This French Onion Pasta recipe has all the flavors of a classic French Onion Soup, but with pasta and tender beef slices! It's the perfect one-pot dish that is easy enough for a weeknight dinner and fancy enough for company.
This recipe can be made in the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper, Instant Pot, or in an oven-safe large skillet or Dutch oven. You will find directions for the various cooking methods in the written post below.
Who doesn't love an easy one-pot pasta dinner? This one has quickly become one of my favorite one-pot meals. It is ready in about an hour from start to finish, uses easy-to-find ingredients and best of all can be customized to your personal preferences. It freezes and reheats beautifully making it great for meal prep!
What makes this recipe stand out among all the other one-pot French Onion Pasta recipes is everyone's favorite part of French onion soup: the toasted croutons and cheese! Once I added the topping to the French onion pasta, this recipe went from delicious to outstandingly delicious!
The flavors and textures in this one-pot pasta dish are simply amazing! Pair it with a simple green salad and you have one delicious meal.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section is fairly long because you can customize this recipe in so many different ways and I wanted to include as many variations as I could so you can make the dish the way you want it and it turns out perfectly!
After testing this recipe with different types of pasta, my favorite is rigatoni because of how the sauce clings to the pasta and fills the center of the pasta. The textures are absolutely perfect. If you don't want to use Rigatoni (and I really hope you do!), penne is another great choice.
Rotini also works, but I found the texture was off when I used it. Here are the various kinds of pasta that you can substitute in this recipe and the changes you will need to make in the pressure cooking time. I recommend using a short pasta for this recipe.
- Penne Pasta: Keep everything the same as in the recipe.
- Campanella: Decrease the pressure cooking time to 3 minutes.
- Rotini Pasta: Decrease the pressure cooking time to 3 minutes.
- Farfalle Pasta (not mini): Keep everything the same as in the recipe.
- Elbows: Decrease the pressure cooking time to 2 minutes.
For Gluten Free pasta, decrease the cooking time by 2 minutes.
If you want to skip the pasta to keep this lower carb, I recommend making this recipe and skip the bread of course: French Onion Chicken
I used Vidalia onions in this recipe and the sweet caramelized onions give this dish so much flavor! If you can't find Vidalia onions, look for sweet onions in your grocery store.
You can also use yellow onions, white onions, or even red onions if you prefer. Just don't skimp on the amount of onions you use!
Three pounds of onions may seem like a lot, but because they are sautéd and caramelized, the volume of onions is greatly reduced. I tested the recipe with fewer onions and the entire dish lacked the signature onion flavor of classic French onion soup.
If you want even more onion in your dish, feel free to add as many onions as you like.
It's important to sauté the onions until they turn a deep golden brown and are perfectly caramelized. I tried to speed this process up by using this recipe for air fryer onions but, for this recipe, it didn't give the deep flavor that you know and love about French Onion Soup.
While the process of caramelizing the onions does take some time, it is totally worth it. I also like to remove about half of the caramelized onions before pressure cooking and add them back in after pressure cooking. This way you not only get the great flavors of caramelized onions, you also keep the actual onions in the dish since pressure cooking can make them pretty much invisible.
The amount of liquid in this recipe is very important, but what you use as your liquid is completely up to you. I tested this recipe using beef stock and found that it didn't quite bring the depth of flavor I was looking for so I switched to beef consommé and a can of Campbell's French Onion soup. The beef consommé is slightly different from beef broth and has a more concentrated flavor because it has been simmered longer. As it simmers the water content reduces, leaving behind a slightly thicker liquid that is full of flavor.
Beef bone broth would be the closest in flavor to the beef consommé, but since it is usually pretty expensive to purchase I decided to use the consommé instead. Campbell's makes the only beef consommé that I have ever seen in grocery stores, but if your store carries a different brand that is fine to use as well.
While I was testing this recipe I was short on the beef consommé and the store was out, so I grabbed a can of French Onion soup also made by Campbell's and used that along with the beef consommé and the finished dish was absolutely perfect!
So, I kept both the consommé and the French onion soup as ingredients, but please do not worry if you can't find one or both of these items. Pick up a good beef bone broth and use 32 ounces; your pasta dish will be delicious. You may also want to add 1-2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce for added depth of flavor when not using the consommé or canned French Onion soup.
You can also change things up to use chicken broth, chicken stock or chicken bone broth which I would recommend if you want to create a French Onion Chicken Pasta by using sliced chicken instead of beef. If you want to keep the pasta dish Vegetarian or Vegan use vegetable broth instead and of course you will need to make a few other changes.
I always put a little dry sherry in my French Onion soup, so I used sherry in this recipe to deglaze the pot. This is optional, but if you leave it out, make sure you add an extra ½ cup of another type of liquid. If you want to use sherry vinegar instead of the sherry, only use ¼ cup and add ¼ cup water or another type of liquid to make a total of ½ cup.
You can also use a dry white wine or red wine in place of the sherry if you prefer.
The seasonings in this recipe are quite simple; salt, black pepper, dried thyme leaves, roasted garlic, and fresh thyme sprigs for garnish if desired. You can use all fresh thyme leaves and I would suggest using 1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves instead of the dried thyme leaves.
If you want to spice things up a bit, try adding some red pepper flakes!
I consider the roasted garlic part of the seasoning profile, but it is completely optional. Roasted garlic imparts a mild garlic flavor that adds to the sweetness of the onions. If you want a sharper or more pungent garlic flavor, use about a Tablespoon of minced garlic and add it towards the end of sauteeing the onions.
Here is the recipe: Roasted Garlic in the Ninja Foodi
You may wonder why this is at the end of the list of ingredients and substitutions. It is because adding meat to the dish is completely optional and something I did only on the last test of the recipe, because I had some thinly sliced beef to use up and threw it in. WOW! That's all I have to say about this addition. When developing the recipe I had no intention of having meat in it, but it really elevated the dish in a way I was not expecting. The thinly sliced beef is so tender and adds another layer of beefy flavor along with an added bit of texture to a dish that is primarily very soft.
The beef I used is labeled Carne Picada (thinly sliced chuck most likely) in my grocery stores and I had some left over from testing this delicious recipe for Carne Picada Tacos. Any thinly sliced beef will work just fine in this recipe. It's important that it is thinly sliced, especially if it's a tougher cut of beef so it tenderizes during the pressure cooking time.
You could use ground beef if you wanted, but the texture will be different.
You could also use thinly sliced chicken breasts if you don't want to use the beef. The cooking time will be the same when using chicken and you can still the same beef-flavored liquids or switch to chicken stock or broth if preferred.
If you want some added texture to the dish, but don't want to add meat, consider adding mushrooms! Sliced or quartered mushrooms would be fantastic in place or in addition to the beef in this recipe. I would recommend cremini mushrooms which are also called baby portobello mushrooms. They have an earthy flavor that will complement this pasta dish perfectly. White button mushrooms are also a good choice.
I started off testing the recipe without the croutons and just mixed in some cheese into the pasta and I was not happy with the outcome. The cheese flavor took away from the French Onion Soup flavor in the pasta, so I decided to go a more traditional route and add the croutons and cheese blend on top and bake it until the cheese was brown and bubbly. This worked great and it's what sets this recipe apart from other French Onion Pasta recipes.
The cheeses you use are completely up to you. You could use an Italian blend of mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan cheese or a combination of Swiss and provolone like I did. I usually use Gruyère cheese when making French Onion soup and you can certainly use that instead of the grated Swiss. Unfortunately, the grocery stores near me have a VERY limited cheese selection so Swiss was my only choice.
I used homemade air fryer croutons in this recipe, but you can certainly use store-bought if you don't want to make them. I followed this recipe and used a French baguette as the bread and added a little thyme to the seasoning blend. You could also use a plain French baguette cut into slices, but I recommend toasting them first because they will not become crunchy in the short time it takes for the cheese to melt.
The toppings are certainly optional, but I think worth the extra step.
How to Make French Onion Pasta in a Pressure Cooker
My preferred method is to pressure cook this recipe and I used the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper so I could make it from start to finish in the same appliance. This is why I love the Ninja Foodi so much!
You can also use your Instant Pot and transfer to a casserole dish before adding the toppings if it doesn't have a crisping lid or if you have a Ninja Foodi, but want to serve it in a casserole dish you can certainly transfer it and bake the toppings in the oven.
Prep or Mise En Place
The only thing I did differently when air frying the croutons is I used a French baguette and added 1 teaspoon of dried thyme to the other seasonings in this recipe: Air Fryer Croutons. They are totally worth making if you have the time, but if not, store-bought will work or you can use toasted slices of a French baguette.
Use a sharp knife or mandoline to cut the onions. You want the onion slices to be about ½" thick for this recipe.
Once the onions are sliced, gather the rest of the ingredients, and let's get started!
Caramelizing the Onions
You can use olive oil, butter, clarified butter, or ghee to sauté the onions in. I recommend oil, clarified butter, or ghee because they all have a higher smoke point than butter and you won't run into any burnt butter issues.
I used my homemade ghee in the batch I made for the video and, let me tell you, it was outstanding! Here is the recipe: Slow Cooker Ghee
If you want to use butter, that's fine, but you may need to adjust your heat down to avoid burning the butter.
Add the cooking oil, butter or ghee to the inner pot and turn the sear sauté on high. Add in the sliced onions and season with salt, pepper, and dried thyme.
Toss the onions and the seasonings around to coat them in the oil/butter/ghee and then leave them alone for about 10 minutes.
I use sear/sauté on high the entire time I am caramelizing the onions in my Ninja Foodi using the ceramic inner pot and have never had any issues with burning. If you are using a stainless steel inner pot, I recommend reducing the heat to medium-high and keeping a closer eye on the onions.
If they are browning too fast, turn the heat down to medium low. If they aren't browning at all, turn the heat up to high.
After 10 minutes, toss the onions around and you should start to see some browning on the onions sitting on the bottom of the pot. The goal of tossing the onions around with tongs is to move the less cooked onions to the bottom so they start to brown.
Continue sautéeing the onions for another 15-20 minutes, tossing them every 5 minutes so they don't burn. The onions will reduce in volume and turn a deep golden brown color when they are done caramelizing.
It will take every bit of 25-30 minutes for this process and there really isn't a shortcut that will deliver the same rich caramelized flavor. It's worth the time, I promise!
You can expect to end up with about 2-2½ cups of caramelized onions. Considering that 3 pounds of raw sliced onions is about 6 cups, you can see that the reduction in volume is quite a lot.
I also like to remove about ½ of the cooked onions and set them aside for later. Because this recipe is pressure cooked, the onions tend to disappear in the final dish if you pressure cook with all of the onions.
This is completely up to you, though. If you don't care if you see the onions, or if you have someone in your household who doesn't like onions, leave them all in and they will never know there are there!
Sautéing the Beef
The beef should be thinly sliced. I buy mine already prepared and it's labeled Carne Picada in the meat section. Any thinly sliced beef will work fine for this recipe. If you can't find any already sliced in the meat section, ask the butcher to thinly slice either a chuck steak, sirloin, or bottom round.
If you need to slice the beef yourself, put it in the freezer for about an hour and it is easier to thinly slice with a sharp knife.
Lightly season the beef with salt and use tongs to toss around so the salt gets distributed. Add the raw beef to the onions and sauté on high sear sauté until the meat begins to brown.
Deglazing the pot
When the beef is mostly browned, add in the cloves from the roasted bulb of garlic. The easiest way to get the cloves out of the garlic is to squeeze the bottom of the bulb and the cloves will pop out.
Once you no longer see pink in the beef, it's time to deglaze the pot. This process should be done with the sear/sauté on high and using about ½ cup of liquid.
I used cooking sherry from the grocery store to deglaze the pot and it adds a wonderful flavor, but you can use a ½ cup of beef broth instead.
Pour in the liquid and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any brown bits (called fond) that might be stuck on the bottom.
This does two things; it prevents the water or burn notice from stuck on food during pressure cooking and it brings all of the flavor from the fond into the sautéed onions and beef.
We need more liquid to pressure cook with pasta, so add in the beef consommé and can of French Onion soup if you are using it.
The total amount of liquid (including the deglazing liquid) is 35.5 ounces. This will be the perfect liquid ratio to one pound of Rigatoni Pasta. Rounding up to 36 ounces won't cause any problems, but don't use less you could get the water notice.
Add in the pasta and stir it in so it is mostly covered by the liquid.
If you skipped the dry thyme leaves and are using fresh thyme sprigs, add them in now. You don't have to remove the leaves from the stem, just throw them in.
Put the pressure lid on and make sure the valve is to the seal position.
For al dente pasta when serving, set the pressure cook time to 4 minutes and do a quick release when the time is up.
For slightly softer pasta, set the pressure cook time to 4 minutes and let the pressure naturally release for 2 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure.
If you like really soft pasta, increase the pressure cook time to 5 or 6 minutes with an immediate release.
Open the lid and stir everything together. The pasta that is on the top may be slightly less cooked then the pasta that was completely below the liquid. By stirring it up, that pasta will soften more.
Take a small spoonful of the mixture and taste for seasonings. You may need to add salt, pepper, and even some more thyme, especially if you skipped the consommé and used broth instead.
Make sure it is delicious before you add the toppings.
Baking the Toppings
There are several ways you can add the toppings depending on how you want to serve the dish and which appliance you are using to pressure cook.
If you want to make it all in one-pot and are using the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper or an Instant Pot with a crisping lid, then spread a layer of croutons over the pasta and then cover with the grated cheese.
I use Swiss, but you can use whatever cheese you like. I also put slices of provolone cheese on top. The important thing is that all of the pasta and most of the croutons are covered with the cheese.
Close the crisping lid and select the bake/roast function and set the temperature to 375℉/190℃ and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is brown and bubbly.
Serve and Enjoy!
If you wanted to make the pasta in the pressure cooker, but serve it in a casserole dish, then now is the time to transfer the pasta from the pressure cooker into the baking dish.
Put the croutons and cheese on top and bake in a 400℉/200℃ degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned the way you like it.
You can also skip the toppings and just dig in! Or, portion out the pasta to freeze and then add the toppings and bake before serving.
No matter how you do it, I know you will love this one and I can't wait to hear what you think of it! Leave me a comment!
How to Make French Onion Pasta Stovetop/Oven Directions
If you want to make this recipe on the stove and in the oven, I recommend using a Dutch oven or a 6-quart skillet that is oven safe.
If you only have less than a 6-quart skillet, you will probably want to cut the recipe in half.
Cut the onions into ½" strips. Add 4 Tablespoons of oil, butter, or ghee into the pan and turn the heat on medium-high. Add the sliced onions and seasonings and toss with tongs to coat in the butter or oil.
Cook over medium-high heat for about 7 minutes and then toss the onions around. They should be starting to brown. If they aren't browning, turn your heat up and if they are browning too quickly, turn the heat down.
Continue to sauté the onions for 20-30 minutes or until they turn a deep golden brown and are reduced to about 2 cups of onions.
Remove half of the onions if you want to keep more texture in the final dish. Season the thinly sliced beef with salt and add to the onions along with the roasted garlic cloves. Stir and sauté until the beef is no longer pink. This will take about 5 minutes or so.
Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of sherry or beef broth. Add the beef consommé and soup for a total of 31.5 ounces of liquid.
Bring the liquid to a boil and add the Rigatoni pasta.
Reduce the heat to medium and cover the skillet with a lid. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the croutons and grated cheese on top and place the skillet or dutch oven in a preheated oven on 400℉/200℃ and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is bubbly and brown.
Serve & Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this recipe is amazing reheated! I recommend portioning out 1-2 servings and freezing them in airtight containers or in vacuum-sealed bags.
I have found that steaming the leftovers from frozen is the best way to reheat it. I use the Ninja Foodi or the Ninja Speedi most of the time, you could also use a stovetop steamer.
Place 2 cups of water in the pot and place the basket or tray in the low position. Remove the French Onion Pasta from the bag and place it in an oven-safe container that fits on the rack or in the basket. Cover with foil or a silicone cover.
Steam for about 20 minutes or until hot throughout. Uncover and either put under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the croutons or use the broil function on the Ninja Foodi or Speedi.
I don't recommend doubling the recipe. Even in a large 8-quart pressure cooker or Dutch oven, 2 pounds of pasta is just too much volume.
You can definitely cut the recipe in half by reducing all of the ingredients except the toppings. Even if the volume of your pasta changes the surface area for the toppings will remain the same unless you transfer it to a smaller baking dish.
The cook time remains the same if you cut the recipe in half.
Quick & Easy One-Pot Recipes
I'm the first to admit that this French Onion Pasta is exactly a dump-and-go recipe, but totally worth the time it takes. However, if you are in a hurry and really need a quick, dump-and-cook one-pot recipe, here are some favorites!
- Cheeseburger Macaroni ~ One-Pot Dinner
- One-Pot Sausage Peppers & Pasta ~ Pressure Cooker Recipe
- One-Pot Pasta Primavera ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- Ninja Foodi Spaghetti Recipe
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta
- Lemon Garlic Pasta with Vegetables ~ Ninja Foodi or Pressure Cooker Recipe
- Lemon Orzo with Shrimp & Roasted Vegetables (Ninja Speedi Recipe)
- One Skillet: Turkey Spinach Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
French Onion Pasta Recipe
- Pressure Cooker or
- 6 Qt Dutch Oven or Skillet
- 3 pounds sweet onions 4-5 large onions or 6 cups sliced
- 4 Tablespoons Ghee or clarified butter
- 1½ teaspoons fine grind sea salt divided in recipe
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 pound thinly sliced beef
- 1 bulb roasted garlic
- ½ cup cooking sherry
- 21 ounces Campbell's beef consommé
- 10.5 ounces Campbell's french onion soup
- 16 ounces Rigatoni pasta
- 3 cups croutons
- 6 ounces Swiss or Gruyère Cheese shredded
- 6 ounces provolone slices or shredded
- Skillet or Dutch oven instructions are very similar, see the recipe notes for the changes.
Prep for the Recipe
- If you are using roasted garlic and homemade croutons make those now.
- Cut the onions in half from stem to root and remove the outer skin. Cut the stem end off and leave the root end intact to hold the onion together. Lay half of the onion on a cutting board with the flat surface facing down. Using a sharp knife, cut ½" slices. Repeat for all of the onions.3 pounds sweet onions
- Gather the remaining ingredients and measure out the spices. 1 teaspoon of the salt will be used to season the onions and the remaining ½ teaspoon is for seasoning the beef slices.1½ teaspoons fine grind sea salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Carmelizing the Onions
- Turn sear/sauté function on high. Add the Ghee, olive oil, or clarified butter to the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot pressure cooker. If you are using a stainless steel inner pot, turn the sauté function down to medium high.4 Tablespoons Ghee or clarified butter
- Add in the sliced onions, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves. Using tongs, stir and toss around the onions to distribute the seasonings and coat them with the ghee/oil.
- Caramelizing the onions will take 25-30 minutes and it's important for the development of flavor in the dish. Leave the onions alone for about 10 minutes so they start to brown. Adjust your heat as necessary and don't let the onions burn.
- After about 10 minutes, toss the onions around again to move the lesser cooked onions to the bottom of the pot so they brown evenly. Continue to sauté and toss every 5 minutes until the onions are a deep golden brown and have reduced to about 2-2½ cups. Remove half of the onions if you want more texture in the final dish and set them aside.
Cooking the beef
- While the onions are sautéing, salt the thinly sliced beef with ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Add the beef to the onions and continue sautéing with the onions. Add in the cloves of roasted garlic, use the whole bulb. Cook the beef until it is no longer pink. This only takes a few minutes.1 pound thinly sliced beef, 1 bulb roasted garlic
Deglaze & Pressure Cook
- While the pot is still on high sear/sauté pour in the sherry and scrape the bottom of pot to remove anything that may be stuck on the bottom. If you don't want to use sherry, you can use beef broth or even water.½ cup cooking sherry
- Add in the beef consommé and French onion soup. If you aren't using those ingredients, use 32 ounces of beef broth.21 ounces Campbell's beef consommé, 10.5 ounces Campbell's french onion soup
- Stir in the Rigatoni pasta and try to get as much of the pasta under the liquid as possible. Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure cooker to high pressure and the time to 4 minutes. It will take about 8 minutes to come to pressure.16 ounces Rigatoni pasta
- For al dente pasta, do an immediate release after the 4 minutes of pressure cook time. For softer pasta, allow the pot to natural release for 2 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure.
- Open the lid and stir everything together. You may notice the pasta on the top isn't quite as done, don't worry, it finishes cooking as it sits in the pot.
- Add back in the onions you took out before pressure cooking and stir. Take out a spoonful and taste it for seasonings. You may need more salt, pepper, or thyme depending on what liquid you used.
Add the Toppings & Bake
- If you are using the Ninja Foodi or an Instant Pot with a crisping lid, you can do everything right in the main pot or you can transfer the pasta to a 9 x 13 deep casserole dish and finish in the oven if you want to serve it as a casserole. See the recipe notes for details
- Cover the past with a layer of croutons and then cover the croutons with the shredded cheese. If using slices of provolone, lay them in a single layer to cover the shredded cheese. Try to make sure all the pasta is covered and not poking out or it will start to get crunchy when baked.6 ounces Swiss or Gruyère Cheese, 6 ounces provolone, 3 cups croutons
- Close the crisping lid and select bake/roast and set the temperature to 375℉/190℃ and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.
- Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE COOKING UP IN YOUR KITCHEN! TAG ME @THESALTEDPEPPER ON YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM WHEN YOU MAKE A DISH!
BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE SALTED PEPPER RIGHT HERE ⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓