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French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules

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Yummy!   This appetizer recipe for savory French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules is a take-off from the classic French onion soup.   You will enjoy the taste of French Onion Soup with these caramelized onions, fresh thyme and creamy gruyere cheese.    Each bite-size bomb will fill your mouth with savory, creamy goodness.  

French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules
French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules

What is not to love about sweet caramelized onions and creamy Gruyere cheese!  I brought these appetizers to a family birthday bash last weekend and they were devoured!

What is a Boule?

Boule is a French word that means ball or round. A bread boule is any type of bread that is in a round shape. We made mini boules for this recipe and they are fun little appetizer bites.

These bite-sized appetizers started with pre-made, frozen bread dough rolls that are available in the grocery frozen foods.  We cut them to size, baked them and hollowed them out.   Next, we stuffed them with a thick creamy Gruyere cheese sauce and topped them off with caramelized onions.  

Onion Soup Appetizers:

These little guys do take some time to put together, but don’t let that put you off because it can all be done in one grand project or in stages as a make-ahead.  The bread boules can be baked, hollowed out and frozen until ready to fill.  The onions can also be made way in advance as they will keep refrigerated for days.  And… the cheese sauce is a breeze to put together.

French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules
Each bite-size bomb will fill your mouth with savory, creamy goodness.

If you are feeling adventurous you can make the mini bread boules from scratch.  Try using our Einkorn Milk and Honey bread or use the recipe for our no-knead Dutch oven bread. 

Or, you can take the more convenient route like we did for our appetizers. We used the pre-made yeast dinner roll dough that you can find in your grocery store freezer.  Sometimes we really need to take some shortcuts and these appetizers qualify.

How we made the French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules:

After the bread dough was thawed each ball was divided in half, shaped into a round ball,  placed into a mini-muffin parchment paper and allowed to rise before baking to a golden brown.  When the baked bread balls had cooled completely their tops were sliced off, the inside hollowed out leaving nice little shells.

French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules
Sweet caramelized onions, Gruyere cheese and fresh herbs stuffed into bite-size bread balls.

To caramelize onions and bring out their sweetness and flavor, cook them in a heavy-bottomed skillet long and slow.  We used three large onions, and it took almost an hour to get that intense sweet onion flavor and rich caramelized color.

Make the white wine cheese sauce while the onions cook. The cheese sauce an appetizer in itself, it is so good. It contains cream, white wine and a lot of Gruyere cheese.   What’s not to love? As the mixture cooled to room temperature it became a thick, creamy and luscious sauce.

French Onion Soup Appetizer Bites

Filling the bread shells was the fun part of making these mini boules.  Stuff each of the hollowed-out bread balls with the creamy cheese sauce and top with caramelized onions. Garnish the appetizer bites with fresh thyme sprigs and serve them at room temperature.

French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules
French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules

After filling all 24 of these mini boules we still had half a cup of caramelized onions and a couple of tablespoons of the cheese sauce leftover.  This made a really good snack spread on a slice of toasted sourdough bread!  🙂

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More Appetizer Recipes

French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules

French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules

French Onion-Gruyere Mini Boules, a taste of that classic French onion soup! These are hollowed out bread balls stuffed with a creamy Gruyere cheese sauce and topped with sweet caramelized onions.
4.91 from 31 votes
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Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 24 minutes
Servings: 24 appetizers
Calories: 101kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger


  • 12 Rhodes frozen yeast dinner rolls thawed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
  • 3 large onions sliced in half-rounds of 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

To Make the Gruyere Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 8 ounces gruyere cheese grated
  • Fresh thyme leaves snipped chives or parsley for garnish


To Make the Mini Boules:

  • Line a mini muffin pan with 24 mini parchment papers
  • Cut each yeast roll in half and form each half into small balls and place, seam side down, in the parchment papers. 
  • Cover the pan of yeast balls with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free space until they have risen to twice their size. About 45 minutes. (My favorite spot is the top of the refrigerator)  Meanwhile cook the onions.

To Caramelize the Onions:

  • In a large, wide cast iron or stainless steel skillet set over medium heat, add the oil and when it is hot add the sliced onions and herbs, tossing to coat them with the oil. Cook the onions, stirring them every 5 or 6 minutes, scraping up the fond from the bottom as it forms. Adjust the heat as necessary if you see they begin to brown to quickly. The onions should cook slowly to the tender stage which will release their sugars and cause them to caramelize. Do not stir too often or they will not brown properly and could become too soft. When they have reached a dark golden brown, about 45-50 minutes, add a couple tablespoons of wine or water to deglaze, scraping the fond goodies from the bottom of the skillet. Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle the onions with salt and transfer them to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Transfer the muffin tin to the center rack of the preheated oven and bake the boules for 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and allow to cool. 

To Make the Gruyere Sauce:

  • In a medium size saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter and when it has melted stir in the flour and cook until the mixture is a light golden color. Do not allow the butter-flour mixture to brown. 
  • Whisk in the milk and cream. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, until the sauce becomes thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the wine, and cook another minute to burn off the alcohol in the wine. 
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the grated gruyere cheese, add the salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the cheese sauce to a dish, spray the top with cooking spray to prevent a skin from forming and allow the sauce to cool. The sauce will become very thick and cheesy when it is cool.

To Assemble the Mini-Boules:

  • With a small sharp knife cut the tops off of each boule and pick out the inside using a small appetizer fork and creating a bread shell.
  • With a small appetizer spoon, fill each mini boule 1/2-3/4 full with a scoop of the cheese sauce. Add a portion of the caramelized onions, heaping them on top. Garnish with fresh herbs before serving at room temperature.


  1. There are many choices of bread dough available, the package I used says each frozen bread ball weighs 1.3 ounce (38 grams). 
  2. When cooking the onions, use a large pronged fork such as a salad-bowl mixing fork to lift and stir the onions. I found that a wooden spoon mashed the onions a bit. A flat, stiff pancake turner works great for scraping the fond from the bottom. 
  3. An appetizer fork does a great job in hollowing out the bread balls.
  4. Use an appetizer spoon and be generous when you scoop the cheese sauce into the hollowed ball.  


Serving: 1 | Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 112mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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4.91 from 31 votes (28 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Tuesday 10th of December 2019

I bought what I thought were the right frozen yeast dough rolls but when I tried to shape them they just fell apart... Any thoughts? Did I get the wrong kind?

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 11th of December 2019

I have not seen that happen before. I wonder if they were gluten-free rolls or if the 'best buy' date was expired.

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