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Williamsburg onion pie

Onion pie with brown ale, Chowning’s Tavern, Williamsburg

I’m back home after a couple of very nice days in Colonial Williamsburg with Ken. Mostly I shot video rather than photos. I’ll post a video after I get the editing done.

Onion pie, it seems, is a Williamsburg specialty. The recipe in the link below calls for boiled eggs sliced into the pie. The version of onion pie that we had at Chowning’s Tavern, however, had a fried egg on top of the pie but no egg inside the pie. I think that would be my preference. I’ll make an onion pie some chilly day and use Chowning’s Tavern’s method. I would assume that this pie was an English favorite that the American colonists brought with them.

Recipe for Williamsburg onion pie

The recipe above is based on an 18th Century recipe:

Wash and pare some potatoes and cut them in slices, peel some onions, cut them in slices, pare some apples and slice them, make a good crust, cover your dish, lay a quarter of a pound of butter all over, take a quarter of an ounce of mace beat fine, a nutmeg grated, a tea-spoonful of beaten pepper, three tea-spoonfuls of salt; mix all together, strew some over the butter, lay a layer of potatoes, a layer of onions, a layer of apples, and a layer of eggs, and so on till you have filled your pie, strewing a little of the seasoning between each layer, and a quarter of a pound of butter in bits, and six spoonfuls of water; close your pie, and bake it an hour and a half. A pound of potatoes, a pound of onions, a pound of apples, and twelve eggs will do.

— Glasse, Hannah, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, page 259


  1. Henry Sandigo wrote:

    Oh those poor colonials having to eat onion pie . I presume that is all they had for sustenance?

    I’d rather die than eat an onion. Many years ago my wife and I were visiting my FIL in a memory care home – we scheduled our time with him during lunch – so we were expected to sit and eat with the elders. An orderly placed a paper plate in front of each of us containing a White-bread sandwich. The smell of raw onion hit me between the eyes – I immediately gagged – and lifted the a slice of bread and sitting in a pool of mayo/mustard was a sliced white onion! I told my wife later just throw me in the Pacific Ocean when I reach that state of life – because even then I would hate to be eating an onion sandwich and not even know it.

    Monday, October 24, 2022 at 8:13 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Oh my. I can’t imagine life without onions!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 7:46 am | Permalink

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