French Onion Soup Recipe (2024)

By Sara Bonisteel

Updated Feb. 28, 2024

French Onion Soup Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour 30 minutes
Read community notes

In 1954, what was then called the Food News Department of The New York Times released a pamphlet simply called “Soups,” which had 20 recipes for soups “thick and thin, hot and cold,” including those for minestrone, shrimp bisque and this French onion soup. We’ve updated the recipe adding sherry and wine to layer in more flavors. The bulk of the time is spent on caramelizing the onions, a process that always takes longer than it seems it should. But it’s worth the wait.

Learn: How to Make Soup

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • 3tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 to 4large red or yellow onions (about 3 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2quarts beef stock (8 cups)
  • 1cup dry white wine
  • 1tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 8 to 12(½-inch) slices French bread (from 1 loaf)
  • cups grated Gruyère cheese

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

397 calories; 17 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 12 grams sugars; 20 grams protein; 1216 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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French Onion Soup Recipe (2)


Make the recipe with us

  1. Step


    Melt butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt, stir and cover, letting onions soften for 5 minutes. Remove lid and let onions caramelize until golden brown over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust heat if onions are browning too quickly. The caramelization process may take 45 to 60 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, warm broth in a saucepan over low heat.

  3. Step


    Once onions are caramelized, add wine and sherry to the pot and allow mixture to come to boil. Stir in flour and let thicken for a minute or two.

  4. Step


    Slowly add warm broth, ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper to the onion mixture and boil uncovered for 10 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Step


    Heat the broiler, and arrange individual ovenproof casseroles on a baking sheet. Ladle soup into casseroles, and cover top with bread slices. Sprinkle each casserole generously with Gruyère.

  6. Step


    Broil for a minute or two, watching carefully, until cheese melts and browns. Serve immediately.


  • You can prepare the soup through step 4 up to 2 months in advance. Thaw and reheat, then top with the bread and cheese and broil to serve.



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Cooking Notes


Simplify by making overnight caramelized onions. Fill slow cooker with 4-5 lbs sliced onions, pour 1/3 cup olive over the onions & mix well. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH for 7-9 hours. Yes it does indeed needs to be High. I had my doubts at first, but I've done this probably at least 20 times and the onions cook way down & caramelize beautifully. I haven't tried this yet with my new multi-cooker but plan to try that next using slow cooker function.


1 Tbsp of Sherry is a very small amount, it won't add any significant flavour. Also, if Sherry boils for a long time, it completely loses its aroma. I suggest adding 2 tbsp on each individual soup dish just before broiling (that's the way people have fancy consomme in Madrid).


When I make French Onion Soup, I cut the bread into crouton sized pieces and then brown them in butter in a large skillet on the stove. I use them in place of the toasted bread. It makes the soup easier to eat--no cutting through hard French bread crusts with a spoon--and I really like the extra flavor imparted by the croutons. And, I save some croutons for the leftover soup.


Great and easy recipe. I suggest doubling the onions and mixing in some leeks. Also, since I don't have oven proof casseroles, I toasted the bread with the cheese on top (in toaster oven), and served on regular soup bowls.


I used vegetable stock plus a little soy sauce and a little bit of Worcestershire sauce instead of the beef broth to make it vegetarian. It was amazing! Thank you for the wonderful recipe.


Toast bread first.


If you have it, use bacon fat rather than butter to carmelize the onions. Makes a huge flavor difference.


This soup is marvelous, and perfect for a chilly day. I followed the recipe faithfully and used homemade beef stock. The hardest part for me was slicing those onions. My eyes were tearing so much, I had to put on a scuba mask to finish this step.


Great flavor but I’d say to double the onions.


Loved this recipe. Finally somebody admits how long it takes to actually caramelize onions! The flavor is wonderful. I did cut the amount of beef broth to 6 Cups, because I agree with other cooks, there were just not enough onions to sustain 8 cups of broth. Next time I will double the onions.


Several folks thought the amount of onions called for was insufficient. Note it says “ 3 or 4 large onions ( about 3lbs.). My onions were a little larger then a baseball and it took 9 to yield 3 lbs.


Delish and relatively easy. I took the advise of some posters here and added an onion and a leek. I also added a couple tablespoons of brandy with the wine and sherry, and some thyme with the stock. After all the stock was in, I let the soup reduce for 30 min. Oh, and I toasted the bread with butter under the broiler before adding to the soup. YUM!


Don't get super hung up on the quantities in recipes. Treat it as more of a basic guideline with orderly steps. It's cooking, not science. This is a really good recipe for this soup. I just used the ingredients listed here in varying quantities and it was fantastic. I really, really, REALLY suggest making your own beef (or other) broth for this. Harris Teeter sells 2 lb. bags of beef bones. I used two bags, boil/rinse, roast, boil/simmer with shallots, garlic, thyme for 5 hours. Fantastic.

Lori B

Broth and stock are used interchangeably in this recipe; they are not the same. Broth is made with vegetables, stock is made with just bones. I think the latter would be best here.

Lisa Kav

French onion soup is heavily dependent on using good broth. Do yourself a favor and make it. Great recipe.

Tim V.

This was a very good recipe! I took advice from the other reviews and added a little sherry to the ramequin before putting the soup into the broiler. I also added a few dashes of Worcestershire and fish sauce, which added more depth in flavor. I would also recommend to broil a slice of cheese on top of the soup prior to added the bread. The bread works best if you toast it in advance.


I have used this recipe for many many years. I have done little variations over the years that work for me. It takes longer, but I do like this one. I use 2 quarts of beef stock, 1 quart of chicken stock, 1 tsp of BTB and simmer to reduce by 1/3 giving me 2 quarts of liquid. The rest of the recipe is the same with the addition of 1Tbsp good sherry vinegar toward the end of cooking. My recipe takes longer, but I believe that quality takes time and good soups have many flavors to marry.


I have made this soup (from a similar recipe) with homemade beef broth from prime rib bones, and with boxed commercial broth. It is not worth making with boxed broth, in my view. But with rich homemade broth, well worth the time. And I know some caramelize onions in a slow cooker.


This is basically the Julia Child recipe from her big white cookbook. I’ve been making this for years. It’s our traditional Christmas Eve dinner.


I live in France. When we make this (it’s a go-to when we don’t have a lot of groceries in the house), we toast the bread in a toaster and break it up into pieces in the bowl and then add the cheese. Then pour the soup over it. It’s easier to eat and make and tastes good. In a restaurant you’ll get it with the broiler method.


Took another commenter’s advice to tear the bread into croutons and toast them in butter first, which was perfect. Also added a pinch more salt and doubled the sherry. Great, classic soupe à l’oignon.


I have made this soup many times. I follow the recipe as is, and the result is marvelous. The important thing to bring to this recipe is patience - it takes a long time to caramelize the onions. Rushing that process results in either burned onions or under done onions. BTW, I’ve used homemade stock and store bought stock, and I can’t really tell the difference. So, if you only have time for store bought stock, don’t fret; the end result will be wonderful.

Jaye C

French onion soup doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, but this is by far my favorite French onion soup recipe ever. Don’t change anything! Perfect as is!

Jaye C

French onion soup doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, but this is by far my most favorite recipe that I’ve ever tried. Don’t change anything! Perfect as is.


This recipe is fabulous, and so easy. I measured the onions as I sliced, and three pounds was perfect. Doing the bread and cheese in the toaster oven means the soup isn’t too hot to eat right away.


Outstanding! Took me back 50 years to my first meal in Paris as an exchange student. Only changed I made was to rub a slice of sourdough toast with garlic, top with cheese, and put in the bottom of the soup bowl (per Jacques Pepin); then added the soup, topped with more cheese, and baked in the air fryer at 375 for 15 minutes. The toast at the bottom thickens the soup wonderfully for a hearty gourmet meal. Definitely use good (preferably homemade) stock and quality cheese.


Oh my goodness, this rivals any restaurant French onion soup. I think homemade beef broth is a must, which is a 2-day project and a fair financial investment (gone are the days when you could get free soup bones from the butcher). I did use 6 cups broth instead of 8, which many posters suggested. I do not have broiler-safe bowls so I made large croutons from a baguette, grated some Gruyère over them and broiled until the cheese melted, then transferred them to the soup bowls. A memorable meal.


Made this with homemade beef bone broth and only white wine (no sherry). Used a mix of Parmesan and Gruyère and cut toasted baguette into hearts. My honey and I were transported to Paris!

kathy Flores

towards the end add a little sugar to the onions to help carmelize them

Craig Burdick

Be patient with the onions. The soup rivals anything at a steakhouse.

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French Onion Soup Recipe (2024)


How do you deepen the flavor of French onion soup? ›

My personal go-tos include worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, and brandy. Each deepens the flavor of french onion soup. Balsamic vinegar and soy sauce are other great options.

What broth is French onion soup made of? ›

This soup traditionally is made with beef stock, though sometimes a good beef stock can be hard to come by and expensive to make. If you use boxed stock, taste it first! If you don't like the taste, don't use it. (If you cook a lot of beef or beef roasts, save the scraps and freeze them to make a stock with later.)

What is the difference between French onion soup and regular onion soup? ›

What is the Difference Between Onion Soup and French Onion Soup? French onion soup is always made with beef stock. Other onion soups can be made with chicken, vegetable, or beef stock. Additionally, French onion soup typically contains wine or sherry, which isn't typical or necessary in other onion soups.

Should onions be caramelized for French onion soup? ›

Caramelizing the onions slowly in butter until they're rich golden brown (but not so dark as to taste bitter) produces the sweetest, most flavorful results. If you don't have homemade beef stock, the recipe's suggested homemade or store-bought chicken stock substitutions are better than most store-bought beef stock.

Why do you put baking soda in French onion soup? ›

The caramelized onions for this soup cook more quickly due to a pinch of baking soda but still have that deep, slow-cooked flavor. Topping the soup with hot, cheesy toasts prepared while the soup simmers, eliminates the need to bake the soup in specialty French onion soup bowls.

Why do you add flour to French onion soup? ›

Onion soup, at its very essence, is nothing more than onions and water boiled together. Period, done, finished, everything added from that point on is pure opinion. Caramelizing the onions brings out sugars, and makes a more luxurious silky and sweet soup, adding flour gently thickens and provides body.

Does it matter how you cut onions for French onion soup? ›

For French onion soup, it is best to slice the onions into thin, even slices. This will allow them to cook evenly and caramelize properly. You can achieve this by cutting the onion in half, placing the flat side down, and slicing it widthwise into thin slices.

Is French onion soup good for you? ›

Well, you'll be pleased to know that french onion soup is, in fact, a highly nutritious choice. Onions, as part of the Allium family, contain Quercetin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and should not be overlooked as a vegetable when considering your daily 7-a-day.

What cheese can I use instead of Gruyère in French onion soup? ›

Other Swiss types of cheese like Raclette cheese or Appenzeller Cheese or Dutch cheeses like Edam cheese or Gouda or Jarlsberg cheese from Norway or American Swiss cheese can all be substituted.

Why is my French onion soup bland? ›

If the onions are not cooked long enough or over low heat, they won't develop the sweet and rich flavor that is characteristic of this soup. Lack of seasoning: Seasoning is crucial in any dish, and French onion soup is no exception.

Why is my French onion soup too sweet? ›

Onions are very sweet, especially when they're cooked down, and that is the main purpose of onion soup. The sweetness can be balanced by adding some dry wine or vinegar. Taste as you go and don't overdo it. A little salt will balance it too, but don't forget that the grated cheese you will top it with is salty.

What is a good substitute for cheese in French onion soup? ›

Key Ingredients & Substitutions

Cheese: To me, there is no better cheese in a French onion soup than Gruyere! However, shredded Swiss or provolone also works very well. Just be sure to find something that is easily shredded or grated, as that's what will give you that amazing gooey, melty cheese we all love.

Can I use chicken broth instead of beef broth in French onion soup? ›

It is better to use chicken or vegetable broth rather than sub-standard beef broth. Best to use low salt and add salt if required. 4. Bread - The idea with the recipe is that you can use a spoon to cut through the bread into the soup to eat it (see video).

Why are my onions not browning for French onion soup? ›

Not cooking the onions long enough.

→ Follow this tip: Cook times will vary depending on the number of onions you're cooking and the type of onion (its sugar content and age), but plan to cook caramelized onions for 40 to 50 minutes (at least) until they have a dark-brown, rich color.

Why is my French onion soup sour? ›

It might be because of the stock or that you used onions that has sour flavor such as white onions.

How do you doctor up canned French onion soup? ›

Infusing the soup with a richer taste is as easy as quickly sauteing crushed garlic before pouring the soup in. Some soft, buttery garlic sauteed in earthy olive oil is the perfect addition to enrich canned French onion soup.

How do you make soup taste stronger? ›

Use fresh vegetables, high-quality meats or broth, and fresh herbs to add depth of flavor. Add acidity: A squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a dash of vinegar, or a splash of wine can brighten the flavors of a soup and make it taste more complex.

What spices add depth to soup? ›

Herbs and sources add flavor, aroma, and intensity to the soup broth. You can pick fresh or dried herbs like basil for tomato-based soups or fresh parsley for clear broths. You may also add more spices like turmeric, ground ginger, ground paprika, or nutmeg for a touch of spice and color to your soup broth.


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