Post: Popular French Food: 45 Dishes You Didn’t Know to Try – Bon appétit!

Two french pink macarons one smashed the other not side by side

This post was last updated on March 19th, 2024.

Mmmm… French food, right?—buttery croissants, the satisfying crunch of a fresh baguette, Julia Child’s enthusiastic “Hello!” as she adds more butter to the pan, delightful macaroons, strong French coffee, exotic frog legs (because why not?), and comforting Ratatouille, a veggie delight that’s like getting a warm hug. And that’s just the beginning!

French onion soup, juicy magret de canard à l’orange, classic steak frites, coq au vin, and decadent foie gras. Drooling yet?

We’re completely hypnotized by the magic of French food, and we bet you are too!

So we’re here to spill the beans on the crème de la crème of the finest French dishes, brought to you by the very people who know it best— us! Locals who’ve lived and breathed French culture, well, all our lives.

And just in time for the Paris Summer Olympics, our list has been freshly updated with new, handpicked favorites that will add some extra zest to your culinary adventures in Paris. Buckle up; you’re in for a stomach-grumbling ride!

Table of contents

Popular Food in France
Easy French Dishes
Classic French Cuisine
Traditional French Food
The French Diet
French Desserts
All you need to know about French foods

image of roasted vegetables and pan seared bacon depicting Popular French Food

You might have heard of France as the “gourmet nation” and it’s not by chance. France has surely one of the best cuisines in the world.

With renowned chefs, locals being refined and great eaters, Michelin-star restaurants, bakeries, bistros, brasseries, and other cafes, eating has become for them a way of life and is entirely part of French culture.

1. Steak and French Fries / Steak Frites

The “steak and fries” is a popular French dish and a quintessential offering at any French brasserie. Accompanied by a fresh salad, this straightforward yet immensely satisfying meal is a favorite among meat enthusiasts. And let’s be honest, is there anything better than perfectly cooked fries to complement a juicy steak?

2. Steamed Mussels with White Wine / Moules Marinières

Discover mussels as you have never eaten them before: Cooked in white wine with shallots, parsley, and celery stalks.

Served with French fries that you can dip in the broth, you will find the perfect match with a white dry and fruity glass of wine or with a fresh blond beer.

If you ever go to France, make sure to eat them fresh from the sea on an ocean-view terrace.

3. Ham and butter Sandwich / Jambon-beurre

The Jambon-beurre sandwich is Paris street food at its best. This great sandwich is all about the quality of the carefully-selected three ingredients: Parisian ham, salty butter, and a fresh baguette.

You may also want to try the ham and cheese or ham and pickles version!

Veggie Ratatouille in a white casserole dish
Made famous by the Rat in the movie, Ratatouille is a traditional summer dish.

4. Ratatouille

More appetizing than the famous Parisian rat, Ratatouille is a thick stewed vegetable mix made of tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchinis, eggplants, onions, and garlic.

This traditional French meal is commonly served as an accompaniment to meats, especially grilled or roasted, but the real fans can also eat it alone, as a vegetable stew. It can also be part of the main course like ratatouille with lamb chops.

5. Alsace Quiche / Quiche Lorraine

The Alsatian tradition of a Quiche Lorraine is a tart topped with a mixture of cream, milk, eggs, nutmeg, gruyere cheese, onions, and lardons (bacon). These ingredients give a slightly smoky flavor, which is much appreciated in France.

Originally the crust was made from bread dough, but this evolved into the lightest, melt-in-your-mouth pasty. It actually just takes one bite of the dish to know just how good a quiche can really be.

It has also become popular with slight variations such as adding mushrooms or leeks. Nowadays, you can also find more modern versions of the quiche in bakeries and restaurants.

6. Macarons

To continue our list of popular French recipes and food, we are naming… The macarons.

Macarons, in France, are made with almond flour, egg white and sugar. Good macarons need to be crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. But at the same time, they need to melt in your mouth.

They come in a vast array of flavors and colors such as strawberry, coffee, vanilla, lemon, chocolate etc.

They’re not easy to transport or store, so they must be eaten quickly, usually the day they are baked. What a shame, right?

7. Croque-Monsieur

The Croque-Monsieur is a traditional French sandwich made of butter, mustard, ham, and cheese. It’s eaten after being toasted so you can enjoy the melted cheese coming off the warm and crispy bread. Some recipes include a bechamel sauce on top, but this is not always the case.

The perfect dish to make at home if you’re in a hurry!

8. Tartar Steak / Steak tartare

Steak tartare is a classic long-standing French bistro plate of ground raw meat served with a raw egg yolk on top. It is then seasoned to your preference with sliced pickles, salt, pepper, shallots, capers, English sauce, and dipping sauces such as mustard, mayonnaise, or ketchup. It comes with French fries or mixed greens.

Nowadays, a few people might still have some doubts about trying this dish, but we can guarantee that the daring ones will be highly and tastefully rewarded.

Easy French Dishes

9. Omelet / Omelette

One of the most popular french foods might be the “Omelette”. Scrambled eggs and a spoon of water or milk, is the secret to cooking an amazing omelet.

Popular add-ins for this dish can include ham, a pinch of gruyère, and mushrooms.

But did you know “Omelette du Fromage” is not a thing in France?

The perfect winter dish – French Onion Soup.

10. Soupe à l’oignon / French Onion Soup

What can be a more classic French dish than the “Soupe à l’oignon”? A popular dish from the 18th century this traditional French soup was seen as a poor person’s dish.

A rich blend of onions and beef stock, topped with melted cheese. Its unique flavor comes from caramelized onions and sometimes brandy or sherry.

11. Nicoise salad / Salade Niçoise

The Salade Nic̝oise is a typical French salad from the Provence region that includes lettuce, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, anchovies, and olives. This salad named after the city of Nice is eaten as a light meal or as a starter.

12. œufs mimosas (Deviled Eggs)

A refreshing start or a petite plaisir at any French gathering, œufs mimosas are France’s delightful take on deviled eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are halved and filled with a creamy mix of egg yolk, mayonnaise, mustard, and often a hint of shallots or chives for an added punch. Served chilled, they’re the perfect bite-sized appetizer to tease the palate.

13. gésiers de canard (Duck Gizzards)

Gésiers de canard, a rustic yet refined dish, showcases the depth of French culinary tradition. These duck gizzards are slow-cooked until tender, often with duck confit or in duck fat, which imbues them with a rich, irresistible flavor. Sliced thinly and served warm atop a bed of leafy greens, they make for a hearty addition to the French starter lineup.

14. Saucisse au couteau (Hand-chopped Sausage)

Saucisse au couteau, a testament to the art of charcuterie, involves coarsely chopped, seasoned meat encased in natural casings. This handcrafted approach ensures a texture and flavor complexity unmatched by mass-produced sausages. Grilled or pan-fried, these sausages are a robust start to any meal, pairing beautifully with a simple side of Dijon mustard or pickled onions.

Classic French Cuisine

Coq au vin is one of France’s most famous dishes.

15. Rooster in wine / Coq au vin

The Coq-au-vin, literally “rooster in wine”, is a symbol of French cuisine. Though there’s some uncertainty about the history of this legendary recipe, coq-au-vin dates back to Julius Caesar.

As a sign of intimidation, Julius was sent a rooster as an insult from the enemy. It is said that Caesar returned the gesture with an invitation to dinner, and as a main dish had the rooster cooked in wine for them to feast on.

But enough about history, the coq au vin is a cooked rooster marinated in red wine with bacon, carrots, onions, and mushrooms, making this ensemble a very flavored stew and meat. It’s usually presented with potatoes or pasta.

Beef Bourguignon, a popular food in France and considered to be the national dish too
Did you know that Beef Bourguignon is considered to be the national dish of France?

16. Beef Bourguignon / Boeuf bourguignon

Boeuf bourguignon is essentially a stew made of beef braised in red wine and beef broth. The dish hails from the Eastern region of France, in Bourgogne.

Previously a peasant dish, it is now a staple in French restaurants and around the world. By turning a budget cut of meat into great elegant food, this dish showcases the great art of cooking “à la Française”.

It is made of pieces of beef, cooked with mushrooms, garlic, bacon, and onions. The meat is then tenderized in red wine from Bourgogne for hours, or up to two days. You’ll enjoy this dish with potatoes and carrots.

17. Flemish Carbonnade / Carbonnade Flamande

Hailing from Belgium and revered as the northern counterpart to the iconic Boeuf Bourguignon, Carbonnade Flamande is a cherished staple that has found a warm place in the culinary traditions of Northern France.

This dish features tender pieces of beef slowly simmered in a rich broth of light beer, enhanced with the unique additions of aromatics, gingerbread, brown sugar, and mustard.

18. Duck liver pate / Foie Gras

Foie Gras is a starter that can usually be found on Christmas and New Year’s Eve tables.

Try it on a piece of toasted brioche or gingerbread, a bit of onion spread, or fig jam. This pate is a classic French delicacy, which can now be found in vegan versions to please every palate.

Six garlic herb butter snails in a traditional white ceramic dish
Will you dare try the popular French dish of Escargots?

19. Escargots Herb Butter Snails / Escargots de Bourgogne

Another typical and tasty French dish starter – which can also be appreciated as a main dish – is the escargots de Bourgogne.

Also called “Escargots au Beurre persillé”, they’re cooked in a delicious parsley and garlic butter.

The snails are presented in their shells with a little skewer and served in a special escargot tray, usually in porcelain, with several indentations.

The snails are directly put inside this plate in the oven for 10 minutes and presented as is to the lucky diner.

To eat them the French way, get the meat out of the shell with the skewer and enjoy with some fresh bread!

20. Veal Stew / Blanquette de Veau

A veal stew is a rich French dish made with large chunks of seasoned and cooked meat. The stew is then thickened by the addition of egg yolks, sour cream, and white wine. Vegetables can also be added to the preparation such as carrots, mushrooms, celery, and onions.

This slow-cooked meal can be accompanied by rice.

21. Pan fried Sole / Sole Meunière

The classic fish dish Sole Meunière is a first-class meal that’s cooked with butter and lemon. The special trick is that the sole has a thin and delicious crust made from flour. A pinch of fresh parsley then comes to the end of the preparation.

22. Magret de Canard à l’Orange (Duck Breast with Orange Sauce)

Elevating the classic duo of duck meat and citrus, Magret de Canard à l’Orange combines succulent duck breast with a vibrant orange sauce. The duck is seared to perfection, creating a crispy skin that gives way to tender meat, while the sauce, a blend of orange juice, zest, and a touch of sugar, balances the richness of the duck. It’s a dish that sings with flavor, embodying the elegance of French cuisine.

Traditional French Food

23. Frogs’ Legs / Cuisses de Grenouilles

Kicking off this list with one of the most classic French dishes around: frog’s legs. A specialty from the South of France a typical recipe involves sautéing and seasoning them with garlic butter and parsley sauce or with a more provincial style, in a tomato, garlic, and onion base. Resembling tender poultry but sweeter, these delicate legs are a must-try delicacy!

24. Cassoulet

Originally a dish from the southern city of Toulouse and its surroundings, cassoulet is made of pork, duck, different types of sausages, and a lot of white beans. The dish has been enjoyed for years and years and still continues to be a favorite in France.

This dish is a rich, hearty meal that is best known for those colder months. The name of the dish comes from the pot, “cassole”, that the dish is traditionally baked in.

25. Bouillabaisse

Originating from Marseille’s Mediterranean fishermen, Bouillabaisse is a richly flavored soup. It combines fresh rockfish and mussels with a medley of tomatoes, leeks, onions, and garlic. The broth is elevated with white wine, saffron, bay leaves, olive oil, and dried oranges, simmered for hours to deepen its flavors. Served in a communal pot with bread, it’s a dish best enjoyed with friends and family.

26. Gratin Dauphinois (Dauphinoise Potatoes)

Originating from the Dauphiné region in southeastern France, Gratin Dauphinois is a testament to the French knack for turning simple ingredients into a sumptuous feast. Thinly sliced potatoes are layered in a buttered dish, then luxuriously bathed in cream, milk, and nutmeg before being baked to perfection. No cheese is added in the original recipe but some variations of the recipe do. This dish is so popular that everyone likes to cook it their own way.

27. Raclette

Raclette cheese is one of those winter French foods you’ll never forget. It has been imported from Switzerland but is commonly appreciated in any household or restaurant.

The name stands for a Raclette cheese, melted at your convenience on a raclette table grill and eaten with cold meat, potatoes, bread, and pickles. This is the ultimate winter-friendly meal and is said to be the perfect way to eat during winter…

28. Tartiflette

Another light and healthy dish, uh, sorry, we meant tasty and cheesy… The tartiflette. It is made with potatoes, onions, bacon, and strong grilled Reblochon cheese. Traditionally it is baked, but at the markets, it is prepared in a ginormous paella-like pan.

You can find the dish being prepared at many of the Paris market stalls over the Christmas period. So if you head to Paris in winter, make sure you try this!

29. Petit Salé aux Lentilles

A dish of humble origins that has found its way into the heart of French cuisine, Petit Salé aux Lentilles features salt-cured pork cooked with lentils. The lentils, simmered with aromatic vegetables and herbs, absorb the flavors of the pork, creating a stew that’s both comforting and deeply flavorful. It’s a testament to the French ability to turn simple ingredients into culinary gold.

30. Truffade

Truffade is a comforting dish from the Auvergne region, a hearty blend of thinly sliced potatoes and melted cheese, often Tomme. This rustic skillet dish is just sliced potatoes cooked until golden and crisp, then garnished with garlic and sometimes bacon. It’s a simple yet satisfying dish that warms the soul, perfect for cooler evenings.

31. d’os de cabillaud au beurre blanc (Cod Fish Bone with White Butter Sauce)

This dish showcases the delicate texture of cod, served with a luxurious beurre blanc sauce—a buttery, slightly acidic sauce made with white wine and shallots. The cod is gently poached or steamed, then laid atop a spoonful of the sauce. The combination of flaky fish and rich sauce is a celebration of the sea, highlighting the French knack for elevating seafood into an art form.

32. Basque Chicken / Poulet Basquaise

One of the richest regions in French cuisine is the Basque country and Poulet Basquaise is just one of their delicious specialties.

The Basque chicken is a full dish where the chicken meat is made tender by use of “piperade”, a sauce made of bell peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and Espelette peppers.

The French Diet

33. Leek Soup

Leek Soup is not just a staple in French home cooking; it’s also whispered to be the secret behind many French women’s slim figures. This comforting soup combines the subtle, sweet flavors of leeks with potatoes and stock, simmered until everything melds into a creamy, velvety concoction.

Often pureed to a smooth consistency and finished with a splash of cream, it’s often served with a sprinkle of fresh herbs.


34. French cheese and cold cut platter / Planche mixte

Some people say that they have a different cheese for each day of the year… Yes, France is known for its wide varieties of cheeses and with the Planche mixte, you get to have a quick overview of the French array.

Often ordered in cafes or brasseries to open appetites or as a snack to share, the planche mixte also comes with cold cuts for you to find the perfect associations. Mix this with red wine, grapes, and walnuts and you’ll be transported to food paradise.

Note that if you don’t try it as a starter, the French usually serve a tray of cheeses with salad after the main. Two chances then to get your french cheese dose!

35. Breton Buckwheat Crepe / Galette Bretonne

Did you know there was a savory version of crepes? Yep, us too, we are already salivating.

The “Galette Bretonne” is composed of a buckwheat flour crepe, which makes it more crusty than the original crepes. Topped with ham, grated cheese, and egg, try out this amazing combination that usually goes with a cup of cider!

36. Oysters / Huîtres

Oysters are also a popular French food, even though they’re usually consumed while on the west coast or for special occasions.

Us French usually eat them alive with a splash of lemon. However, know that if you prefer to avoid eating them alive, some French cooks also prepare them in the oven. A touch of champagne, seasoning, and cheese, simply makes them perfect!

37. Scallops au Gratin / Coquilles Saint Jacques

Let’s go now to the seaside of French food with the Coquilles Saint Jacques, a typical starter for the end of the year celebrations.

Discover French cooking at its best with sautéed scallops in white wine, butter, and fresh mushroom slices. They are then added into their original shell with a delicious bechamel sauce and leeks or even small brown shrimp.

Topped with breadcrumbs and Gruyere before being broiled under a hot grill, this starter goes along so well with a nice dry white wine.

38. Salade chèvre chaud (Warm Goat Cheese Salad)

Salade chèvre chaud is a beloved bistro classic, marrying the freshness of greens with the creamy tang of warm goat cheese. Rounds of goat cheese are lightly breaded and toasted until just melting, then perched atop a salad dressed with a sharp vinaigrette. The contrast of warm cheese and cool salad makes every bite a delightful experience.

Smoking

Rounding out our list of the French diet is … smoking. Kidding, but also not kidding. The French are infamous for their smoking habits.

Best French desserts to end a perfect meal

A spoon breaking into a chocolate souffle with liquid chocolate spilling out on to the plate
The Chocolate Souffle is a challenging dessert to get right – but when you do… yum!

39. Chocolate soufflé / Soufflé au chocolat

Since the 18th century, soufflé is an airy dessert that has convinced the most exigent palates of the world.

The word soufflé actually comes from the French verb “souffler” which means “to blow”, such as blow air. And you would understand why… Break its crispy crust and go straight to paradise with this chocolate foamy-like heart!

40. Crepes / Crêpes

French crepes are very thin pancakes that can be eaten for breakfast or dessert.

Crepes are very tasty even when only sprinkled with sugar and folded. But you can often find them with sweet fillings such as chocolate sauce, spreads, marmalade, whipped cream, or fresh fruits.

41. Tarte Tatin

According to culinary legend, Stéphanie Tatin, chef of the Hotel Tatin, accidentally left apple pies cooked in sugar and butter. In a hurry to save the apple pie, she put the pastry base on top of the burning fruit and put it in the oven. The result turned traditional apple pie into an upside-down tart, called la “Tarte Tatin”.

Like the story stated, this “upside down” apple tart is now made – on purpose obviously – with apples caramelized with butter and sugar. The crust is added on top before baking. When it goes out of the oven, the tart is turned and presented upside down.

Three French Creme Brûlées in white ramekins on a white table
Can you eat just one creme brulee?

42. Crème brûlée

The dessert crème brûlée is a custard-based dessert topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramelized sugar to the top of it. The custard is made of egg yolks, sugar, and cream.

It is traditionally flavored with vanilla, and let us tell you it is still the most delicious way to eat one. But nowadays, you’ll also find different custard flavorings, like coffee or fruit combinations such as a layer of fruit puree.

43. Floating Island / Île flottante

The floating island was created by a mixture of whipped egg whites that are slightly and precisely cooked in the oven for a little while. It is then served on top of an English vanilla-type cream.

The combination is typically served cold and gives us the feeling of a floating island, which explains its name.

44. Profiteroles

Profiteroles are small pastries filled with vanilla ice cream. They are usually served with hot melted dark chocolate and whipped cream.

The confrontation of cold and soft vanilla taste with hot and intense dark chocolate will make you fall in love with this dessert.

45. Apple Tart / Tarte aux pommes

The apple tart is a traditional dessert that has been reinvented by French chefs to be more elaborate and refined.

French people are used to eating it because of the fresh apples, which are abundant in the country.

This tart is made of sliced apples on top of an apple sauce before being cooked in the oven. Some brown sugar and butter can be added on top to get a caramelized and delicious coating.

All you need to know about French food

We hope you enjoyed this extensive list of popular foods in France. Here are the top questions and answers you’ve been asking us about French food.

What are 10 famous French foods?

The 10 most famous french foods over the world are:

  • Croissant
  • Baguette
  • Coq au vin
  • Ratatouille
  • Boeuf bourguignon
  • Quiche Lorraine
  • Escargots
  • French onion soup
  • The macarons
  • The crème brûlée

What is France’s national dish?

There are many options to choose from, but France’s national dish is probably the Boeuf Bourguignon. Well known in and outside France, it represents the beauty of the cuisine by transforming a simple piece of meat into an intensely flavored dish, only composed with national ingredients.

What are the most popular cuisines in France?

French cuisine is one of the world’s oldest and it has evolved throughout history. Popular cuisines include Bistronomie, Gastronomie, Nouvelle Cuisine, Molecular cuisine, Farm-to-table, or those who follow regional traditions such as Bretagne.

What is the most popular drink in France?

Without any doubt, the most popular drink in France – other than water – is wine. With friends or family, day or night, the French enjoy a great glass of wine.

Whether it is white, rosé, or red, wine is the perfect refreshment for a pleasurable moment. There’s even a French saying – drink a glass of red wine a day to keep the doctor away.

Which food from other countries is very popular in France?

In France, other types of food from different countries can be found such as Japanese, Thai or Mexican food. French cuisine also has strong influences from their neighbors such as Belgian, Italian, and Spain.

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Want more of our French food love affair? Check out our foodie series blog posts: Discovering the Best Macarons, Best Bistros in Paris, Best Cafes in Paris, The Best Parisian Bars, and Gastronomic Delights: The 10 Best Things to Eat in Paris!

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