This Caramelized Onion, Apple & Cheddar Tart Is Going to Make Fall So Much Better

published Sep 14, 2022
Caramelized Onion, Apple, and Cheddar Tart Recipe

Jammy caramelized onions, tart apple slices, and sharp cheddar cheese doll up frozen puff pastry into this showstopping autumnal tart.

Serves8 to 12

Prep20 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes

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onion apple cheddar tart sliced on a baking sheet
Credit: Photo: Chris SImpson; Food Styling; Jessie YuChen

The power of frozen puff pastry cannot be overstated. As a private chef, I try to include a puff pastry appetizer in every menu that I create because it makes my life incredibly easy (well, at least the cooking part of my life) and it is, without fail, always a crowd-pleaser. Whether it’s pinwheels, tarts, one-bite puffs, or cheese straws, puff pastry can get the job done.

If you’ve never worked with puff pastry, it is a pre-made, laminated dough that bakes into a flaky, buttery masterpiece. Sure, you could make homemade rough puff, but in this economy? Please. I have butter, um better, things to do, like count the hairs on my head or try to teach my dog to put away her own toys.

If you can flour a rolling pin and roll the puff out to the size of a sheet pan, then you can make this tart. There is no fuss involved. The key to puff pastry is to always prick it with the tines of a fork so that the steam is able to escape and to give the untopped edges of the pastry a quick egg wash, which helps create a golden-brown exterior as the tart bakes.

How to Avoid the Most Common Puff Pastry Mistake

Working with puff pastry is nearly foolproof, however if there is one common mistake when it comes to this frozen-aisle treasure, it’s underbaking it. For this recipe, the puff pastry is par-baked before the toppings are added so that the dough and the apples are done baking at the same time. You’ll know the tart is finished when the crust is a deep golden-brown. When you cut into the tart, the center should be flaky and layered, instead of chewy, gummy, or raw-looking.

Credit: Photo: Chris SImpson; Food Styling; Jessie YuChen

This tart is dolled up with a jammy layer of deeply caramelized onions, tart apple slices, sharp cheddar cheese, fresh thyme, and a drizzle of honey. If you’ve never enjoyed an apple and cheddar pastry before, buckle up. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but trust me when I say that the union of these two ingredients is a magical marriage. A generous drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of fresh thyme give the tart a cozy, autumnal flavor.

This is the tart for all of your fall entertaining needs. If you’re trying to get ahead on prep, go ahead and caramelize the onions up to two days before you plan to serve the tart and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Once this beauty comes out of the oven, your guests are sure to be impressed — and you didn’t even have to break a sweat. Behold, the power of the puff.

Caramelized Onion, Apple, and Cheddar Tart Recipe

Jammy caramelized onions, tart apple slices, and sharp cheddar cheese doll up frozen puff pastry into this showstopping autumnal tart.

Prep time 20 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves 8 to 12

Nutritional Info


  • 1 (14- to 17-ounce)

    package frozen puff pastry (preferably all butter)

  • 3

    large yellow onions

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick)

    unsalted butter

  • 6 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese, preferably white (about 1 1/2 cups shredded)

  • 10 to 12 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1/4 cup

    low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, or water

  • 1 teaspoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • All purpose flour, for dusting

  • 1

    medium apple, such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady

  • 2 tablespoons

    honey, plus more for serving

  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Thaw 1 package frozen puff pastry in the refrigerator according to package directions.

  2. Thinly slice 3 large yellow onions (about 7 cups). Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and stir them gently to coat with the melted butter. It will seem like a lot, but they will cook down significantly.

  3. Cook, checking on them every 5 minutes and stirring and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon, until deep brown, jammy, and caramelized, about 35 minutes total. If the onions start to get too dark, reduce the heat.

  4. Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Grate 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 1/2 cups). Pick the leaves from 10 to 12 fresh thyme sprigs (about 1 1/4 teaspoons) and finely chop. Whisk 1 large egg in a small bowl with a fork until broken up.

  5. When the onions are ready, add 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon kosher salt and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Remove the pot from the heat.

  6. Slide the parchment onto a work surface and lightly dust with all-purpose flour. Unfold the puff pastry onto the parchment (if your package has 2 sheets, place them side by side, slightly overlapping, so that they fit the baking sheet). Using a floured rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle about the size of the baking sheet. Slide the puff, still on the parchment, onto the baking sheet.

  7. Brush the edges with the egg to form a 1-inch border. Carefully roll about 1/2-inch of each side in on itself toward the center to form the outer rim of the tart. Prick the pastry all over with the tines of a fork. Brush the rim with the egg. Bake until light golden brown and slightly puffed, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, halve, core, and thinly slice 1 medium apple (2 cups).

  8. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. If the pastry has puffed up, gently press down with a spoon to deflate. Transfer the onions onto the tart and spread into an even layer, stopping when you get to the folded edges. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Arrange the apple slices evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and thyme. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons honey, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired.

  9. Bake until the edges are puffed and the bottom is crisp and golden-brown, 18 to 30 minutes more. Let cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer onto a cutting board. Cut and serve warm with more honey if desired.

Recipe Notes

Puff pastry: Look for ready-made puff pastry in the freezer section, particularly those brands made with all butter rather than oil. They will have a richer flavor, and the dough will produce nice layers of pastry. For best results, thaw in the refrigerator at least 4 hours beforehand or overnight.

Cheese: Any melty cheese can be used in place of cheddar, such as Gruyère, Swiss, Emmentaler, fontina, or gouda.

Make ahead: The onions can be cooked up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Rewarm in a 325°F oven until warmed through.