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16 French Onion Uses Beyond Soup

caramelized onions
caramelized onions - Msphotographic/Getty Images

The delectable and rich flavor of French onion soup is a welcome comfort any time, but soup isn't the only way to experience the opulent taste of deep brown caramelized onions. If you like the soup, you'll be thrilled to know that the iconic flavor of French onion works in a variety of other foods. There's no need to limit your French onion repertoire to just soup.

One tale explaining the origins of French onion soup has France's 18th-century King Louis XV returning from a hunt to nearly bare cupboards and coming up with the soup from what he found there -- a bottle of Champagne, some butter, and a few onions. However the dish started, it's clear that adding French onion flavor to other foods doesn't require a lot of ingredients, just the patience to caramelize onions -- unless you take a shortcut and start with a pre-made soup or a powdered soup mix.

We don't think there's such a thing as French onion overload, so you can use the flavor nearly anywhere. While we have a few suggestions for you, the sky is the limit once you get a knack for places where French onions are welcome.

Read more: 41 Must Try Hot Sandwich Recipes

French Onion Dip

French onion dip
French onion dip - Kristen Carli/Mashed

Even if you don't know any other way to use French onion, you've almost certainly heard of French onion dip,  one the most popular dips for plain potato chips. If you're tasked with coming up with something to bring to a picnic or a Super Bowl party, it's a no-brainer to pick up a few bags of chips and some dip. It's popular enough that you'll easily find ready-made at most grocery stores in the U.S.

French onion dip originated in the 1950s when someone got the grand idea of combining sour cream and a packet of dry French onion soup mix. Today, it's still common to make the dip this way, given that Lipton now sells its soup mix as a dip mix, too.

Yet French onion dip is even better made from scratch. If you caramelize the onions yourself, you'll have a dip that rivals store-bought in every way. However, be sure to pick up a sturdy chip to handle the greater heft of a homemade dip. Potato chips with ridges are your best bet to get this flavorful dip to your mouth without dropping too much.

French Onion Chicken

slow cooker French onion chicken white bowl
slow cooker French onion chicken white bowl - Erin Johnson/Mashed

French onion chicken repurposes French onion soup into a sauce for chicken. While it's possible to make it in about 20–30 minutes in a skillet, cooking the chicken low and slow allows the intense flavors of the onions to permeate the meat for results that will have you savoring every bite. The beauty of making this dish at a low temperature on your stovetop or in a slow cooker is that you don't have to tend the onions as they caramelize. The smell will taunt you for six or so hours while it's reaching perfection, but we promise that the wait will be worth it.

For added flavor depth, add ingredients like beef broth, sherry, and thyme to the sauce. When it's all done, borrow another idea from the soup and top the chicken with grated Gruyère cheese. While you might just want to eat the sauce all on its own like soup, you can also serve it over something with carb appeal, including egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or even garlic toast.

French Onion Baked Brie

brie en croute with apple slices
brie en croute with apple slices - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Baked brie is always a treat. While sweet versions with fruit are delightful, there's no reason you can't go in a more savory direction. And when you think about how satisfying the melted cheese is on top of a bowl of French onion soup, you'll realize that it's also a good idea to add sugary, caramelized French onions to your brie.

There are two directions you could go with French onion baked brie. Probably the easiest option is to bake the brie in the oven for half an hour with a heaping pile of caramelized onions on top. The cheese will become all melty and ready to add to the top of crusty bread, toast, pita, or crackers.

The other option is to make French onion brie en croûte, where you wrap French onion-topped brie in puff pastry dough before baking it. If you can't find puff pastry dough in the freezer section of your grocery, we've often used canned crescent roll dough instead. Even though the dough will brown and turn into a vehicle for getting the melted cheese mixture to your mouth, it's a good idea to have toast or crackers on hand for serving.

French Onion Pasta

French onion pasta
French onion pasta - foodjustforme / X, formerly known as Twitter

French onion pasta is the comfort food you probably never knew you needed. Once you make it, though, you'll see that it's a cozy, carb-filled dish that you'll make again and again. This one-pot dish is deliciously complex and doesn't need any meat to turn it into a satisfying meal, though you might consider adding mushrooms.

French onion pasta is an excellent place to use leftover French onion soup -- if you've ever had such a problem. You could also start with a can of soup or a soup mix. It'll taste even better if you start by sauteeing onions to a sweet, golden hue to make the soup base yourself. Adding garlic, beef or vegetable broth, wine, sherry vinegar, and herbs will round out the soup base. Use any pasta you have, from orecchiette to rotini and beyond. Some cooks like to add heavy cream and cheese, which adds even more comfort to the dish. For the ultimate version, consider placing the soup and pasta in a casserole dish with shredded Gruyère on top and sticking it into the oven to melt.

French Onion Rice

French onion rice
French onion rice - grabber / X, formerly known as Twitter

Once you learn how to make French onion rice, we won't blame you if you make it every week. It takes barely any effort to make and is one of those dishes where you can dump everything into a dish and let the oven do all the work for you.

All you'll need for this meal is a cup of uncooked white rice, half a cup of butter (sliced), a can of French onion soup, and a can of beef or vegetable broth (we prefer beef consommé). Simply combine all the ingredients in a casserole dish, cover with foil, and bake for half an hour at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people zhuzh it up with mushrooms and a French fried onion topping. Once it's done, you'll have a rich rice dish that you can eat as a main course or use as a side.

Of course, you can use homemade soup for this dish, but doing so will eliminate its simplicity. However, homemade is practically always better, so you do you.

French Onion Pot Pie

chicken pot pie
chicken pot pie - Erin Johnson/Mashed

The sweet and rich flavor of caramelized onions can turn an ordinary pot pie into something extraordinary. Pot pies are routinely cozy and comforting, but add deeply browned onions to the mix and it's like you've reinvented the dish. No matter what type of pot pie you're making -- a chicken, turkey, beef, or another type -- you can't go wrong by Frenching it up.

There are several ways you could make a French onion pot pie. One is to make a chicken pot pie as you usually would, but adding homemade caramelized onions (made from two medium onions) to your mix before baking.

If you're making your pot pie with ground beef, there's a shortcut that allows you to add a can of the soup to a cooked mixture of beef and onions, then bake it with canned biscuits and shredded cheese on top. Another simple, highly effective version of this dish calls for you to add two envelopes of French onion soup mix to your favorite pot pie recipe.

French Onion Focaccia Bread

French onion focaccia bread
French onion focaccia bread - kobrilakkuma / X, formerly known as Twitter

In September 2022, Trader Joe's released an amazing French onion focaccia bread into the wild, and customers promptly went gaga over the stuff. It was versatile enough to eat alone, dip in pasta sauce as an appetizer, or serve alongside a meal. Once it disappeared off TJ's shelves, fans were disappointed and already clamoring for it to make a return.

Making your own focaccia bread takes a little time, but at least creating the bread's characteristic dents with your fingertips is a satisfying process. Adding the luxurious flavor of French onions makes this bread even more decadent. Rather than blending it into the dough, add caramelized onion on top of the bread dough before baking, but after you brush it with olive oil or melted garlic butter. For added flavor, we suggest a sprinkling of thyme and grated Parmesan cheese before popping it in the oven.

French Onion Mashed Potatoes

French onion mashed potatoes
French onion mashed potatoes - Darth's Diner / X, formerly known as Twitter

If you're one of those people who like to add ingredients to mashed potatoes, we've found the ultimate add-in: French onion dip. Oh, yeah. Just imagine that intense flavor. It's essentially a reimagined version of your favorite chip-and-dip combo but in mashed potato form.

There are a few ways that you can create this version of mashed potatoes. The easiest is to make mashed potatoes as usual and spoon in store-bought French onion dip, making it to taste until the mixture reaches the perfect equilibrium of dip and mashed potatoes. A ratio of a cup of dip per pound of potatoes is reasonable, but you might have different tastes. You can also use homemade dip made with sour cream and powdered onion soup mix or sour cream and freshly caramelized onions. You can probably guess which one is going to be the best (Hint: it's the one with caramelized onions.)

French Onion Meatballs

French onion meatballs
French onion meatballs - Janice Nicholson Gibson / Facebook

When you're craving strong, savory, and umami flavors, look no further than French onion meatballs to satisfy your cravings. If we make you hungry just thinking about it, we're totally not sorry.

Making French onion meatballs can be as easy as opening up a can of French onion soup and using it as simmer sauce to reheat frozen meatballs. Or, you can go all-out by baking homemade meatballs that have been mixed with Gruyère and even sour cream, and simmering them in a homemade caramelized onion sauce. However you make it, we suggest serving it with melted Gruyère on top and crusty bread for dipping.

If you simmer the meatballs in an oven-safe pan like a cast iron skillet, you can transfer it straight to the oven to melt the cheese on top. Try using the oven broiler for a couple of minutes to get the cheese nice and brown. Taking inspiration from the original soup, you can even put French bread or sourdough bread slices on top of the meatballs before adding cheese and placing the dish beneath the broiler.

French Onion Beef Casserole

French onion beef casserole
French onion beef casserole - Hajar Hajar / Facebook

Once you try it, you'll wonder where French onion beef casserole has been all your life. It seems so obvious once you discover it, yet most of us have never tried it. It beautifully combines everything you love about beef stroganoff with everything you love about French onion soup.

There are several ways to make this dish. The easiest is to make beef stroganoff as usual and add French onion dip instead of sour cream (perhaps with some mushrooms for a savory boost). There are quick ways to make it, too. Combining cooked egg noodles, cooked ground beef, two cans of cream of mushroom soup, and a container of pre-made dip makes prep a breeze. If you like your casseroles with a crisp topping, add French fried onions to the top. It would barely be complete without a sprinkling of Gruyère cheese to melt over the top as it warms in the oven.

French Onion Garlic Bread

French onion garlic bread
French onion garlic bread - Bucket & Bay Gelato / X, formerly known as Twitter

Garlic bread is pretty fantastic all on its own. However, even the most perfect culinary inventions can use a little inspired variation sometimes. With that in mind, French onion garlic bread has all the components of French onion soup, just with the ingredients shifted in position. In other words, instead of putting the bread on top of the soup, you'll put the soup on top of the bread. Obviously, you're going to have to remove some liquid from the soup, but we think you know what we mean.

Imagine this: You slice a loaf of French bread in half lengthwise, cover it in garlic butter, add a layer of sweet caramelized onions, and then top everything with lots of Gruyère cheese before popping it in the oven to get all toasty and melty. Bonus points for having the self-control to let the cheese brown on top before you pull it out to eat.

While you're welcome to chow down on this as a main course, you can also cut it into bite-sized slices to share as an appetizer or a side. Either way, we doubt you'll have leftovers.

French Onion Tart

French onion tart
French onion tart - Renee Ryan / X, formerly known as Twitter

Another way to marry caramelized onions with bread is in the form of a French onion tart. Versatile tarts work with sweet toppings just as well as savory ones. If you haven't tried a French onion tart yet, you're missing out.

Of course, you're welcome to make your own tart crust while you're browning the onions. However, it's even easier to make a savory tart with just three ingredients: puff pastry, olive oil, and your topping of choice. In this case, that would be caramelized onions. While it will take some time to brown the onions, at least you won't have to make the tart crust from scratch if you go the puff pastry route. If you want the tart to be more reminiscent of the soup, add Gruyère on top before baking the tart at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. A few sprigs of thyme will also add to the flavor profile.

French Onion Grilled Cheese

French onion grilled cheese
French onion grilled cheese - NGB2020 / X, formerly known as Twitter

There are hundreds of ways to upgrade your grilled cheese, with entire restaurants and food trucks devoted to gourmet versions of this sandwich. If you've ever dunked your grilled cheese into your French onion soup, you can imagine how great combining the two dishes into one could be. Move over, grilled cheese and tomato soup; you have some serious competition.

The hardest part of making a French onion grilled cheese may be deciding which bread to use while you wait for your onions to caramelize. Rye, sourdough, and French bread are all great choices here. You can probably guess how to construct this sandwich, but we'll spell it out for you anyway: Place Gruyère and caramelized onions between two buttered slices of bread. If you want an extra dash of flavor, add freshly-ground pepper and fresh thyme to the sandwich. If you're feeling fancy, add seasonings to the outside, like Old Bay, garlic powder, or everything seasoning.

French Onion Monkey Bread

French onion monkey bread
French onion monkey bread - TrinityMustache / X, formerly known as Twitter

You're never too old to find pull-apart monkey bread delightfully fun to eat. Cutting the dough into chunks, tucking ingredients in between those, and popping it into a pan to cook has to be one of the most brilliant bread inventions. If you've had monkey bread before, it was likely a sweet version, but savory versions are excellent, too. That's why we think you'll love French onion monkey bread if you're a fan of the soup.

To make it, put the small pieces of bread into a pan or cake mold with caramelized onions and grated parmesan or Gruyère interspersed between dough balls. If you're a big cheese fan, you might want to add a layer of shredded cheese to the top, as well. Let it rise in a warm area for an hour before baking. After pulling it out of the oven, unmold, pull apart the pieces, and enjoy.

French Onion Baked Potatoes

twice baked potatoes
twice baked potatoes - Legat33/Shutterstock

You probably have a few favorite toppings for baked potatoes already, but why not try French onion baked potatoes? Once again, it's a different spin on the soup, this time with potatoes as the carbs.

One way to achieve this carby delight is to cut open your baked potato, fill it with caramelized onions, top it with shredded Gruyère, and put it under the oven broiler for a minute or so to melt the cheese.

If you don't want to go to all the trouble of caramelizing onions, there's an alternative version. After you've baked your potatoes, remove the bulk of the potatoes from the skin and mix in a bowl with heavy cream or sour cream, French-fried onions, dry onion soup mix, cheddar cheese, and butter. You also might also want to add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Once you return the mixture to the potato skin, bake it again with more French-fried onions and cheese sprinkled on top.

French Onion Gravy

French onion gravy
French onion gravy - joelnwoseh / X, formerly known as Twitter

French onion gravy is a multipurpose sauce that you can use with a variety of main course dishes. Just caramelize your onions as usual and mix in flour, drippings from your deglazed pan, and beef or vegetable stock to create your gravy. Then, it's ready to integrate into your main course dish with yummy results.

So, what can you combine with this sauce? Salisbury steaks, pork chops, pot roast, meatballs, chicken, mushrooms, steak, salmon, and more work perfectly. You're only limited by your imagination. Nearly any protein you're thinking of making will taste better smothered in this rich gravy. If you have the time, it's well worth the effort.

Of course, gravy is always better when it has an accompanying carb to help soak up the dregs. We suggest mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles as options to serve alongside or under your protein and French onion gravy.

Read the original article on Mashed.