This Instant Pot French Onion Soup recipe is absolutely delicious! Made with simple ingredients like caramelized onions and a rich, flavorful broth, with toasted bread and melted cheese on top. The sweet, caramelized onions blend perfectly with the rich, savory broth. The gooey, melted golden cheese and the crunch of toasted bread on top make this a very satisfying meal. Pressure cooker French Onion Soup is the ultimate comfort food!
Originally Published on 9/4/2018
French Onion Soup in the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is our favorite way to make this elegant onion soup recipe. You can brown the onions and pressure cook the soup all in one pot. So convenient!
What is French Onion Soup?
- French Onion Soup is a classic French soup made with caramelized onions (which makes them rich and sweet, with a lovely dark color) cooked in beef broth, and usually topped with toasted bread and melted cheese.
- It is known for its deep, rich, savory flavor and the melted, browned cheese that covers the top of the crusty bread.
This is a soup that you can serve to your guests and have them all be impressed with your cooking skills! Tell them you made French Onion Soup in the Instant Pot and they will probably fall over!
What Type of Onions to Use for French Onion Soup?
Yellow onions or white onions are typically used for this soup, but I like adding in a couple sweet onions. They caramelize well and give a sweet and savory flavor to the onion soup.
What is the Best Cheese to Use for Topping French Onion Soup?
Gruyère cheese is the most traditional and widely used cheese for topping French Onion Soup. Swiss cheese, provolone, or mozzarella can also be used with delicious results.
What Kind of Bread is Best for Topping French Onion Soup?
• Thick slices of French bread or Baguette are commonly used for the bread topping.
• The bread is usually toasted before being placed on top of the soup.
How to Make French Onion Soup in the Instant Pot
1) Prepare all of the ingredients and have them ready to go.
2) Sauté the Onions in Olive Oil: Use the Instant Pot Sauté setting on Low or Medium until the onions become caramelized and brown.
3) Deglaze the Pot: Add seasonings, brandy, Worcestershire sauce, and butter. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce slightly.
4) Add Broth: Pour in broth and scrape bottom of the pot again.
5) Pressure Cook: Close the Instant Pot lid and set the valve to the "Sealing" position.
Cancel the "Sauté" function and switch to "Pressure Cook" (or "Manual" mode) on high pressure for 5 minutes.
6) Natural Release: After the cooking cycle is complete, let the pot sit for 10-15 minutes of natural pressure release. Then Carefully release remaining pressure. Open the Instant Pot lid once the pressure has all been released.
7) Prepare the Toppings: While the soup is naturally releasing, preheat your oven's broiler.
Place bread or baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast them under the broiler until they are lightly browned (or toast the bread before making the soup).
8) Assemble Soup Bowls: Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls. Place a toasted baguette slice on top of each bowl of soup and sprinkle a generous amount of grated (or sliced) Gruyère or Swiss cheese over the bread.
9) Broil: Place the bowls of soup on a baking sheet pan under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning, as this can happen quickly.
10) Serve Hot: Carefully remove the bowls from the oven (use oven mitts), and let them cool for a minute or two before serving. The soup will be hot!
Do I Have to Caramelize the Onions?
- No, you don't have to, however, the caramelization of the onions is what is so special about this soup.
- If you are short on time, just cook the onions for as long as you can, and the soup will still be tasty, just not have the same depth of flavor.
How to Avoid Mushy Onions
- Here's how to achieve the desired texture for the onions in French Onion Soup:
- Slice Thinly: Start by slicing the onions thinly. This allows them to cook evenly and caramelize properly.
- Low Heat: Use low to medium-low heat to cook the onions. Cooking them slowly over lower heat helps to break down their natural sugars without turning them mushy.
- Stirring Occasionally: Stir the onions occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan and ensure even caramelization.
- Patience: Caramelizing onions can take some time, usually around 30-45 minutes. Be patient and allow them to slowly transform into that sweet, golden brown state.
- Avoid Overcrowding: If you're making a large batch, use a wide pan or cook the onions in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking and steaming rather than caramelizing.
Can This Soup Be Made Vegetarian?
Yes, you can make a vegetarian version of French Onion Soup by using a vegetable broth that you like instead of beef broth. The flavor will differ but can still be delicious.
Can French Onion Soup be Made in Advance?
- Yes, you can prepare the soup base in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to serve it, reheat the soup, top it with the toasted bread and cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbly.
How to Store Leftover Soup
Refrigerate: Let the soup cool, then put it in an airtight container. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Freezing: Cool the soup. Put it in airtight containers or freezer bags. Freeze for up to 2-3 months.
Thawing and Reheating: Thaw in the fridge. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave.
Toppings: Add bread and cheese toppings just before serving.
If you make this easy French Onion Soup in the Instant Pot, please leave a comment with a star rating below. I'd like to know how you liked it!
Instant Pot French Onion Soup is so delicious, with caramelized onions & rich beef broth. This pressure cooker French Onion Soup recipe is a favorite!
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 large Yellow Onions, sliced thinly into small "quarter moon" shapes
- 3 medium Sweet Onions, sliced thinly into small "quarter moon" shapes
- ⅛ teaspoon Baking Soda* optional
- 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ cup Brandy (or red wine or sherry)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 4 cups Beef Broth**
- 4-6 thick French Bread Slices, toasted (or baguette)
- 4-6 slices Gruyère Cheese or grated (or Swiss, Provolone)
Gather together all of the ingredients and such so you have it all ready to go. slice the onions thinly, and grate or slice the cheese.
Turn on the Sauté function and choose the Normal or Low setting (not More or High). When display reads “Hot” add the butter.
Add the onions and baking soda. Stir to coat onions with the butter.
Stir occasionally, while letting the onions cook for about 10 to 25 minutes. You might have to restart the Sauté function as it times out at 30 minutes on the IP.
Keep checking back and stirring the mixture, scraping the bottom of the pot. As long as you check in on them and stir every few minutes, they should be fine, and not burn. Patience!
Cook until the onions turn brown. It can take up to 25 minutes, but it is important. The caramelization is key to the flavor of this soup!
When the onions are nicely browned and caramelized, add the thyme, bay leaf, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir.
Then add the brandy, Worcestershire sauce and butter. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot again and get up all of the browned bits.
Stir in the beef broth. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Place the lid on the pot and set the Steam Release Knob to the Sealing position.
Cancel the Sauté function.
Press the Pressure Cook (or Manual) Button. Set time to 5 minutes using the +/- buttons, or dial. High Pressure.
When cook cycle ends, let the pot sit undisturbed to naturally release pressure for 10-15 minutes. Then manually release the remaining pressure by turning the knob (or push button) to Venting position.
You can toast the bread at this point, then set it aside.
When the pin in the lid drops down, open and carefully stir the soup.
Remove the bay leaf and the thyme stems and discard.
Turn on the broiler to 450°F. Put oven rack about ⅔ the way from the bottom of the oven (second slot down on mine).
Dish up the soup into oven safe bowls and place the bowls on a baking sheet.
Place a slice of toasted French bread on top of each bowl.
Lay 1 slice of the cheese over each of the toasted bread slices.
Carefully put the baking sheet with the bowls of soup into the oven. If they are too heavy, put the baking sheet in first, and set the bowls on it.
Broil until the cheese melts and browns to your liking.
Remove from the oven and serve.
*Baking Soda: The baking soda will help speed up the browning/caramelization process of the onions. Use this sparingly. It is optional.
If you choose not to cook the onions long enough to caramelize them, the soup will still taste good, but it's so much better with caramelized onions!
**Broth: I like a mixture of beef and chicken broths. You can use all of one type of broth if you prefer.
Tips and Techniques
Read the blog article for more information!