Foie gras, scallops, and frog legs are just a few examples of the luxurious foods that have made France famous as a culinary destination. But there’s so much more to explore besides just fine dining!
What makes French cuisine unique is the great variety of regional specialties that can be found across the country, from north to south and west to east. There is also an abundance of cheese and charcuterie, both of which merit their own entries. So, without further ado, let’s get to the ordering of things!
Some of the best cuisines in the history of humankind have come from France. In fact, competitive cooking is viewed as a serious sport in France. You can tell how much France cherishes its food just by knowing this fact.
15 top French foods & desserts
Here’s a list of our 15 favorite French foods & desserts. Bon Appétit!
- Tarte Tatin
- Coq Au Vin
- Boeuf Bourguignon
- Soupe à L’oignon (French onion soup)
- Confit de Canard
- Salade niçoise
- Steak Tartare
- Crème brûlée
In the spirit of French tradition, let’s begin with a sweet treat. Tarte Tatin definitely tops the list of tasty French foods & desserts. Fruits (often apples) are caramelized before being cooked into this upside-down pastry. Desserts like Tarte Tatin are typically accompanied by crème anglaise or ice cream.
It is said that tarte Tatin was originally an accident in the kitchen. On accident in 1898, Stephanie Tatin overcooked apples in sugar and butter for an apple pie. She quickly threw the dish into the oven with the pastry bottom on top of the flaming fruit. The tart, which she purportedly presented to her guests upside down, became the hotel’s most delicious dessert. It was a fantastic mistake, and we may still enjoy its flavor.
The crêpe, which has its roots in Brittany but is popular across France and other French-speaking countries, is perhaps the most popular meal on our list of best French foods & desserts.
You may eat crepes for dessert or with a savory dish. This is one of the reasons why they are so popular as a breakfast option. Crepes may satisfy your need for a sweet, dessert-like breakfast or your need for a savory, protein-packed combination of eggs and bacon.
The Crêpes Suzette is served with a beurre Suzette sauce made from caramelized sugar and butter, citrus juice and zest, and Grand Marnier. This is the greatest part, right? You may expect your waiter to flambée your meal right in front of you.
Crepes would undoubtedly be among the top three most recognizable European foods. Pancakes in the United States are often thick and spongy, whereas, in Europe, they tend to be thin and crisp.
Coq Au Vin
In the United Kingdom, coq au vin has been diluted into a generic chicken dish, but the real deal is still worth seeking out in France. The basic ingredients here are red wine, chicken, bacon, butter, mushrooms, and beef stock. The thought of it is nearly enough to make someone salivate! Coq Au Vin is one of the top French foods you can try in France.
In certain parts of France, such as the Loire Valley, the local wine is used in place of the more common Burgundy, and the dish is given a name that reflects this fact. Creamed potatoes and buttered French beans go well with it.
There are many connections between the foods that peasants initially cooked and the ones that are popular now. The meal “Coq Au Vin,” literally “rooster and wine,” is no exception to this rule.
Boeuf bourguignon is about as traditionally French as a dish can get, and it is one of the best French foods all over the world. The dish has a similar origin and style to coq au vin, which is Burgundy in eastern France. Boeuf bourguignon is a stew consisting of beef stewed in red wine, beef broth, and seasoned vegetables like pearl onions and mushrooms.
Boeuf Bourguignon, which had its origins as a peasant dish, is now a typical dish in French restaurants all over the globe. Cheaper pieces of meat were traditionally marinated in wine for two days to bring out their full taste. In Burgundy, the meal is honored every year during the Fête du Charolais, which has a musical lineup and wine tastings.
Soupe à L’oignon (French onion soup)
Onions and beef stock are the foundation for this classic French soup, which is often topped with croutons and melted cheese. Even though the present form of this meal has its roots in the 18th century, the original recipe goes back to Roman times. Soupe à L’oignon is another one of the best French foods & desserts.
The soup gets its signature taste from slow-cooked onions that have been caramelized with brandy or sherry. If you’re in the mood for soup, you should definitely taste the local specialty of Marseille, which is soupe de Poisson à la rouille. The soup is traditionally served with a dab of garlic and saffron mayonnaise, a condiment that was formerly highly prized by fishermen.
White beans and beef are slow-cooked to create the comfort food known as cassoulet. The meal is traditionally made with pig or duck, although the chef may substitute sausages, geese, mutton, or any other meat that happens to be in the fridge. Cassoulet is one of the best French foods and is popular among both locals and tourists in the country.
This meal is beloved in the southern French cities of Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Castelnaudary, where it has its humble origins. The traditional baking vessel (cassole) is the inspiration for the dish’s name. Many French families keep this pot on hand year-round, remaining loyal to the dish’s appeal in the cooler months.
Confit de Canard
One of the best French meals is confit de canard, often made with duck but sometimes with geese or pig. The beef goes through a specific, time-honored procedure of slow cooking and preservation (confit). The duck is given a 36-hour marinade of salt, garlic, and thyme before being cooked low and slow in its own fat. In comparison to frying, this method is more nutritious.
To accompany Confit de Canard, most people like to have roasted potatoes with confit and garlic. It’s usually eaten on its own, but sometimes it comes with a savory sauce like cherry, red wine, or orange. Today, you can find varieties of this meal all throughout France, but the greatest of them may be found in the Gascony area.
Tartiflette, a traditional dish from the French Alps, must not be underestimated when talking about the best French foods & desserts. This heavenly combination of carbohydrates may be found in Savoie and Haute Savoie. The melted Reblochon cheese, lardons, and onion in this classic French dish make for a decadent side or even a standalone meal.
Tartiflette, a stunning French meal consisting of potatoes, onions, smoked salt pork, and white wine, tops our list. French chefs took great care in selecting all of these items. Its wonderful flavor led to its rapid expansion from its Alpine birthplace to the rest of Switzerland and France. Don’t forget to try this tasty dish while you’re in France.
If you are visiting France and are seeking a classic dish to enjoy, Escargots is the one you should try. Escargot is a traditional French dish consisting of land snails, vegetables, and a variety of sauces, and it is, without a doubt, one of the most delicious French foods in the world.
Escargots can only be found in France. While similar meals may be found in other countries, none will compare to the French Escargot in terms of the quality of cooking.
Escargots is the quintessential example of a kind of food from France that is often stereotyped. You could have a love-or-hate relationship with snails, but after they’re cooked in butter, garlic, and parsley, you won’t even notice that you’re eating a slimy creature.
The term “soufflé” comes from the French word “souffler,” which means “to blow up,” which is apt since this dish, made with beaten eggs, rises and puffs out dramatically during baking. When done well (always a struggle as it tends to collapse), this technique yields a meal that floats on the table like a cloud.
Cheese soufflé is the classic, but you can also make it with mushrooms or even as a dessert; chocolate and lemon soufflés are very tasty.
Béchamel is the most well-known of the several French sauces, and it is often used to top soufflés. A milk-based preparation that’s as smooth as white may be used as a sauce basis for everything from lasagna to potatoes to eggplant.
This traditional French salad has its roots in Nice, as you would guess, and it is one of the best French foods you get to try. The ideal meal, which often features the finest of the region’s products, is a la carte and available pretty much anywhere in France. On top of a bed of lettuce, you may add everything from canned or grilled tuna to hard-boiled eggs to Niçoise Cailletier olives to anchovies.
French salad with a Niçoise twist, popular in the Provence area. It’s usually served as a side, but it may stand on its own as a quick and easy supper. Lettuce, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tuna (fresh or tinned), green beans, Nicoise Cailletier olives, and anchovies all go into the salad. However, there is a wide range of options available.
Chop or mince very finely some raw beef or horsemeat to make steak tartare. Steak Tartare is definitely one of the best French foods & desserts you get to try on your trip to France.
Steak tartare is not only healthy and often misunderstood, but it is also quite tasty, and we are certain that it will quickly become one of your favorite foods. You have to try it to believe it, whether you eat it on its own as a snack or as part of an appetizer, or whether you combine it with other ingredients to make a main course.
It’s often topped with a raw egg yolk and served with onions, capers, and other spices. A few establishments may provide it as a premade beef patty, but the vast majority will serve it “deconstructed,” meaning that you get to put together your own steak.
Crème brûlée is a custard-based dessert covered with a contrasting coating of firm caramel, and it is definitely one of the best French foods & desserts. Crème brûlée, burned cream, or Trinity cream is a dessert with a custard foundation and a layer of solidified caramelized sugar on top; it is almost comparable to the original crema Catalana.
Vanilla is often used as a traditional flavoring for custard, and we agree that this is the best way to savor one. While traditional custard has always been served with a variety of add-ins, such as coffee or chocolate, modern versions often include fruit combinations, such as a layer of fruit purée underneath the custard.
Croissant is neither a meal nor a dessert, more of a snack, you might say! But you can’t possibly talk about French cuisine without mentioning Croissant. Croissant is probably the most iconic part of French cuisine and one of its signature signs.
The crunchiness of the Croissant and its enticing flavor have made it an almost impossible-to-resist product. Croissant is a bun in the form of a crescent, which you can eat as a dessert filled with chocolate or as a sandwich! A classic example of a globally popular pastry is the Croissant.
Ratatouille comes in at last but certainly isn’t least in our collection of best French foods. One of the most popular French foods in France also happens to be the name of a popular animated film about a beloved rat called Ratatouille! Vegetables are shallow-fried, piled in a casserole dish, then baked in the oven for this traditional Provence meal. It’s even a perfect choice for vegans.
French cooks have been at odds about whether or not the veggies should be cooked before serving for decades, but the dish turns out delicious anyway. Serve this classic peasant meal as a side, an appetizer, or even a main course with some red wine and some crusty bread. Pigerade, a meal from the Basque region, is quite similar to this stew but commonly includes ham and even eggs.
Final words about the best French foods & desserts
French cuisine is based on the idea that a few well-chosen ingredients may produce a meal with a memorable, world-famous taste. In fact, French food is so popular all across the globe that UNESCO included it on its list of intangible cultural treasures in 2010.
Wine and cheese are many people’s first experiences with French cuisine. But there are a wide variety of wonderful combinations to try, such as brie with Burgundy or camembert and Chardonnay. Nonetheless, French food is not limited to a simple cheeseboard. We’ve listed down some of the best French foods & desserts for you. Don’t forget to try these amazing meals whenever you are in France.