Gruyere with Caramelized Onions Panini

by on April 28, 2009

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Somewhere around the 45-minute mark, as I was still diligently stirring the slowly caramelizing onions and oregano, my curiosity over whether this loooooong process was truly going to be worth it began to turn into resentment. This was a grilled cheese sandwich, for crying out loud. The simplest of all sandwiches. My husband had long since finished eating his lunch. I was hungry!

It was so worth it. Tom Colicchio, forgive me for ever doubting you.

'wichcraft, by Tom ColicchioThe recipe was created by the Top Chef king himself, from his new sandwich cookbook, ‘wichcraft: Craft a sandwich into a meal–and a meal into a sandwich (the same one I gave away last week in The Grilled Cheese Pageant). I thought I’d close out National Grilled Cheese month with his Gruyère with Caramelized Onions sandwich on rye bread. I’ve got to tell you – until now, my Bacon, Cheddar & Grilled Tomatoes Panini had been my all-time favorite grilled cheese. I still love that one…but I do believe I love this Gruyère and onions one just a little bit more. And I’ll tell you why.

Caramelized onions

It’s somewhat similar to my French Dip Panini, in that both aim to replicate the flavors of French Onion soup. But, of course, Tom’s doesn’t have any roast beef or jus. Just sweet yellow onions caramelized really slowly with fresh oregano and grilled with nutty Gruyère cheese on rye bread. The combination is very simple and insanely delicious. Just like in the soup it was inspired by, the Gruyère stretches between your mouth and sandwich with each bite. And those onions! To say they’re like candy might be overstating things, but not by much. Ignore all my whining about how long it took to make them – good things do indeed come to those who wait. Better yet, prepare them ahead of time and then when you’re ready to grill your panini they’ll all come together in a matter of minutes.

Gruyere with Caramelized Onions Panini

Gruyère with Caramelized Onions Panini
Adapted from ‘wichcraft: Craft a sandwich into a meal–and a meal into a sandwich

Serves 4


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium yellow onions, halved and cut lengthwise into 1/8″ slices
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried Sicilian oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 8 slices rye bread


In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and onions and stir vigorously to avoid scorching. Add the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring until the onions have a deep brown color. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until the onions are soft, 30 to 45 minutes. Set aside.*

Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat (375°F).

For each sandwich: Place 1/4 of the cheese on a slice of bread. Follow with a generous amount of onions. Close the sandwich and place on the panini grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the bread is toasted with golden grill marks. Serve immediately and enjoy!

* Either use the onions immediately to make the panini or refrigerate them for up to 1 week.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

>Ready to buy a panini press? Check out my Panini Press Buying Guide for the features to look for.

>Want more panini recipes? See my Recipe Index for a list of all recipes on Panini Happy.

>Traveling to a new city soon? Browse Panini Happy’s Great American Sandwich Guide to find the best sandwiches across the country!

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mindy April 28, 2009 at 12:27 am

Oh my gosh! This looks amazing–I can’t wait to get back to my panini grill in the US in July!


2 HoneyB April 28, 2009 at 1:48 am

This looks and sounds so yummy! I know what book is going to be on my to buy list next!

HoneyB’s last blog post..Of burgers and fries


3 Dani April 28, 2009 at 7:10 am

oh what i wouldn’t give for that right now!!! 🙂

Dani’s last blog post..#58) Chewy Ginger Cookies


4 Maris April 28, 2009 at 7:12 am

I love caramelized onions and I think this might be MY favorite panini of yours too!

It is funny though, how much effort we put into the simplest recipes. I think though, that they usually turn out to be worth it in the end 🙂

Maris’s last blog post..Chocolate Ganache & A Sweet Giveaway


5 grace April 28, 2009 at 9:24 am

i’m glad you stuck it out and didn’t give in to your resentment. 🙂

grace’s last blog post..squawk!


6 Kate April 28, 2009 at 10:36 am

What a fantastic idea!


7 Digigirl April 28, 2009 at 10:55 am

That looks sooo yummy! I love carmelized onions anyway. I’ve got that book on my wishlist!

Digigirl’s last blog post..Sticky Toffee Pudding


8 lo April 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm

I could totally get into this sammich.
I think caramelized onions are always worth the effort 🙂 … bet this book is loaded with great ideas like this. Yum.

lo’s last blog post..Fight Back Fridays: The Daffodil Principle


9 Jen Yu April 28, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Oh Ma Gah! That is one of my favorite soups transformed into one of my favorite food forms. You are a genius. How bleeping gorgeous is that?! I *heart* you. *gush*

Jen Yu’s last blog post..daring bakers: cheesecake


10 Kathy April 28, 2009 at 2:15 pm

You’re so kind! I’ll have to defer the genius designation to Chef Tom but maybe I’m just a little bit smart for deciding to try his recipe 🙂


11 Melissa April 28, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Definitely worth the wait for caramelized onions and then to pair them with Gruyere in a panini? *Dying*


12 Esi April 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Mouth watering! Yet another to add to the list.

Esi’s last blog post..Pork Souvlaki


13 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) April 28, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I’m a recent convert to caramelized onions. I always liked them, but never made batches to keep on hand until recently. This is a sandwich I’d definitely make over and over again.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)’s last blog post..Syrian spice, a Pantry Special (Recipe: chicken shish kabob)


14 Neecy April 28, 2009 at 8:35 pm

If you don’t want to go through the effort to carmelize the onions next time – but still want a French Onion Soup feel to the panini – give this a shot: thinly slice a white onion, put it in a glass baking dish with a tablespoon of butter and about a cup of dry white wine. Braise in a 350 oven until the onions absorb the liquid, about 40 minutes. Use in your Gruyere panini as you would the carmelized version.


15 Kathy April 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Thanks a lot for that tip, Neecy. I imagine the onions would be just as sweet and delicious without having to monitor them over the stove. Good to know!


16 Pam April 29, 2009 at 9:51 am

Drool worthy!

Pam’s last blog post..Asian Chicken Breasts


17 GrilledShane April 29, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I saw your mention by Tastespotting via Twitter! Congrats! That is always exciting. Plus, your main photo is awesome.

I was just in Williams-Sonoma and saw Tom’s book, which as you know is really awesome. The first thing I thought of was, “This is the book Kathy gave away in Grilled Cheese Pageant!” 🙂

GrilledShane’s last blog post..I Love Grilled Cheese: CHEDD’S gourmet grilled cheese


18 Emily April 30, 2009 at 7:19 am

That looks incredible! Glad to know it was worth the effort.

Emily’s last blog post..WEEK 21: Patty Melt Pizza


19 kris April 30, 2009 at 8:40 am

Oh yum! My vegetarian dd is loving the sight of this sandwich!

kris’s last blog post..Make-Do Flaky Biscuits


20 The Duo Dishes April 30, 2009 at 12:10 pm

The long, slow cook of caramelized onions has always put us off from a recipe. We’ve read how some people have cooked them for up to 4 hours! That’s dedication. Your quicker method is one to remember.

The Duo Dishes’s last blog post..A Belly Full of Buitoni


21 Dragon April 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm

This sandwich is making me drool all over my keyboard. You owe me a new keyboard. 🙂

Dragon’s last blog post..Apple and Pomegranate Tart


22 Kathy April 30, 2009 at 8:29 pm

LOL – might be easier to mail off a bib 🙂 You’re too kind!


23 Hayley April 30, 2009 at 8:38 pm

That looks delicious! I love paninis and gruyere is my favorite cheese ever. I’ve read reviews of that cookbook that talked about how long some of the sandwiches take to prepare, but most agreed that it was worth the time and effort. Looks yummy!

Hayley’s last blog post..Maman and Gourmand Smoothie/Shake Recipe Contest!


24 Gabi May 1, 2009 at 8:43 am

Guess what I am doing for lunch today! HA! Lovely!

And I dig the Gruyere cheese on it! But no rye bread in sight in my kitchen. So I will have to try this with my home made Sourdough – unfortunately Chicago’s wild yeast, not San Francisco’s, mind you!

Gabi @ Mamaliga

Gabi’s last blog post..Bloggers Unite For Hunger and Hope


25 Jamie May 2, 2009 at 4:48 am

I absolutely love a great French onion soup and the idea of turning it into a sandwich is just brilliant! I am so into caramelized onions these days and this is one sandwich I really want to make – and eat!

Jamie’s last blog post..A LOVE AFFAIR WITH ITALY


26 Gaby May 4, 2009 at 2:18 pm

just made this last night… it was sooooo yummy!

Gaby’s last blog post..Salmon Fillets over Couscous


27 marguerite May 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm

YUM!!!! I would LOVE this sammie!

marguerite’s last blog post..Cinco de Mayo – Chile Relleno Casserole & Carnitas


28 Anna May 6, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Oh man, that sounds good. I might try it with Gouda, though….and some spinach.


29 Jude May 10, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Gruyere is probably my favorite cheese for grilled sandwiches. So nice how it melts with a bit of heat.

Jude’s last blog post..Injera – Ethiopian Sourdough Flatbread


30 Kevin May 30, 2009 at 12:35 pm

What a tasty panini. I just can’t get enough of those caramelized onions.


31 Kim June 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Oooh, I just bought some gruyere to fix some savory galettes. Love this sandwich, Kathy. Nothing like a good sandwich.

Kim’s last blog post..Charleston Benne Wafers with Blueberries and Cream


32 Christine July 16, 2009 at 10:20 am

Maybe it’s just lunchtime looming, but that panini has my stomach rumbling! Yummmm.


33 rita October 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I’m practically drooling as I type this…. Looks amazing and can’t wait to try it!


34 Aisha Alomair October 29, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I have to hand it to you. This panini rocks my socks off!! I make it every single day and I am addicted to it, Love the oregano with the onions, just mixes right, keep up the good work


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