French onion soup meatballs

A fantastic twist on a classic dish!

If you’re wondering how fabulously flavourful this dish is, let me tell you that I was bowled over by my taste testers’ enthusiasm – so much so that I think there will be a household mutiny if this meal does not go into the regular rotation. The most time consuming step is making the caramelized onions but I have a hot tip for you: make a huge batch (I’m talking 5 kilos / 10 lbs of onions) and freeze it in smaller portions so you can just pull them out and proceed with any recipe that calls for these sweet, slow-simmered beauties. For this dish, the meatballs can also be shaped and place in an airtight container in the fridge up to 48 hours (or freezer for up to 3 months) before baking, or baked and refrigerated for up to 48 hours before assembling. The sauce can also be made ahead (see below). The meatballs are very versatile – serve them on cooked noodles, rice, mashed potato or small rounds toasted bread as an appetizer. If you enjoy this meal, you might also like my French onion soup pasta casserole.


Caramelized onions:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 2 very large yellow
  • onions, thinly sliced and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces


  • 1 pound (454 g) ground chicken, turkey or lean beef
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) caramelized onions
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) shredded Gruyère (or other Swiss cheese)
  • 1/3 cup (33 g) Panko or other dry bread crumbs (gluten-free if you wish)
  • 2 tablespoons (7.7 g) minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Few pinches kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2/3 cup (195 g) caramelized onions
  • 2 cups (500 mL) beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) brandy or white wine (optional but delicious)
  • 2 teaspoons (1.6 g) fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon / . 4 g dried)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 g) shredded Gruyère (or other Swiss cheese)


  • Caramelize onions by adding oil to a large, heavy-duty skillet placed over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, until onions have softened. Cover pot and reduce heat to low; let onions cook another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, remove lid and increase heat to medium. Cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until moisture has evaporated and onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl or container to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Alternatively, you can cook the meatballs in an air fryer.
  • Make meatballs: In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/3 cup of the caramelized onions, Gruyère, bread crumbs, parsley, Dijon, egg, garlic, salt and pepper. Form into 25 – 30 one inch (2.5 cm) diameter meatballs, then place on prepared baking sheet and bake about 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165F. In an air fryer, they should take about 10-12 minutes.
  • While meatballs are cooking, make the sauce (you can use the same large skilled you cooked the onions in). Melt butter over medium heat in the skillet. Add minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until softened. Add remaining caramelized onions (approximately 1 2/3 cup / 195 g) along with broth, Dijon, brandy (if using) and thyme leaves plus a few pinches of salt and pepper. Whisk to blend well then bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Sauce can be made in advance and held at room temperature for up to one hour or refrigerated for up to 48 hours.
  • When ready to finish the dish, add cooked meatballs to skillet and sprinkle with Gruyère. Cover and cook until meatballs are warmed through and cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Note that you can prepare the meal to this stage and refrigerate, covered, for up to 48 hours; simply reheat for 20 – 25 minutes in a 375F oven until bubbling and very hot.
  • When serving, sprinkle with additional fresh thyme leaves or chopped parsley then serve warm on top of your choice of starch.

Serves 4; recipe can easily be doubled.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

7 thoughts

    1. You can just add a few minutes to the baking time if cooking from frozen. Ideal to use an instant read thermometer to be sure the are cooked through. Enjoy!

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