French Food: 29 Traditional Dishes To Try in France or At Home

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

France is known for producing some of the greatest food that the world has ever tasted. In fact, in France, cooking is a professional sport! This alone should be enough of an indicator to tell you how much France values its food. 

If you would like to know what the 29 best French dishes are, then this article is for you. Whether you physically visit France or decide to make these dishes on your own time, this article will tell you what the best French Food out there is.

Traditional French Food

We have visited France a number of times and always love sampling different French foods while we are there. It is usually a simple combination of rich flavors paired with a unique process that makes French dishes so tasty. What we have found is that you don’t have to have the skills of a Michelin Star chef in order to prepare any of these dishes. Great taste doesn’t have to be complicated. Read on to learn everything you should know about French food and recipes. 

1. Salmon En Papillote 

French food Salmon in Parchment

This traditional french dish is called, in English, “Salmon in Parchment.” It is perhaps one of the most unique ways to cook a fish. Essentially, you wrap the salmon and vegetables inside a piece of parchment, and you let them all cook together. 

What happens is that each individual flavor—juices and all—blend together to form a delicious meal. This is a very famous French food that you should definitely consider trying if you travel to France. Additionally, even if you don’t plan to travel to France anytime soon, this dish would make an excellent option for when you have friends and family over for dinner. Try out this delicious recipe.

2. Boeuf Bourguignon

French Dishes Beef Bourguignon

The world is full of beef-loving people. If you happen to be one of them, then this dish is for you. It translates directly to, “Beef Burgundy.” Boeuf Bourguignon always reminds me of the wonderful movie starring Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia.

Who would have thought that a dish originally made by French peasants (yes, you read that right) would become one of the most famous French foods out there? This dish is a combination of beef, bacon, onions, wine, and carrots that all blend together to create one of the best French cuisine dishes. Are you having some friends over later today? Consider whipping up this signature dish for them. 

3. Quiche Lorraine 

Traditional French Food Quiche Lorraine

Interestingly enough, the United States only became aware of this traditional French food in the 1950s. Since then, the quiche Lorraine has gone through many different American reincarnations. Nevertheless, this dish—though it has been “Americanized” like many foreign dishes—will always remain a French dish. 

Consisting of bacon, onion, swiss cheese, and eggs, quiche Lorraine is sure to satisfy your hunger. If you ever get the chance to visit France (or you just want to feel like you are in France) this dish is definitely one you want to keep in mind. Make it at home tonight.

4. Potatoes Dauphinoise 

Traditional French Dishes Potatoes Dauphinoise

If you’re tired of reading awkward-sounding French names for foods, then you might want to stop here—because this article is only for the most adventurous of food connoisseurs. 

Still interested? Fantastic. 

From what is said around the world, this is one of the tastiest ways to cook potatoes. These potatoes combine butter, thyme, cream, cheese, garlic, potatoes, and more to create an amazing dish that everyone needs to try.  Besides the fact that it’s easy to make, the potatoes dauphinoise will give you a little taste of France (see what I did there?). Try out this recipe for maximum taste!

5. Crepes Suzette

French Food Crepes Suzette

This dish is very interesting in that it was invented by the famous Henri Charpentier in 1894. He accidentally set the sauce of the dish he was trying to serve (pancakes) aflame. You might begin to think that the then 14-year-old Henri would be reprimanded for his mistake. However, quite the opposite happened.

The dish was so good that the customer (who happened to be the Prince of Wales) asked that the dish be named after a girl in his entourage—her name was Suzette.  Today, Charpentier is credited with inventing the dish we now know as Crepes Suzette. We fell in love with this recipe and made it at home!

6. Bouillabaisse 

Traditional French Food Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a traditional French dish that originated in the French port city of Marseille. One would not expect that France would be famous for this many seafood dishes, but it’s true. As we can see, France can make an amazing dish in any food category. An interesting fact about this dish is that there is no one type of fish used to make it. Some of these include sea bass, cod, and even haddock. See how it is made on the Food Network

7. Salade landaise

Have you ever wondered what duck would taste like in a stew? Well, this dish takes it one step further by creating a duck salad! If that’s not the literal definition of “unique,” I don’t know what else in this world is.  The duck is mixed with rich, warm potatoes that create an interesting flavor only rivaled by other foods in France. This dish is a very traditional dish that will compel you to extend your stay in France (assuming you’re already there). 

8. Duck Pâté en Croûte

Duck Pate en Croute French Food

How can we talk about famous French food without dishes that include pâté? The answer is simple: we cannot. Pâté is a signature French paste that is a labor of love to make. 

According to the recipe, this dish may take over 24 hours to make; but, we assure you that it’s totally worth it! This dish is made by first spending endless hours making the duck pâté. The pâté is then placed inside a home-baked pastry dough.  Some people even like to top it off with a little gelée. 

9. Butternut Squash Boulangère

While you spend your time trying to pronounce this, let me go ahead and tell you what this is. Not only is it a mouthful of words, but it’s also a mouthful of goodness and some of the best-tasting squash you will ever have. 

The recipe describes this as—rightly so—a for-sure crowd-pleaser. Though it’s hard to mess up a dish like butternut squash, one should never rush in making this dish. Cooking is an art; and, as such, you should take meticulous care when whipping up this dish. 

10. Financier

French Food desserts Financier

Most of the other dishes discussed in this article have been related to main food dishes. This is the first actual French dessert that we’ll examine. Originally made in the 17th century by nuns, Financier is a small almond cake that is said to have gotten its name because the small rectangular mold used resembled a bar of gold.

Financiers are a certain type of French cake that makes your mouth water just by thinking about them. They are sweet and buttery and you will find them all over France. Most financiers are homemade using almond flour, egg whites, powdered sugar, and beurre noisette (brown butter). This traditional French recipe is perfect to try at home.

11. Terrine

This dish is essentially a French version of meatloaf. It is a combination of meat and fat mixed together to create a blend of flavors that leaves you wanting more. This dish too was created by peasants. Apparently, the peasants in France knew how to make foods worthy of the praise of royalty. Almost all of the dishes on this list were inspired by some kind of work by peasants. This dish—which happens to be one of the most famous French cuisine recipes—is no exception. 

12. Chocolate Mousse

French Food Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse is a very famous french food that combines dark chocolate, eggs, liqueur, heavy whipping cream, and sugar. Whether you pay a visit to France, or you just want to whip up something to impress your friends and family, then this dish is for you. This dish—while being incredibly tasty and works well with coffee—is also fairly simple to make. There are no special instructions that you should know apart from meticulously following the instructions. 

13. Soupe De Poissons

Don’t let the name throw you off. This dish is certainly neither poisonous nor harmful to the human body. This dish translates directly as “fish soup.”  We have seen quite a few fish dishes on this list today. The Soupe de Poissons is an excellent example of French expertise in the kitchen. This dish is simple, cheap, and tastes amazing. Consider making it for your next family get-together. 

Gluten Free French Food Guide

Gluten free french food guide

Are you Celiac or have a gluten intolerance? Our friend Jodi at Legal Nomads has created detailed gluten-free cards that have been translated into French by native speakers. These cards were created to help people with celiac disease travel and eat in France safely. Carry them with you and show them to restaurants and staff to ensure they understand your food requirements. Get more details and Purchase your gluten free France card here for just $8.99

14. Meuniére 

Traditional French Cuisine Meuniere 

France knows how to make just about any type of food taste absolutely amazing. When it comes to fish, the French people’s reputation stands firm. This dish (roughly translated as, “in the manner of miller’s wife”) is a one-of-a-kind classic French dish that is sure to leave you craving for more.  Essentially, this dish consists of a fish fillet (it doesn’t matter what kind of fish) lightly dusted in flour and sautéed in butter. You don’t have to be a professional food connoisseur to know that this dish tastes just as good as the reviews say it does. 

15. Chicken Confit 

Chicken confit is perhaps one of the most delicious ways to cook a chicken. It’s salty, tender, well-cooked, and is sure to leave you craving for more. This French cooking technique involves cooking the chicken slowly in its own fat until it is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. These days you can use lard or olive oil, both of which are easier to source.

Say “goodbye” to those cravings for unhealthy foods. Things like candy and ice cream will not have nearly the same impact on curbing food desires as chicken confit will. We have already established that the French have some of the best chefs and recipes in the world, and this is one more example of that. This recipe is simple and effective.

16. Coq Au Vin

French Food Coq Au Vin

We are seeing a lot of commonalities between dishes first created by peasants and current-day enjoyment of these dishes. This is no different in regards to the “Coq Au Vin” dish—which directly translates to, “rooster and wine.” 

This traditional French dish is a stew comprised of champignons, red wine, white onions, chicken or pork blood, and rooster or hen meat. It’s almost enough to make anyone’s mouth water. In fact, it is actually rated as the 94th most popular meat dish in the world. 

17. Spring Vegetable Stew

All the other dishes on this list have been quite unique—so I think it’s only right to add a simple dish to the mix.

Essentially, this dish is a blend of many different kinds of vegetables that are left to simmer for quite some time before they are taken off the cooker and enjoyed by the guests. Common vegetables in this dish include onions, carrots, artichokes, turnips, and pees—just to name a few. There are many other vegetables in this stew that all work together to create one of the best French cuisine dishes. 

18. Escargot

French food Escargots

If you are looking for something traditional to eat while on your trip to France, then you should definitely try this unique dish if you ever get the chance. Escargot is a French meal that is served with cooked land snails, vegetables, and an assortment of different sauces. 

This dish is unique to the nation of France alone. Though you may find similar dishes in other countries around the globe, you will not find any as meticulously prepared as the French Escargot. 

19. Deviled Eggs With Crab

Deviled eggs are already extremely popular in the United States and throughout the rest of the world. However, very few people make the conscious decision to add crab to the mix of deviled eggs. 

This is a decision we would only leave up to the professionals—the French. As we can already tell from the plethora of other dishes on this list, the French know precisely how to make an amazing dish that is sure to add flavor to a couple’s getaway in Europe

Whether you’re having a potluck with friends and family or you’re physically traveling to France, this dish should not be left off of your food itinerary.

20. Croque-Monsieur 

French Food Croque-Monsieur

This dish is a certain type of sandwich unique to the country of France. They are ham and cheese sandwiches often served with plum-tomato salad and strawberries. 

On this list, we haven’t necessarily discussed any sandwiches yet. We must not, however, leave them out of the equation. France can make as good sandwiches as the rest of its dishes. 

In fact, the French sandwiches might be some of the best out there. They know how to make their ham, cheese, and Croque sandwiches with the perfect blend of every ingredient. 

21. Lentil Salad With Pork Belly

We have all heard of lentil soup (or lentil stew, whichever you prefer; but have you ever heard of a lentil salad? Lentil salads are quite different from either lentil soup or stew because they are not in a broth. In fact, in this French dish, they’re even mixed in with pork, onions, and carrots. 

The lentils absorb the seasoning, and the pork adds a meat-flavored texture to the entire dish that creates an explosion of flavors we know your mouth craves. If you’re visiting Europe anytime soon, consider adding France to your list, and don’t forget to try this delicious meal. 

22. Poulet Basquaise 

French Food Poulet Basquaise

Directly translated as, “basque chicken stew,” this signature French dish is exactly the type of food you would want to enjoy after a long day’s work.

The meat is cooked in such a way that it’s left tender in the dish, and all of the surrounding vegetables and ingredients add to the blend of amazing flavors. If you’re ever in the mood to get a little taste of France and impress that special someone of yours, consider adding this dish to your arsenal of things that you are able to cook. 

23. Crépes

If we’re talking about the most iconic European dishes, crépes would easily take a podium spot. While the United States likes its pancakes wide and fluffy, the Europeans prefer very slim pancakes. 

Crépes can be eaten as either savory or sweet. This is partially what makes them one of the best breakfast foods out there. Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet and desert-like for breakfast, or you want a mixture of eggs and bacon, crépes get the job done. 

24. Tartiflette 

French Food Tartiflette

We top this list off with a beautiful French dish called tartiflette—a potato dish with onions, smoked salt pork, and white wine. All of these ingredients were carefully selected by professional French chefs. 

This dish is perhaps one of the most popular dishes in France. It was invented in the Swiss Alps, but it eventually—due to its fabulous taste—began to spread to the rest of the country.  If you ever go to France, get this dish sometime. 

25. Cassoulet

Famous French Foods Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating from the south of France, specifically the region of Languedoc. We tried it when we were visiting Carcassonne and Toulouse on our Canal du Midi cruise. It’s named after its traditional cooking vessel, the “cassole,” which is a deep, round, clay pot.

The primary ingredients of cassoulet are white beans, meat (often a combination of lamb, pork sausages, and sometimes duck confit or mutton), and sometimes poultry. The specifics of the meat used can vary based on regional differences. The beans and meat are simmered together with stock, wine, and a variety of herbs and aromatics until everything is tender and flavorful. The dish is then topped with breadcrumbs and baked until it forms a crusty top.

Historically, cassoulet has been a food of peasants, using readily available ingredients and designed to provide sustenance during the colder months. Over time, it has become a celebrated dish in French cuisine, with various towns in the Languedoc region claiming their own unique version as the definitive one.

26. French Onion Soup

Best French Dishes French Onion soup

French Onion Soup is one of our favorite french foods. The essence of the soup lies in the caramelization of thinly sliced onions, which imbues the dish with a natural sweetness. This caramelized base is then immersed in a rich beef or sometimes chicken stock. For an added depth of flavor, wine or brandy is often added. 

Herbs such as thyme and bay leaf are also incorporated, lending their aromatic profiles to the mix. What makes French Onion Soup unmistakable, however, is its final presentation. A slice of baguette or other toasted bread is laid atop the soup, generously blanketed with cheese, typically Gruyère. This is then broiled until the cheese bubbles and browns, creating a delightful crust of melted cheese. 

This hot and hearty soup, often served in a distinctive bowl with a handle, is especially cherished during the colder months and stands as a beloved offering in French bistros and cafés. As a testament to its allure, French Onion Soup has crossed borders and is now relished in eateries all over the world.

27. Ratatouille

Traditional French food Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional Provençal vegetable stew that finds its roots in the sun-soaked region of Provence in southeastern France. The name itself, “ratatouille,” is derived from the French verbs “ratouiller” and “tatouiller,” both meaning to stir up, reflecting the method and the mingling of ingredients in the dish.

The essence of ratatouille lies in the harmonious blend of fresh summer vegetables. At its heart are eggplants, zucchinis, and bell peppers, each bringing its distinct texture and flavor to the table. Tomatoes provide the base, lending their juiciness and acidity to balance the dish. These vegetables are enhanced with onions and garlic, which infuse the stew with depth and aromatic richness. Fresh herbs, often thyme, basil, parsley, or rosemary, are also incorporated to impart the unmistakable Mediterranean fragrance to the dish. As these ingredients simmer together, they meld into a medley of flavors, each retaining its own identity while contributing to the overall symphony of the stew.

28. Salade Niçoise

Traditional French food Salade Nicoise

Salade Niçoise is a vibrant and iconic salad hailing from the picturesque city of Nice, located on the French Riviera. This refreshing dish mirrors the Mediterranean spirit of its place of origin, capturing the essence of coastal France in every bite.

Central to Salade Niçoise are its fresh, high-quality ingredients. Traditionally, the salad boasts tender green beans and ripe, juicy tomatoes, juxtaposed with soft, boiled potatoes. These elements harmonize with the briny flavor of anchovies or, in some variations, the rich taste of tuna, often preserved in oil. Hard-boiled eggs provide a creamy counterpoint, while olives, typically of the Niçoise variety, add a burst of flavor with every bite. The salad is further elevated with thin slices of red onion and crunchy bell peppers, all brought together by a dressing made from olive oil, vinegar, and a medley of herbs and spices that resonate with the region’s culinary inclinations.

Despite its seemingly straightforward composition, debates abound regarding the ‘authentic’ components of a Salade Niçoise. However, what remains undisputed is the dish’s embodiment of Mediterranean freshness and its ability to transport diners to the sun-kissed shores of the Côte d’Azur. Over the decades, it has not only been a beloved staple in local bistros and homes in Nice but has also garnered global admiration, gracing tables worldwide with its colors and flavors.

29. Crème Brûlée

Famous French foods Creme Brulee

Crème Brûlée, which translates to “burnt cream,” is a sumptuous dessert cherished for its juxtaposition of a velvety custard base crowned with a brittle layer of caramelized sugar. Its history is a tapestry of claims and tales, with both France and England contending for its origination. The English assert that it began at Trinity College in Cambridge, where it’s famously dubbed “Trinity Cream.” Conversely, the French regard it as a quintessential component of their culinary heritage.

This luxurious dessert is crafted from a few simple yet high-quality ingredients that, when combined, transcend their humble origins. Heavy cream is infused with the aromatic allure of vanilla, either by scraping the beans of a vanilla pod or using pure vanilla extract. This cream is then gently mingled with egg yolks and sugar to create a smooth and rich custard. Once baked to perfection, the magic of Crème Brûlée comes alive in its finishing touch. A sprinkle of granulated sugar atop the cooled custard is subjected to the flame of a kitchen torch or a broiler. This process caramelizes the sugar, rendering a glassy, golden crust that contrasts delightfully with the soft custard beneath.

French Food FAQ’s

What are typical French Foods?

Here are some typical French foods spanning various categories:

  • Escargots de Bourgogne: Snails cooked with garlic and parsley butter.
  • Pâté: A spreadable mixture of ground meat and fat.
  • Soups and Stews:
  • Bouillabaisse: A fish stew native to Provence.
  • Pot-au-feu: A hearty beef and vegetable stew.
  • Soupe à l’oignon: The famed French onion soup.
  • Main Courses:
  • Coq au vin: Chicken cooked in red wine with mushrooms and onions.
  • Bouef bourguignon: Beef stewed in red Burgundy wine.
  • Cassoulet: A rich, slow-cooked casserole with meat and beans, primarily from the South of France.
  • Ratatouille: A vegetable dish from Provence with eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes.
  • Quiche Lorraine: A savory pie with a filling of custard, bacon, and sometimes cheese.

What is a popular French dish?

One of the most popular and internationally recognized French dishes is Coq au Vin. Translated as “rooster in wine,” this dish represents the heart of traditional French cooking. It’s a slow-cooked stew where chicken (traditionally an old rooster but more commonly chicken pieces today) is braised with wine, mushrooms, onions, and often with lardons (small strips or cubes of fatty pork).

What is traditional Parisian Food?

Paris boasts a rich culinary heritage characterized by its unique blend of simplicity and flavor. Historic “bouillon” restaurants serve timeless dishes like pot-au-feu. Toasted sandwiches such as Croque-Monsieur and its egg-topped variant, Croque-Madame, are bistro favorites, as is the classic steak-frites combo. The unmistakable aroma of fresh baguettes complements an array of pastries, including croissants and éclairs. Adventurous palates might try escargots de Bourgogne, while the daily café culture, from morning lattes to evening espressos, and desserts like macarons, epitomize the Parisian culinary experience.

What are 10 Famous French Foods?

Here are ten famous French foods that have gained international recognition:

  • Baguette: The iconic long, thin loaf of French bread.
  • Croissant: A buttery, flaky pastry, often enjoyed for breakfast.
  • Coq au Vin: Chicken slow-cooked in red wine with mushrooms and onions.
  • Bouef Bourguignon: Beef stewed in red wine with carrots, onions, and mushrooms.
  • Ratatouille: A Provencal vegetable dish made with eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes.
  • Crème Brûlée: A creamy dessert with a caramelized sugar top.
  • Foie Gras: A delicacy made from duck or goose liver, often served as a pâté.
  • Escargots de Bourgogne: Snails cooked with garlic and parsley butter.
  • Quiche Lorraine: A savory pie with a filling of custard, bacon, and cheese.
  • Tarte Tatin: An upside-down caramelized apple tart.

Where Can I Learn More About French Food?

Well, there you have it. That’s everything you need to know about some of the best French food items on the market today. Whether you are into cooking them at home or sampling them in France all of these French dishes will be sure to tantalize your taste buds. Julia Child didn’t pursue French cooking because it was boring!

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About ThePlanetD Team

Guest writers for The Planet D offer insider tips and information on destinations that they are experts in. We can't be everywhere at once, and it is important to have the highest level of travel information from local writers and experienced travelers.

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