French Onion Meatballs – Cheese Stuffed Meatball Recipe

4.67 from 12 votes
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French Onion Cheese Stuffed Meatballs has everything you love about the classic French Onion Soup Au Gratin recipe in a hearty meal to satisfy any appetite. Mozzarella stuffed meatballs are browned and simmered in a rich sauce loaded with caramelized onions. Then, of course, they are topped with more ooey gooey cheese! And you can easily make them gluten free with no breadcrumbs and a simple swap!

French Onion Stuffed Meatballs Recipe Image with title

Originally published on June 8, 2014. Updated on September 13, 2017, and January 13, 2019, with video, process shots, and additional details and information.

My parents got divorced when I was five years old. Strangely, most of my food memories are of the snacks and treats that I only had when I was with dad. Cheese Doodles and Chips Ahoy and Chocolate Pudding Pie and S’Mores. I think many little kids of divorced parents get spoiled a bit when they go visit the parent they don’t live with, and I was no exception.

But I know my dad fed me meals, too. The funny thing is, only two stand out in my mind. One is hot dogs, “Campfire” Potatoes, and corn on the cob when we spent summer evenings around the fire pit in his backyard. The other was our cold-weather favorite –  grilled cheese and French Onion Soup au Gratin. Because, you know, can you really have too much bread and cheese in one meal? I think not.

What is French Onion Soup?

French Onion Soup is a classic soup recipe that originated in France, where it is known as soupe à l’oignon. It consists of onions that are slowly caramelized and then simmered in broth or stock, typically a meat stock like beef. To turn it into the ultimate French Onion Soup Au Gratin, the soup was ladled into a bowl and topped with toasted bread or croutons and cheese, most often Gruyere cheese. It was then broiled until the cheese was melty, golden brown, and bubbly.

My dad might have had a simpler way to make it, but it was still incredible.

French Onion Soup (albeit from a can) was gently simmered until hot and poured into crocks. He topped it toast and plenty of mozzarella cheese (not traditional, but that’s how Dad made it), and put under the broiler until it bubbled and browned.

I eagerly awaited those crocks being removed from the oven and placed on the table so that I could pierce my spoon through the gooey layers. I would scoop up a perfect bite with some of each component, drawing it towards my open mouth, thin strands of cheese slowly stretching their way from the bowl until I pursed my lips around the spoon and broke them off, sighing with delight as the aromas and flavors enveloped me in warmth and comfort and love.

Sadly I have a family that doesn’t love soup. 

So taking those same flavors from my childhood favorite and turning it into a hearty, satisfying, comfort food dinner that could satisfy even the biggest appetites (trust me, I live with three of them) was really the only option. I might have a bad habit of eating just one more than I really should! They are that good.

French Onion Stuffed Meatballs in a cast iron skillet covered with melted mozzarella cheese

 

Caramelized Onion Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs Recipe

You’ll start by caramelizing onions with Pinot Noir (though any red wine would work), and stuffing the onions, along with a cube of mozzarella cheese, inside the meatballs. Then brown the meatballs in a skillet. 

While most mozzarella stuffed meatballs are simmered in tomato sauce, these are smothered in a simple, rich sauce made of beef stock and more red wine. It is almost a gravy, but not quite so thick and heavy. The cheese stuffed meatballs are then baked in the oven until they were cooked through and the cheese became a pocket of melty deliciousness.

And of course, you can’t leave off the au Gratin, so the entire pan gets covered in more mozzarella and placed under the broiler to get that perfectly browned cap of toasty cheese.

What do you need to make French Onion Cheese Stuffed Meatballs?

INGREDIENTS:

For the caramelized onions:

  • olive oil
  • onions – thinly sliced. BRIANNE’S PRO TIP: I prefer to use a sweeter yellow onion, such as a Vidalia onion. You can use your favorite, but this will lead to a stronger flavor.
  • fresh or dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • beef broth
  • red wine – I used Pinot Noir, but any red wine will work. BRIANNE’S PRO TIP: It does not have to be an expensive bottle. However, I do recommend a wine you would drink versus cooking wine. If you prefer to cook without alcohol, you can substitute more beef broth.

For the meatballs:

  • ground beef
  • bread crumbs – for a GLUTEN FREE option, you can substitute gluten free bread crumbs, or use gluten free oats that you’ve pulsed a few times in your blender.
  • fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • egg
  • mozzarella cheese  – about 1-2 oz. of this will be cut into cubes to stuff in the meatballs. The remainder is shredded to put on top. BRIANNE’S PRO TIP: I use mozzarella because that is how my dad always made French Onion Soup. Feel free to substitute the more traditional Gruyere or even Swiss or Cheddar.
  • olive oil – or any other neutral oil for browning the meatballs

For the sauce:

  • beef broth
  • red wine – I used Pinot Noir, but any red wine will work. As I mentioned earlier, it does not have to be an expensive bottle, but I do not recommend cooking wine. If you prefer to cook without alcohol, you can substitute more beef broth.
  • cornstarch
  • salt and pepper

EQUIPMENT:

You’ll also need a nice, large skillet that is safe to put in the oven and under the broiler. I like using a 10-inch cast iron skillet as it helps with getting the meatballs nicely browned on the outside, and it is oven- and broiler-safe.

If you do not have an oven-safe skillet, transfer the meatballs to a casserole dish before adding the sauce and baking in the oven.

Other than that, everything you’ll need is pretty basic, such as measuring cups and spoons and a bowl.

Three French Onion Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs on a plate

How to caramelize onions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add sliced onions, salt, and pepper, cook slowly, about 15-20 minutes until golden and caramelized. BRIANNE’S PRO TIP: It is important to do this slowly so that you develop the deep caramelized color and flavor without burning the onions. Be sure to stir frequently and reduce the heat if necessary.
  3. Add thyme, wine, and beef broth, and reduce until very little liquid remains.

Step by step photos of caramelizing onions

How to make cheese stuffed meatballs:

  1. Combine all ingredients except the cheese in a large bowl, and gently combine with your hands. Divide the meat mixture into sixteen equal pieces.
  2. Flatten one piece of meat, place a small amount of the onions and a cube of cheese in the middle. Wrap the meat around the filling and form into a ball, sealing as best as you can. Repeat with the remaining meat, onions, and cheese cubes.
  3. Brown the meatballs on all sides in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Whisk together the sauce ingredients and pour over the meatballs. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven.
  5. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the meatballs and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through, then place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
  7. Garnish with additional parsley, if desired.

Step by step process shots of how to make French Onion Cheese Stuffed Meatballs

Can you freeze stuffed meatballs?

Yes, you can freeze any leftovers. Before eating, just thaw slowly in the refrigerator, and gently reheat in the oven or microwave, or even in a skillet on the stove. The texture of the cheese topping might be affected slightly, so you could also make extra and freeze the cooked meatballs and sauce before topping with cheese.

Cut open Meatballs Stuffed with Caramelized Onions and mozzarella cheese

What should I serve with stuffed meatballs?

You can spoon them over egg noodles, rice, mashed potatoes, or spaghetti squash. Or try some of these side dish recipes:

Cheese Stuffed Meatballs with a French Onion Soup Sauce

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Want more meatballs?

If you like this, you’ll love these recipes:

French Onion Cheese Stuffed Meatballs Recipe

Stuffed with caramelized onions and mozzarella, these French Onion Meatballs are a hearty meal inspired by the classic au gratin soup recipe. And for the best part, they are covered with even more cheese and broiled until golden brown and bubbly. It’s a comfort food dinner recipe the entire family will enjoy.

French Onion Stuffed Meatballs
4.7 from 12 votes

French Onion Soup au Gratin Stuffed Meatballs

Stuffed with caramelized onions and mozzarella, these meatballs turn the classic French Onion Soup au Gratin into a heaty meal. And of course, they are covered with more cheese and broiled till golden brown and bubbly.
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 1 hr 10 mins
Total: 1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 5

Ingredients

For the onions

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used Pinot Noir, but your favorite red wine will work, or substitute beef broth)

For the meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or ground oats, gluten free, if needed
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese , about 1-2 oz into sixteen approximately half-inch cubes, to stuff the meatballs, the remainder shredded
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish , optional

For the sauce:

  • 1 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used Pinot Noir, but your favorite red wine will work, or substitute with aditional beef broth)
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

For the onions:

  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium, add onions, salt & pepper, cook 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently or until caramelized.
  • Add thyme, sauté for minute or two, then add the wine and beef broth.
  • Reduce until very little liquid remains.
  • Set aside.

For the meatballs:

  • Combine all ingredients except the cheese in a large bowl, and gently combine with your hands.
  • Divide the meat mixture into sixteen equal pieces.
  • Take one piece of the meat mixture and flatten slightly into a patty. Place about a half tablespoon of the onions and one cube of cheese in the center of the patty and wrap the meatball around the onions and cheese, sealing as best you can. Repeat with the remaining meat, onions, and cheese cubes.
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides.
  • Whisk together the sauce ingredients and pour over the meatballs. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. If you are not using an oven-safe skillet, transfer to a casserole dish before pouring over the sauce.
  • Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the meatballs and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through, then place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
Nutrition Facts
French Onion Soup au Gratin Stuffed Meatballs
Amount Per Serving (3 meatballs)
Calories 452 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 10g50%
Cholesterol 152mg51%
Sodium 1717mg72%
Potassium 668mg19%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 42g84%
Vitamin A 455IU9%
Vitamin C 5.4mg7%
Calcium 274mg27%
Iron 4.4mg24%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Enjoy!

 

139 Comments
  1. Carolyn T

    5 stars
    Made these last night. WOW! Vivid flavors, lots of umami. I happened to have some sweet onions to use for this, although they take longer to caramelize – probably more like 35 minutes. Actually I forgot to put the onions IN the meatballs, so I put the onions on the bottom of a casserole dish, meatballs, sauce, then the cheese. Perfection. It will definitely make another appearance on my dinner table.

  2. misty

    even more ‘manly man’ with venison, lol. I enjoy your writing!! 🙂
    try it.
    I guarantee it will taste good. man, elk is good! what was bad about that?? (except it was too much like bambi for a teenage girl? IDK. 🙂 …..I NEVER think of bambi when I’m eating venison, or rudolph! LoL . We’ve romanticized deer too much!
    one thing I do with venison meatloaf and probably balls, too is to drench it in 1 cup of milk and use 1 cup of crackers, oatmeal or bread crumbs. Seriously, you CANNOT tell it is venison. It is leaner, healthier and delicious with bbq sauce.
    (And my venison is free, so ……that makes it taste better, too) . 🙂
    Thanks again, Love your page

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m so glad you and your family enjoy the meatballs, Rachelle. Thank you for your comment and for rating the recipe!

  3. Rebecca

    Do you think it would be just as good if I made it Ahead of time? That way I could just put it in the oven when my guests arrive

  4. 5 stars
    I think you should go visit Dad and make it for him. Tell him it is a tribute to him and he will be so touched. I have to say this is fantastic. The meatball idea is pure genius. Just the way us guys need and like it. Great tip on how to flatten the meat balls and add the cheese cube inside. Love it.

  5. These look really good and I plan on trying them. I’m glad that you have the nutritional value on the recipe. What is the serving size though? I count carbs for my diabetes and I try to stay as close to accurate calculations as possible, on the nutritional values. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Hi Shelby! I’ve updated the nutritional information for the recipe. One serving is 3 meatballs.

  6. Lauren L

    We just ate these and all I can say is WOW!!!! Delicious! Made exactally except no breadcrumbs in meatballs cause we are low carb… Oh my, absolutally wonderful. Thank you so much…..

  7. LeAnn Troutman

    Made this tonight…….family loved it!!!
    Very flavorful. ….my teenage son is in the fridge now eating the leftovers! Pure Yumminess!!

  8. Natasha

    5 stars
    I made these a couple of weeks ago and they were beyond AMAZING! They definitely fell into my top 5 “Best Things I’ve Ever Made” list!! I’m probably going to make them again tonight. I made them exactly like your recipe and they were so incredible. My best friend and fiance rave about them. Thanks so much for posting this!!!

    1. I am wondering if I missed the mention of the size of the skillet somewhere, it looks very large, I do have a 8 inch, 10 inch and 14 inch cast iron skillet. Thanx for all your wonderful recipes.

  9. Carla

    Have these in the oven right now… Upon another review of the recipe, I realize I have goofed… I made 8 extra large meatballs. When reading the directions to flatten a meatball, I assumed it needed topped with another one. Fingers crossed it still turns out okay.

  10. Aly

    Couple of ideas for you: I know you were supported by a wine company but I think better onion soup has either sherry or brandy in it. I make an easy onion soup with caramelized onions, 1 can chicken broth or homemade : (low sodium swanson’s) i can beef broth (swanson’s also) and 1 can beef consomme (campbells is fine) also use gruyere and or emmenthaler cheeses to top, the mini mozzarella pearls would be great for stuffing. Also a combination of ground pork and ground beef would be a moister meatball. I learned a little trick: beat the pork well with bread crumbs soaked in milk and the seasonings to a smooth past. then gently combine the beef. Pork does not toughen like the beef and will get better as it is beaten. The panade or milk bread mixture helps keep it moist. Try this and tell me what you think. Aly

  11. Katie B.

    4 stars
    I made these tonight and they were a hit! I served them over mashed potatoes and topped off with sautéed portobello mushrooms. Yum!

  12. Brianne – these meatballs knocked my SOCKS OFF!!! They were so delicious and perfect! I served them over rice and we loved, loved, loved them!! Thank you so much! I hope you won’t mind if I feature them on my blog (with my own pictures and link backs 🙂
    All the best, Heather

  13. Cathy O

    5 stars
    I prepared these last night, so all my husband has to do is bake them in the oven. I can’t wait to try them. I had a lot of onion left over, so I spread them on the bottom of the casserole dish. I will let you know how they taste!

  14. Nadine

    I just finished my meal. ..oh my oh my! Incredible . I made a few changes and want to share with you . I couldn’t have a dinner like this without garlic so I added minced garlic to the meatballs and sliced garlic to the sauce. I don’t like the texture eggs give to meatballs so I soaked the crumbs in beef broth. I stuffed the meat with aged cheddar and topped them with Swiss cheese, parsley and chives from my garden. Oh, since I am not a huge fan of thyme, I used herb d’ Provence. This is a keeper….thank you so much for this favorite . I hope I haven’t offended you with all the changes!
    Nadine

      1. Nadine

        I have been trying to get on your email list but for some reason I can’t . Can you add me? diny@ live .ca
        Thanks again, leftovers tomorrow . And , I have shared with the neighbours.
        N

          1. Nadine

            Yes, I am getting your emails . I am making this recipe again tonight…it’s my new favorite ! Thanks again.

  15. Nadine

    Hi, this looks amazing. I am making it this evening. I have a question, for the onion recipe there are two different measurements for thyme. Can you explain this to me please. Maybe I missed something as no one else commented on this.
    Thanks so much,
    N

  16. elaine laskowski

    This was way to much trouble for the mediocre result. I thought it would be fantastic, I was so disappointed in this recipe.

    1. Nadine

      One less step I did was not to use the onions in the stuffing. It would have been too tedious for me and I really wanted the onions in the sauce. I did it in steps, not all at once. Hope this helps.

  17. Holly

    Stumbled across this while browsing Pinterest and made it last night. After one bite, I knew I had to come here and tell you how wonderful it is!! Both the husband and I loved it so incredibly much. I served it with some balsamic roasted tomatoes and crutsy bread for dipping. Super huge hit!!

  18. I MADE THESE LAST NIGHT AND THEY WERE GREAT, THE FLAVORS WERE TRUE TO THE ORIGINAL SOUP. I WOULD SERVE THESE ON A SLICE OF TOASTED BREAD AND POUR THE SAUSE OVER IT AND ENJOY.

    I WAS ABLE TO PICK THE HERBS FRESH FROM THE GARDEN.

  19. I still remember the first time I tried French onion soup was at a French restaurant with my dad. These tasty meatballs would be a delicious dish to relive that fun memory. They look wonderful!!

  20. OMG – These look incredible! Something hubby and I would love. I found you over at the Cast Party Wednesday link party. I host Tickle My Tastebuds Tuesday and would love it if you linked up this recipe. I’m sure our party goers would love it as much as I do. Here is the link http://bit.ly/1l4cu0j. Have a wonderful day!!

  21. I love all your food memories with your dad, healthy or not they stay with you. Also what kid doesn’t have fond memories of eating onion soup? It’s the one that comes with the cheese! I love these meatballs. I could probably put down that tray.

  22. Lynn

    We had a french onion chicken breast dish at a friend’s house that was amazing but I never found a recipe. So glad to find this one! Can’t wait to make it for Father’s Day!

  23. Deborah

    This sounds delish! I cannot wait to try it! I will be using Swiss cheese though instead of the mozzerella since that is the traditional cheese used in French Onion Soup. Thanks for the recipe : )

  24. Two thumbs up to your father’s version of French Onion Soup! And, oh my goodness, your meatballs with mozzarella tucked inside swimming in the Gallo wine infused sauce must be heavenly! Certainly your pictures give that impression. Thank you for sharing this marvelous recipe!

      1. Due to health reasons, the small amount that remains may be a concern for some people. I had a friend in college who had a heart transplant, and it can be a big deal with the medications and all. It will still be a fabulous dish, even without the wine.

  25. cindyzs

    your dishes and photos ALWAYS make me so hungry it’s not funny! i think i could eat the whole thing, lol 🙂 tfs

  26. Loving this dish! I mean…the cheese. There is something so wonderful about bubbly, golden brown, toasty cheese.

    I don’t know that my dad really has a “specialty” when it comes to cooking. He’s always been the grill master around the house…I guess that counts!

  27. Just put the whole skillet down in front of me and let me eat my way though it. Then I’ll take a big loaf of bread and sop up every single drop of that sauce. Awesome.

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