HomeTravel20 classic French dishes everyone needs to try

20 classic French dishes everyone needs to try

Editor’s Note — Editor’s be aware: “Julia” tells the story of legendary cookbook creator and tv celebrity Julia Child, who revolutionized house cooking within the US. The CNN Film premieres on Monday, May 30, at 8 p.m. ET.

(CNN) — The roots of French cooking run deep. The foundations of the nation’s culinary empire had been laid as early because the mid-1600s when chef François Pierre La Varenne penned his massively influential “Le Cuisinier François” recipe e-book, emphasizing regional and seasonal components, highlighting complementary flavors, and starting to doc its phrases and methods.

“There is some mystery and magic to French cuisine that still draws people in. Even the basics — a perfect baguette, flaky pastry, potatoes simmered in cream — are astonishingly good even if we can’t quite figure out what makes them so delicious.”

The impacts of France’s culinary contributions have been widespread. When famed TV chef Julia Child tried sole meunière for the primary time in 1948 at La Couronne restaurant in Rouen, she was overcome by the simultaneous simplicity and delicacy of French cooking.

The dish impressed Child to pursue a profession in cooking that subsequently prompted a complete technology of Americans to throw out the TV dinners and gelatin dessert molds and return to contemporary, flavorful meals made with entire components.

Child’s expertise was not distinctive. There is a motive, in spite of everything, that so lots of the phrases we use to describe a lover of fine meals — gourmand, connoisseur, gastronome — are French in origin.

“French cuisine has been explored by generations and generations of chefs, home cooks, passionate people like Julia (Child), and food writers,” mentioned Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud, proprietor of 14 eating places worldwide. “And French cuisine keeps inspiring people. It is entertaining. It is delicious. It is accessible. It is possible.”

Whether it is nation fare or haute delicacies that conjures up, French meals is rife with dishes that might captivate even essentially the most discerning of critics. Take a take a look at 20 of them.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon: Julia Child referred to as it the “stew of stews.”

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Is there probably a extra French means to put together beef than to marinate it in pink wine? Named boeuf Bourguignon after the famed pink wine from the Burgundy area of France, this dish combines a pleasant, fatty reduce of beef with a dry pinot noir and loads of contemporary greens to create a hearty and indulgent stew.

It has been the main focus of many discussions over which cuts of beef and kinds of wine create the most effective taste profiles. But a very powerful ingredient for achievement is endurance — like all good stew, boeuf Bourguignon is greatest when left in a single day earlier than serving.

Not a fan of beef? Another French favourite, coq au vin, takes the Burgundian preparation and offers hen the main position as a substitute.


Bouillabaisse: This Provençal dish is an elevated take on the catch of the day.

Bouillabaisse: This Provençal dish is an elevated tackle the catch of the day.

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With an extended title and an excellent longer listing of components, bouillabaisse is seaside metropolis Marseille‘s reward to France’s culinary canon. The soup, as soon as a poor man’s dish and now a mainstay on many a Michelin-starred menu, elevates the catch of the day past your normal soupe de poisson.
According to Marseille’s bouillabaisse charter, in an try to standardize the components and preparation of the classic dish, the soup should embody not less than 4 of six specific fish choices which might be reduce up in entrance of the diners. Alongside non-obligatory crustaceans and a spicy broth, no self-respecting bouillabaisse is full and not using a topper of croutons dipped in rouille, a peppery garlic sauce.

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin: The rustic upside-down caramelized apple tart has deep, buttery flavor.

Tarte Tatin: The rustic upside-down caramelized apple tart has deep, buttery taste.

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This listing of classic French dishes can be incomplete with out the inclusion of one thing from the nation’s intensive repertoire of patisserie. Though not as refined or architectural as some treats seen within the home windows of French candy outlets, the buttery, simmering tarte Tatin, primarily an upside-down caramelized apple tart, is known around the globe for its wealthy taste and distinctive historical past.

Legend has it, sisters Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin had been working in a restaurant within the Loire Valley of France within the late nineteenth century when Stéphanie was overwhelmed within the kitchen by the inflow of consumers throughout searching season. She by accident left the apples in her apple pie cooking too lengthy and tried to salvage it by overlaying the apples in pastry and baking. The ensuing dish — steaming apples below caramelized sugar with a flaky crust — was so widespread it was ultimately named after the sisters: la tarte des demoiselles Tatin.

Though tarte Tatin is bound to be scrumptious anyplace you try it, it could be greatest sampled the place it originated.

“Northern France is very known for its apples,” mentioned David Lebovitz, creator of “The Sweet Life in Paris.” “They have spectacularly good cooking apples.”

French onion soup

French onion soup: The cozy, brothy soup is topped with bread and melted cheese.

French onion soup: The cozy, brothy soup is topped with bread and melted cheese.

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Onion soup just isn’t a brand new invention or perhaps a dish that may be instantly tied to France — a few of the earliest iterations of it may be traced again to historic Rome — however essentially the most well-known model? The model you consider whenever you assume “onion soup”? The model you order to begin off your meal made with beef inventory, onions, toasted bread and ooey-gooey Gruyère cheese? That’s all France.

The ingredient that basically units this soup aside from different, much less indulgent onion-based choices is the layer of cheese that tops the steaming broth. That comes from baking the soup in a broiler to soften the cheese and produce what the French name au gratin.

The gratin “technique (is) about making something in a shallow dish that will bake and get croûte on top — which means creating a crust — and that crust can be cheese, can be bread, can be all kinds of things. But a nice crust,” defined Boulud, who opened Le Gratin, a complete restaurant devoted to highlighting the method, in New York. The hottest dish on the restaurant is one other tacky French favourite, gratin Dauphinois, or gratin potatoes.


Escargot: Snails with parsley and garlic butter are a French delicacy.

Escargot: Snails with parsley and garlic butter are a French delicacy.

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Escargot is maybe probably the most well-known — or notorious, relying on who you ask — French dishes round. The delicacy, which may be traced all the best way again to the Roman Empire, won’t be for everyone, but it surely’s undoubtedly price a try for the adventurous eater.
The classic recipe includes snails with parsley and garlic butter. The snails are served heat both inside their shells or in a selected dish usual with six to 12 small compartments. Often the dish comes with some bread to assist take in the wealthy, buttery taste. These aren’t your common yard snails both. The most popular snail species for escargot are the significantly well-regarded Burgundy snail, which is very protected in France.

Chocolate soufflé

Chocolate soufflé: This rich yet lightweight dessert is a challenge to master but well worth the effort.

Chocolate soufflé: This wealthy but light-weight dessert is a problem to grasp however nicely definitely worth the effort.

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Aptly named after the French time period souffler, which means “to puff up,” the expertise of consuming a chocolate soufflé or one in all its savory counterparts is a bit like biting right into a cloud. The wealthy but light-weight dessert has been gracing French tables for the reason that 18th century, however was actually perfected by esteemed chef and arbiter of haute delicacies Marie-Antoine Carême within the mid-1800s.

Though notoriously tough to put together, the soufflé has a comparatively easy ingredient listing. The distinctive ethereal texture comes from separating the egg whites from the yolk and whipping them right into a stiff meringue earlier than folding them again into the chocolate batter. The baking time and cooking temperature is restricted, and simple to get improper, however the payoff is fast — soufflés are served scorching and contemporary from the oven.


Crepes: Ultrathin pancakes can be served with sweet or savory.

Crepes: Ultrathin pancakes may be served with candy or savory.

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Not each French dish has a complete day devoted to it, however then once more, the crepe is not simply any French dish. As France’s biggest-hitting entry to the global pancake catalog, crepes have a uniquely versatile high quality. They may be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner; with buckwheat flour, a practice of the Brittany area, or extra extensively used white flour; folded into triangles or rolled into logs.
The paper-thin pancake is ready fairly theatrically on giant griddles at crêperies. You can now discover crepes made with any mixture of candy and savory components, however crêpes suzette are nonetheless a well-liked iteration, consisting of caramelized sugar, orange juice and, for a flash of drama, flambeed liqueur.

Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise: This dish is a celebration of fresh, colorful produce at its peak.

Salade Niçoise: This dish is a celebration of contemporary, colourful produce at its peak.

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Salade Niçoise is a celebration of the contemporary, colourful produce obtainable all through the French Riviera, the place the dish originated. Elegantly plated on a tray or giant platter, the salad incorporates a mattress of lettuce and a easy olive oil dressing or French dressing that lets the actual star of the dish really shine — the crudités, or uncooked greens.
A purist’s salade Niçoise would possibly function a seasonal number of contemporary tomatoes, black olives, capers and inexperienced beans, all served chilly, with the non-obligatory addition of anchovies or tuna. But because the salad’s recognition has grown outdoors of Nice, a variety of components have turn into widespread additions, like hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, pink bell peppers, fava beans and cucumbers.
The sandwich model of this salad, pan bagnat, can be price a try. Picture all of the scrumptious components of a Niçoise salad tucked into ache de campagne, or French sourdough.

Crème brûlée


Crème brûlée: Fire is required for this caramelized dessert.

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Every chew of a crème brûlée is an train in opposites. The candy vanilla custard taste contrasted with the just about bitter taste of the bruléed topping; the crunch of the caramelized sugar towards the sleek, creamy texture of the custard beneath; the mild water tub used to bake the custard in contrast with the dramatic blowtorch flame used to soften the sugar — on this dish opposites undoubtedly appeal to.

It’s arduous to pinpoint when and even the place the primary crème brûlée might need been made. There had been related recipes floating round France, Spain and England relationship again as early because the fifth century. But one factor for positive is that people all through historical past have at all times beloved a superb, creamy dessert. And who’re we to disagree with 1,500 years of fine critiques?


Cassoulet: The earthy stew is the heartiest of hearty French dishes.

Cassoulet: The earthy stew is the heartiest of hearty French dishes.

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Perhaps the heartiest of hearty French dishes is the cassoulet. A bean-centric ragout that originated within the southern city of Castelnaudary, the cassoulet can have completely different components, relying on the area. In Castelnaudary, the white beans are ready with duck confit, pork and sausage. Carcassonne options gamey meat like mutton. Toulouse provides a bread crumb topping.

The common and historic premise is similar — take all of the hearty and edible components obtainable and put them in a pot or, extra particularly, an earthenware cassole.

This dish is so beloved by the French, Castelnaudary has its personal brotherhood to defend it— the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet. “The goal of the Grande Confrérie is to serve the status, disseminate and defend the popularity of Cassoulet de Castelnaudary, making certain respect for traditions and high quality,” a press release on the brotherhood’s web site explains.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine: A butter crust and savory egg custard make this a winning dish.

Quiche Lorraine: A butter crust and savory egg custard make this a successful dish.

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Creamy eggs, smoky bacon, flaky pastry crust — the quiche Lorraine is the quintessential French brunch merchandise. But what has turn into a staple merchandise at any first rate French bistro or boulangerie had a fairly tumultuous begin.

The time period quiche originates from the German phrase for cake — kuchen. This is as a result of the first quiches had been made within the Lotharingia kingdom of Germany which, throughout the Middle Ages, spanned a number of trendy Western European nations.

The egg-and-cream custard pie was beloved within the Lothringen area, which was later annexed by France to turn into, you guessed it, Lorraine. The borders modified, however the dish caught round. Now, quiches are served worldwide with any variety of scrumptious and ingenious taste combos.

Confit de canard

Confit de canard: The slow-cooked duck will have meat so tender it falls off the bone.

Confit de canard: The slow-cooked duck could have meat so tender it falls off the bone.

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What was as soon as a technique of preserving meat or greens earlier than the existence of fridges has turn into probably the most well-known French meals preparation strategies. The confit course of produces juicy, tender meat with crispy pores and skin that is been enriched with the flavors of salt, herbs and its personal fats. What’s not to love?
Confit actually is not the best course of, but it surely’s arduous to conceive of a extra scrumptious means to prepare duck. First, the uncooked meat is cured with salt and aromatics like thyme or garlic, then it is poached at a low temperature for a number of hours till the fats is totally rendered. The meat can then be saved with the fats in an hermetic container for weeks and even months till you are prepared to fry it up and eat it.

This method can simply go awry, however when accomplished proper it produces a reduce of duck that is nutty in taste and fall-off-the-bone tender.


Ratatouille: The colorful, tangy vegetable dish is a Provençal specialty (and also a great movie).

Ratatouille: The colourful, tangy vegetable dish is a Provençal specialty (and likewise an ideal film).

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Among so many heavy hitters that includes beef and poultry within the French culinary custom, there’s nonetheless one well-known entrée appropriate for vegetarians: ratatouille. From the French phrase touille, which means “to toss,” ratatouille originated within the southern Provence area however rapidly gained recognition all through France for its use of contemporary summer season greens.
Featuring a colourful assortment of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion and tomatoes, ratatouille may be ready by both baking all of the greens like a casserole or sautéing them with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. The ensuing stew may be served scorching or chilly. It pairs nice with a crusty baguette topped with an egg, Parmesan, or each, in accordance to the James Beard Foundation.


Profiteroles: What's better than a cream puff? A cream puff covered with chocolate.

Profiteroles: What’s higher than a cream puff? A cream puff lined with chocolate.

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Beautiful, candy and sufficiently small to eat greater than might be advisable, profiteroles are available any assortment of flavors. Filled with vanilla custard, cream and even ice cream, these little cream puffs may be topped with chocolate sauce, fruit or simply served plain.

The ethereal, delicate pastry is pâte à choux, or choux pastry. One of the backbones of French patisserie, choux is the dough used for éclairs, beignets, the Paris-Brest and extra. It’s made by cooking flour with water, milk and butter earlier than mixing within the eggs. The ensuing dough is moist and pipable and puffs up when baked.

Because of their simplicity, profiteroles are a standard dessert taught younger in French houses, David Lebovitz defined. “French cooking is very technique oriented and pâte à choux is a very easy technique to master.”

Sole meunière

Sole meunière: This fish dish showcases one of France's most iconic ingredients: butter.

Sole meunière: This fish dish showcases one in all France’s most iconic components: butter.

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This fish dish is match for a king — actually. Sole meunière is alleged to have been a favourite of King Louis XIV throughout the late 1600s. The deceptively easy dish has few components, however the taste profiles are advanced due to the particular methods used to cook dinner the fish.

For essentially the most classic preparation, the Dover sole is the fish of alternative due to its agency flesh and contemporary taste. The sole is breaded with flour and sautéed in butter till delicately crisp and golden, then topped with parsley and scorching brown butter, or beurre noisette, which has a wealthy, nutty taste.

“The flesh is transparent. It’s absolutely delicate. It’s one of the finest things in life,” mentioned chef Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch, former private chef to French President François Mitterrand, within the CNN Film “Julia,” the brand new CNN Film documentary about Julia Child. “Perfect fish in butter. It’s perfect!”


Terrine: A loaflike shape defines this  dish, but you can experiment with many flavor combinations.

Terrine: A loaflike form defines this dish, however you may experiment with many taste combos.

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A terrine is the nice dish for essentially the most inventive of cooks. Named after the earthenware pot used to mould its distinctive, loaflike form, this dish has a selected look, however the taste combos are virtually limitless. Make a terrine rustic with components like pork and beans or go lavish with components like uncommon recreation and truffles. The dish may be made with poultry or fish, and even completely of greens.

The most essential function for any ingredient? Big taste.

Not to be confused with different widespread charcuterie components like paté or rillettes, a terrine is made by layering forcemeat with any mixture of further components in a terrine mould to cook dinner slowly in a water tub. This dish may be dense sufficient to function an entrée or makes an ideal hors d’oeuvre with crusty bread and cornichons, that are tiny crisp pickles.

Steak frites

Steak frites: This simple and universally loved meal of steak and fries pairs well with red wine.

Steak frites: This easy and universally beloved meal of steak and fries pairs nicely with pink wine.

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Try to title a extra classic mixture than steak and potatoes. Since its origins in France and Belgium, steak frites has been a centerpiece of brasserie and bistro menus all through Europe — and for good motive. The components are easy and universally beloved: a scorching reduce of beefsteak with a facet of piping-hot, crispy fries.

The steak is usually served with a facet of creamy béarnaise. Made from clarified butter, herbs and egg yolks, the sauce creates a wealthy accompaniment to the juicy reduce of rib eye or porterhouse. Paired with a pleasant pink wine to reduce via the heavy flavors, this dish turns into the final word informal dinner entrée.


Jambon-beurre: Assemble good-quality ham, butter and a baguette -- nothing more and nothing less.

Jambon-beurre: Assemble good-quality ham, butter and a baguette — nothing extra and nothing much less.

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The jambon-beurre is precisely what it claims to be: jambon, or ham, layered on a coating of beurre — butter — between two slices of bread, nothing extra and nothing much less. The simplicity of this sandwich forces its maker to use solely the most effective components as a result of each ingredient is as essential because the final.

The bread, at all times a baguette sliced neatly down the middle, should be freshly baked to perfection with a crunchy crust and a chewy inside. The ham is greatest if it is jambon de Paris, sourced instantly from the French capital, sliced skinny and free from components and preservatives. The butter, ideally instantly from the northwestern Normandy area, ought to be frivolously salted and unfold generously.
Also often called the Parisien, the jambon-beurre is used as a marker of kinds for the recognition of classic French delicacies among the many nation’s residents. According to Maryann Tebben, an annual index measures the variety of jambon-beurres bought in contrast with the annual variety of hamburgers, lest the nation stray too removed from its roots.

Blanquette de veau

Blanquette de veau: Tender meat in a creamy, comforting sauce is a go-to dish for French home cooks.

Blanquette de veau: Tender meat in a creamy, comforting sauce is a go-to dish for French house cooks.

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A favourite of house cooks throughout France, blanquette de veau is a veal stew ready en blanquette, which means neither the meat or the butter is browned throughout cooking. This course of produces a dish of tender meat and mellow flavors with a creamy, comforting sauce coating all of it.
The white sauce is made utilizing one in all France’s largest contributions to cooking methods worldwide — combining melted butter with flour to create a roux. The flour acts as a thickening agent, making a denser base, and likewise acts as a bonding agent between the roux and different components like cheese or cream. You can thank this method for creating the bottom of dishes like gumbo, some curries, and creamy mac and cheese.


Pot-au-feu: The beef and vegetable stew is the perfect cold-weather dish.

Pot-au-feu: The beef and vegetable stew is the proper cold-weather dish.

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Move over hen noodle soup, there’s one other dish that makes a powerful declare for the proper cold-weather dish. Pot-au-feu (which means “pot on fire”) is a heat, easy and flavorful slow-cooked meal.

Considered a nationwide dish of France, pot-au-feu has no definitive recipe, and plenty of areas of France have their very own variations. It’s typically made with meat, root greens, herbs, spices and bone marrow, that are ready collectively however served in separate programs: the marrow starter, adopted by the broth after which lastly the meat and greens.

A big serving to of pot-au-feu is believed to epitomize the spirit of French cooking — that sharing meals, wine and dialog with a desk stuffed with family members is what makes life price dwelling.



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