Creamy caramelised onion rigatoni

This creamy caramelised onion pasta is so simple, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already. It’s rich, so you won’t need a huge portion (that’s a reminder for me more than you, I have yet to make a small portion of pasta ever, in fact I’m not convinced it’s possible)

The onions are caramelised with butter and fresh thyme until soft and nicely caramelised, then deglazed with Madeira wine which imparts a really lovely flavour. The sauce is rich and naturally sweet, but the fresh parsley and chilli cut through it, rescuing it from being overly rich. Basically, it’s delicious, I hope you’ll agree…

Just a word of warning about substitutions here – Aleppo chilli is quite mild and fruity, imparting just a nice warmth. If you’re substituting a regular dried chilli flakes, don’t sprinkle them so generously, as they’re much hotter. Do try to get some Aleppo chilli, also known as Pul Biber if you can – it’s delicious and so versatile.

Creamy caramelised onion rigatoni

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1tbsp Madeira wine
  • 40ml double cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 300g rigatoni
  • Aleppo chilli flakes to serve
  • Grated veggie parmesan-style cheese to serve


  1. Melt the butter in a large saute pan, then add the sliced onions and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and saute over a medium/low heat, stirring frequently, for about 30-40 minutes, until really soft and jammy, and nicely browned – not burnt! Add the Madiera, then cook it off for a few minutes until the wine has evaporated. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to room temp.
  2. Add the cream and egg yolk, then use a stick blender, or put it into a liquidiser, and blitz until almost, but not completely smooth – you want flecks of onion still visible.
  3. Cook the rigatoni in a large pan of well-salted water until just al dente. Towards the end of the cooking time, put the sauce into a warmed serving dish and loosen it with a small ladleful of the pasta cooking water.
  4. Drain the pasta, then add it to the serving bowl, tossing it about really vigorously to ensure each piece of pasta gets well coated in the sauce. Taste a piece to check the seasoning, adding more salt and/or black pepper if necessary, then sprinkle the chilli flakes and grated cheese generously over the top. Serve immediately.