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Hearty French Onion Pizza Pie Recipe

Ryan Thomas is a university student who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.

A completed pizza pie.

A completed pizza pie.

I love pizza, I love onions, and I love French food. These three reach a happy marriage in pissaladière, or French onion pizza, of Provençal origin. Provence has truly delicious pizza, as I will attest with delightful relish from my own experiences of living in Aix-en-Provence for four months. Anybody who goes to Aix simply must visit Pizza Capri, which is widely acknowledged as the source of the best pizza in town. I credit it to the cheese. Pizza may have been invented in Italy, but I believe that it must have been France where it was raised to a form of art; for surely only with the cheeses of France could it achieve such perfection. Of course, I am a francophile, and so naturally my opinion in such regards is biased, but regardless French pizza is something that I've missed since I've returned to the United States.

The internet however, seems to corroborate my taste, and just the simple query of pissaladière will yield a host of answers. The entirety of these however, seem to be thin pizzas, with a crust lightly topped with caramelized onions. This particular version presented here, courtesy of an adaption of Hows and Whys of French Cooking by Alma Lach, produces a veritable pizza pie, a delicious multi-layered pizza. It is wonderfully sweet from the onions and tomatoes in it boasts a delectable pastry crust, melted parmesan cheese, and is topped with superbly salty olives and anchovies, in a hearty and filling pizza that is easy to modify and change. Eight onions might be cause for tears in cutting them for it, but the result is more than worth it!

The aforementioned book that this recipe itself originates from it and dates back to the 1970s. While I personally love it and the recipes in it, I can also admit that many of the dishes, and this one in particular, can tend to be... heavy in their use of elements like butter or heavy cream.

This isn't a great problem to me, as I weigh 160 pounds, a weight which I stay at pretty unerringly, and I am in my early 20s. However, if one if concerned about this amount of butter, my recommendation would be to use an alternate pizza crust recipe, with less butter in it, and to reduce the amount of butter used for the onions with olive oil and additional alternate seasonings playing their role instead.

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Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

50 min

1 hour 10 min

2 hours

1 9-inch pizza pie


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour, substituted for by using 1/2 cup of regular flour with 1 tablespoon of it replaced by cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 8 large onions, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 large tomatoes, fresh
  • 1 2-ounce can flat anchovies
  • Greek-style black olives
  • Grated parmesan cheese
Ingredients for the crust

Ingredients for the crust

Ingredients for the pizza itself

Ingredients for the pizza itself


  1. The first step of making the pizza is making the dough, which will be used to create the pie crust. Sift together the flour, cake flour, 1 tsp salt, and sugar. Put into a bowl, make a hole in the center, and put 3/4 cup butter in the middle. Cut into the flour either with a mixer, blender, or fingers. Then, blend in the egg, and enough water to hold the flour together.
  2. Work the dough on a working surface, pushing it away from you several times in little bits with one's hands. Then make into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate several hours or overnight, to reduce the elasticity of it.
  3. Combine olive oil and 1/4 cup butter in a skillet, then add onions, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cook and cover for 30 minutes at low heat, the onions should be translucent and golden. Discard the bay leaf, then pour the onions into a sieve to remove the excess liquid. One can save this butter to work with later if one wants or discard it.
  4. Make the pie shell from the dough previously, rolling it out and fitting it to the pie dish. Stick several times with a knife or fork to let out trapped air in the crust when cooking, and sprinkle it with parmesan.
  5. Cut the tomatoes paper-thin. Place cooked onions in a layer in the pie shell, then tomatoes, then onions, until all are used.
  6. Drain the anchovies and slice lengthwise, and arrange these and the olives over the top of the filling. Feel free to add in additional toppings.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes on the lowest shelf of an oven. Preferably serve with a salad.

© 2017 Ryan Thomas

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