Our 48 Best French Desserts So You Can Feast Like A Parisian

There's no denying the appeal of a classic French dessert

For all of France's fine dishes—everything from cassoulets to coq au vin—it can be argued that the crown jewel of French cuisine is dessert. From pâte choux to pâte brisée to crème patissière, many of the world's most beloved and influential sweets employ techniques and basics that are French in origin. The list is endless, but we've compiled our best French desserts into a list of essentials. The list runs of the gamut of occasions: master the art of the tart for a treat-yourself weekday dinner, or pull out all the stops for a fancy dinner party with a towering croquembouche that will surprise and delight guests. From crème brûlée to macarons, our best French dessert recipes should be essentials on your list.

Pastry expert Niko Triantafillou of Dessert Buzz has made creating the perfect canelé one of his life quests. His recipe is the real deal: crunchy and caramelized to a deep mahogany brown on the outside, moist and custardy within, and deeply perfumed with dark rum and vanilla bean. Get the recipe for Canelés de Bordeaux »

Cherry Gateau Basque

Cherry Gateau Basque
The signature dessert of the region, gâteau basque is made by sandwiching a layer of jam or sweet pastry cream between two shortbread-like rounds. Cherry preserves are a classic filling—choosing a good-quality jam makes all the difference—and the dough itself resembles a cookie dough, with additional eggs lending a cakier texture. It can also be baked in a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; just be sure to grease the sides with butter before assembling. Get the recipe for Cherry Gateau Basque »Beth Galton

Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin

Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin
Juicy cherry or grape tomatoes are coated in a light caramel to make the "topping" for this tart, but the whole thing is baked upside down in a skillet. Do most of the steps to prepare it in advance—make the zucchini paste and defrost the puff pastry a few hours or up to two days ahead—but be sure to serve the tart just after baking, turning it out from the pan in front of guests. It tastes best while the caramel is still runny and the warm, topmost layer of dough has a custardy consistency. Get the recipe for Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin »Michelle Heimerman

Meringue Floating in Crème Anglaise

Meringue Floating in Crème Anglaise
Sprinkled on top of these delicate meringues—which float in a vanilla custard—are praline roses, caramel-coated almonds dyed a bright pink. The color's a bit shocking, but they're a staple of Lyonnaise pâtisseries and lend a nice crunch and color to this white-on-white backdrop. Get the recipe for Meringue Floating in Crème Anglaise »Matt Taylor-Gross

Sablé Breton

Pie Crust Sable Breton
This recipe comes from Tariq Hanna of Sucré in New Orleans. Originating in Brittany, a region known for it's salt-forward cuisine, this crust contain a hefty pinch of the flaky stuff; be sure to use a good brand as the delicate flavor will be noticeable here. It's a crust that requires no rolling and very little fuss, making it an exceptional choice for a summer fruit tart. Get the recipe for Sablé Breton »Matt Taylor-Gross

Strawberry Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit

Strawberry Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit
Instead of coating his pâte de fruit with plain sugar, William Werner of San Francisco's Craftsman and Wolves flavors Demerara sugar with Clément Créole Shrubb, a spiced liqueur made of aged and white Agricole rums and bitter orange peels. It adds a clean, bright flavor to the glittering topping. Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit »SAVEUR

Frozen Chocolate Mousse (Marquise au Chocolat)

Marquise au Chocolat
This dessert—a fudgy, frozen or semifrozen chocolate mousse that's sometimes coated in ganache, then sliced—likely came from the 17th or 18th century, when royal pastry chefs lived large. I like to crumble in Speculoos cookies, like Biscoff brand, before freezing, to add crunch and pretty golden flecks, but anything that works with chocolate—from candied ginger to rum-soaked raisins—is fair game. It's at its best when semifrozen or thawed but still chilly. Get the recipe for Frozen Chocolate Mousse (Marquise au Chocolat) »Christina Holmes

Almond Frangipane Tart with Cranberries and Honeyed Pistachios

almond frangipane tart
Frangipane, an almond-based pastry filling, has a nutty fragrance and a consistency between buttery pound cake and airy sponge cake. In French-style fruit tarts, this classic filling is often studded with poached or fresh fruits. In summer, you can swap out the cranberries in this tart for halved pitted apricots, fresh pitted cherries, or sliced plums. Syrup-poached apples or pears, halved ripe figs, or quince would be delicious in cooler months. Get the recipe for Almond Frangipane Tart with Cranberries and Honeyed Pistachios »Ryan Liebe

Chocolate Ganache Tart with Sea Salt and Espresso Beans

Chocolate Ganache Tart with Sea Salt Espresso Beans
A touch of egg is the simple, secret ingredient in this luscious tart's filling. Just a little gives the combination of chocolate and cream a sliceable, fudgy consistency. The crumbly cocoa-laced crust can be pressed right into a fluted pan, no rolling pin required. Swap out espresso beans for toasted nuts, chopped brittle, granola, or crushed peppermint candy. Just don't eliminate the sea salt; it adds a bright, irreplaceable contrast to the decadent filling. Get the recipe for Chocolate Ganache Tart with Sea Salt and Espresso Beans »Ryan Liebe

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée
Beating egg yolks with sugar until pale and fluffy is the key to the smooth texture in this rich, classic French dessert, as made by Dennis Wist, father of Saveur Art Associate Allie Wist. Get the recipe for Crème Brûlée »Farideh Sadeghin

Pâte à Choux aka Cream Puffs

chocolate covered French eclairs filled with cream
When it comes to eclairs, homemade is always better. Bakeries have to chill their filled eclairs, which makes for soggy centers and mushy crusts; you can freshly fill yours at home and eat them right away. This recipe is adapted from pastry chef Scott Cioe from Park Hyatt New York. Get the recipe for Classic Eclairs »Farideh Sadeghin

Kugelhopf

Kugelhopf
Pastry chef Christine Ferber's not-too-sweet kugelhopf, an Alsatian cake baked in a distinctive ring mold, has just a few choice raisins per slice. Enjoy with a sweet Alsatian wine, like gewürztraminer or muscat. Get the recipe for Kugelhopf »Matt Taylor-Gross

Baked Apple Terrine with Calvados

Baked Apple Terrine with Calvados
Calvados, an apple brandy made from double-distilled apple cider aged in oak barrels, is generally made from highly tannic apples. Guillouet-Huard likes to use it to underscore the flavor of sweet cooking apples. Get the recipe for Baked Apple Terrine with Calvados »Matt Taylor-Gross

Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies
A French version of the classic American cookie, this recipe adds ground almonds for a result that's chubby and chewy and just a little soft at the center. Get the recipe for Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies »Farideh Sadeghin

Macarons

stack of pink and yellow Macarons
These pillowy, delicate cookies, typically filled with jam, buttercream or ganache, are small yet decadent enough to provide the perfect bite of dessert. Get the recipe for Macarons »Helen Rosner

Bay and Rosemary Custard

Bay and Rosemary Custard
Chef Steven Brown of Tilia serves these custards in egg-shells, but espresso cups work just as well. The yogurt helps to balance the sweetness of the rosemary-infused custard. Get the recipe for Bay and Rosemary Custard »Ariana Lindquist

Flourless Chocolate Soufflé

Flourless chocolate soufflé
Rich yet airy, this decadent chocolate dessert also happens to be gluten-free. Get the recipe for Flourless Chocolate Soufflé »Helen Rosner

Bouchon's Apple Pie

Bouchon's Apple Pie
Classic apple pie gets an upgrade at Las Vegas' Bouchon Bakery, where pastry chef Scott Wheatfill tops a flaky sweet crust with housemade apple butter and almond cream. The result is a delicate, refined tart with a creamy interior and a concentrated spicy flavor. Get the recipe for Bouchon's Apple Pie »Eilon Paz

Shortbread Cookies (Punitions)

stack of shortbread cookies
Traditional French shortbread cookies taste best using a good salted butter with a high butterfat content, such as Kerrygold. Get the recipe for Shortbread Cookies (Punitions) »Todd Coleman

Apple Croustade (Flaky Apple Tart)

Flaky Apple Tart
Crisp, paper-thin sheets of phyllo dough wrap and crown tender brandied apples in this classic French tart. Get the recipe for Apple Croustade (Flaky Apple Tart) »David Yoder

Pear Tarte Tatin

Pear Tarte Tatin
This tart is traditionally made with apples, but firm-fleshed pears make a delicate and delicious alternative. Get the recipe for Pear Tarte Tatin »Vanessa Rees

Gâteau Millasson (Gascon-Style Flan)

Gascon Flan
This French egg custard is traditionally made with corn flour, but wheat flour works just as well. It puffs dramatically while cooking, then settles into a dense, delicately sweet flan. Get the recipe for Gâteau Millasson (Gascon-Style Flan) »Matt Taylor-Gross

Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry Clafoutis
A decadent custard batter is studded with juicy, ripe cherries in this elegant and satisfying treat. Get the recipe for Cherry Clafoutis »Todd Coleman

Clafoutis aux Olives Noires Confites (Candied Black Olive Cake)

slices of black olive cake
Olives are candied in simple syrup and then sunk into a flan-like cake in this recipe from chef Lionel Lévy. Get the recipe for Clafoutis aux Olives Noires Confites (Candied Black Olive Cake) »Ingalls Photography

Palmiers

Palmiers
These delicate French cookies are sugar-dusted and flaky, with a toothsome bite. Get the recipe for Palmiers »Helen Rosner

Pistachio Financiers

Pistachio Financiers
This two-bite pastry is as rich as the name suggests: its defining ingredients are almond flour, ground pistachios, and brown butter, lightened with whipped egg whites. Get the recipe for Pistachio Financiers »Todd Coleman

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse
This simple yet sophisticated, airy yet intense concoction has been a hit with home cooks in America at least since the New York Times published its first recipe for the dessert in 1955. Get the recipe for Chocolate Mousse »Todd Coleman

Lemon Soufflé

Lemon Soufflé
There is something about a souffle—a magical blending of eggs, air, and acid—that turns any meal into an unforgettable event. Get the recipe for Lemon Soufflé »Todd Coleman

Napoleons

layered Napoleon pastry filled with cream
This classic French pastry, whose name means thousand leaves (for its delicate multiple layers), is known as the napoleon. The name is probably a reference not to the diminutive Corsican emperor, but to the multilayered confections of Naples. Get the recipe for Napoleons »Helen Rosner

Pain au Chocolat

Pain au Chocolat
Beautiful homemade croissants, each containing a bar of high-quality dark chocolate, make for an impressive and indulgent addition to a breakfast spread. Get the recipe for Pain au Chocolat »Todd Coleman

Coeur a la Creme

French heart-shaped cream dessert with strawberries
A perforated coeur a la creme mold is traditionally used to form this classic French heart-shaped dessert, though a mesh sieve makes a fine substitute. Get the recipe for Coeur a la Creme »Todd Coleman

Croquembouche

Croquembouche pile of cream puffs
"The fine arts are five in number," wrote the chef Marie-Antoine Careme, "painting, sculpture, poetry, music, and architecture—whereof the principle branch is confectionery." He knew what he was talking about. After all, he created croquembouche, a spire of caramelized cream puffs.Todd Coleman

Chocolate Puff Pastry

Chocolate Puff Pastry
Buttery homemade puff pastry only gets better with a touch of chocolate. Adding a little cocoa powder to the butter block transforms the pastry into a barely sweet, delicately chocolaty version of itself. Get the recipe for Chocolate Puff Pastry »Ingalls Photography

Lavender Honey Ice Cream

Lavender Honey Ice Cream
This ice cream is best when made with true miel de lavande, French lavender honey from Provence, which is produced by bees that feed primarily on lavender blossoms, imparting a creamy texture and distinctive flavor and scent. Get the recipe for Lavender Honey Ice Cream »Helen Rosner

Raspberry Brûlée

Raspberry Brûlée
This raspberry brûlée is a delightful combination of whipped cream and luscious ripe raspberries covered with a crunchy sugar topping. Get the recipe for Raspberry Brûlée »Nicole Franzen

Les Navettes de Saint Victor (Shuttle Cookies)

Les Navettes de Saint Victor (Shuttle Cookies)
These boat-shaped, orange-blossom-scented sugar cookies are a signature Marseillais treat. Les Navettes de Saint Victor (Shuttle Cookies)Landon Nordeman

Crazy Day Crêpes

Crêpes stuffed with cheese and topped with stewed blueberries, strawberries, and peaches
These crêpes stuffed with fromage blanc and maple syrup and are topped with stewed blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. Get the recipe for Crazy Day Crêpes »Corey Hendrickson

French Crullers

French Crullers
Named for their twisted shape, these donuts get their airy texture from choux pastry. Get the recipe for French Crullers »Todd Coleman

Apricot-Almond Tart

Apricot-Almond Tart
A combination of all-purpose and potato flours gives this simple summer tart a delicate, crumbly crust. Get the recipe for Apricot-Almond Tart »Penny De Los Santos

Crêpes with Maple Sugar and Syrup

Crêpes with Maple Sugar and Syrup
These crêpes, layered and rolled with sweet amber sugar and syrup, make an indulgent breakfast or dessert. Get the recipe for Crêpes with Maple Sugar and Syrup »Landon Nordeman

Madeleines

Madeleines
Made from an airy sponge cake batter, these oversized lemon-scented madeleines are baked until dark brown to impart a delectable crust. Get the recipe for Madeleines »Landon Nordeman

Crepes Suzette

Crepes Suzette
Credit for inventing crêpes Suzette is claimed by French restaurateur Henri Charpentier, who in 1894, at age 14, while an assistant waiter, accidentally set a sauce aflame when serving dessert to the Prince of Wales. Get the recipe for Crepes Suzette »Landon Nordeman

Chocolate Chile Gravy

Chocolate Chile Gravy
This thick, spicy chocolate sauce is perfect spread on french toast or sliced, toasted bread. Get the recipe for Chocolate Chile Gravy »Yossy Arefi