Best French Foods List
20. Foie gras
What is it: Foie gras is a French pate made from the liver of a duck or goose. The birds are purposely fattened before slaughter to give the pate a rich, buttery quality. It can be bought whole or as a mousse. Foie gras is often served with crackers or bread, or alongside a meat as a main course.
Recipe: Foie gras cannot be made from scratch, but you can buy it in supermarkets or specialty butchers.
19. Confit de canard
What is it: Confit de canard, or duck, is a method of French cooking where the whole duck is used to create a full meal, from entre to main. For example, the duck legs are often fried in the duck fat, as are potatoes and vegetables, and the duck breast is served separately as a main. While most restaurants now won’t use the whole bird, the dish hails from the Gascony region where even the neck of the duck is used to make a special soup.
Recipe: Confit duck
18. Nicoise salad
What is it: This fresh and summery salad originated from the coastal city of Nice and is traditionally made of tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives and anchovies, dressed with olive oil on a bed of lettuce. Alternate recipes sometimes use tinned tuna, potatoes or green beans.
Recipe: Quick nicoise salad
What is it: This chicken dish comes from the Basque region and over time was adapted with French twists. It’s made by simmering chicken in a piperade (a slow-cooked sauce of red capsicums, green tomatoes, onions, garlic, white wine, olive oil and herbs). Traditionally served in a terracotta dish with fresh bread.
What is it: Perhaps the most famous French dish, escargot snails are a must try for any traveller. The snails used are specifically farmed and edible land snails that are cleaned and removed from their shells before cooking. They are then served with butter, garlic and herbs back in their shells. They are full of flavour and akin to cooked mussels in texture.
Recipe: Benoit’s Classic French Escargot
What is it: From the region of Picardy comes the Flamiche, a tart made with leeks and cream. Similar to a quiche, the crust can be made from puff pastry and is usually sweeter like brioche. It’s a yummy vegetarian dish that is a cross between a pizza and a pie.
14. Tarte Tatin
What is it: Tarte Tatin is a signature dish named after the French hotel where it was created. Popular tarte Tatin fruits include apple and pear, but it can be made with any fruit as long as it is caramelised in butter and brown sugar before the tart is baked into a crisp shell.
Recipe: Tarte Tatin
13. Quiche lorraine
What is it: The very popular dish quiche lorraine is actually a French quiche that is made from eggs, milk or cream, and cheese, meat, seafood or vegetables. Popular pairings include cheese and bacon. It can be served hot or cold.
Recipe: Quiche lorraine
What is it: Raclette is a type or cheese and a method of serving cheese. It is a semi-hard cheese served in a large wheel, that is then melted with a raclette grill until it can be scraped onto a dish as liquid. While it is a Swiss cheese, the French have adopted raclette as their own dish. It can be served over bread, sandwiches or vegetables such as potatoes and beans.
Recipe: How to make Raclette
What is it: Bouillabaisse is a seafood stew that originated from the port city of Marseilles. Once considered a provincial dish made with leftover fish from fishermen, it’s now a classic and beloved dish that has many variations to include mussels, crabs and octopus alongside the fish and potatoes, leeks onions, tomatoes and celery.
Recipe: Classic French Bouillabaisse
What is it: Ratatouille is a rich tomato based vegetable dish originating from Nice. French cuisine may not have many vegetarian recipes but this popular dish is! While the Disney/Pixar movie made the dish well-known internationally, the traditional recipe doesn’t call for the finely layered vegetable arrangement, instead it just needs to contain tomato, garlic, onion, zucchini, eggplant, herbs and capsicum to be ratatouille.
9. Soupe à l’oignon
What is it: Soupe à l’oignon, AKA French onion soup, can be found on many menus in France and you should never be fooled by its simplicity. Onions cooked until sweet in a meat based broth, served with crispy croutons (or bread) with cheese (reblochon cheese is very tasty) on top. This might be the perfect winter meal.
What is it: Cassoulet is essentially a pork and bean stew, but thanks to the hearty French flavours it becomes so much more. Named for the dish it’s traditionally cooked in, a cassole, the simple slow-cooked meal of pork skin, meat and white beans originated from southern France and is still popular today.
Recipe: Lighter cassoulet
What is it: Whether you prefer a savoury cheese soufflé or a rich chocolate soufflé, this complicated dish is sure to impress any guest. Unlike a French cake, soufflé is egg based and the egg whites create the ‘lift’ (as opposed to a cake where the chemical reaction of baking soda does this). Notorious for being difficult, once mastered you can experiment with different flavours in these magical fluffy and puffy baked goods.
Recipe: Citrus soufflé
6. Beef bourguignon
What is it: This rich French beef stew will warm even the coldest nights with slow-cooked meat in a tomato and red wine sauce. It’s believed to have been served in Parisian bistros since the 19th-century, but is likely a much older dish. Serve with crusty baguette bread.
Recipe: Beef cheek bourguignon
What is it: Pot-au-feu, or pot on the fire, is the national dish of France and is a dish for families, both rich and poor. The beef stew uses cheaper cuts of meat that are rich in flavour and marrow. It is then slow cooked over the fire for hours in a broth, before having vegetables, onions and seasonings added. Traditionally the broth is served first with a bit of nutmeg, but the whole dish can be eaten as a soup or drained and on bread.
Recipe: Classic Pot-au-Feu
4. Coq au vin
What is it: One of the best known French chicken dishes is chicken with wine, AKA coq au vin. The chicken is braised with wine, bacon fat, mushrooms and garlic. A French red wine from Burgundy is the traditional wine to use, but it can also be made with white wine.
Recipe: Chicken drumsticks coq au vin
What is it: French crepes are a popular street food snack in France, but the French pancakes hold their own as main meals and dessert too. Crepes can be served savoury or sweet, but a true crepe is always a very thin pancake made from flour, milk and eggs. While often associated with the French region of Brittany, crepes are loved across the world nowadays.
Recipe: Crepes Suzette
What is it: Like soufflé, French macarons have a reputation as being tricky to get right. The delectable fancies are a meringue-based sweet made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond meal, and colouring. The luxury French bakery and tea house, Ladurée, are renowned for their macaron making.
Recipe: Basic macarons
What is it: Breakfast, lunch, dinner or tea - this French pastry is good any time of day! The light, buttery layers of pastry come together in a crescent moon to make one of the best pastries in the world. Served in France plain, with almonds or with a chocolate filling, you can get them in any bakery worth its salt. While it may take a couple tries to master, learning to bake croissants at home is very rewarding.
Recipe: DIY Croissants