Creamed Corn Gratin with Fried Onions & Bacon

14 Comments 02 November 2011

I really deliberated – back and forth and forth and back – on whether or not to do a Thanksgiving potatoes post. Really, though, how much can you really improve upon traditional mashed potatoes? There’s also plenty of good options out there already for kicked up mashed potatoes, gratin potatoes, etc. If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re trying to experiment with recipes that offer something a little different. But should we do it for a holiday that’s usually steeped in tradition?


I’ve mentioned it before here at FFA, but my family is still a young one, so we don’t as of yet really have a Thanksgiving meal set-in-stone. I love going to my mother’s for her traditional feast, and I admit that’s what I expect to see when there, but we’re still experimenting at Casa de Fork. The best thing you can do if you’re trying out any new recipes is to try them out before Thanksgiving. You don’t want to go to all that effort and then realize you hate what you made or that it just lacks a little something. The good news is we loved this corn gratin. It might become one of our family’s set-in-stone Thanksgiving musts!

Corn Gratin 16

There’s a lot of onion happening in this recipe. We’ve got green onions, yellow or sweet and even some red onion. I think, personally, they were thinking of me when they came up with this one. I do be lovin’ me some onions. And I don’t give a bleep bleep what it does to me breath. My breath, I can bleep it up if I want to.

Well, and yours, too, if you eat what we’re cooking. Want some? Sure ya do!

Corn Gratin 19

So, we’ve got corn that’s been drowned in cream and milk and cheeeeese. Then these things come along, fried red onions. HELLO. It might seem a little excessive, but that’s clearly the point. I love recipes where you can take parts out and reuse them with other recipes. These onions are that part. They’re super easy to fry up in just a little oil. Am I the only one that would put that scent in a dangly car air freshener?

Anyway, to get back to it, these then get mixed with a spectacular topping of crunchy bread crumbs, those green onions and BACON. Bacon bacon bacon! You knew it was coming. The bacon is here. You may now proceed as normal.

Corn Gratin 13

Several reviewers for this recipe over at ye ‘ole totes wouldn’t touch the frozen corn the recipe calls for, and opt instead for fresh. Look, it’s your choice. But frozen? It’s a time-saver, and when I contemplated which to use, time reached up and smacked me, so saving time it is. I’m sure fresh is great, but I am here to stand tall for frozen corn, as tall as five foot, two inches will allow. It’s delish in this recipe.

Corn Gratin 12

Oh lookit! We baked the corn! It’s aaawweeesome. Just as I knew in my frozen corn heart it would be when my eyes landed on the recipe last week. It’s yet another gorgeous-looking dish, too. That topping bakes up extra crisp and yummy. The smells that have been wafting throughout the house were driving us insane. The milk and cream and cheese turn it into almost a corn pudding-like consistency. There’s a great little kick of heat from the monterey jack cheese and red pepper.

Corn Gratin 20

There just ain’t a thang wrong with this recipe, y’all! Oh look, it’s turned me country, it’s that good.

Corn Gratin 5

We’ll be putting this on the Thanksgiving table this year, yessir! It’s absolutely doable,too, because you can make it, up the point where you’d bake it, a day ahead. Put it in the oven Thanksgiving day and shaaaa-wing! That’s what I’m talking about. We loved it, now we hope you love it, too.

Creamed Corn Gratin with Fried Onions & Bacon

from Bon Appétit, November 2003

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook time: About 1 hour, 30 minutes    Level: Intermediate    Serves: 12

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
  • 6 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 cup (or more) vegetable oil
  • 10 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 cups frozen corn kernels (about 2 pounds 6 ounces)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons quick-cooking grits
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread breadcrumbs on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.

Sauté bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Transfer 2 tablespoons bacon drippings to heavy large pot; reserve for creamed corn. Discard remaining drippings.

Place flour in medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Separate red onion slices into rings and toss in flour to coat lightly. Heat 1/2 cup oil in same large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add onion rings to skillet and cook until golden brown, adding more oil as needed, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer onion rings to paper towels. Mix breadcrumbs, bacon, onion rings, and half of green onions in clean medium bowl. Sprinkle topping with salt and pepper.

Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add butter to pot with reserved bacon drippings; melt over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion; sauté until light golden and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add frozen corn; sauté 5 minutes. Add milk and cream; bring to boil. Gradually stir in grits and cayenne pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and remaining green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer creamed corn to prepared dish. (Topping and corn can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake gratin uncovered 25 minutes. Sprinkle topping over; bake until topping is slightly crisp and creamed corn thickens and is heated through, about 20 minutes longer.


Being that you can make this all the way up to being baked, I thought this would be a great recipe for Thanksgiving! And eery step, from making fresh bread crumbs, to crisping up those wonderful onion rings, was worth it. Tastes great as leftovers, too!

The dish does have a nice, subtle heat from the red pepper and the jack cheese. Even this cautious-when-it-comes-to-spicy eater was able to handle it.

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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14 Comments so far

  1. Brie says:

    I admit that the fried onion part is a bit annoying to do, mostly because of the hard work involved (I always make a mess when frying things), although fried onions are the best thing ever. But despite that, and since Thanksgiving is THE day to make annoying recipes that take a lot of work but taste delicious, I think this is one of the most appealing things you have made. Imagine the shock when you go to dinner expecting boring potatoes and get this instead? It’s going to be a big hit! And if you have those individual servings and do one for each guest it would be even better. I’m so doing it this year!

    • KMont says:

      You know, I hate frying foods. I thought the onion rings would be annoying to do as well, but they were actually very easy! It may have had to do with my pan being so big; the oil was only about a quarter-inch deep. That may have helped. I also would take the pan off the heat and then add each new batch of onions. This helped keep the spattering to a minimum. Cuz yeah, frying foods is not my thing!

      Individual servings sounds awesome! You could put them on a cookie sheet, dish each up, top ’em and bake. Bet they’ll look so cute. Hope you enjoy it!

  2. this looks AH-mazing!! i will definitely be trying this one out for turkey day celebrations!

  3. Amber says:

    This looks so over-the-top good, I’m going to have to make it. I might not wait for Thanksgiving either.


  4. I am so trying this one out for Thanksgiving! I liked your idea about taking the skillet off of the heat when adding a new batch of onions.

    I do wonder, if you make everything the day before and stop right before baking, would the fried onions get soggy?

    • KMont says:

      If the onions do get a little soggy – good point – they will crisp back up nicely in the oven once you bake it all together. If you wanted, though, you could assemble the topping all the way to the onions, and just do the onions the next day if you’re worried. The onion frying wasn’t hard and didn’t take long. And that’s saying something since I usually hate frying food! I’m just not good at it lol.

  5. Natasha A. says:

    I’m currently planning my Xmas menu… and I would love to make these!!!
    If assembled all the day before, and the refrigerated, would you still only bake for 20 minutes the next day, or do you think it would need longer?
    Thanks for any advice!

    • KMont says:

      I made this for Thanksgiving and assembled everything the day before, keeping the topping in a separate container till ready to bake. Sprinkled that on, baked it for 25 minutes as instructed and it turned out just as good as when we made it all the same day!

      Do take the corn part out of the fridge about an hour or so before baking, to take the chill off of it, though.

  6. Kelly says:

    I made this for my family on Christmas day and it was the hit of the meal!!! Absolutely delicious and will be made for years to come! Thanks for your recipe!

    • KMont says:

      So glad you and your family enjoyed this, Kelly! Just wanted to emphasis that it’s not our recipe so much as it’s just us trying it out and reviewing it here. It was a good find! 😀


  1. last minute turkey day ideas « three blondes and a tomas - November 23, 2011

    […] creamed corn gratin from full fork ahead […]

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