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Recipes

65 Classic French Recipes to Add to Your Repertoire

Break out the good wine. It’s time to cook the best French recipes.

By SAVEUR Editors


Published on May 8, 2020

For many, French cuisine is virtually synonymous with gastronomy. French food boasts a rich and sweeping culinary history that includes rustic home cooking, elaborate court-dining masterpieces, and avant garde Parisian haute cuisine. So we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite French recipes, from Normandy to the Côte d’Azur (and everywhere in between).

For breakfast, try your hand at baking these buttery croissants; for a more filling weekend brunch, a traditional quiche Lorraine is sure to please. Fancy a sandwich for lunch? The Provençal pan bagnat, savory with tuna and olives, or a decadent croque tartine parisienne (open-faced ham-and-cheese with béchamel sauce) is in order.

Come dinner, start with appetizers—les entrées, en français. Steak tartare, frogs’ legs, and escargots are bistro staples that’ll make you feel like you’re dining in Paris. If, however, you’re after something lighter, a vegetarian Provençal soup or salade Lyonnaise will leave your guests ready for a hearty main course.

As for the pièce de résistance, France offers endless entree options. On cooler nights, consider hearty Gascon cassoulet, Alsatian choucroute garnie, or Burgundian coq au vin. Warmer weather calls for trout, lobster, or an epic bowl of bouillabaisse. Side dishes such as tender poached leeks vinaigrettes and ratatouille are delicious, but it's harder still to resist the comfort-food classic bistro fries cooked in duck fat.

If you've still got room for dessert, dig into Jacques Pépin’s mother’s apple tart, crêpes Suzette, or a clafoutis studded with juicy, ripe cherries.

From le petit déjeuner to le dîner, les apéritifs to le croquembouche, here are our favorite French dishes for any time of the day.

Chicken Basquaise

This braised chicken recipe, adapted from chef Sébastien Gravé, is emblematic of the Basque region's affection for colorful, peppery stews. Though paprika can work in a pinch, it's the flakier, lightly spicy, more enigmatic Espelette pepper that's characteristic of the region. Get the recipe for Chicken Basquaise »

Barigoule of Spring Vegetables

Crisp spring vegetables pair with a flavorful, vanilla-scented broth in this Provençal classic. Get the recipe for Barigoule of Spring Vegetables »

Alsatian Bacon and Onion Tart (Tarte Flambée)

Cooking on a very hot pizza stone gives this bacon and onion tart a shatteringly crispy crust. Get the recipe for Alsatian Bacon and Onion Tart (Tarte Flambée) »

Cinnamon Apple Bostock

This winey chicken braise dotted with pearl onions and button mushrooms is the first French dish many cooks outside France make, and no wonder: It's as simple to prepare as it is elegant to serve. Bostock is a sweet and crunchy breakfast pastry with roots in Normandy. Our version honors Calvados country with a schmear of apple butter and a splash of apple brandy added to the traditional frangipane cream. A generous layer of toasty almonds balances the soft and squishy filling below. Get the recipe for Cinnamon Apple Bostock »

Basque-Style Fish with Green Peppers and Manila Clams

This riff on Basque pipérade, a classic dish of stewed peppers, incorporates seafood from the region. Hake is traditional, but mild, white-fleshed fish like striped bass or haddock make fine substitutes. Fresh clams offer a briny sweetness. Any assortment of mild peppers will work here. Get the recipe for Basque-Style Fish with Green Peppers and Manila Clams »

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 »

Steak Diane

A lean cut like filet mignon takes well to sautéeing in a little fat, as in this classic preparation with a simple pan sauce that's laced with brandy and set aflame—a spectacular feat that cooks off the alcohol and contributes rich caramel notes to the dish. Get the recipe for Steak Diane »

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 »

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Frozen Chocolate Mousse (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) »

Seafood Soup with Ginger and Yuzu Kosho

Flavored with wine and aromatics, this broth is similar to a nage or poaching liquid—you only need a shallow pool of it in each bowl. The broth features red yuzu kosho, a Japanese condiment made from citrus, yuzu, and chiles, which adds a round, tart flavor that is hard to replace. In a pinch, add a little more chile and lime zest. If head-on shrimp are hard to find—or you'd rather not fight with fish heads on New Year's Eve—nix them for more shelled shrimp. Get the recipe for Seafood Soup with Ginger and Yuzu Kosho »

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 »

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 »

Salmon Rillettes

Made with both smoked and cooked fish for textural contrast, salmon rillettes became a New Year's staple once I discovered that my husband wasn't the only non—oyster eater among us. Pack into jars the night before entertaining—the flavors improve with time. Get the recipe for Salmon Rillettes »

Honey-and-Tea Jammers

These are dream cookies…literally. They came to me in a dream in Paris, the city of sweets. The base is a French shortbread, or sablé, flavored with honey and loose tea. If you have 2-inch baking rings, you can make the cookies in the rings on lined baking sheets instead of using muffin tins. Build the cookies inside the rings, bake, then leave the rings in place for at least 20 minutes before lifting them off, rinsing and reusing. Get the recipe for Honey-and-Tea Jammers »

The Ultimate Pot Roast

A low and slow braise is the best way to transform tough cuts of meat into fork-tender morsels. This version, made with a crosscut whole beef shank, is cooked in white wine and rich homemade beef bouillon layered with vegetables and aromatics for added complexity. Crunchy roasted radishes and a funky flaxseed, herb, and vinegar relish balance the pot roast's richness with acidity and texture. Get the recipe for The Ultimate Pot Roast »

Lentil Salad with Pork

Chef Daniel Boulud's take on a classic Lyonnaise pairing of pork and lentils. Make sure the lentils are fully cooked , says Boulud, "otherwise, they don't absorb the seasoning." Make sure to taste a few minutes before they are drained: They should be creamy with just a slight bite. Get the recipe for Lentil Salad with Pork »

Fromage Blanc Spread (Cervelle de Canut)

This dish, which translates literally to "silk worker's brain," is said to be named for Lyon's 19th-century silk weavers, who'd often make a lunch of the smooth herbed-cheese spread. Chef Boulud's family used to make it with fresh goat cheese, but fromage blanc works just as well. Serve with salad, potatoes, or toasted bread. Get the recipe for Fromage Blanc Spread (Cervelle de Canut) »

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 »

Lyonnaise Potato Salad with Herring

The key to this potato salad is its powerful ingredients: Cured herring and bracing red wine vinegar give each bite a pop of flavor. Get the recipe for Lyonnaise Potato Salad with Herring »

Lyonnaise Salad with Sausage and Walnuts

Sausage is the pride of Lyon, and here, instead of being served piping hot, it gets the cold treatment—tossed with a bright vinaigrette and chervil. "It's the perfect way to eat sausage along with other salads," says chef Daniel Boulud. Get the recipe for Lyonnaise Salad with Sausage and Walnuts »

Pike Quenelles with Sauce Nantua (Quenelles de Brochet)

When he was a young kitchen apprentice, Boulud made 200 of these quenelles each week. "Fifty percent of the pleasure of the quenelle is in the sauce—without the sauce, it's not that interesting," he says. Traditionally, they are served with a sauce Nantua (made from crayfish from the region of Nantua), but you can use any shellfish, such as crab or lobster. Get the recipe for Pike Quenelles with Sauce Nantua (Quenelles de Brochet) »

Pomme Purée

Passing cooked potatoes through the fine holes of a potato ricer ensures a silky consistency for this ultrarich side. Get the recipe for Pomme Purée »

Honey Glazed Roast Pork with Apples

Normans use apples and cider in many savory preparations—with game, poultry, even fish. In this classic pork dish from Jean-François Guillouet-Huard, of Domaine Michel Huard, it's important to use a slightly tart variety so the end result isn't too sweet. Get the recipe for Honey Glazed Roast Pork with Apples »

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 »

Deviled Eggs With Crab

Chef Yves Camdeborde assembles these haute deviled eggs—the whites marinated in soy sauce and pomegranate vinegar—à la minute at his stand-up bar L'Avant Comptoir de la Mer in Paris, but you can make the filling up to a day in advance and keep it refrigerated. Be sure to drain the whites immediately after 15 minutes of marinating so they don't toughen. Get the recipe for Deviled Eggs With Crab »

Boiled Cow’s Head (Tête de Veau)

"For me, eating calf's head is a must in Lyon—even for breakfast," says chef Daniel Boulud about this Lyonnaise specialty. "It brings back memories of family gatherings and special occasions. We used to raise and slaughter our own calves growing up." Instead of tackling the butchery on your own, have your butcher do the heavy lifting for you: Ask for the meat, tongue, and brain to be separated from the skull, but leave the skin on because, as Boulud says, "it's not tête de veau without the skin." Get the recipe for Boiled Cow's Head (Tête de Veau) »

Tomatoes Stuffed with Foie Gras, Duck Confit, and Chanterelles (Tomates Farcies)

Foie gras, chanterelles, and black truffle juice combine to make a particularly luxurious filling for tomatoes. Get the recipe for Tomatoes Stuffed with Foie Gras, Duck Confit, and Chanterelles (Tomates Farcies) »

Provençal Stuffed Squid

Fresh squid of every size, and cuttlefish too, are found at fishmongers throughout Provence. Lulu buys the tiny ones to fry, but chooses medium-size squid to stuff with herbs, chard, and bread crumbs (she prefers chard to spinach under most circumstances). To make things easier, the squid can be prepared in advance and cooked later in the day, roasted, grilled, or braised. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with fruity oil or an anchovy vinaigrette. Get the recipe for Provençal Stuffed Squid »

Mussels with Herbed Vinaigrette (Moules Vinaigrette)

Some fresh herbs are all you need for these French mussels, which come from Langon, France. Get the recipe for Mussels with Herbed Vinaigrette (Moules Vinaigrette) »

Corsican Lemon Mousse

This rich, silky mousse brightened with tangy lemons makes an elegant end to a meal. Get the recipe for Corsican Lemon Mousse »

Apple and Armagnac Phyllo Pie (Tourtière Landaise)

The crust of this striking dessert—named for Les Landes, the region where it is beloved and ubiquitous—curls up into jagged shards as it cooks, like a crown. Get the recipe for Apple and Armagnac Phyllo Pie (Tourtière Landaise) »

Basque Seafood Stew

Hearty "bouillabasque"—Darroze's tongue-in-cheek name for a Basque-style bouillabaisse, in which the fish is cooked separately and then added to a rich, reduced seafood-and-tomato stock—perfectly marries the culinary cornerstones of southwest France: duck fat, seafood, and armagnac. You can grill the fish on grates or a plancha, in the Spanish style, but a stovetop solution works just as well. Serve with aïoli, rouille, or any garlicky mayonnaise, along with some crusty bread. Get the recipe for Basque Seafood Stew »

Basque Pipérade with Seared Tuna Steaks

Pipérade, a sauté of onions, peppers, and tomato, is perhaps the most patriotic dish of Basque country—the colors represent those of the Basque flag. Get the recipe for Basque Pipérade with Seared Tuna Steaks »

Coquilles St-Jacques (Gratinéed Scallops)

While modern chefs tend towards lighter scallop recipes, this old French dish of scallops poached in white wine, placed atop a purée of mushrooms in a scallop shell, covered with a sauce made of the scallop poaching liquid, and gratinéed under a broiler, is a great way to prepare the bivalve. Get the recipe for Coquilles St-Jacques (Gratinéed Scallops) »

Spring Vegetable Stew

Any gently simmered mixture of vegetables is truly greater than the sum of its parts. It's important to cut the ingredients to the proper size and cook them sequentially, starting with the ones that need longer cooking. Get the recipe for Spring Vegetable Stew »

Veal Chops with Morels, Wilted Lettuce, Oysters, and Garlic-Parmesan Sauce

Vin jaune, a semisweet wine from the Jura region of France, enlivens the creamy morel ragù in this elegant veal and oyster dish. Get the recipe for Veal Chops with Morels, Wilted Lettuce, Oysters, and Garlic-Parmesan Sauce »

Bourride (Fish Stew with Aïoli)

Homemade aïoli thickens the broth in this satisfying Marsellais stew made with halibut, shrimp, and white wine. Get the recipe for Bourride (Fish Stew with Aïoli) »

Velouté de Châtaignes (Creamy Chestnut Soup)

Earthy roasted chestnuts are simmered in an aromatic stock until tender, then puréed to make a luxurious cream-thickened soup. Get the recipe for Velouté de Châtaignes (Creamy Chestnut Soup) »

Provençal Vegetable Tian

A tian is a type of gratin, typically vegetables baked in an earthenware dish. (The word "tian" also refers to the earthenware dish itself.) This classic Provençal version is made with alternating rows of sliced zucchini, eggplant, and tomato. The flavors meld as the vegetables cook together, somewhat like ratatouille. Seasoned simply with thyme, garlic, and good fruity olive oil, the dish is best served at room temperature. Lulu insists it tastes even better made a day in advance. Get the recipe for Provençal Vegetable Tian »

Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Soufflés

Adding puréed cauliflower to an appetizer-sized soufflé gives the dish the heartiness to be a vegetarian main when served with a salad. Get the recipe for Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Soufflés »

Simple Garlic Confit

Simmering garlic in fat turns them into a spreadable condiment perfect for crusty bread. Get the recipe for Simple Garlic Confit »

Classic Eclairs

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 »

Egg-Topped Ham and Cheese Sandwich (Croque Tartine Parisienne)

A fried egg crowns this decadent sandwich of ham enrobed in béchamel and melted cheese. Get the recipe for Egg-Topped Ham and Cheese Sandwich (Croque Tartine Parisienne) »

Perfect Blue Cheese Quiche With Whole Grain Crust

An extra-velvety quiche loaded with blue cheese for creaminess in a nutty spelt and whole wheat crust. Get the recipe for Perfect Blue Cheese Quiche With Whole Grain Crust »

Scrambled Eggs With Asparagus and Crab

Michel Roux's trick to perfect scrambled eggs is cooking them slowly, and adding asparagus and crab for flavor and textural contrast. Get the recipe for Scrambled Eggs With Asparagus and Crab »

Dried Apricot and Fig Clafoutis

Clafoutis is a French dessert that's trickier to pronounce than to make. A simple mixture of flour, eggs, dairy, and a little sugar, it's like a pancake, but more custardy, and it's baked instead of griddled. It looks and tastes impressive the way classic French desserts often do, but it's simple enough to whip up any weeknight. Rum-soaked dried apricots, figs, and raisins add their caramelized and honeyed flavors to this creamy version, perfect for cold weather when there's no fresh fruit around. Get the recipe for Dried Apricot and Fig Clafoutis »

Sauternes Custard with Armagnac-Soaked Prunes

At Boulestin, Agen prunes, prized for their caramel notes and soft texture, are infused with brewed tea, cinnamon, and armagnac and then used to top this sumptuous custard. In lieu of vanilla sugar, you can substitute 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Get the recipe for Sauternes Custard with Armagnac-Soaked Prunes »

Duck Pâté en Croûte

Pâté is a labor of love, but it's worth every step, especially when you bake it in flaky homemade pastry dough and top it with a flavorful gelée. Here, being careful to keep the ingredients cold during the process, and taking the same care when folding and filling the dough, yields a pâté that everyone will write home about. Get the recipe for Duck Pâté en Croûte »

Normandy-Style French Onion Soup

Michel Roux, the French-born chef of England’s Le Gavroche, takes a Normandy spin on this classic soup with a splash of cider and a whole lot of subtlety. But the best part? It only takes an hour to make. Get the recipe for Normandy-Style French Onion Soup »

Dominique Ansel’s Cassoulet

Made with confit duck legs, pork belly, and two kinds of sausage, this meaty, resplendently rich cassoulet is worth treasuring all winter. Get the recipe for Dominique Ansel's Cassoulet »

Butternut Squash Boulangère

Braised squash with bacon and onions is an easy crowd-pleaser with loads of deep, caramelized flavors. Get the recipe for Butternut Squash Boulangère »

Whole Wheat Mille Crêpe Cake

Layer nutty whole wheat crêpes with delicate honey whipped cream for a light but impressive dessert. Get the recipe for Whole Wheat Mille Crêpe Cake »

Brûléed Italian Plums with Armagnac Custard

Warming, caramel-scented Armagnac custard bathes fresh, barely-cooked Italian plums in this quick, simple dessert. Get the recipe for Brûléed Italian Plums with Armagnac Custard »

Crêpes

Master pastry chef Jacques Torres gave us his recipe for basic crêpes, which get a rich, nutty flavor from brown butter in the batter. The recipe works equally well for sweet or savory preparations; try filling them with ham, egg, and cheese or bananas and homemade Nutella. Get the recipe for Crêpes »

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 »

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 »

Almond Frangipane Tart with Cranberries and Honeyed Pistachios

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 »

Roast Duck with Shallots and Concord Grapes

As the bird steams in its Dutch oven, it releases its own fat which blends with the concord grapes and shallots into a rich sauce. Get the recipe for Roast Duck with Shallots and Concord Grapes »

Gascon-Style Duck Confit (Confit de Canard)

From the French verb confire, meaning "to preserve," duck confit is a traditional means of cooking meat slowly in its own fat. Get the recipe for Gascon-Style Duck Confit (Confit de Canard) »

Hearty Vegetable Stew with Duck Confit and Cabbage (Garbure Gasconne)

Traveling through the lower reaches of Gascony, you will be offered a steaming bowl of garbure to begin almost every lunch and dinner. Get the recipe for Hearty Vegetable Stew with Duck Confit and Cabbage (Garbure Gasconne) »

The Best Croissants

The croissant's perfection is twofold: an interior of infinitely spiraling paper-thin layers and a shatteringly flaky crust. Get the recipe for The Best Croissants »

Veal in Cream Sauce (Blanquette de Veau)

This dish of delicate veal, butter and more butter, cream, and carrots consistently ranks in the top ten when the French are surveyed about their favorite dishes. Get the recipe for Veal in Cream Sauce (Blanquette de Veau) »

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 »

Brioche

The generous amount of eggs and butter in this classic French bread yields a rich, tender crumb and the most irresistible pillowy texture. Get the recipe for Brioche »

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