What is France well-known for? Of course, food! And here we have listed the top 40 popular French foods! It may surprise you that this French food list is not entirely made up of haute cuisine and gourmet dishes. Some of today’s most well-known and popular French cuisines descended from ancient peasant dishes.
The French enjoy eating a lot, from appetizers to soups, and main courses. Some of the world’s best culinary wonders actually flow from the land.
It makes no difference what season the country is in. But, for the love of adventure, we’ve explored far and wide and across diverse locations to bring you 40 fantastic French foods to make each season even greater.
Popular French Foods
The following is a list of popular French foods in order of popularity!
Croissants, one of the great classics of French cuisine, are not easy to create, but the end result is well worth the effort if done well.
This crescent-shaped pastry is typically made from puff pastry dough, but it can also be produced from leavened dough.
A typical croissant is on the border between sweet and savory, and it can be plain or filled with cheese, ham, chocolate, jam, or raisins; nonetheless, a filled croissant cannot be regarded as a true croissant.
The method begins with combining yeast with milk and flour and allowing it to rise.
Quiche is a delicious French pie created by stuffing a pastry crust with meat, vegetables, cheese, or seafood and a custard made with cream, eggs, or milk.
Shortcrust pastry is commonly used, however, puff pastry can also be utilized. The dough is first formed using butter, flour, and cold water, then rolled out and placed in a baking pan.
The pie crust is then blind-baked before being filled with the custard and either spinach, bacon, or champignons, depending on the recipe, which must normally be precooked.
Finally, bake the assembled quiche until golden and set in the oven. The traditional quiche Florentine, quiche au fromage, quiche Lorraine, and quiche aux champignons are all variants of the dish.
The mayonnaise-like sauce originated in the hills of Provence. Aioli is commonly used to garnish seafood and vegetables.
The name literally means “garlic oil,” and it’s almost that simple; add salt for taste and an egg yolk for a creamy smoothness, and you’re done.
As one of the most well-known French cuisines in the United States, Americans usually equate the term Aioli with any mayonnaise-based sauce. In France, the wildest this Provençal sauce gets is a dash of lemon or mustard.
How does this sound to you? Cream, chopped garlic, mashed potatoes, and melted cheese This popular French dish originated in L’Aubrac in the south of France in the 16th century.
Aligot, a delectable French side dish, can become highly elastic, and some French restaurants put on quite a show while serving it. This is a traditional French dish that you should not miss!
The baguette is a long and crusty French bread that is an essential part of French meals. Whether used to make sandwiches or served alongside cheese and wine, the baguette is a symbol of French culinary excellence.
6. Foie Gras
The star of French charcuterie is foie gras, an extraordinarily soft and buttery pâté produced from duck liver. The texture is actually comparable to ice cream!
Foie gras is traditionally served with sea salt and black pepper throughout the Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
It’s especially popular at parties and ceremonies, where it’s spread on little toasts of crispy, warm bread. It pairs deliciously with caramelized onions, bits of black truffle, or fig jam, and a glass of dessert wine.
But the best way to eat Foie gras is pan-seared with sirloin steak and porcini mushrooms. Unhealthy? Without a doubt! But, at this point, it’s so delicious and that’s all that matters.
These tiny pancakes with wheat flour originated in the French area of Brittany. Despite being a French staple and national meal, crêpes have expanded globally since the turn of the twentieth century, when white wheat flour became available.
Flour, milk, eggs, and butter are whisked together to make a thin batter, which is then placed into a crêpe pan and fried.
The custom is to flip them in the air as they cook, and if you catch one in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year.
8. Jambon-Beurre (Ham Sandwich)
The one that families cook for a beach picnic; the one you prepare yourself in the morning when you know you’ll have a hectic working day ahead and won’t have time to go out for lunch…
As the name implies, jambon-beurre is a sandwich made of ham and butter, served inside half a baguette (of course!).
However, you can always add other ingredients: cheese, pickles, green leaves or tomatoes, black olives… You can substitute smoked, salty ham for the standard ham, and goat’s cheese for the butter…
But then it’d no longer be a jambon-beurre, would it? What they all have in common is that they all contain the same piece of bread: half a baguette.
9. Beef Bourguignon
Beef Bourguignon, or Boeuf Bourguignon, is a classic French meal from the region of Bourgogne (Burgundy). It combines two recognized components from the region, beef, and red wine.
Beef Bourguignon, originally a French peasant stew slow simmered with carrots, mushrooms, and onions, has been elevated to haute cuisine level by French cooks at some of Burgundy’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
It is still one of the most popular French main dishes today and an unquestionable French classic!
Beignets, also known as the official doughnut of Louisiana, originated in France. One of the most popular Mardi Gras delicacies in France, it’s no surprise that the United States Mardi Gras capital, New Orleans, embraced them as their own.
Certain regional French cuisines, particularly Provençal, have savory Beignets composed of various vegetables or zucchini blossoms.
Ratatouille is a traditional Provençal vegetable stew made with eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and herbs. This vibrant and flavorful dish is a celebration of fresh seasonal produce.
12. Crème Brûlée
Crème Brûlée is a decadent French dessert with a thick custard base and a caramelized sugar crust. It’s a rich, creamy delight that’s often flavored with vanilla or other delicate aromatics.
Macarons, one of the world’s most famous confections, are notoriously difficult to create. While most recipes follow the same technique as stated here, there are minor variances, the majority of which relate to how the meringue is created.
French meringue macarons have a crisper shell and a lighter texture, whilst Italian meringue macarons have a soft shell and a chewy interior.
Almond flour is blended with icing sugar before being delicately folded into the meringue.
Bouillabaisse, once produced by fishermen from leftovers of the sea, is now a famous French dish with many laws limiting its contents and preparation.
In fact, there is a Bouillabaisse Charter in Marseille that was created to try to preserve the authenticity of this world-famous cuisine.
In addition to the quality and type of components required, including the precise varieties of fish.
The Charter requires that the fish be presented and chopped in front of the guest. So, if you eat this traditional French dish at a Bouillabaisse Charter restaurant, you’ll get both a meal and a performance!
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Brioche, which is high in butter and egg, is a cross between bread and a pastry. Brioche, on the other hand, is more likely to be found at a boulangerie (bakery) than a pâtisserie (pastry store).
It is a popular cuisine in France because it can be eaten for breakfast, snacks, or dessert. Brioche is available in loaves as well as individual buns. They can be eaten simply or with nuts, fruits, or chocolate.
Traditionally, this rich, creamy seafood soup is made with lobster, shrimp, crab, or crayfish. Most bisque recipes begin with a rich broth made by boiling the shells of whatever crustacean is being used with stock.
After sautéing the meat with onions, herbs, garlic, and occasionally other vegetables such as leeks or carrots, the pan is deglazed with brandy, white wine, or sherry.
After simmering the broth and meat together, the soup is puréed and completed with double cream and lemon. This light and hearty gourmet seafood soup is generally served in a double-handled cup or mug.
The éclair, with its shining glaze, crisp shell, and lighter-than-air filling, represents the ultimate sublimation of basic French baking principles, serving as an excellent conduit for a variety of flavor combinations.
Éclairs, like profiteroles, gougères, and croquembouche, are made with the same dough, known as pâte à choux.
It’s a straightforward dough comprised of butter, sugar, eggs, and water. First, butter and water are cooked together, and then flour is added. When the mixture has slightly cooled, add the eggs one at a time while aggressively mixing.
After forming the dough, it gets put into a piping bag and piped into shapes on a baking sheet.
Soufflé is a French meal created with two basic ingredients: a flavored egg yolk base in the form of a cream sauce, purée, or crème pâtissière, and beaten egg whites.
The soufflé base is generally made with milk, egg yolks, and flour, while other recipes call for butter as well.
The warm base is then spiced with cheese, vegetables, or herbs for savory versions, while chocolate, fruits, vanilla, and jams are used for sweet variations.
19. Soupe à l’oignon
This is a popular French soup made with onions and beef stock that is typically topped with croutons and melted cheese. This was typically a peasant dish dating back to Roman times, while the current version originated from the 18th century.
The caramelization of the onions, which are frequently infused with brandy or sherry during the slow-cooking process, gives the soup its distinct flavor. If you’re craving soup, try Marseille’s famous soupe de poisson à la rouille.
This soup, once a favorite of fishermen, is distinguished by a dollop of saffron mayonnaise and garlic on top.
20. Tomates Farcies (Stuffed Tomatoes)
Another healthy choice, these stuffed tomatoes are a light and popular homemade dish.
The filling is made with breadcrumbs, onion, ground pork, and fine herbs, however, it can simply be changed with vegan components.
The tomato is seeded, packed with the filling, and slowly baked in the oven, enabling the tomato juices to flow into the filling. Simple, yet effective!
21. Coq au Vin
Coq au Vin is a classic French dish featuring chicken braised in red wine with onions, mushrooms, and aromatic herbs. This hearty and flavorful stew is a staple in French countryside cuisine.
Cassoulet, a classic French dish that dates back to the Middle Ages in the Languedoc region, blends white beans with onions, tomatoes, pork, and a variety of other meats depending on the town, such as mutton, goose, sausages, partridges, and duck.
Cassoulet, like Bouillabaisse, began as basic farmer fare and has developed to become a nice bistro supper that is one of France’s most recognized meals.
This traditional French dish, particularly the duck and sausage variation, is now available in Paris restaurants.
Châteaubriand is a genuine aristocrat of French dishes, made from the softest slice of beef tenderloin.
Meat that has been carefully seasoned and grilled is cut into slices and eaten with either chateaubriand or béarnaise sauce and potatoes, however, the term chateaubriand can also refer to the aforementioned piece of meat.
The tenderloin of beef is trimmed on all sides so that just the center, juiciest section remains. This portion typically weighs between 350 and 500 grams, thus the recipe serves two people.
The meat is seasoned with ground pepper, olive oil, and salt before being grilled momentarily on high and then on medium heat to retain its juices and keep it pink on the inside.
Mousse is a molded, soft-textured French dessert made with a savory base, whipped cream, and gelatin.
The base of the mousse is a flavorful purée or custard, with egg whites and/or cream acting as aerators to create the dish’s frothy, airy texture.
Gelatin is a connector that is occasionally required in the production of the meal. Some mousse bases, such as those made with cheese or chocolate, have enough solidity on their own and do not require the binding properties of gelatin.
Gelatin is typically used in savory mousses, whilst egg whites and cream are commonly used in sweet mousses.
25. Chicken Cordon Bleu
One of the most famous French dishes, Chicken Cordon Bleu, is fraught with controversy. Both the French and the Swiss claim ownership of the popular meal, and the origin of the name is a source of contention.
Stuffed with cheese and ham, fried and breaded, there is one thing that both the French and the Swiss agree on: Chicken Cordon Bleu is dang tasty!
26. Quiche Lorraine
Quiche Lorraine is a savory pastry filled with a mixture of eggs, cream, cheese, and bacon or ham. This versatile dish can be served hot or cold and makes for a delightful brunch or lunch option.
27. Tarte Tatin
Tarte Tatin is a delectable French upside-down caramelized apple tart. Made with buttery puff pastry and caramelized apples, it’s a sweet and indulgent dessert enjoyed with a dollop of whipped cream.
28. Steak au poivre
Steak au poivre is the essence of excellent dining and a French cuisine staple. A steak is coated in a fast pan sauce after being crusted with crushed peppercorns and quickly fried on both sides.
The tender filet mignon is the typical choice of meat, even though other boneless beef cuts, such as ribeye, New York strip, and sirloin, are also popular.
Although peppercorns are used in both the sauce and the meat, the dish can still be considered steak au poivre if they are only used in the sauce.
Although black peppercorns are the most common, other recipes call for red, green, or white peppercorns or a combination of the three.
29. Choucroute Garnie
Choucroute Garnie translates to “garnished sauerkraut” and is the most famous French dish from the Alsace region, which borders Germany. Here, the garnish takes center stage over the heavy dish.
Sauerkraut is typically topped with a combination of pork (shoulder, bacon, ham, or a combination), sausages, and potatoes. It’s so popular that we couldn’t find ordinary sauerkraut in French grocery stores!
30. Mousse au chocolate
Mousse au chocolat is a famous French dessert that is surprisingly simple to make. It is an elegant way to indulge in chocolate by changing it into a frothy, air-light cream.
A basic preparation requires only good quality chocolate, preferably with a high percentage of butter, fresh eggs, cocoa, and sugar.
Though some recipes may include a pinch of salt, cream, gelatin, milk, spices such as pepper or cinnamon, fruit, tea leaves, coffee, olive oil, caramel, and various liqueurs.
To make mousse au chocolat, begin by melting the chocolate with butter in two stages. Direct melting in a small saucepan over low heat or indirect melting in a double boiler.
When the mixture is uniform and shiny, the heat is put out, it is then gently cooled, and blended with the egg yolks.
Escargots, or snails, are a delicacy in French cuisine. Prepared with garlic butter and often served in special snail dishes, they offer a unique and indulgent dining experience.
Gaufres, or waffles, are a European delicacy made with yeast batter or dough and baked on rough plates. They are especially popular in Belgium.
The design of the plates affects the proportions and surface imprint of the waffle. Flemish gaufres, also known as Gauffres à la Flamande, are round or irregularly shaped waffles.
Although they are occasionally garnished with sugar and orange blossom water, they can also be eaten plain. Brussels waffles, which are rectangular in shape, are light and crispy waffles with larger, deeper pockets.
Their thick, foamy batter is derived from beaten egg whites and contains no sugar.
33. Duck A L’orange
Among the iconic French meals, Duck a l’Orange, also known as Canard à l’Orange, stands out as a traditional menu item at international French restaurants.
According to Larousse Gastronomique (French culinary encyclopedia), the recipe originates from Paris’s Restaurant Lasserre.
For almost 80 years, this legendary French restaurant has served delicious roasted duck with a slightly sweet-and-sour orange sauce, ensuring its place among the finest French meals!
34. Confit de canard
Confit de canard, or duck confit, is a traditional French dish from Gascony’s southwestern area. Confit was a common method of meat preservation for many centuries before refrigerators were introduced.
Although whole ducks were once used to produce confit de canard, the dish is now primarily cooked with duck legs.
The first step in creating duck confit is to salt-cure the duck legs overnight in the refrigerator.
There aren’t many recipes that have earned their position in the annals of excellent writing like madeleines, a simple but elegant delicacy that provoked a flood of recollections in Marcel Proust’s 1913 classic, In Search of Lost Time.
Madeleine cakes are shaped like a seashell, are simple to create, and are typically served in the afternoon during tea time. The original base for madeleines is génoise cake batter, which uses whole eggs rather than separating egg whites and yolks.
36. Steak tartare
Steak tartare is a classic French dish made with ground beef or horse meat. Although there are numerous tales and legends surrounding the dish’s beginnings, steak tartare has its roots in the early 20th-century dish known as steak à l’Americaine.
To make a basic steak tartare, finely mince a piece of lean beef, season it with pepper, salt, and Worcestershire sauce, and shape it into a patty.
A raw egg yolk is placed on top of the burger as a finishing touch. Steak tartare is usually accompanied by fresh parsley, chopped onions, and caper berries.
37. Soufflé au chocolate
Chocolate soufflé, as light as a feather but filled with taste, may appear intimidating at first but can be mastered by anybody, no matter how competent.
The preparation begins with the creation of either crème pâtissière or crème anglaise flavored with chocolate or cocoa.
The prepared mixture is placed in a buttered soufflé dish after the stiffly whipped meringue is folded into the cream.
Chocolate soufflé may be baked in a preheated oven, but it is also sometimes made in a water bath. Once baked, the soufflé should be eaten as soon as possible or it will collapse on itself.
Patience is essential while cooking consommé; this clear soup can be simmered for up to 5 hours and requires some inspection to achieve the desired result. To begin, place a piece of fresh meat, fish, poultry, or game in a big cooking pot filled with water or stock.
Marrow bones can also be used to add a deeper flavor. Various vegetables, including onions, leeks, parsley, carrots, and garlic, are added, as well as egg whites, which help in collecting all the impurities on the surface.
The consommé is slowly simmered for 2 to 5 hours after bringing all of the ingredients to a boil, based on whether it is prepared with pre-nade stock or simply water.
It’s known as a Millefeuille in France, but you might know it as a Napoleon in the United States. The name of this Frenc cuisine, pronounced “meel-foy,” means “1000 sheets,” referring to the many sheets of puff pastry needed to create this classic confection, a popular choice among French desserts.
Three layers of pastry alternating with pastry cream or vanilla custard, and the top is iced with a chocolate pattern or powdered sugar.
40. Onion Soup
One of the few traditional French dishes in which onion is the primary ingredient. Once considered a poor man’s soup, French Onion Soup, or Soupe à l’Oignon, is now a globally recognized French dish.
In French cafés, restaurants, bistros, and brasseries, a simple meal of caramelized onions, broth, croutons, beef, and cheese is served as an appetizer.
French cuisine is a celebration of artistry, quality ingredients, and a passion for culinary excellence.
Whether savoring flaky pastries, indulging in hearty stews, or relishing sweet desserts, exploring popular French foods is a journey that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the art of fine cuisine.