizza that night! LOL

Christiane KYPREOS

Yes Theresa, something like that !! Thankyou, Christiane


My son hates onions and green pepper so whenever I made something that called for them, like spaghetti sauce, I would go ahead and saute them, but then I would put them in the blender or food processor with some of the tomatoes and chop them up so you couldn't see them anymore. Then, I would add that back to the sauce pan where I was making the sauce and voila! He loved it and never even knew they were there. Meanwhile, the rest of us who actually liked onion and green pepper still got the flavor of them, if not the usual diced pieces in our sauce. I usually used about half the green pepper called for because of its stronger & distinctive taste, so he wouldn't suss them out by taste alone. Not sure if you could get it past your husband, but I'd give it a try, rather than giving them up. I don't know how I would cook and season without onions and garlic! This particular recipe however, would be a no go, since it's all onion. I wonder if you could make 2 smaller tarts? One for you with onion added and one for him with a greater amount of bacon than the recipe calls for. Or maybe bacon and some sun-dried tomatoes. Does he like leeks or fresh chives? Seems like they would work, too. I have yet to find anyone who doesn't like the sweet Vidalia onions that should be in markets sometime in the next month or two. I'm going to try making this tart when the Vidalias are in season for an extra good flavor.


I find that Vidalias are overly sweet in this dish, but try them and see what you think!

17 Mar 2013 - 7:45am


I made this for a French food night - a Belgian, a Frenchman, and a Swiss gave it rave reviews! I left the bacon out, as I had none to hand. Reheated very well, so I enjoyed the last slice for lunch the next day. Thanks for an easy and delicious tart! ;)


I`m glad it passed muster with the European crowd, Allie! Chef P would be proud. ;)

21 Apr 2014 - 9:59pm


Just wanted to let you know that I made this tart yesterday for Easter dinner and it was out-of-this-world fabulous! Everyone at the table enjoyed it. Thanks so much for this recipe. It's a definite keeper!


Joanna, I`m so glad you and your guests enjoyed it! :)

08 Jul 2014 - 7:54pm


We have something very, very similar in my family called Tarte l'oignon. It is the same base except we caramelize the onions for a deeper flavor. The bacon seems like a tasty addition! I add a little cayenne to the bchamel for a little kick. It is a staple at most of our family gatherings!

11 Aug 2014 - 6:57pm


I made this tart to bring to a cocktail party. It was a big hit, even with one of the guests who proclaimed to not like onions, just as you said. I'll be making it again. Quick note; the Bechamel instructions never mention adding the nutmeg Love your site. Thanks!


Glad everyone loved it! And thanks for the nutmeg bit...I'll have a look at the recipe.

13 Aug 2014 - 1:55am

Carole Williams

Are there plans to publish all these wonderful recipes in a collection?

13 Aug 2014 - 9:37pm

Barra Jacob-Mc…

Theresa, Can I use turkey bacon? Violently allergic to any form of pork! Thanks! --Barra

08 Jul 2014 - 1:57pm

Outlander on …

Jennys Onion Tart is the perfect addition to your tea table. Its mild, creamy flavour is delicate enough even for those who claim not to be onion fans. If youre short on time, buy a frozen pie shell and just make the filling yourself.

27 Sep 2014 - 1:02pm


I'm making right now but my Bchamel is very runny, I was expecting a consistency like gravy but its only a little thicker than milk. I haven't added the eggs at this point.... should I proceed or try another batch of Bchamel? Onions and Tart crust are done and I don't want to ruin my beautiful work so far!!


Actually, I think I've got it! I added a little bit of extra flour and whisked for another few minutes. Consistency looks perfect!!

15 Oct 2014 - 2:28am

Joey Newman

I made Jenny's Onion Tart tonight. My version respects rules of kosher cooking so I used margarine instead of butter and almond milk instead of milk and smoked meat instead of bacon. I had to substantially thicken the bechamel with corn starch as it was still very runny after the procecedure in the recipe. In the end I think it was more thick than your bechamel but I hope it tastes good! I'll let you know. Thanks for being an Outlander nut too!

25 Nov 2014 - 9:43pm

julie morthorpe

thanks for the recipe similar to one I have made for 35 years ozarks onion bread mine has damper base but will be giving this one ago grat site cheers from Australia

20 Feb 2015 - 12:52am

Connie Sandlin…

So, the recipe calls for 2 eggs altogether. I'm trying to make sure I understand this: what it works out to is 1 whole egg + 1 extra yellow of the separated 2nd egg for the bchamel , then the beaten white of the separated egg for brushing the tart crust?

17 May 2015 - 4:17am


should the Bechemel be as thick almost as condensed soup? 2T flour + 2T butter makes a medium white sauce with ONE cup of milk -- seems like this recipe with 2C milk would make a very thin sauce as one poster above mentioned. I haven't made it yet, but if it should be very thick, seems that it should have 4T flour + 4T butter per CUP of milk .... ? wondering


I answered your question on facebook, I'll answer it here. The recipe is correct as posted. It's been made dozens and dozens of times by dozens of different people. That said, you're welcome to change it if you prefer.


Thank you so much for a very prompt reply! I will trust you on that. It's just the sentence "It will be very thick" that made me wonder, as apparently it made another poster wonder who added flour to thicken it up. Going to the kitchen right now to get started on it!


Let me know how it turns out...we`ll consider it a recipe test for the cookbook. :)


It's in the oven now .... I followed your tutorial for doing the Bechemel exactly & it was thicker than I expected it to be. When it cooled & I added in the egg it thickened slightly more. I also checked every reference I have (last night & again this morning) for white sauce (medium is described in my cookbook as like thick cream), gravy, & Bechemel & each one gives the proportions as 2T flour + 2T butter in 1 Cup of milk. I have no doubt this will turn out well & be delicious. I'm just curious. I generally always try to follow a recipe as given the first time; then vary it if I want. BTW I followed your recipe for the short crust exactly as well. Pie crust has forever been my nemesis & one reason I have liked 'crustless quiche' recipes in the past. Will post back when it is done & we have eaten!


Because the bechamel gets baked, it can't have as much flour in it as a cream sauce that doesn't go into the oven. If it did, you'd have glue when you take it out. I will review my use of the term "very thick" when I'm reviewing all of these recipes for the cookbook. :)


Let me know how it turns out...we`ll consider it a recipe test for the cookbook. :)

21 May 2015 - 1:10pm

Riki Weiner

i am a vegetarian, but eat eggs and cheese!

03 Jun 2015 - 3:58pm


We had a Finale viewing party complete with whisky, onion tart, scotch broth, boars tusk "bracelets," scotch eggs, sweetmeat tarts with clotted cream, decorated kilt sugar cookies and thistle cake-pops. I would love to send you a picture! The onion tart bechamel was thick, but, I dinna fash: I just spread it over the onions as much as I could, and as it baked, it spread out. I think the moisture from the onions and the bacon grease :) that I used to saute the onions and leeks in (yes, I used half-onions and half-leeks) enabled it to spread out without any problem. I didn't put bacon in the tart because I knew we were also having scotch eggs and I didn't want to overdo the cured meats, what with the prosciutto on the tusks and the sausage on the eggs. The tart was wonderful and I got loads of compliments! Thank you!


Oh, and I used a refrigerated pie crust that I put into my tart pan. It worked!

12 Aug 2015 - 6:21pm

Anna Lapping

I just read all the comments, and they were quite interesting. I'm sure the addition of the whole egg and one yolk contributes the the consistency of the finished dish after baking. Some ingenious ideas for changes due to cultural or dietary issues. Now I have to try it, it sounds wonderful

13 Aug 2015 - 12:54am


This looks terrific! Please tell me tho: for the "short crust" do I use the same as your "Colum's Shortbread"? Can't find any other recipe that's similar... Thanks


If you click on "Short Crust Dough", the link will take you to the pastry recipe, Ginni.

13 Aug 2015 - 8:39pm


thank you! I can't wait to make this tart this weekend. I just discovered your site and I'm looking forward to trying several of your recipes

02 Nov 2015 - 6:11am


Der Herbst ist doch ein kulinarischer Hhepunkt. Nach all den leichten Gerichten und Salaten darf es endlich wieder deftig werden, da wir nicht mehr bei jedem Bissen gleich anfangen zu schwitzen. Seitdem es drauen khler wurde, hatte ich Lust auf einen Zwiebelkuchen. Ich wollte mal ein neues Rezept ausprobieren. Fndig wurde ich bei Theresa.

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