There is nothing better than this Instant Pot French Onion Soup! It is full of earthy, nutty flavors, and perfectly caramelized onions. This French Onion soup is rich, hearty, and will rival any restaurant's version.
There is something about French Onion Soup. The rich broth, the tender sweet onions, the melted cheese--oh it is perfection!
French Onion Soup is quite simple to make, but it is a bit time consuming if you want to achieve a delicious, rich broth. That is where the Instant Pot comes in!
With the help of the Instant Pot, restaurant-quality French Onion Soup is possible at home--with very little hands-on time!
While the onions break down and release all their sweet flavor into the stock, the soup develops its classic flavor that you know and love with only 20 minutes of pressurized cook time! And then of course topped with a cheesy crostini--this Instant Pot French Onion Soup DELIVERS and satisfies your craving!
Key Ingredients Needed
- Onions: I really recommend Vidalia onions if you can find them. They are naturally sweet and have the best flavor of any onion. However, yellow onions work as well.
- Shallots: Shallots add a mild garlic flavor while enhancing the onion flavor.
- Stock: Beef broth pairs absolutely beautifully with the flavor of the onions, but feel free to use vegetable stock/broth for a Vegetarian French Onion Soup.
- Red Wine: A bit of dry wine really adds dimension to this Instant Pot French Onion Soup. Dry red wine, such as Cabernet or Merlot or a dry Sherry or Marsala wine are best in this soup. Be sure to select a wine that is suitable for drinking for the best flavor.
- Fresh Thyme: Fresh Thyme adds just the right earthy, floral note that is classic in this soup.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Use low sodium to control the sodium content, but the Worcestershire Sauce adds a great umami flavor.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar helps to bring out the caramel notes in this soup, adding to the flavor.
- Cheese: Cheese is essential for French Onion Soup. You want to select a cheese that is sharp and will cut through the rich broth and one that melts well. I use a combination of Gruyere and Parmesan, but Swiss cheese, provolone cheese, and even mozzarella cheese work.
- Bread: For the crostini made to topped this French Onion Soup, I recommend using a baguette or Italian bread.
How to Make French Onion Soup in the Instant Pot
Step One: Caramelize Onions
To caramelize onions in the Instant Pot, it does take a bit of time, but nothing like what it takes on the stove-top. You only need to saute the onions and shallots for 10-15 minutes. They will finish cooking and caramelizing in the Instant Pot.
Step Two: Prepare Soup
When pressure cooking soup of any kind, you want to be sure of three things!
- Do NOT fill the inner pot of your Instant Pot more than ⅔rd's of the way full.
- Be sure your vent knob is sealed.
- Be sure to do a natural pressure release of pressure.
For more on why you should not overfill your Instant Pot, how to ensure your vent knob is sealed, and the difference between natural pressure release and quick release (and when to use each one), read more on Instant Pot 101.
Step Three: Prepare Crostinis
When making the cheese topper for Instant Pot French Onion Soup, you have two options.
- Broil the cheese topper on its own and use it to top each bowl of soup.
- Ladle the soup into the bowls, top with bread and cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. By preparing the crostini separately you don't have to worry about your bowls being hot and the bread will not soak up as much soup, keep the crostini a bit crispier. By placing the bread and cheese directly in the soup bowls and broiling until melted, the bread soaks up the soup and is easier to break through when eating. This method is the way most restaurants prepare French Onion Soup and is my personal preference as well. Just be sure to use oven-safe bowls and be CAREFUL when handling--the bowls will be EXTREMELY hot. I do not recommend this method when serving children.
More Restaurant Inspired Recipes
Instant Pot French Onion Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups thinly sliced Vidalia Onions
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- salt to taste
- 8 slices Italian or French Bread cut into 1 inch slices
- ½ cup Gruyere Cheese shredded
- ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese grated
For Instant Pot French Onion Soup
- Turn Instant Pot to saute and allow to heat. Be sure it on normal heat. Use +/- buttons to adjust.
- Once the Instant Pot has heated, add in the olive oil, onions, and shallots.
- Allow the onions to break down and begin to caramelize, stirring occasionally. This takes about 10 minutes.
- Add in the butter and fresh thyme leaves and saute for another minute or two.
- Add in the red wine (if using) and allow to saute for 1-2 minutes, while stirring. Turn the Instant Pot OFF.
- Add in the beef stock and scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of Instant Pot.
- Stir in bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and brown sugar.
- Place lid on pressure cooker and be sure vent knob is sealed. Set cook time for 20 minutes on high pressure.
- Once cook time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally. This takes about 15 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and ladle into bowl.
For Crostini Topper
- Preheat broiler. Place sliced bread on baking sheet and top evenly with shredded cheese. Broil until cheese has melted--watch carefully! Ladle the soup into bowls and top with crostini.
- Alternatively, ladle soup into oven safe serving bowls and place on baking sheet. Top with a slice of bread and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Place baking sheet in oven and broil until cheese has melted and browned. Watch carefully so bread does not burn. Be careful serving, as the bowl will be hot.
- Vidalia onions are best for French Onion soup, as they are perfectly sweet and caramelize perfectly. However, yellow onions will work as well.
- Be sure to use a dry red wine, such as Cabernet or Merlot. A dry sherry wine or dry marsala wine can be used in place of the red wine as well. To omit alcohol, use stock in place of the wine.
- Fresh thyme is best, but you can use ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves if needed.
- For stock, low-sodium beef stock adds the most classic flavor to this French Onion Soup. However, vegetable or mushroom stock can be used to make this soup vegetarian.
- Gruyere Cheese, Swiss Cheese or even sliced provolone cheese can be used for the crostinis.
- Stock and Worcestershire sauce are both salty, so I recommend adding salt to taste after the French Onion Soup has cooked.