French Onion Meatballs

Here’s the recipe for French Onion Meatballs along with some popular questions and their answers:

French Onion Meatballs


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese


  1. Caramelize Onions:
    • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
    • Add thinly sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are caramelized and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Make Meatballs:
    • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, salt, pepper, and dried thyme. Mix until well combined.
    • Form the mixture into meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.
  3. Cook Meatballs:
    • In the same skillet used for caramelizing onions, heat a bit more olive oil over medium-high heat.
    • Add the meatballs in batches, cooking until browned on all sides, about 6-8 minutes per batch. Remove and set aside.
  4. Simmer:
    • Pour beef broth into the skillet with the caramelized onions. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
    • Return the meatballs to the skillet, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and tender.
  5. Top with Cheese:
    • Sprinkle shredded Gruyère cheese evenly over the meatballs and onion mixture.
    • Cover the skillet again and let the cheese melt, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Serve:
    • Serve the French Onion Meatballs hot, garnished with fresh thyme if desired.

Absolutely! Here are secrets and tips to help you master the art of making French Onion Meatballs:

Secrets to Perfect French Onion Meatballs

1. Caramelizing Onions:

  • Low Heat: Caramelize onions over low heat to slowly draw out their natural sugars without burning.
  • Patience: Stir occasionally and be patient; caramelization can take 20-30 minutes.
  • Deglazing: Use beef broth to deglaze the pan after caramelizing to capture all the flavorful bits.

2. Meatball Preparation:

  • Mixing: Mix ground beef thoroughly with breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, salt, pepper, and dried thyme for even flavor distribution.
  • Consistency: Ensure the mixture is well-combined but avoid over-mixing to maintain meatball tenderness.
  • Chill: Refrigerate the meatball mixture briefly before shaping to help them hold their form.

3. Shaping Meatballs:

  • Even Size: Form meatballs uniformly to ensure even cooking.
  • Gentle Handling: Handle meatballs gently to keep them tender.

4. Browning Meatballs:

  • Hot Pan: Preheat the skillet and use medium-high heat to achieve a good sear on the meatballs.
  • Don’t Overcrowd: Brown meatballs in batches to prevent overcrowding, ensuring each browns evenly.
  • Turning: Turn meatballs gently to brown on all sides.

5. Cooking in Broth:

  • Simmering: After browning, simmer meatballs in beef broth and caramelized onions to infuse flavor.
  • Covering: Cover the skillet while simmering to keep meatballs moist and tender.
  • Time: Simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

6. Adding Gruyère Cheese:

  • Melting: Sprinkle Gruyère cheese evenly over meatballs and cover briefly to melt.
  • Quality: Use high-quality Gruyère for its rich flavor and superior melting properties.

7. Flavor Balance:

  • Adjust Seasoning: Taste and adjust seasoning of broth and onions to balance sweetness and savory flavors.
  • Herbs: Fresh thyme adds a fragrant note; adjust quantity based on preference.

8. Presentation:

  • Garnish: Sprinkle with fresh thyme or parsley for a finishing touch.
  • Serve Hot: Serve immediately for best flavor and texture.

9. Variations and Tips:

  • Vegetarian Option: Substitute meat with plant-based alternatives.
  • Make Ahead: Prepare components ahead and assemble before serving.
  • Freezing: Freeze cooked meatballs and sauce separately for future meals.

here are 20 common questions and their answers related to French Onion Meatballs:

  1. What are French Onion Meatballs?
    • French Onion Meatballs are meatballs flavored with ingredients typically found in French onion soup, like caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese.
  2. How do you make French Onion Meatballs?
    • To make French Onion Meatballs, you combine ground meat (like beef or turkey) with caramelized onions, breadcrumbs, herbs, and seasonings. They’re then baked or simmered in a French onion-inspired sauce.
  3. What kind of meat is best for French Onion Meatballs?
    • Ground beef or a mix of beef and pork is commonly used. Ground turkey or chicken can also be used for a lighter option.
  4. Can you freeze French Onion Meatballs?
    • Yes, you can freeze French Onion Meatballs after cooking. Allow them to cool completely, then store in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
  5. How do you serve French Onion Meatballs?
    • French Onion Meatballs are often served as an appetizer with toothpicks or as a main dish over egg noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.
  6. What sauce goes with French Onion Meatballs?
    • A rich onion gravy or sauce made with beef broth, caramelized onions, and optionally some white wine or brandy is typically used with French Onion Meatballs.
  7. Can you make French Onion Meatballs ahead of time?
    • Yes, you can prepare the meatballs and sauce ahead of time and refrigerate them separately. Combine and reheat when ready to serve.
  8. What cheese is used in French Onion Meatballs?
    • Gruyere cheese is often used, either mixed into the meatballs or melted on top when serving.
  9. Can I use store-bought meatballs for French Onion Meatballs?
    • Yes, you can use pre-made meatballs, but making them from scratch allows you to control the ingredients and flavors more precisely.
  10. Are French Onion Meatballs gluten-free?
    • Traditional recipes may not be, but you can make gluten-free versions using gluten-free breadcrumbs or omitting breadcrumbs altogether.
  11. What herbs are used in French Onion Meatballs?
    • Thyme and parsley are commonly used to give the meatballs a savory, herby flavor.
  12. How do you caramelize onions for French Onion Meatballs?
    • Slice onions thinly and cook them slowly over low heat with a bit of oil or butter until they turn golden brown and sweet.
  13. Can I make French Onion Meatballs in a slow cooker?
    • Yes, you can cook French Onion Meatballs in a slow cooker. Place meatballs and sauce ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  14. What can I substitute for Gruyere cheese in French Onion Meatballs?
    • Swiss cheese or even mozzarella can be used as substitutes for Gruyere cheese.
  15. Are French Onion Meatballs spicy?
    • They are typically not spicy, but you can adjust the seasonings to your preference.
  16. How do you keep French Onion Meatballs moist?
    • Adding caramelized onions to the meat mixture and cooking them in a sauce helps keep the meatballs moist.
  17. What wine pairs well with French Onion Meatballs?
    • A light red wine like Pinot Noir or a dry white wine such as Chardonnay pairs well with the flavors in French Onion Meatballs.
  18. Can I make French Onion Meatballs without onions?
    • The caramelized onions are a key flavor component, but you can reduce the amount or substitute with shallots if necessary.
  19. Are French Onion Meatballs keto-friendly?
    • Traditional recipes are not, but you can adapt them by using keto-friendly ingredients like almond flour instead of breadcrumbs and ensuring the sauce is low-carb.
  20. How many meatballs should I make per person?
    • As an appetizer, plan for about 4-6 meatballs per person. For a main dish, serve 3-4 meatballs per person along with sides.