French onion soup is one of those dishes that you order at a restaurant but never really get the chance to enjoy at home because of how complicated it is.
Well, thanks to the innovation of the Instant Pot, you don’t have to worry any longer – making this French onion soup is as easy as following the steps and giving the onions the time they need to caramelize.
Instant Pot French Onion Soup
The trick with any good French onion soup is in making sure the onions caramelize correctly. However, you also need to carefully regulate both the temperature and the time that all your ingredients cook together.
The Instant Pot takes at least some of this challenge out of the picture, thanks to the fact that it cooks everything insanely quickly after you have properly caramelized the onions.
This recipe doesn’t just stop with cooking the soup, though – we’ll also tell you how to get that classic, signature French onion soup look and smell with the cheesy, bubbly, crusty bread on top.
Instant Pot French Onion Soup Ingredients
Keep the recipe card at the bottom handy so that you get the exact amounts needed for this recipe.
- Brown sugar
- Onions (white or yellow)
- Strong beef broth
- Cooking sherry
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt & pepper
- Beef bouillon granules or cubes
- Bay leaf
- French baguette
- Gruyere cheese
How to Make Instant Pot French Onion Soup
- Peel and cut the onions, slicing them into halved onion circles
- Set your instant pot to sauté
- Melt the butter in the Instant Pot
- Add in the sliced onions and brown sugar
- Cook the onions, stirring every 2 minutes until they have browned and caramelized. This will take at least 30 minutes
- Once cooked, pour in the beef broth slowly, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon
- Add the rest of the beef broth and the cooking sherry, along with the Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Add more beef broth to make a thinner consistency
- Taste test, and add beef bouillon granules/cubes and the bay leaf
- Put the lid on the pot and turn the valve to seal
- Press the soup button, cook for 5 minutes and then let the pressure naturally release
- Spoon the soup into small ramekins or any oven-safe bowl, leaving a small bit of space at the top
- Top the soup with the toasted baguette slices
- Top that with shredded Gruyere
- Place the ramekins or bowls on a baking sheet and broil in the oven for 3 minutes, pulling them out when the cheese starts to brown
- Cool for 5 minutes, and then enjoy
How to Make Sure Your Onions Get Caramelized
The main reason why so many people avoid even attempting a French Onion soup is because of the difficulty in trying to make sure your onions get properly caramelized. While the rest of the recipe is pretty simple, if you skimp on getting your onions caramelized, then you won’t ever reach the heights of pure flavor that French onion soup can bring.
However, thanks to a couple of cheats, this recipe makes it easy. Not only does the Instant Pot help to brown it easily, but the addition of a little bit of brown sugar helps way more than you would think. The sugar helps kick start the caramelization process, as well as helping to draw the water out of the onions and encourage faster browning and eventual caramelization.
How to Properly Brown Your French Onion Soup
The final and perhaps most important step to any French Onion soup is to make sure the top is crispy and bubbly with melted cheese.
The trick is to make sure you leave enough room at the top of the ramekin you are using for the bread. Then, you need to coat the entire surface of the bread with melted cheese – it is no good just sprinkling on a thin layer.
You need to absolutely coat the top of the bread in a sea of cheese and then brown it under a broiler gently. This is best done with the baking sheet on the middle rack, giving a bit of space between the top of the ramekin and the broiler.
This is how you end up with bubbling, brown cheese on top of crispy, toasted bread and a really great bowl of French onion soup.
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Instant Pot French Onion Soup
- Prep Time
- 20 minutes
- Appetizer, Soup
- Karlynn Johnston
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 10 cups yellow onions, peeled and sliced in circles around 3 pounds of onions
- 5-6 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons cooking sherry to taste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon thyme
- salt if needed taste first!
- beef bouillon granules or cubes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 French Baguette sliced and toasted
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- Peel your onions, then slice off the ends of each onion and continue slicing so onions are in circles about 1/3 inch wide.
- Cut the onion circles in half. I like to leave mine in larger pieces and have longer, thinner onions in my soup.
- Set your instant pot to sauté.
- Place the butter into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Add the sliced onions and the brown sugar.
- Cook the onions, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until they have browned and caramelized. The brown sugar will help with this step! This can take a solid 45-60 minutes. Make sure to scrape all of the browned bits off the bottom of the Instant Pot when they appear and stir them back into the onion mixture.
- If anything starts to burn, add a tablespoon of water quickly and keep cooking. Make sure to scrape all of the browned bits off the bottom of the Instant Pot when they appear and stir them back into the onion mixture.
- When the onions are done, slowly pour 1/2 cup of the beef broth into the bottom of the pot. Deglaze the bottom by scraping the browned bits off the bottom using a wooden spoon.
- Add in the remaining beef broth. the cooking sherry to taste, the Worcestershire to taste, pepper, and thyme. Depending on how thick you like your soup, you can add more beef stock to the pot. I like mine restaurant-style, so there's lots of onions and just enough broth to make it a soup.
- Taste test and add beef bouillon granules if desired. French onion soup should have an extraordinarily strong beef stock, and you can adjust this to your liking at this point. If desired, add salt at this point, but you rarely need it if you have a proper beef stock.
- Add the bay leaf.
- Place the Instant Pot lid on the pot and turn the valve to sealing.
- Press the soup button and set the time for 10 minutes.
- Once the time is up, let the Instant pot naturally release.
- At this point skim any foam off the top of the soup, do NOT mix it in! Then remove the bay leaf.
- Spoon the soup into ramekins or your favorite oven safe soup bowls leaving at least one inch to the top edge.
- Place 1-2 slices of the toasted baguette onto the soup.
- Top the baguette with the shredded Gruyere.
- Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil in the oven, with the oven rack set in the middle position, for about 3 minutes. Watch for the cheese to start to melt then brown, then remove from the oven.
- Let the soup and the soup bowls cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.