Chain Restaurant French Onion Soup Ranked Worst To Best

French onion soup's popularity stems from its timeless blend of rich, savory flavors and comforting warmth. This classic dish combines the caramelized sweetness of slow-cooked onions with the satisfying flavor of beef broth, all topped with a golden crust of melted cheese. The dish is usually served with toasted croutons or bread.

While it's hard to pinpoint its exact origins, a version of the iconic dish is believed to have been enjoyed in Ancient Rome more than 8,000 years ago. Despite its early beginnings, French onion soup as we know it today, really came into its own in the 17th century. According to one story, the dish was invented by King Louis XV after a hunting trip. Desperately hungry, he supposedly used the only three ingredients he had on hand — onions, butter, and champagne — to concoct the soup. Another narrative attributes the invention of the soup to the Duke of Lorraine and the father of the Queen of France, Stanislas Leszczynski. It's said that having sampled the soup at an inn in Champagne, the Duke brought the recipe back to the Palace of Versailles.

Today, French onion soup is a beloved classic in both French and international cuisine. Served as either a starter or main dish, French onion soup can be found at many restaurants, from small bistros to popular chains. If you're eager to enjoy this delectable creation, here's our list of chain restaurant French onion soups ranked worst to best.

8. Mimi's Bistro + Bakery

Topped with Swiss and Parmesan cheese and a crostini, Mimi's Bistro + Bakery's French Onion Soup certainly looks the part. While we can't be certain about what goes into the savory menu item, Restaurant Magazine believes that it's gotten pretty close to nailing the recipe. According to the publication, aside from Parmesan and Swiss cheese, the soup is made with white onions, beef broth, butter, garlic powder, mozzarella, and French bread.

Despite the chain's French pedigree, Mimi Cafe's French Onion Soup has received mixed reviews from patrons, with some praising it and others expressing very strong reservations. Those who enjoy the soup have described it as a nourishing and tasty dish that has a thick consistency and plenty of flavor. Others, however, haven't been as impressed, with one reviewer saying, "It is the most God awful tasting French onion soup I've ever tasted. The onions were only half cooked and the little flavor that it had was utterly disgusting." Another patron called the dish "inedible," adding, "The French onion soup was under seasoned and the fact that the soup was cold while the cheese was congealed shows that they heated it in a microwave."

7. LongHorn Steakhouse

Who says that you absolutely have to have a steak at a steakhouse? Aside from ribeyes and New York strips, LongHorn Steakhouse serves appealing menu options such as Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Baby Back Ribs, and Grilled Chicken & Strawberry Salad. The popular chain also serves French onion soup, crowned with a seasoned crostini, a blend of melted provolone and Swiss cheese, and a garlic and Parmesan crust.

While LongHorn Steakhouse's French Onion Soup will only set you back $5.79, as of October 2023, the menu item has evoked a range of reactions from patrons, not all of them favorable. On a positive note, one TripAdvisor reviewer says they haven't been able to find a better French onion soup at any other restaurant while another reviewer says it's "to die for." On the downside, some customers haven't been too impressed by the menu item, with one reviewer saying, "The French onion soup was okay but not a lot of depth to the flavor."

6. Outback Steakhouse

While the Outback Steakhouse website doesn't delve into detail about its French Onion Soup, we know that it contains a Holland Rusk. This stands in contrast to most other French onion soups out there, which feature bread on the side or croutons. Also sometimes called Dutch Rusks, Holland Rusks are slightly sweet crispy, dry biscuits with a light and airy texture. They have a round shape, similar to a cracker or a small, round piece of bread.

The reactions to Outback Steakhouse's French onion soup have been a blend of enthusiasm and disappointment. Some feedback has been downright contradictory, indicating that different locations may have different standards when it comes to making their dishes. For instance, one reviewer states, "The French onion soup comes out super HOT!!!! Gotta wait a few minutes so it can cool down. Once cooled down, it was good. Nice layer of cheese and chunks of onion and spongy bread bits." On the other hand, another patron had a completely different perspective, saying, "My soup came out and it was cold. The broth was like gravy, very thick. There was barely any cheese on top of the bread. I am not one to send things back, but I didn't order gazpacho."

5. The Capital Grille

At $13 as of October 2023, Capital Grille's French onion soup is pricier than similar dishes served at most other restaurants. Nevertheless, the quality of the dish might just justify its price tag. Served in a cute bowl with two handles, Capital Grille's Caramelized French Onion Soup features a thick layer of melted cheese. While plentiful, the chain doesn't specify what type of cheese is used in the dish. However, we do know that the broth comes with caramelized onions.

While Capital Grille's classic onion soup looks great in pictures, the dish has received a mix of positive and negative feedback. One TripAdvisor reviewer, who includes Capital Grille among their 10 top restaurants, says that the soup is terrific. Another French onion soup enthusiast also praises the dish, saying, "Absolutely delicious. I've had it many times." When it comes to the amount of onions in the dish, the patrons seem undecided, with one reviewer saying that the dish comes with "a ton of onions" and another patron saying that while the dish is large, the beef broth lacks both onions and flavor.  

4. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

At $17 a pop, there's no denying that Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar's French Onion Soup is expensive. Served as a starter to the main event — a juicy and tender steak — or a main meal, Fleming's soup stands out from the pack due to its rich broth and gooey topping. Baked with a blend of Parmesan and Gruyère cheese, the hearty dish is one of the chain's two soups; the other one is a lobster bisque.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse's French Onion Soup seems to have left a positive impression on most reviewers. One diner calls it "French onion soup for the soul," adding, "[It] was as good as my own, laden with melted cheese on garlic croutons floating in a good-sized bowl of excellent beefy onion stock." Many customers describe the dish with praise, noting its delicious flavor. On the flip side, one patron wasn't as impressed with the savory dish saying, "French Onion Soup [...] was good but small, and the cheesy top was not fully capped."

3. Mon Ami Gabi

Where better to indulge in a French onion soup than at a classic French bistro? Mon Ami Gabi's take on French onion soup shines on the chain's hors d'oeuvres menu, alongside other classic French dishes such as Escargots De Bourgogne (oven-roasted snails) and Chicken Liver Mousse Pate. While we don't know much about Mon Ami Gabi's Onion Soup Au Gratin, we do know that it's baked with Gruyère cheese.

The majority of reviewers appear to be quite pleased with this classing onion soup. Some describe the menu item as one of the best versions of the soup out there, noting that the offering comes with a light broth and tasty cheese. Another happy reviewer also praises the soup, adding, "A must-have! Of course I was warned about how hot it is given it just came out of the oven. The gruyère had a perfect 'almost burnt' finish. The broth exuded that delicious beef and onion aroma. The bread was perfectly commensurate to the cheese and broth alike. Everyone got a little taste, but I pretty much didn't share more than that — I don't regret it either!"

2. Panera Bread

The tale of Panera Bread's French onion soups is somewhat convoluted. It used to be good, nay, great, and then something happened. In 2020, the chain decided to remove the beloved classic from its menu. Things only went downhill from there. One dissatisfied Panera Bread patron even set up a "Bring back Panera original French onion soup" Facebook group to try to persuade the chain to return to the original recipe. Well, the outcry worked. Panera listened to its patrons, proclaiming on its website: "We heard you loud and clear. We've brought Bistro French Onion Soup back to the menu, with all the savory sweet onion taste you remember."

At the heart of the chain's Bistro French Onion Soup is a savory broth made with caramelized onions, sherry wine vinegar gastrique, and sea salt. The soup is crowned with black pepper focaccia croutons and a Fontina and mozzarella cheese blend. The tempting recipe seems to have won over the hearts of French onion soup enthusiasts. When surveyed by The Daily Meal, 45.50% of the 622 respondents said that Panera's take on the dish is their absolute favorite. However, not everybody has been as enthusiastic about the soup. Melina Glusac, who reviewed the chain's soups for Insider, said that her high hopes for the menu item "were not quite met." While Glusac appreciated the rich flavor of the soup's broth, she was disappointed with its watery consistency and lack of cheese.

1. Morton's The Steakhouse

Made with three different cheeses, Morton's The Steakhouse Baked French Onion Soup is definitely heavy on dairy. Not only does the soup come with Comté cheese, but it also has Gruyère and Emmental mixed into the broth. Morton's rendition of the dish features a crouton placed directly in the broth. Those wishing to recreate the recipe at home will be pleased to know that it — or at least a version of it — appears in "Morton's The Cookbook." Morton's Five Onion Soup recipe calls for ingredients such as Spanish onions, red onions, leek, shallots, garlic, dry sherry, thyme, bay leaf, and beef broth.

Morton's Baked French Onion Soup appears to have won over the majority of reviewers. One satisfied customer noticed the menu item's gooey quality, saying, "The French onion soup is cheesy [...] and super delicious. It has a great flavor to it. It's also nice to dunk pieces of bread in the soup." Another reviewer expresses a similar sentiment, proclaiming, "This is definitely the best French Onion soup anywhere."