20 French classics everyone should try

French cuisine has a long history.

20 French classics everyone should try

French cuisine has a long history. Francois Pierre La Varenne, a chef and author of "Le Cuisinier Francois", laid the foundations for France's culinary success in the mid-1600s. He emphasized regional and seasonal ingredients and highlighted complementary flavors.

Maryann Tebben is the author of "Savoir-Faire, A History of Food and Drink in France".

French cuisine still attracts people with its mystery and magic. Even the basic ingredients -- perfect baguette and flaky pastry, potatoes in cream, etc. -- are amazing, even if it's not clear what makes them so good.

France's culinary contributions have had a wide impact. Julia Child, a TV chef and celebrity, tried sole meuniere in 1948 at La Couronne in Rouen. She was overwhelmed by the simplicity and elegance of French cuisine.

Child was inspired by the dish to become a chef, which led to a whole generation of Americans abandoning TV dinners and gelatin desserts in favor of fresh, flavorful food made from whole ingredients.

Child's story is not the only one. It is not uncommon for French-derived words to be used to describe a lover or good food, such as gourmand, gourmet, and gastronome.

Daniel Boulud (Michelin-starred chef) owns 14 restaurants around the world. He said, "French cuisine is something that has been explored by generations of chefs, home cooks and passionate people like Julia Child" "French cuisine continues to inspire people. It's entertaining. It's delicious. It's possible. It's possible.

French cuisine is rich in dishes that will impress even the most sophisticated of critics, whether it's haute or country food. Here are 20 examples.

Boeuf Bourguignon

There is no better way to prepare beef in France than to marinate it with red wine. This dish is named boeuf Bourguignon in honor of the famous Burgundy red wine. It combines a lean cut of beef with a dry pinot Noir and lots of fresh vegetables to make a rich and satisfying stew.

Many debates have been held about which cuts of beef and what types of wines create the best flavors. The most important ingredient to success is patience. Boeuf Bourguignon tastes best when it is left over night before being served.

Are you not a fan beef? Coq au vin is another French favourite and takes over the Burgundian recipe. Chicken takes the lead role.


Bouillabaisse, Marseille's maritime city's contribution to France's culinary heritage, has a long name as well as a long list of ingredients. This soup was once a humble dish, but it is now a staple on many Michelin-starred restaurants.

The bouillabaisse charter of Marseille states that the classic soup must contain at least four of six fish choices. These fish selections are then cut up and served to the diners. A bouillabaisse must include a variety of crustaceans, as well as a spicy broth. However, it should not be complete without croutons, which are dipped in rouille or a peppery garlic sauce.

Tarte Tatin

Without a mention of the many patisserie in France, this list of French classic dishes would not be complete. Although not as elegant or architecturally sophisticated as other treats found in French sweet shops' windows, the buttery, simmering tarte Tatin is a caramelized apple tart that is essentially upside-down and is well-known for its unique flavor and history.

Legend has it that Stephanie Tatin and Caroline Tatin worked in a restaurant in France's Loire Valley in the late 19th Century. Stephanie became overwhelmed by the large number of hunters who came through the door. Inadvertently, she left the apples in her apple-pie cooking for too long. She tried to save it by wrapping the apples with pastry and baking. The result was a steaming apple dish with caramelized sugar and a flaky crust. It was so popular that it was named after her sisters, la tarte des démoiselles Tatin.

Tarte Tatin can be enjoyed anywhere, but it is best if it is there.

David Lebovitz (author of "The Sweet Life in Paris") said that "Northern France" is well-known for its apples. "They have amazing cooking apples."

French onion soup

It isn't a new dish or even one that can be tied directly to France. Some of its earliest versions can be traced back as far back to ancient Rome. But the most well-known version? When you think of onion soup, what is it? This is the version you choose to start your meal with. It contains beef stock, onions and toasted bread. It's all France.

This soup is different from other onion-based soups because it has a layer of cheese on top. This is achieved by baking the soup in the oven to melt the cheese.

The "technique" of gratin is about baking something in a shallow dish and getting crouted on top. This means that you can create a crust. That crust can be cheese, bread, or any other type of food. Boulud explained that a good crust is important. He opened Le Gratin in New York, a restaurant devoted to the technique. Another French favourite, gratin Dauphinois (or gratin potatoes), is the most popular dish at this restaurant.


Escargot is one of the most well-known and infamous French dishes. Although it might not be for everyone but adventurous eaters will love this delicacy that can be traced back to the Roman Empire.

Squid with garlic butter and parsley is the classic recipe. Warm snails can be served in their shells, or in a special dish with 6-12 small compartments. The dish is often served with bread to soak up the buttery, rich flavor. These are not your typical backyard snails. The Burgundy snail is the most well-known snail species for escargot. It is extremely protected in France.

Souffle of chocolate

Named after the French word souffler (which means "to puff up"), eating a chocolate souffle or one its savory counterparts feels a lot like eating a cloud. This rich, yet light dessert has been on French tables since 18th century. However, Marie-Antoine Careme, a highly respected chef and arbiter for haute cuisine, perfected it in the middle of the 1800s.

Although souffle is notoriously difficult to make, it can be done with a few simple ingredients. You make the souffle's distinctive texture by separating the egg yolks and whites, whipping them into stiff meringue, before adding them to the chocolate batter. Although the baking time and temperature are precise and easy to miss, the result is immediately noticeable. Souffles are best served warm from the oven.


While not every French dish deserves a whole day, crepes aren't the only French dish. Crepes are France's most popular entry to the international pancake catalog. They have an unmatched versatility. You can make them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They can be made with buckwheat flour (a Brittany tradition) or white flour more widely used in the world.

At creperie, the paper-thin pancake can be made theatrically using large griddles. Crepes can be made with any combination sweet or savory ingredients. However, crepes suzette, which are made of caramelized sugar and orange juice, is still very popular. Flambeed liquor is also available.

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise celebrates the vibrant, fresh produce found on the French Riviera. The salad is elegantly presented on a platter or tray. It includes a bed of lettuce, a simple olive oil vinaigrette, and raw vegetables.

Purists might prefer a salade Nicoise that includes fresh tomatoes, black olives and capers, along with green beans. All of this is served cold, with an optional addition of tuna or anchovies. As the popularity of this salad has grown beyond Nice, many ingredients have been added to it, including hard-boiled eggs and potatoes.

Pan bagnat is also a sandwich version of this salad that's worth trying. Imagine all the wonderful ingredients in a Nicoise salad, stuffed into French sourdough or pain de campagne.

Creme brulee

Each bite of creme brulee is an exercise on opposites. Contrasting flavors: the sweet vanilla custard and the almost bitter bruleed topping; caramelized sugar against the creamy custard beneath; gentle water bath to bake the custard, compared to the intense blowtorch flame to melt it -- opposites do attract in this dish.

It is difficult to determine when or where the first crème brulee was made. Similar recipes were found in England, Spain, France and France as far back as the fifth century. One thing is certain: humans have loved creamy desserts throughout history. We can't disagree with 1,500 years worth of positive reviews.


Cassoulet is one of the most hearty French meals. Cassoulet is a bean-centric ragout, which originated in Castelnaudary. It can be made with different ingredients depending on where it's being prepared. Castelnaudary's white beans are made with duck confit, pork, and sausage. Carcassonne features gamey meat like mutton. Toulouse also adds a bread crumb topping.

The basic idea is the same: Take all the delicious and healthy ingredients and place them in a pot, or more precisely, an earthenware cassole.

The French love this dish so much that Castelnaudary has its very own brotherhood, the Grande Confrerie du Cassoulet. "The Grande Confrerie's purpose is to preserve, propagate, and protect the Cassoulet du Castelnaudary reputation, assuring respect for tradition and quality," the brotherhood's website states.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine is a French classic. It has creamy eggs, flaky pastry crust, and smoky bacon. The beginning of what has become a standard item in any French bistro or Boulangerie was not easy.

Quiche is a German word that means cake. The reason is that the first quiches were created in Lotharingia, Germany, which was a medieval kingdom that spanned many modern Western European countries.

Lothringen was a favorite place for its egg-and cream custard pie. France later annexed it to create Lorraine. Although the borders were changed, the dish remained. Quiches can now be enjoyed all over the world with a variety of creative and delicious flavor combinations.

Confit de canard

The confit method, which was once used to preserve meat and vegetables before refrigeration, has now become one of the most popular French food preparation methods. Confit produces tender, juicy meat with crisp skin. It's enriched with salt, herbs, and its own fat. What's not loveable?

Although confit is not an easy process, it's a delicious way to cook duck. The raw meat is first cured with salt, garlic and aromatics, then the fat is rendered by poaching at low temperatures for several hours. You can store the meat with the fat in an airtight container up to two weeks, or even three months until you are ready to fry it.

Although this technique is not perfect, it can produce a duck cut that is rich in flavor and tender to the bone.


There are many entrees that feature beef and poultry, but ratatouille is a popular vegetarian option. Originally from the French word touille which means "to toss", ratatouille was popularized throughout France due to its use fresh summer vegetables.

You can make ratatouille with a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. You can serve the stew hot or cold. According to the James Beard Foundation, it pairs well with a crusty baguette with Parmesan or an egg.


You can find a variety of delicious flavors in profiteroles. They are sweet, small, and easy to eat. These little cream puffs are filled with vanilla custard or cream or even icecream. They can also be decorated with chocolate sauce, fruit, or plain.

Pate achoux, also known as choux pastry, is a delicate, airy pastry. Choux is the French pastry dough that's used to make eclairs and Paris-Brest. This is made by mixing flour with milk, butter and water before adding the eggs. When baked, the dough becomes wet and elastic.

David Lebovitz explained that profiteroles are a popular dessert in French homes because of their simplicity. "French cooking requires a lot of technique and pate achoux is an easy technique to master."

Sole meuniere

This fish dish is suitable for a king, literally. Sole meuniere was a favourite of King Louis XIV in the late 1600s. Although the dish is simple, it has many ingredients. However, the flavors are complex because of the unique techniques used to cook the fish.

The Dover sole is the classic choice for a traditional preparation. Its firm flesh and fresh flavor make it the best fish. Once the sole has been breaded, it is then sauteed in butter until crisp and golden. The sole can then be topped with parsley or beurre noisette for a rich, nuanced flavor.

"The flesh is transparent. It is delicate. It's one the most beautiful things in life," says Daniele Mazet Delpeuch, ex-personal chef to French President FrancoisMitterrand. He speaks in CNN Film "Julia," a CNN Film documentary about Julia Child. "Perfect fish in butter. It's perfect!"


Terrine is a great dish for even the most imaginative chefs. This dish is named after the earthenware clay pot that was used to create its unique loaf-like shape. However, the possibilities for flavor combinations are endless. You can make a rustic terrine with ingredients such as beans and pork, or you can go extravagant with rare game and truffles. You can make the dish with chicken, fish, or all vegetables.

What is the most important characteristic of any ingredient? Big flavor.

A terrine, which is not to be confused with other popular elements of charcuterie like pate or ravilete, is made by layering forcemeat and any combination thereof in a mold. The mold then cooks slowly in a hot water bath. This can be served as an appetizer or as a hors-d'oeuvre. It is best served with cornichons and crusty bread.

Steak frites

You can't think of a better combination than steak and potatoes. Steak frites, which originated in France and Belgium, has been a staple of European bistro and brasserie menus since its inception. Simple and beloved, the elements of steak frites are a juicy cut of beefsteak and crispy fries.

A side dish of creamy bearnaise is served with steaks. The sauce is made from clarified butter, eggs yolks, and herbs. It's rich in flavor and makes a great accompaniment to the tender cuts of ribeye or porterhouse. This dish is perfect for casual dining and pairs well with a good red wine to break through the strong flavors.


Jambon-beurre, also known as jambon or ham, is actually exactly what it says to be. It's jambon (or ham) layered on butter and sandwiched between two slices. Because every ingredient is equally important, the simplicity of this sandwich requires its creator to only use the finest ingredients.

Always a baguette cut down the middle, the bread must be freshly baked to perfection, with a crispy crust and a soft interior. Jambon de Paris is the best type of ham, which is sourced directly from Paris and sliced thinly without additives or preservatives. Butter, which should come from the northwestern Normandy region of France, should be lightly salted before being spreadable.

The jambon-beurre, also known as the Parisien is used to measure the popularity of French food amongst the country's citizens. Maryann Tebben says that an annual index is created to compare the consumption of jambon-beurres with hamburgers. This helps ensure that the country does not stray from its roots.

Blanquette de veau

Blanquette de Veau, a French favorite, is a veal stew made en blanquette. This means that neither the meat nor the butter are browned during cooking. This produces tender meat with mild flavors and a creamy, comforting sauce.

White sauce is created by combining butter and flour to make a roux. This is one of France's most important contributions to international cooking. The flour is used to thicken the base and bond with other ingredients, such as cheese and cream. This technique is responsible for the creation of base dishes such as gumbo, curries, and creamy macar and cheese.


There's a new dish that can be considered the ultimate cold-weather meal, and it's not chicken noodle soup. Pot-au-feu, which means "pot on fire", is a simple, warm and delicious slow-cooked meal.

Pot-au-feu is considered a French national dish. However, there is no set recipe and each region has its own version. It is generally made from meat, root vegetables and herbs, and served in separate courses. The broth, meat and vegetables are all served together.

Pot-au-feu, a large serving of French cuisine, is believed to be the embodiment of French cooking's spirit -- that food, wine, and conversation are what make life worthwhile.

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