Instant Pot French Onion Soup comes together with minimal effort to result in a rich, hearty, restaurant-quality French Onion Soup that is nuanced in flavor. Topped with crusty bread and a thick layer of gooey cheese, this Instant Pot French Onion Soup recipe delivers amazing results.
And while French Onion Soup is quite simple to make, it can be quite time-consuming to make. Unless of course, you use your Instant Pot.
Reasons to Love Instant Pot French Onion Soup
- Restuarant-Quality Flavor. Instant Pot French Onion Soup is full of earthy, nutty flavors, and perfectly caramelized onions, just like you would expect from a French Restaurant.
- Made Faster. With the help of the Instant Pot, you need very little hands-on time compared to the classic stove-top recipe to make a rich and nuanced French Onion Soup.
- Two Easy Options for the Classic Cheese Topper. French Onion Soup is NOT French Onion Soup without the classic bread and cheese topper. I have provided directions for the classic version and an easier version (that still yields the same cheesy goodness!)
- Suitable as an Appetizer or Entree. This Instant Pot French Onion Soup makes a delicious appetizer to serve with entrees such as New York Strip Roast, Ribeye Steak, or Chicken Marsala. But this soup is rich and hearty enough to stand as a meal on its own, especially when paired with a side salad, like Copycat Panera Greek Salad.
Notes on Ingredients Needed
- Onions: For the classic sweet flavor French Onion Soup is known for, use Vidalia onions if you can find them. They are naturally sweet and lend the best flavor to this soup. However, yellow onions or another variety of sweet onions will work as well.
- Shallots: Shallots add a mild garlic flavor while enhancing the onion flavor.
- Stock: Beef broth pairs beautifully with the flavor of the onions and is classically used in French Onion Soup.
- Red Wine: A bit of dry wine adds dimension to this Instant Pot French Onion Soup. I recommend using a dry red wine that is suitable for drinking, such as Cabernet, Merlot, dry Sherry, or Marsala wine, for this recipe.
- 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 top this French Onion Soup, I recommend using a baguette or Italian bread.
- Vegetarian Option: Replace the beef broth with good quality store-bought or homemade vegetable broth.
- Alcohol-Free. If you don't care to cook with alcohol, replace the red wine with additional beef broth.
How to Make French Onion Soup in the Instant Pot
While this is an incredibly simple recipe, if you are unfamiliar with cooking in an Instant Pot or the functions of your Instant Pot, be sure to start with How to Use an Instant Pot for the best results on this and future recipes. You will find the full recipe in detail in the recipe card below.
Step One: Saute the Onions and Shallots. Sauteeing the onions and shallots in olive oil is the step that will require the most amount of hands-on prep time, as we want to give the onions enough time to fully soften and caramelize. You don't have to stir constantly, but I would give your onions and shallots a stir every 45 to 60 seconds. Once golden, add the butter, along with fresh thyme, during the last few minutes of the sauteeing process. This will help prevent the butter from burning.
Step Two: Deglaze with Wine. Whenever you saute anything in the instant pot, it is crucial to remove any browned bits off the bottom of the inner pot before pressure cooking. This is crucial for preventing a burn notice. For this recipe, add in the wine (or additional beef broth), use a wooden spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot, and allow the wine to simmer and reduce for 1-2 minutes.
Step Three: Layer Ingredients. Turn the Instant Pot OFF from the Saute function. Add in the beef stock, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and brown sugar, and give a good stir to incorporate everything.
Step Five: Pressure Cook. Cook the French Onion Soup for 20 minutes on high pressure. Once the cooking time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally, for at least 15 minutes.
Step Six: Prepare the Cheese Topper. While the pressure is releasing on the Instant Pot, use that time to prepare the cheese topper. You have two options:
- Toast sliced bread under the broiler. Top with shredded cheese and return to the broiler to melt the cheese. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a slice of cheese-topped bread. If you want softer bread, don't toast the bread before adding the cheese.
- Ladle the soup into oven-safe bowls, top with a slice of bread, cover the bread with shredded cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted.
Step Seven: Serve. Remove the bay leaves and serve with the cheese crostini.
- To Store: French Onion Soup can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. For best results, store the soup before topping it with bread and cheese.
- To Freeze: Without the cheese and bread, French Onion Soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Transfer the cooled soup to a freezer-safe container, leaving 1-2 inches of room for expansion, and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
- To Reheat: Warm the soup in heat-safe bowls in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Alternatively for multiple servings, warm the soup in a saucepan over medium-high heat until warmed through. Broil the bread and cheese as directed. Then top the soup with the crostini immediately before serving.
More Instant Pot Soup Recipes
- Instant Pot Potato Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Orzo Soup
- Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Instant Pot Lasagna Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
- Instant Pot Minestrone Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
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If you enjoyed this recipe for Instant Pot French Onion Soup, I would love for you to leave a comment and rating below.
Instant Pot French Onion Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups thinly sliced Vidalia Onions
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ cup dry red wine or additional beef stock
- 4 cups low-sodium beef stock
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 dried 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 the Instant Pot to saute, being sure is on normal heat. Use the +/- buttons to adjust if needed. Add in the oil and let heat briefly. Once heated, add in the onions, and shallots and saute until the onions 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 (or additional beef broth), and allow to saute for 1-2 minutes, while stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the inner pot. After two minutes, turn the Instant Pot OFF by hitting cancel.
- Add in the beef stock, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and brown sugar.
- Place the lid on the pressure cooker and be sure the vent knob is sealed. Set the cook time for 20 minutes on high pressure by hitting the manual or pressure cook button and using the +/- buttons to adjust the cooking time. Once the cooking time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally for at least 15 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and ladle the soup into serving bowls to be topped with the cheese topper.
For Crostini Topper
- Preheat the broiler. Place sliced bread on a baking sheet and broil for 2-3 minutes per side until the bread is just toasted. Remove from the oven and top each slice of bread 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 a baking sheet. Top with a slice of bread and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Place baking sheet in the oven and broil until cheese has melted and browned. Watch carefully so the bread does not burn. Be careful serving, as the bowl will be hot.