This Instant Pot French Onion Soup is an easy way to enjoy restaurant-style French onion soup at home in a hurry. It’s a classic French onion soup recipe made quicker and more healthy too!

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

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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 cocktails at noon and giggle about their husbands.

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.

Then my grammy informed me that it was classic French onion soup and assured me that I would love it.

SPOILER: She was right.

2 white ramekins full of homemade French onion soup made in a pressure cooker with herbs, baguettes and spoons

5 Star Review

“This is honestly one of the best recipes I have found on the internet.”

— Kristina —

To this day, I still remember that bowl of cheesy onion goodness as the BEST French onion soup in the world (it was even the inspiration for this French Onion Chicken).

So this Instant Pot French onion soup recipe is my attempt to recreate a little bit of that magic but in a faster, less labor-intensive way.

If you’re familiar with authentic French onion soup, you’ll know it is a commitment.

  • Onions are slowly (and patiently) caramelized to sweet, sweet perfection (just like this Blue Cheese Burger recipe).
  • A fragrant bouquet of fresh herbs gets infused into simmering, rich beef broth.
  • Butter, cheese, and crusty bread are used without any manner of restraint (ahem, Air Fryer Grilled Cheese).

As magnificent as the classic is, I wanted a weeknight version of this comforting soup that was fast, easy, and (a little bit) healthy (for full-on healthy, check out my Instant Pot Carrot Soup).

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

How to Make Instant Pot French Onion Soup

Now this healthy French onion soup recipe is made using all of the same ingredients of traditional French onion soup but in lightened-up amounts.

PLUS it’s made right in the instant pot (like this Instant Pot Lentil Soup) for ease and efficiency.


The Ingredients

  • Butter. It wouldn’t be French onion soup without butter.
  • Onion. Slowly caramelized onions are what give French onion soup its depth and body.

How to Caramelize Onions Quickly

Ordinarily, caramelizing a large batch of onions takes 45 minutes or more. For me, that’s a feat that might be possible on a Sunday. On a weekday? Not gonna happen!

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.
  • You cook the rest of the soup in 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.)

  • Garlic. To amp up the aromatics.
  • Thyme + Bay Leaves. These savory herbs pair well with the sweet onions and robustly flavored beef stock (as in this Instant Pot Beef Stew).
  • Red Wine. Adds depth and subtle acidity to balance the sweetness of the onions. Choose a wine that’s good enough to drink.
  • Beef Bone Broth. Compensates for the low-butter content by lending the broth a deep, natural flavor and added richness. Added bonus: it’s packed with protein.
  • Beef Stock. Provides additional richly flavored cooking liquid for the onions and herbs to simmer in.

Dietary Note

If you want to make this Instant Pot French onion soup vegetarian, you may opt to swap the beef stock and bone broth for a high-quality vegetable stock of your choice.

  • Baguette. I recommend buying two. One for the cheesy toasted topping and a second of soaking up every last drop of the rich onion broth.
  • Gruyère. 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.)

Substitution Tip

If you can’t find Gruyère (or want a most affordable option) any fully flavored, nutty, and easy-melting cheese would be a great swap.

Try swiss, fontina, gouda, or in a pinch, sharp white cheddar.

The key is to pick something with a strong flavor so that you can use less and your soup still has tons of flavor too.

caramelized onions and a wooden spoon in an Instant Pot

The Directions

  1. Sauté the onions with the butter and herbs.
  2. Add water, cover, seal, and cook on HIGH pressure.
  3. Uncover and turn the Instant Pot back to sauté. Let simmer and reduce. Add the wine and simmer more.
  4. Add the bone broth and keep on simmering. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Toast the baguette topped with Gruyère under the broiler.
  6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with toasted cheese baguettes. ENJOY!

Tip!

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 broiler, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

Wine Pairing

A glass of good red wine is a perfect partner to French onion soup. A dry red, like Pinot Noir, complements the rich, beefy flavor of this comforting, rustic onion soup. A Merlot or Malbec would also pair nicely.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Leftover French onion soup may be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. For best results, store the soup without cheese or toasted baguettes and prepare the topping while reheating.
  • To Freeze. Instant Pot French onion soup may be stored in the freezer (without the cheese and baguette) for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before serving.
  • To Reheat. Warm the soup over the stovetop or in the microwave until steaming. Prepare freshly toasted baguettes with cheese while soup reheats.
large ramekin full of classic French onion soup topped with melted gruyere cheese, thyme, and toasted baguette croutons

What to Serve with French Onion Soup

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Instant Pot. From soups, stews, pasta, and more. You’ll love the ease and versatility the Instant Pot brings to your kitchen.
  • 12-ounce Ramekins. I love these oven-safe ones for baked soups and miniature Goat Cheese Quiche.
  • Sheet Pan. No kitchen should be without a small collection of quality aluminum sheet pans.

My Favorite Instant Pot

This 6-quart Instant Pot has a dozen cooking functions, tons of programability, cleans easily, and cooks one-pot meals much faster. I couldn’t imagine my kitchen without it!

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

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

This Instant Pot French onion soup may not be the proper “French” way, but it’s certainly a scrumptious means to enjoy a healthy, fast version of this indulgent soup.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Onion is Best for French Onion soup?

Yellow onions are the classic choice for authentic French onion soup. However, you can use a blend of sweet Vidalia onions, red onions, white onions, or even shallots if you’re into experimenting.

What is the Difference Between Onion Soup and French Onion Soup?

French onion soup is always made with beef stock. Other onion soups can be made with chicken, vegetable, or beef stock. Additionally, French Onion soup typically contains red wine or sherry, which isn’t typical or necessary in other onion soups. Last, some onion soup recipes are made with cream which is never the case with a classic French onion soup.

Can Beef or Chicken Be Added to French Onion Soup?

While it’s not traditional, you could certainly try adding chicken or beef to French onion soup. I have not personally tried it with this recipe, so it would be an experiment. One easy option would be to stir in some cooked Crock Pot Shredded Chicken right before serving.

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

Instant Pot French Onion Soup

4.93 from 26 votes
A quick and easy Instant Pot French onion soup with beef bone broth made in an electric pressure cooker. The BEST French onion soup recipe!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 1 hr 20 mins
Total: 1 hr 30 mins

Servings: 4 – 6 servings

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 cups beef bone broth or beef stock
  • 4 cups 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 or Swiss, white cheddar, fontina, and gouda, while less traditional, are also delicious

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • When you’re ready to serve, prepare the crouton topping. Preheat your oven's 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. Remove promptly. (See notes section for alternate serving method)
  • Ladle the soup into bowls, then carefully float the toasted cheese baguettes on top. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Alternate Serving Method. 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 broiler, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
  • TO STORE: Leftover French onion soup may be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. For best results, store the soup without cheese or toasted baguettes and prepare topping while reheating.
  • TO FREEZE: Instant Pot French Onion Soup may be stored in the freezer (without the cheese and baguette) for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before serving.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm the soup over the stovetop or in the microwave until steaming. Prepare freshly toasted baguettes with cheese while soup reheats.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6), including baguette and cheese toppingCalories: 328kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 19gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 36mgPotassium: 449mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 373IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 256mgIron: 2mg

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Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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73 Comments

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  1. 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?

    1. 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!

    1. Katelin, if you would like to make the recipe vegetarian, you can certainly swap vegetable stock. If you try, I hope you love it!

  2. 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. 5 stars

  3. 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!!!5 stars

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

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

  4. Super easy recipe! I had tons of liquid in the pot after the first 20 minutes, and the onions were not caramelized. Any suggestions?5 stars

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

        1. 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!

    2. Yum! I made it with vegetable stock and vegan butter because well, I’m vegan lol.  It was delicious. I also didn’t have red wine ??‍♀️ so I just used extra veg stock.  It worked out great!  I also added chopped mushrooms, mostly because I had a surplus of them to use up!  

      I topped it with vegan homemade cheese. https://thehiddenveggies.com/how-to-make-vegan-cheese-provolone/

      It was yummy!!! 5 stars

  5. 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!!!5 stars

    1. 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!

  6. 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? 4 stars

    1. 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!

  7. This was a huge hit with my family, which was an enormous accomplishment since it also was meatless. Loved it! Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

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

    1. 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!

  9. 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.5 stars

  10. 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!5 stars

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to review the soup, Allyse! I’m so happy to hear it’s a winner!

  11. 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.5 stars

    1. 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.

  12. I made this tonight! It was my first time using my new Instant Pot. This is a great recipe and it is very delicious!5 stars

    1. 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.

  13. 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.5 stars

  14. Really tasty! I had to saute low to caramelize, it was burning too quick for me even though I was standing right there. I personally would add more onions for the second cook, the ratio of broth to onion “strings” was off for me. Delicious recipe, but all your recipes are delicious.5 stars

    1. Hi Stephanie! That’s correct! It worked for me, and I think partly because the onions contain a lot of moisture too.

  15. I doubled the recipe  and it turned out wonderfully. Served it for the big game today with some smoked pork sliders. Was a big hit. Thank you!!5 stars

    1. WHOOO HOOO! CJ, soooo happy to hear you all enjoyed it. Thank you for letting me know and sharing this lovely review!

  16. Very tasty soup, great recipe. But I made one (pretty big) change : I didn’t use my instant pot! I thought it was more likely to overcook the onions that way. So I doubled the recipe and made it on the stovetop in a large pot. 
    I’ve made it 3 times now because my family loves it. I purée the leftovers and use it to make the tastiest beef stew ever (according to me and my family at least).  
    Thanks for the recipe. Love your site! 5 stars

    1. YAY! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review and your alternative cooking method! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe!

  17. OMG I’ve been having the most intense French Onion soup craving and this totally fit the bill! I was a little concerned because I ended up using about 9 onions after following the 2.5 lbs the recipe called for, but they reduced down to a normal amount and all was right with the world. I made this for lunches this week but my wife and I are about to polish this off tonight! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!5 stars

  18. Am using twice the recommended onions and am also  using both red onions and vidalia onions. Great results. One of our favs5 stars

  19. I think carmelizing in a pan works better, added sherry, a little brown sugar and more dried thyme. Turned out great !5 stars

  20. Yum! We didn’t have bayleaf or thyme, so left those out. Used 4 large onions, and 1/2 cup salted butter because yum. No red wine, so used Rose. Decided I was too lazy to saute the final mix of beef broth (no bone broth either) so put the IP on the soup function for 15 minutes and then quick release. No baguette or Gruyere, so used a sub bun and some Bothwell aged cheddar. So good, worth the scalds to my tongue, and I’m not sharing this with hubby – it’s all mine! Can’t wait to try it with a heartier bread like rye.5 stars

      1. Or sure what went wrong but my inions definitely did not caramelize. Transferred the cooked down onions to the slow cooker I hope I can get them golden and delicious.

        1. Brittany, I am sorry to hear that! Onion caramelization goes pretty slowly, so they may have just needed more time. I hope you loved the soup in the end.

  21. Onions carmelized beautifully. Had lots of liquid at the end that didn’t thicken. I even left out one container of the bone broth. Any suggestions as to how to thicken at the end?4 stars

    1. Hi Abby! 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 still able to enjoy the soup!

      1. Just made this for my dads bday dinner with the family and i have to say i added a roast cooked it in the Insta pot first then caramilzed onions in a skillet and added everything in recipe and went again in the insta pot the meat added a lot to the soup and made it even better! Very hearty for sure!!5 stars

  22. This is honestly one of the best recipes I have found on the internet. My husband and I just are half a pot for dinner and will have the rest for dinner tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!5 stars