Instant Pot French Onion Soup

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This recipe for Instant Pot French Onion Soup with buttery caramelized onions in a rich beef broth is the easiest way to make this classic dish. 

A finished serving of Instant Pot French Onion soup, with browned bread and melted cheese on top of a rich brown french onion soup., served in a white ramekin with a second bowl in the background

French Onion Soup is the perfect balance of comforting and creamy without being too heavy.

This Instant Pot version is adapted from the Creamy Swiss Onion Soup in my Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook, updated with air fryer lid directions! 

It’s just as full of deep caramelized flavor as the stovetop version, in a fraction of the time. Garlic, thyme, and beef broth build rich and savory flavors in the soup. And of course, we top off each bowl with a slice of crusty bread and melty gruyere cheese. 

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How to Make Instant Pot French Onion Soup

This French Onion Soup recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

While most recipes for French Onion Soup call for an hour of caramelizing a pile of onions, you only need to sauté your onions for about 20 minutes in this pressure cooker recipe. 

An overhead shot looking into an Instant Pot cooking pot, filled with french onion soup, with a silver ladle taking a spoonful out, with lots of thin onion strips visible

Once your onions are nice and soft, a small amount of honey helps bring out the natural sugars in the onions. You won’t taste the honey in the finished soup. 

The other all-important ingredients to build flavor in this onion soup are red wine (to deglaze the pot), fresh garlic, dried thyme, and beef broth. 

TIP: I recommend using low-sodium broth so you can control the saltiness of your soup. 

A silver ladle pouring rich brown French onion soup into a white ramekin, set on top of a wooden paddle with a silver spoon and gray napkin in the background

Serving French Onion Soup from the Instant Pot

The signature of delicious French Onion Soup is, of course, a lid of toasted bread and gooey melted cheese. You can accomplish this with your oven or an air fryer lid if you have one. 

To use your oven, divide the soup between oven-safe crocks or bowls. Place a slice or two of baguette on top of each bowl and pile on the shredded gruyere. 

Place the bowls on a baking sheet under the broiler (2 to 3 inches below the heating element). Keep a close eye on them in the oven, as boilers can work faster than you expect. The cheese should be melted and bubbling in about 3 minutes. 

overhead shot of the Mealthy CrispLid in use. with a glowing orange light from the heating element visable.

If you have an air fryer lid for your Instant Pot, you can toast up the bread and melt the cheese right in your pressure cooker!

After cooking the soup, transfer to another container. Then rinse and dry the cooking pot. (If you have the space for it, I love having a spare second cooking pot.) 

First, grease the air fryer basket and place the bread slices inside. Cover the bread with cheese and air fry at 375°F for about 3 minutes, until you have golden, melted cheese. Then simply place a piece of cheesy bread on top of each hot bowl of soup and dig in!

A finished serving of Instant Pot French Onion soup, with browned bread and melted cheese on top of a rich brown french onion soup., served in a white ramekin with a second bowl in the background

Storage Suggestions

You can store leftover soup (without the bread or cheese topping) in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

Reheat it in the Instant Pot or microwave and top with bread and melted cheese right before serving. 

More Comforting Instant Pot Soup Recipes

If you’re on a soup kick, give these other pressure cooker soup recipes a try next:

  • Ribollita uses a crusty bread as a thickener—it breaks down to give the soup a creamy consistency even though it doesn’t use a drop of cream! 
  • Fresh Corn Chowder is naturally sweet, bright, and full of creamy potatoes and smoky bacon—perfect for warm-weather eating. 
  • Spicy Chicken Soup is a delicious dump-and-go recipe with chicken, black beans, tomatoes, and salsa.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup is a classic soup that is perfect anytime—plus you can use cooked or uncooked chicken to make cooking easier.
  • Harira Soup from Two Sleevers is a spiced Moroccan stew with lentils and a creamy broth for chilly nights. 
An overhead shot of pressure cooker French Onion Soup dished up in a white ramekin with lots of browned bread and cheese on top, with additional slices of bread, parsley, and an INstant Pot in the background

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A finished serving of Instant Pot French Onion soup, with browned bread and melted cheese on top of a rich brown french onion soup., served in a white ramekin with a second bowl in the background
Yield: 4 Servings

Instant Pot French Onion Soup

Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour

Instant Pot French Onion Soup is creamy, rich, and flavorful thanks to quick-caramelized onions, beef broth, dried thyme, and red wine. 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (such as zinfandel)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 4 to 8 baguette slices

Instructions

  1. Select Sauté and preheat the pressure cooking pot. When hot, add the butter to the pressure cooking pot. When the butter melts, add the onions. Sauté for about 3 minutes until onions start to soften, stirring frequently to break apart the onion layers.  (The onions will release enough liquid to come to pressure. No additional liquid is necessary.)
  2. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 5 minutes cook time. When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Use a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. 
  3. Select Sauté, add honey, and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the onions caramelize about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot. 
  5. Stir in the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. 
  6. Stir in the beef broth. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 5 minutes cook time.
  7. When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Use a natural release for 10 minutes and then quick pressure release remaining pressure. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. 
  8. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  9. Ladle soup into individual bowls.
  10. Oven Method (for use with oven-safe bowls only): Place 1 or 2 baguette slices on top of soup and top with cheese. Place bowls on a large baking sheet. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned, about 3 minutes.
  11. Air Fryer Lid: Line air fryer basket with parchment or spray with nonstick spray. Place baguette slices flat-side-up in the air fryer basket, and top with cheese. Bake at 375°F until bread is toasted and cheese is melted and browned, about 3 minutes. Place toasted bread on top of soup in individual bowls.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 767Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 2102mgCarbohydrates: 105gFiber: 5gSugar: 14gProtein: 33g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.

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