Onion Casserole, Stage Coach Inn Style 10.000

Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Nov 19, 2017

This was a signature dish in the 1950s at the Stage Coach Inn in Guthrie, Ky. Washington Post reader Juliette Pahl’s parents had it there, and subsequently got the recipe and made the casserole for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. Pahl says it was one of the first things she learned to make as a newly married 18-year-old bride.

The original recipe called for a teaspoon of the now obsolete (or very hard to find) Sexton brand Alamo Zestful Seasoning, a Chicago blend that included salt, sugar, MSG, paprika, onion and chili powders and some preservatives.

Make Ahead: The casserole can be assembled and refrigerated a day in advance; bring to a cool room temperature before baking.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 10 servings

  • 2 1/2 pounds white or Bermuda onions (trimmed), cut into quarters
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup jarred pimentos, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (from 1 large rib)
  • About 10 large button mushrooms (stemmed), cut into quarters or large chunks
  • Water, as needed (optional)
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup plain cracker crumbs or panko
  • Sweet paprika or smoked Spanish paprika


Place the quartered onions in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a light boil over medium heat; cook for 6 to 8 minutes, checking them often, just until they are crisp-tender. They may break up a bit; this is okay. Drain.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux, then gradually add the cream and half-and-half; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, to form a thickened sauce.

Add the salt, sugar, onion and chili powders, the sherry, pimentos, celery and mushrooms, stirring to mix well. Turn off the heat. The sauce will thicken upon standing; before you begin building the casserole, you may need to stir in a little water to loosen the sauce a bit.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use some butter to generously grease a 3 1/2- to 4-quart baking dish or casserole.

Arrange half the onions in the dish, then spoon enough of the sauce over them to cover. Scatter half the cheese, then half the cracker crumbs or panko; repeat this layering to use the remaining onions, sauce, cheese and crumbs or panko. Sprinkle the paprika on top.

Bake (middle rack) for 1 hour, until bubbling at the edges.

Serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted by Raleigh, N.C., resident Juliette Pahl.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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