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How Long Is French Onion Soup Good For?

From refrigeration to freezing, we give you the scoop on how to keep your French onion soup savory and ready for when your cravings strike.

French onion soup: this flavorful and heart-warming dish, loaded with sweet caramelized onions and topped with crusty bread and melted cheese, is the ultimate comfort food for chilly winter evenings or any time you’re in need of a comforting meal.

Its combination of onions, broth, and cheese delivers a gastronomic experience that’s not only delicious but also deeply satisfying.

However, despite the irresistible allure of French onion soup, you might not always drain the bowl in one sitting (Yes, I’ve been there!). So you may find yourself pondering—how long can French onion soup stay fresh? Does it deepen in flavor over time, or does it start to lose its savory appeal once it cools?

And when you’re keen to save that leftover French onion soup for another meal, what’s the most effective way to store it? Is it best left in the fridge, or can it endure the icy conditions of the freezer?

If you’re stewing over these types of questions, rest assured that this article has all the answers you need.

How Long French Onion Soup Lasts

How long French onion soup lasts depends on how you store it.

Generally, if you leave French onion soup out, it will only stay good for 1 to 2 hours. When refrigerated, it can last for 3 to 4 days. And if you freeze it, it will maintain its quality for about 3 to 4 months.

Left Out: 1–2 Hours

If you leave French onion soup at room temperature, it can last for about 2 hours. However, on hot days when it’s 90°F (32°C) or higher, French onion soup only stays good for about 1 hour.1United States Department of Agriculture (2023, March 24). What is the “2 Hour Rule” with leaving food out? AskUSDA. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/What-is-the-2-Hour-Rule-with-leaving-food-out

Refrigerated: 3–4 Days

If you keep French onion soup in the fridge, at a temperature of 40°F (4.4°C) or below, and store it in a jar, food container, or the original bottle or carton in case you bought it from the store, it will last for about 3 to 4 days.2U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2021, September 20). Cold Food Storage Chart. FoodSafety.gov. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts

Frozen: 3–4 Months

Technically speaking, you can keep frozen French onion soup for as long as you want because freezing pauses the growth of bacteria.3U.S. Department of Agriculture (2013, June 15). Freezing and Food Safety. Food Safety & Inspection Service. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/freezing-and-food-safety With that being said, it is best to eat it within 3 to 4 months to enjoy it at its freshest and highest quality.

How to Preserve Your French Onion Soup

French onion soup truly hits the spot when it’s hot, rich with sweet caramelized onions, and topped with a slice of toasted bread and molten cheese.

If you’re not planning to finish your soup immediately, it’s crucial to understand how to store it so it stays appealing and doesn’t go off.

Here’s the deal:

Storing French Onion Soup in the Fridge

Firstly, transfer your French onion soup into a clean, sealable container. Glass containers are ideal, but if those aren’t available, any food storage container with a tight lid will suffice. Then place it in the fridge.

Aim to consume the French onion soup within 3-4 days. The cold temperature in the fridge slows down the bacteria that cause food to spoil, but it can’t stop it completely.

Freezing French Onion Soup

If you’ve prepared a large batch of French onion soup and can’t finish it within a few days, or you want to keep some for a future cozy evening, then freezing is your go-to option. You’ll need a clean, tightly sealed container that can withstand the cold of the freezer.

Ensure to leave about an inch of space at the top of the container because the soup will expand as it freezes. This might take a few hours. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, transfer the frozen French onion soup to the fridge about a day beforehand.

And that’s the whole story—French onion soup is fairly straightforward to store, and it’s a delight to have on hand for those chilly nights or when your hunger calls.

A bit of diligence in storage ensures each serving is as appetizing as the first one, so don’t overlook these steps!

How to Tell If Your French Onion Soup Has Gone Bad

Found a neglected container of French onion soup in the far corners of your fridge?

Or are you simply unsure if it’s still safe to eat? Like any soup, French onion soup can go off if it’s been left untouched for too long, and trust me, eating spoiled French onion soup is not an experience you want.

Here are some signs that your French onion soup might have gone bad:

  • Time: If your French onion soup’s been out in the open for more than 1-2 hours or in the fridge for over 3-4 days, it’s safer to discard it, even if it seems fine. The bacteria that cause illness don’t necessarily alter the appearance, taste, or texture of our food.
  • Smell: Fresh French onion soup has a rich, savory aroma. If you open your container and it smells strange or unpleasant, it’s time to part ways with your soup.
  • Color: Good French onion soup typically has a deep, appetizing color. If it’s turned darker or looks off, better to err on the side of caution and toss it.
  • Texture: French onion soup should have a broth-like consistency with pieces of onion. If it’s slimy or overly thick, your soup might be past its prime.
  • Taste: This should be your last test. If your French onion soup passes the other checks but tastes off, it’s time to let it go.

Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! It’s always better to be safe than sorry. French onion soup is easy to make, so why take unnecessary risks?

Just cook up a new batch and savor the rich, comforting flavors of this classic gourmet dish.

Wrapping It Up

And there you have it, home cooks!

This is your definitive guide to not just savoring this savory, delightful soup, but also ensuring it stays as fresh as the day you prepared it, for each and every serving.

Remember, whether you’re storing your French onion soup in the fridge or the freezer, maintaining its freshness for those comforting meals is a cinch if you adhere to these straightforward storage steps we’ve shared.

And keep in mind, if your French onion soup seems a bit questionable—be it in smell, color, texture, or taste—it’s always safer to discard it.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.