Instant Pot French Onion Soup

Instant Pot French Onion Soup is a quick and easy way to make French onion soup in an electric pressure cooker. A classic French onion soup recipe that tastes like Julia Child and Ina Garten recipes but is easy and more healthy!

I’ll never forget the first time I ordered French onion soup. It was at an old-timey café and pie shop in my Kansas hometown, the sort of place where groups of retired ladies meet to sip sherry at noon and giggle about their husbands. I thought it was fancy, and I LOVED it.

white crock filled with Instant Pot French onion soup, topped with cheesy baguette croutons

This recipe is sponsored by McCormick.

My grammy treated my sisters and me for lunch on special occasions, and when I spotted a bowl of what appeared to be thick-cut bread magically floating beneath a golden lid of toasted, gooey cheese, I immediately needed to know what this mysterious, glorious substance was.

My grammy informed me that it was classic French onion soup. Though I cannot remember this part word for word, as the woman who had cooked me homemade macaroni and cheese for my birthday by my personal request for 10 consecutive years, my hunch is that she added something along the lines of “You’ll love it.”

I was a picky eater as a kid, and I have a feeling that back then, the concept of onion soup would have made me skeptical.

My love of toasted bread and cheese must have triumphed, because order French onion soup I did, and to this day, I still remember it as the best French onion soup in the world.

Prior to making this homemade Instant Pot French Onion Soup recipe, I could not tell you the last time I had it. I don’t often see French onion soup on restaurant menus, and if I did, I must have ordered something else.

As delicious as French onion soup can be (and it is delicious—even my persnickety elementary school self adored it), it is also a commitment.

Butter, cheese, and bread are used without any manner of restraint, and while that is a tasty prospect in some ways, the amount in most classic recipes (think Julia Child or Ina Garten) is too much for me in a single bowl of soup.

2 ramekins full of homemade French onion soup made in an Instant Pot

P.S. Please don’t tell Julia Child or Ina Garten I said that. Ina, if you are reading this, I’d still love to come to the Hamptons and be your BFF. I make great cocktails, and I bet you’ll even like this lighter recipe for Instant Pot French Onion Soup!

Lighter French Onion Soup

When I set out to create a recipe for French onion soup that wouldn’t send me into a complete food coma, I knew that if I was going to reduce the amount of butter and cheese, I was going to have to come up with something else to compensate for their flavor. I found my answer in two parts.

  • Part 1: The Broth. Despite all the flashy bread and cheese on top, broth is the heart of French onion soup’s flavor.

It’s what those thick slices of bread soak up to become all the more delicious. It’s what gives the onions a home. It’s what you’ll be slurping from your spoon.

Instant Pot pressure cooker next to a cutting board with the ingredients to make French Onion Soup

To give the broth a deep, natural flavor, I used Kitchen Basics Beef Bone Broth.

Bone broth has been trending in the health sphere over the last few years. It’s popular for sipping (it’s very high in protein) and is excellent for cooking too. Kitchen Basics’ is from real beef bones, organic vegetables, herbs, and spices. Its savory flavor was ideal for the soup, and it was such a time saver too.

  • Part 2: Caramelized Onions, a.k.a. the sweet nectar of the cooking goods.

Caramelized onions give the French onion soup a large amount of flavor, without the need for excess.

Theys have an intense sweet and savory flavor that makes them one of the most fantastic culinary tools you can add to your repertoire. I love them in or on just about anything—pizza, sandwiches, pastas, dips, mac and cheese, directly out of the pan, and of course, French onion soup.

Ordinarily, caramelizing a large batch of onions takes 45 minutes or more. I might do that on a Sunday.

On a weekday? Maybe if my laundry is done, my giant pile of mail sorted, and I get through the ever-growing stack of cooking magazines that is threatening to force our coffee table into submission.

To make the Instant Pot French onion soup recipe attainable on even a busy weeknight, I caramelized the onions in my Instant Pot. It makes the process completely hands off; the onions caramelized in just 20 minutes of pressure, AND you can cook the rest of the same pot, so you’ll still only have one pan to clean in the end. (More one-pan recipes can be found in this post, 15 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes!)

caramelized onions and a wooden spoon in an Instant Pot

Although a lighter pressure cooker French onion soup recipe might not be traditional, the way I finished it off was: thick slices of baguette, a sprinkle of cheese, and a quick toast underneath the broiler.

large ramekin full of classic French onion soup topped with melted cheese and toasted baguette croutons

For the cheese, I recommend picking something with a robust flavor.

Gruyère is a traditional French onion soup cheese, and if I could only have one cheese in my French onion soup for the rest of my life, that would be it. Incidentally, it is also incredible on a grilled cheese sandwich or in a cheese fondue.

That said, if you can’t find Gruyère, any fully flavored, nutty, and easy-melting cheese would be a great swap. Try fontina, gouda, or in a pinch, sharp white cheddar. The key is to pick something with a lot of flavor so that a) you don’t need as much and b) your soup has a lot of flavor too.

Tools to Make Instant Pot French Onion Soup:

More Favorite Instant Pot Soup Recipes:

soup crock of Instant Pot French Onion Soup garnished with cheesy baguette croutons
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Instant Pot French Onion Soup

Yield: 4 –6 servings
Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 20 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Instant Pot French Onion Soup—A quick and easy way to make a classic French onion soup recipe in a power pressure cooker. Delicious every time!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 very large yellow onions — or Spanish onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 cloves garlic — minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine — such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 4 cartons Kitchen Basics Beef Bone Broth — (8.25-ounce cartons)
  • 4 cups Kitchen Basics Beef Stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 12 slices small baguette — cut about 3/4-inch thick
  • 4 ounces freshly grated Gruyère cheese — white cheddar, fontina, and gouda, while less traditional, are also delicious

Instructions

  1. Turn the Instant Pot (or similar electric pressure cooker) to sauté. Add the butter and let melt. Once melted, add the onions, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Cook, stirring, until onions slightly soften and start to release liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons water. Cover and seal the Instant Pot, then set to cook on HIGH pressure (manual setting) for 20 minutes. Release pressure to vent immediately.
  2. Remove the lid, then turn the Instant Pot back to sauté. Cook for 5 minutes until some of the liquid evaporates, then add the wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits that have collected on the bottom of the pot. Let simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the wine has evaporated. Discard the thyme stems and bay leaf.
  3. Add the bone broth and stock. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the soup thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
  4. For the bread topping: When you’re ready to serve, preheat the oven broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyère. Broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, watching constantly towards the end so that the bread does not burn. Ladle the soup into bowls, then float the bread on top. Enjoy! Alternatively, if you have ovenproof bowls, you can ladle the soup into them first, top with each with a baguette slice and cheese, then arrange the bowls on a baking sheet and place the sheet under the boiler, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: Easy Homemade Soup Recipe, Instant Pot Dinner Recipe, Instant Pot French Onion Soup

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 6), about 1 1/2 cups, plus baguette slices and cheese) — Calories: 347, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 805mg, Carbohydrates: 29g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 10g, Protein: 21g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

I am sharing this post in partnership with McCormick. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!

Titled photo collage - Instant Pot French Onion Soup

Instant Pot BEST French Onion Soup! Classic French onion soup recipe that tastes like Julia Child and Ina Garten recipes but is easy and more healthy! The pressure cooker makes it quick and you’ll love all that cheese on top! #instantpot #frenchonionsoup #recipe #soup

Instant Pot BEST French Onion Soup! Classic French onion soup recipe that tastes like Julia Child and Ina Garten recipes but is easy and more healthy! The pressure cooker makes it quick and you’ll love all that cheese on top! #instantpot #frenchonionsoup #recipe #soup

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

58 comments

  1. Obsessed with my IP and french onion soup! Thank you for this!!

  2. Oh my gawd, this is my fav soup and all that cheese!!!!

  3. This looks amazing! Definitely making this soon. I have always had brandy in my French onion soup. Do you think it would be ok to swap the red wine for brandy?

    • Hi Nora, I think substituting the full 1/2 cup of red wine would kind of be a large amount for brandy, which has a stronger flavor than wine, so I’d do 1/4 cup instead. Also it will be sweeter, so that is a different flavor profile. That said, you can definitely experiment!

  4. Love that you can make this classic comfort food in the Instant Pot! Perfect dinner for busy weeknights!

  5. Oh using bone broth for French onion soup is SO smart! I bet the flavor is awesome. Ina will probably forgive you as soon as she tastes it! :-)

  6. Oh Erin —- Thank you for this delicious sounding recipe. I love French Onion Soup & haven’t had it for a long time, this one I am going to make. It will take me a while to make it as my arms & hands don’t work as well as they did when I was young. The thing I do have is time – so I am going to use
    it to my advantage. I hope my store carries the beef bone broth as my son grocery shops for me, & I’ve never had that particular kind. I really am looking forward to sitting down to enjoy this real soon. Thanks again for ALL your wonderful recipes. Judy

  7. gotta try this one!

  8. French Onion soup is my FAVORITE! Need to make this ASAP!

  9. I really need to get an Instant Pot. I’ve dropped some hints so we’ll see what happens for xmas :-) I’ve also loved french onion soup since i was a kid. Any time I’m at a restaurant that serves it, I order it. It’s delicious. I make my own beef broth that I use when I make it, but I like the idea of the bone broth when I run out. I’ll also have to try the red wine – I have been using sherry to make mine.

  10. I LOVE French Onion Soup, and I just got an Instant Pot! I will definitely be trying this!

  11. It looks delicious, but was this recipe mistagged as vegetarian? The Beef Bone Broth certainly isn’t.

  12. This is a very easy recipe to follow.  Hearty enough to stand alone for dinner. I am new to my insta pot and looking for new dishes to cook.  I will be making this in rotation all winter for dinner. 

  13. What if I can’t find bone broth?

  14. Just made this and it turned out delicious! Even with the substitutions I had to make. My son is allergic to beef, so I had to use chicken broth. I don’t drink alcohol (I know it cooks out) but I used water mixed with balsamic vinegar and a touch of lemon juice instead. The only Gruyere cheese the store had was smokey flavored. It turned out great. My family loved it!!!

    • Kristen, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the soup! Thanks for giving it a try and sharing the tweaks you made.

  15. Just made this during our blizzard and it turned out beautifully, thank you!

    • I’m so glad it was the perfect soup for your blizzard, Heather! Thanks for leaving this great review. Stay warm!

  16. Peter DeGregorio Reply

    Hello text says 15 minutes instant pot time but recipe says 20. Just wondering which is better. Before seeing your recipe I tried 20 minutes in an Instant Pot without water and the intermediate results were not good (onions disintegrated) although the end result was very good despite that.

    • Hi Peter! My apologies for the confusion. I cooked them under 20 minutes of pressure. If they broke down too much, next time, you could cook them for less time or cut the onions into thicker slices. That helps too! I’m glad you were happy with the soup!

  17. Super easy recipe! I had tons of liquid in the pot after the first 20 minutes, and the onions were not caramelized. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Pat, it’s definitely normal for there to be some liquid, which is why the recipe calls for cooking some of it off. As far as them not looking caramelized, they are not super dark but should be golden. You can reference the photo in the blog post!

      • Thanks for the quick reply, Erin! I looked back through the photo, and mine were not that golden, and I had way more liquid. Would you recommend another 10-20 minutes or so under pressure? It was delicious, and I would like to make it again. It was perfect for dinner last night, as it was chilly!

        • Hi Pat, after the first round of pressure cooking, I would keep sautéing (as mentioned in step 2) to reduce the liquid further and get some more color on the onions (longer pressure cooking would break them down too much). The size and type of your onions could have made a difference in the amount of liquid they let off—I’m not sure what kind you used, but I recommend using yellow or Spanish onions!

  18. Made this tonight for my family and it was absolutley delicious! Everybody loved it!! Followed the recipe for the most part just couldn’t find the bone broth, so just used the broth and just added one extra bay leaf and clove of garlic. Next time I will add one more onion as they cook down quite a bit. Definitely a keeper!! Thank you so much!!!

    • Michelle, I’m so glad to hear this recipe was a hit! Thanks so much for giving it a try and taking the time to leave this great review!

  19. I am making this soup as we speak and it smells really good. But after putting the bone broth and beef stock in there it was very liquidy and it’s taking almost an hour for that to evaporate and for the soup to get thicker. Did I misunderstand the amount of broth? It should be about 4 cups of bone broth and 4 cups of beef broth right? 

    • Hi Elena, the amounts are correct! The soup is meant to be liquidy and brothy, and I’ve found most traditional French onion soups to be like that, especially so that it soaks up easily into the bread. I hope you were able to enjoy the soup even though it ended up taking longer than you expected!

  20. This was a huge hit with my family, which was an enormous accomplishment since it also was meatless. Loved it! Thanks for the recipe!

    • YAY! I’m so happy to hear it was a winner. Thanks for giving it a try and taking the time to leave this awesome comment, Meghan!

  21. Fabulous!!!!!

  22. This looks amazing! Would you make any adjustments if cooking it at high altitude? Thanks!

    • Hi Saige, I don’t have experience cooking at high altitude, so I’d recommend doing an internet search for any tips with high altitude and the Instant Pot! I hope you enjoy the soup!

  23. Have you ever tried making a double batch and freezing the leftovers (minus the bread of course:)? Instapot newbie here! Thanks for any input.

    • Hi Janelle! I actually have not. If you have a large (8-quart) Instant Pot, I think you could give it a go. Otherwise, I think the amount wouldn’t fit comfortably inside a 6-quart. I’d hate for you to buy all the ingredients, then have them not fit!

  24. Thanks for posting this great recipe for my IP.  It’s the first time to prepare that way as I normally use a dutch over. The onions turned out as caramelized as if they cooked for 45 minutes in a regular pot. This is our favorite soup and it’s absoluety fantastic.  I didn’t change a thing and it’s a for sure keeper.

  25. I absolutely love this recipe! I made it a month or two ago and my husband and I loved it! I’m making it again tonight and I def can’t wait. I did sub a little bit in the onion and cheese dept. I used fontina but I also put a slice of Munster underneath that. And I used a couple of different onions plus a shallot. So amazing. I’m so glad I found this recipe! Thank you for sharing!

  26. This is a great recipe! The IP is the best way to caramelize the onions.

    I made the full recipe for just the two of us and we’ll freeze more than half of the soup adding the croutons and cheese later.

    Than you for this posting.

    • Roger, I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for taking the time to give it a try and report back.

  27. As far a flavor a 5 ⭐️  Although I only added 2T water
    And left on high for 20 min the onions never caramelizad or took a gold color… Added some kitchen bouquet for color —   Will not add water next time. Thank you ? 

    • Clara, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the soup! Thanks so much for taking the time to give it a try and leave a review!

  28. I made this tonight! It was my first time using my new Instant Pot. This is a great recipe and it is very delicious!

  29. Help! What if you don’t have an Instant Pot??

    • Hi Michelle, you could also make the soup on the stovetop in a regular pot. It will take longer to get the onions soft and caramelized, but the basic process is the same! If you decide to experiment, I’d love to hear how it comes out.

  30. We had a snow day today in KC and I made this for lunch.  Amazing!! Restaurant quality.  So pumped to make it again.  The whole family loved it.

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