This instant pot french onion soup features perfectly caramelized onions in a rich, dark broth topped with a toasted baguette and hot and bubbly Gruyere cheese.
Be sure to try my French Onion Smothered Pork Chops recipe next!
Of all of the recipes I’ve set out to make in the instant pot, I was by far the most skeptical of this one. I am one stubborn French Onion Soup maker and I was sure that my little instant pot couldn’t possibly know how to caramelize onions better than the low and slow method that I use when I make this recipe on the stovetop.
Welp, don’t I feel stupid. The instant pot did the damn thang. Now let’s talk about exactly why that is.
Caramelizing occurs as water is removed from the onions and the sugars are broken down. The Instant Pot is able to do this quite well by using steam to pressure cook them. This simply expedites the breakdown process and allows the onions to caramelize more quickly.
So, it turns out that this was quite possibly the best batch of French Onion soup I’ve ever had. Once again, I owe a big thank you to my magical silver bucket known as the instant pot. I’m sorry that I ever doubted you.
Using Homemade Chicken Stock
Whenever you make homemade soup, I highly suggest using homemade chicken stock. I promise, your cooking will taste ten times better.
Remember that you can always freeze leftover chicken carcass/meat and make chicken stock on a day when you have time! No defrosting necessary!
What Size Instant Pot did I use?
-I used my trusty 6-quart Instant Pot for this recipe, which is what I recommend for most families, and is what most Instant Pot recipes are based on. It can cook enough food for a family of four and won’t take as long to come to pressure as an 8 quart will.
Best Cheese for French Onion Soup
Gruyere cheese, though pricey, is the absolute best for French Onion Soup. Other more affordable options include Swiss and Provolone, or a combination of the two.
Try These Next!
- Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
- Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- More Instant Pot Recipes
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Instant Pot French Onion Soup
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 4 large yellow onions, finely sliced
- 2 large sweet onions, finely sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 Bay leaves
- ¾ cup dry white wine, I used Chardonnay
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1.5 cups chicken broth
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 loaf French Bread
- 6 slices Gruyere cheese*
- Press the sauté button on your instant pot. Wait until "hot" is displayed, then add the butter. (Waiting until it's hot prevents smoking.)
- Once melted, add the onions, thyme, and bay leaves. Use a large silicone spatula and stir occasionally, allowing the butter to coat the onions. Do this for about 5 minutes, the onions will start to soften and release liquid.
- Add three Tablespoons of water to the instant pot, cover, and hit the “pressure cook” button. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Hit the quick release valve to release the pressure.
- Remove the lid and press the sauté button again. Let it cook for 5 more minutes to release some of the liquid, then add the wine and let it simmer for an additional 20 minutes to let the wine cook out and allow the onions to fully caramelize.
- Remove the bay leaves and the thyme stems.
- Pour in the beef and chicken broth. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes while you prepare the baguettes.
Preparing the baguettes:
- Thickly slice the French bread diagonally, in roughly the size as the serving bowls you’ll be using. Brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, until the top begins to turn brown and the bread is nice and firm. Watch them carefully to ensure they don’t burn.
Serving the soup:
- Set the oven temp to a broil.
- Fill oven-safe bowls with the soup and top each with a baguette and a thick slice of gruyere cheese. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the top is a golden-brown and bubbly. Carefully remove, top with additional fresh thyme, and serve.
- If you don’t have oven-safe bowls, you can melt the cheese on the baguettes in the oven and then place the cheesy bread on top of the filled-soup bowls.
I’m at the end of the recipe. Done simmering. It’s not salty or flavorful enough. The onions are soft but I don’t think they ever caramelized. I added some better than bouillon and it’s improved some. Should I add more of that or some straight up salt? If I keep simmering will they caramelize more? Should I put the lid back on and hit the soup button or the keep warm button? Or leave the lid off and keep simmering? Not eating for several more hours so I was going to keep it warm anyway.
Hi Julie! The onions should have sufficiently caramelized after softening for 5, pressure cooking for 20, and and then cooking for 25 more minutes after that. If you’ve already added the liquid, you won’t be able to caramelize the onions much further but what I would do is leave the lid off and continue to simmer so that the broth reduces and concentrates. After letting it simmer for awhile, taste, and add more better than bouillon if you prefer more salt and depth of flavor.
I tried the Instapot version. It takes alot of steps, as does most French Cuisine recipes, but it’s worth the time. Easy yo follow and makes a good soup. One suggestion,…If you are watching salt intake I would use a low sodium broth. Otherwise…Perfect!
I’m so happy you enjoyed this one Cathy, thanks so much for taking the time to comment!😃
Which setting do I use for summer? Is the lid on during this time? Thanks!
Is this the step you’re wondering about? The lid is removed and the setting is sauté: “Remove the lid and press the sauté button again. Let it cook for 5 more minutes to release some of the liquid, then add the wine and let it simmer for an additional 20 minutes to let the wine cook out and allow the onions to fully caramelize.”
Yes, that is was my question. I wanted to confirm which setting to use for simmer. The soup was still boiling on the sauté setting. I ended up using the keep warm setting with the lid off. Thank you!
Happy to hear it worked out!
Great flavor. Made it for dinner tonight and my husband and I both enjoyed it very much.
That’s so great to hear Nancy!😍 I love French Onion Soup😋 Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!
Do you really just put in 3 tbsp of water before pressure cooking? It doesn’t need more liquid than that? If yes, would you recommend doubling that for an 8qt instant pot?
Hi Bridget! Yes, just 3 TBS of water is what you’ll want to add, that’s it! Enjoy! 🙂
This was delicious! And your directions were perfect! I tweaked it to be gluten-free and dairy free by substituting the butter and cheese with vegan alternatives and the bread for a homemade gluten-free and dairy free French bread. Seriously made my week! My husband said it’s the best French onion soup he’s ever had. Thank you so much!
Yayyyy, I’m so happy to hear that Kayla!😃 It’s great you were able to make it gluten-free. I absolutely love French Onion soup. Whenever my father in law comes to visit I try to whip up a batch for him. It’s his favorite!😋
If I double the recipe will it still fit in the 6qt instant pot?
The capacity of a 6 quart is 4 quarts or 16 cups, and the liquid in this recipe is 12.5 cups, not counting the butter and onions. I think it might be cutting it a tad close but I haven’t tried it myself. You’d want to make sure it doesn’t exceed the max line inside of the Instant Pot.
I used 2 large Walla Walla onions and 4 large yellow onions, which barely fit my 6-quart Instant Pot Lux. (I had to cook about ⅔ of them down a bit and then add the rest.) My husband even commented, “That’s a LOT of onions!” I live in Alaska, so maybe I have a warped sense of what a large onion is (we grow things big up here). The Walla Wallas were about 5”-6” in diameter, and the yellow onions were about 4” in diameter.
I followed the recipe to a T and after 20 minutes of pressure cooking, the pot was about ⅔ full of liquid and onions. I added the wine and set the pot to Sauté, and after 30 minutes of rolling boil, the onions were still very white, and the liquid had only redued by about ⅓. After another 10 minutes, I was afraid of it burning, so I turned it down to low ( I think… I turned the IP off, set it to Sauté again, and then when it said “Hot”, I pressed “Adjust” and then “Less”), but that was too low, and it stopped even simmering.
I put it back on “normal” again, and after about 40 minutes, the onions were really sweet, but still only a pale blonde color. I added the four, and then the broths and continued to bubble on “normal”.
Over all it was good, but not great. It was really sweet, and not as savory as most onion soups. Maybe too many onions to the other ingredients?
I’m willing to try it again, but would like your input.
Hi Gina. Wow! Those are absolutely huge, massive, walla walla onions, which is why your Instant Pot could barely hold them, (I didn’t have any issues with them fitting), and also accounts for the sweeter taste, those definitely have a sweet taste. I would only use one of those next time, and maybe three of the yellow onions of the same size. I also have a stove top version of this recipe if you care to try that. Same ingredients but you may have an easier time fitting all of the onions. Best of luck!! 🙂
Thank you so much for your reply! I will definitely give this another try with less onions!