These French onion meatballs take the time tested classic french onion soup and rethinks it as a sauce for meatballs. Perfect for your next fancy-type party or a quick and easy dinner!
You can make the meatballs french onion sauce in an instant pot or you can make them in a not so instant pot (otherwise known as a crock pot).
I prefer the instant pot. Not only because you get to eat sooner, which is awesome. But a quick pot can fool the palate into thinking that you have been cooking for days. That is awesome times two.
Instant Pot French Meatballs
In essence, the meatball is like the airport in Atlanta. Tons of flavors can fly in, make connections, then fly out to a completely unique destination. With french onion meatballs, you charter all the great flavors of french onion soup. Then, you travel across a world of great flavors.
One taste and you never want plain meatballs again!
Actually, I am pretty nuts about meatballs and I have a ton of great meatball recipes to check out. Hold on. That sounds a bit saucy. But of course a great sauce makes the meatball.
Just take me to the French Onion Meatballs!
If you’d rather skip my (very helpful, I think) tips and tricks, essential cooking info, and similar recipe ideas – and get straight to this delicious easy Instant Pot French Onion Meatballs recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.
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What makes a French Onion Meatball French?
French onion soup is actually traditionally made with Gruyère cheese. Truth be told, Gruyère is actually a Swiss cheese, but don’t let that stop the French from laying claim to it. French onion soup sounds a lot tastier than Swiss onion soup.
That being said, french onion soup doesn’t necessarily require french onions either. You can do just fine with your basic yellow or white onion. If you can get some of the Walla Walla sweet onions from Washington then those are great too.
Really any onion will do. The important thing is that the onion needs to be cooked fully until it is nice and brown, caramelized through and through. Use a bit of stock to simmer the onion in after you brown them by using the sauté setting on your quick pot.
If you are not using an instant pot, then I suggest browning the onions first in a cast iron pan before you add them to the crock pot with some stock.
Time to put the French on the Party Meatballs
While the onions simmer away in the stock, build your meatballs. By adding some seasoned breadcrumbs into the ground meat you turn these meatballs into a hearty French appetizer and bring in some ooh la la, which is French for seriously delicious.
I think, but I may need a refresher course in French.
In terms of additional seasoning, you can just do some salt and pepper because the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, and fresh garlic and thyme season the sauce pretty spectacularly already.
You also want to brown the meatballs if you are using a freshly made homemade meatball recipe. You don’t necessarily have to cook them all the way. When adding them into the onion soup sauce then they can finish cooking in the instant pot. By browning the meatballs, you create the “Maillard reaction.” This is a French Cooking term that refers to the flavor created by the singed meat. It is essentially the meat version of caramelization.
More importantly, it helps add more french to the flavor profile and that is a good thing. If you are using frozen meatballs they are almost always already browned and cooked through.
Making the French Onion Meatball Sauce
If you are starting with freshly made meatballs that you just browned and drained, set them aside and return your attention to the simmering onions. They should be nice and brown, soft, and a bit translucent. If you are using frozen meatballs like me, because I love a great shortcut, then the onions have been your main focus this whole time.
Next, you can either use the pan drippings of the meatballs, or use some butter, or even some oil, and make a roux with flour. Cook the roux until it is nice and brown and smooth.
Roux of course is another great French cooking term. In this recipe, you cannot get enough French into the dish.
Once the flour and spices coat the onions and start to thicken, add half the stock or broth, scrape down the sides of the instant pot and the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pot. Stir the sauce to make sure the it thickens without lumps. Finally, add the remainder of the broth/stock and the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir to complete the sauce.
Balls time!!! Add in your meatballs and toss them in the sauce to coat. Turn the instant pot to pressure cook and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.
When they are finished, slowly vent the pressure, turn the instant pot to “keep warm” if it isn’t already there, open the lid carefully, and add the shredded Gruyère cheese. Cover with the lid for 5 minutes and let the cheese melt.
Voila! French Onion Meatballs as an appetizer.
You are going to want to serve them as an appetizer at every party from now on! Still craving them but need to serve an actual dinner, you are also welcome to serve them as an entrée.
If you go the entrée route, then you might want to serve them over pasta. In terms of pasta, I would suggest using an egg noodle or other wide, fat noodle. However, if you want to use spaghetti then feel free! No noodle judgement here.
Bon appétit! (more french flavor for you!)
You might have to put up with people wondering why it isn’t a tomato based sauce. But just tell them to “French Off” and find another party. Problem solved.
Tips for making French Onion Meatballs:
- You don’t need long slices of onion since these are party meatballs so cut your onions in half before slicing so they are shorter.
- If your instant pot gets too hot after making the French Onion sauce, pour out the sauce and let the pot cool off or even better prepare the sauce ahead of time and just pull it out of the fridge when you are ready to make the meatballs.
- The melted Gruyère cheese is one of the best parts of this dish but it doesn’t take long to melt so you can sprinkle.
Other great French Onion recipes to try!
- French Onion Pork Chops
- French Onion Soup Burgers
- French Onion Broccoli Casserole
- French Onion Sliders
- French Onion Beef and Noodles
- French Onion Chicken
- French Onion French Dip Sandwiches
- French Onion Cheese Toasts
- French Onion Soup
- French Onion Dip
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Easy Instant Pot French Onion Meatballs Recipe
- 26 ounces frozen meatballs
French Onion sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions, sliced thin
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Make the French Onion Soup Sauce
- Gather all the ingredients
- Turn your instant pot to sauté.
- Add butter and melt.
- Add onions and cook for 5-8 minutes or until onions are tender and starting to brown.
- Add the fresh thyme, garlic, and flour to make a roux.
- Stir to coat.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add 1 cup of broth and stir, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pot.
- Add in 1 cup broth, mustard, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Stir to combine.
Make the French Onion Meatballs
- Add in the meatballs.
- Stir to coat the meatballs.
- Turn the Instant Pot to pressure cook, cover, and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
- When finished, vent slowly and turn the IP to keep warm.
- Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
- Serve and enjoy!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 220 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 49mg Sodium: 583mg Carbohydrates: 7g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 3g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 10g
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