30 Top French Dishes and Classic Foods

French dishes are characterized by their emphasis on regional ingredients, meticulous preparation, and diverse, sophisticated flavors.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
Home » Dishes A-Z » 30 Top French Dishes and Classic Foods
Basic Information

French Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Cheese, wine, beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, all-purpose flour, butter

Common Cooking Methods

Baking, Broiling, Pan-frying, Boiling, Simmering, Slow cooking, Gentle frying, Braising, Grilling, Deep-frying, Roasting, Assembling, Sautéing


Appetizer, Main course, Dessert, Salad, Soup, Snack


Breakfast (petit déjeuner), lunch (déjeuner), dinner (dîner)

Key Taste

Savory, Neutral, Sweet

Eating Etiquette

Formal, with an emphasis on using the correct utensils for different courses, and bread is often eaten alongside the main dish without butter during the meal.

Meal Presentation

Elegant and thoughtful, with attention to the arrangement and garnish to enhance the visual appeal of the dish.

Culinary Festivals

Fête de la Gastronomie

Influence and Fusion

Roman, Celtic, European influences
Origin and Region

French Food: Origin and Region



Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

Western Europe

Country’s Region

Northern, Southern, Eastern France
France Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of French Food

  • Casseroles and Bakes

    These dishes feature layers of flavors, often combining meats, vegetables, and creamy sauces.

    They are often baked to cook through all the ingredients.

  • Stews

    French stews involve slow-cooking ingredients.

    Fragrant herbs and wine are often used to infuse rich, savory flavors.

  • Grilled and Barbecued Dishes

    These specialties are cooked until high heat with different doneness to provide a wide range of flavors.

  • Desserts

    French desserts are known for their sophistication and artistry.

    They provide a sweet and indulgent conclusion to a meal, featuring a wide array of delicacies.

  • Soups

    French soups are brothy creations that often incorporate a mix of ingredients, resulting in a comforting, nourishing experience.

  • Cakes and Pastries

    French cakes and pastries provide delicate, flaky textures and delectable fillings.

  • Bread and Doughs

    These are often featured with many savory and sweet dishes for dipping and enjoyed as a side dish.

French dishes are a wide range of specialties made using the cooking traditions and practices of France. With centuries to evolve and experiment, the cuisine is known for its fancy dishes that center around cheese and wine.

Additionally, the country is heavily influenced by Western cooking styles, serving various courses at once. In terms of ingredients, these elements vary depending on the season giving French dishes a different profile based on the time of the year.

In France, game meat, fish, and poultry products are prized items, especially in dishes that possess a sweet and sour profile. Another worth noting feature is in the presentation, as French cuisine pays extra attention to this aspect to enhance the dishes’ appeal.

To learn more about French dishes, let’s discover the dishes before getting to know about the history and features that define these specialties. Also, I’ll suggest some pairings for you with some French specialties and drinks.

To learn about the traditional side of French food, these are the features for you to remember:

  • Regional Diversity: French cuisine varies greatly across different regions, each with its unique dishes and ingredients, reflecting the local culture, climate, and history.
  • Quality Ingredients: Emphasis on high-quality, fresh ingredients, including a wide variety of cheeses, wines, and bread, integral to French meals.
  • Culinary Techniques: French cooking is known for its sophisticated techniques and presentation, which have developed over centuries of culinary tradition.
  • Meal Structure: Traditional French meals often consist of multiple courses, including an appetizer, main course, cheese course, and dessert.
  • Wine Culture: Wine is a central element of French cuisine, with specific wines paired with different dishes to enhance flavors.
  • Cheese Variety: France offers extensive cheeses, each region boasting its own specialties.
  • Sauces and Pastries: Mastery of making complex sauces and exquisite pastries is a hallmark of French cuisine.
  • Culinary Influence: French cooking has significantly influenced Western cuisines, setting standards for culinary excellence worldwide.
  • UNESCO Recognition: French gastronomy is recognized by UNESCO as an “intangible cultural heritage,” highlighting its global significance and cultural value.

Later on, let’s learn about the popularity of French food around the world, allowing you to comprehend the cuisine’s massive impact.

French food is renowned worldwide, and its influence is seen in numerous countries across different continents.

In the United States, Canada, parts of Asia like Japan and South Korea, and throughout Europe, French cuisine is adopted for its sophistication, depth of flavor, and culinary techniques.

These countries host numerous French restaurants, ranging from haute cuisine to bistro-style dining. The popularity of French cuisine is also evident in culinary schools worldwide, where French cooking techniques are spread and implemented.

Aside from the popularity aspect, you should be aware of the healthy side when consuming French food.

When it comes to healthy eating, you can never count French food out of it. Here are the features that contribute to the healthy side of French specialties:

  • Portion Control: French cuisine is known for smaller portion sizes, which helps prevent overeating.
  • Fresh Ingredients: There’s a strong emphasis on using fresh, local ingredients, including vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish.
  • Balanced Meals: Meals are well-balanced, often including a variety of food groups.
  • Moderate Wine Consumption: Wine, consumed in moderation, is a staple in French dining and is associated with certain health benefits.
  • Quality over Quantity: There’s a focus on the quality of ingredients and the dining experience, rather than large quantities of food.
  • Diverse Dairy Intake: Cheese and yogurt, consumed in moderation, provide calcium and protein.

Remember, you still have 30 dishes of France to explore and find out which delicacies are your best choice.

30 Most Popular French Dishes with Filters

When you’re doing your reading, let me help you with the filter system to see these dishes in alphabetical order, dish types, tastes, ingredients, cooking methods, and global popularity.

Get to know all sorts of culinary styles from France with common choices, including the most popular, national, traditional, street food, and exotic dishes:

  • These are dishes that many people in France and around the world know and love.
  • They are often found in French restaurants everywhere.
  • They represent the flavors and cooking styles many people think of when imagining French food.
  • These dishes are symbols of France and its culinary heritage. They are deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history.
  • Often served during national celebrations and holidays, these dishes are a source of pride for the French.
  • These dishes have been passed down through generations in France. They use time-honored recipes and cooking methods.
  • They reflect the regional diversity of France, showcasing local ingredients and flavors from various parts of the country.
  • This includes quick and affordable food items you can find at markets, food trucks, and small stands throughout France.
  • French street food offers a more casual way to enjoy French flavors, often with a modern twist or fusion with other cuisines.
  • In the context of France, these dishes might incorporate ingredients or cooking techniques from other cultures, making them unique within the French culinary landscape.
  • They demonstrate the openness of French cuisine to global influences, adding diversity to the traditional French table.
Great Scallops

Coquilles St. Jacques

  • Traditional

Coquilles St. Jacques is a French dish of scallops cooked in a creamy and thick sauce. The mixture often comes with mushrooms and onion to enhance the seafood profile of the scallops.

Served as an appetizer in France, the scallop dish is cooked using a broiler. The dish is especially loved for its rich profile coming from the thick sauce.

The main reason this scallop dish gets its name of St. Jacques is after the Saint died, some people say that his body was transferred on a ship, but it disappeared. Then, the body was found on the beach and placed in a scallop shell.

Flamiche Aux Poireaux

Flamiche aux Poireaux

  • Traditional

Flamiche is a French specialty made using leek, coming from the beautiful Picardy. People regard it as the Picardy version of the famous quiche lorraine.

This dish features a puff pastry tart made of leek, cheese, and cream. In Picardy, locals refer to it as “flamique” instead of “flamiche.”

Aside from puff pastry, the specialty also adapts well with other dough like shortcrust or even pizza dough.

Thanks to its mild and fresh leek flavor, the dish will be a great compliment to heavy meat dishes. Flamiche can also be served as a light and quick meal or a palatable breakfast for a summer day.

Steak Au Poivre

Steak au Poivre

  • Traditional

Steak au poivre is a dish featuring cuts of fresh steak covered with peppercorn sauce and olive oil. The term “au poivre” means “with pepper” in French, highlighting the importance of pepper flavor in the sauce.

Aside from the sauce, the cut steak is even marinated with cracked peppercorns to enhance the flavor. This fascinating dish first appeared in the Normandy bistro in the 19th century.

Baguette French


  • National
  • Traditional

Baguettes are a type of bread with a long shape and crispy crust. Popularly consumed in France in the 18th century, these breads come in at around 26 inches, while weighing around 8.8 ounces.

This classic French food is famous for its simple ingredients, mainly made using a dough mixture of flour with water and yeast. Once baked, these long bread need to have a soft and airy interior, making them perfect for being a sandwich or accompaniment to other dishes.

In 2022, the baguette was even inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

Gratin Dauphinois

Gratin Dauphinois

  • Traditional

Gratin dauphinois is a dish with thinly sliced potatoes and milk as the main ingredients. It became popular after being served at the dinner of Charles-Henri, the Lieutenant of Dauphiné in south-eastern France.

The potatoes are sliced and baked with milk, creating a rich dish with a charming yellowish-brown color.

Traditional gratin dauphinois doesn’t include cheese in the mix. Different from other gratin potato dishes, the dauphinois version uses raw potatoes instead of cooked.

Fondue French


  • Traditional

Fondue is a dish that means “to melt” in French. Created in Switzerland, people craft the dish to it for later consumption during the winter.

This viscous delicacy consists of Swiss cheese, white wine, and garlic to create rich and tangy notes. Often, people treat it as a dipping sauce for literally any ingredients that you can come up with.

Depending on the country, fondue is adaptable with numerous cheese varieties. As for the servings, fondue requires metal forks for skewing the ingredients that are dipped in the fondue cheese.

Blanquette De Veau

Blanquette de Veau

  • Traditional

Blanquette de veau is a French stew of veal, vegetables, and a creamy white sauce. The stew is thoroughly cooked until the veal becomes tender.

Blanquette de veau is often accompanied by rice or noodles. Notably, sour cream and plenty of herbs are used to enhance the distinctive taste and aroma.

Crepes French


  • Traditional

Crêpe, or crepes, are very thin pancakes served as a sweet treat or a savory galette, depending on the filling. Originating in Brittany in the 13th century, these thin and round treats are made using a batter of flour, milk, and egg that is cooked until golden brown.

Because of its thin nature, crepes require little cooking time of only around 20 – 30 seconds on each side.

Crêpes can be served with a variety of fillings, including sweet options like fruit jams, fresh fruits (such as strawberries, bananas, and blueberries), and lemon juice with sugar.

Locals also make use of cheese, jam, or Nutella for a sweet dessert. However, versions with seafood are also available.

The best time to enjoy crêpes is at lunch or dinner, when they are easily found at crêperie stalls on the streets. French people always eat them at a religious festival named “La Chandeleur” on the 2nd of February.

Seafood Stew


  • Traditional

Bouillabaisse is a seafood stew coming from Provençal, a coastal region in France. The stew is made from fish and other seafood options like shrimp and mussels.

Created by a fisherman, bouillabaisse was made to utilize used fish scraps because they were the only thing left. Furthermore, the addition of herbs from Provençal gives the stew a unique profile.

This French specialty tastes rich, sweet, and a little bit zesty. Usually, bouillabaisse comes with a loaf of bread for dipping with the savory broth.

Confit De Canard

Confit de Canard

  • Traditional

Confit de canard is a classic dish of France that is made of a whole duck.

The duck requires a complicated preservation process before being poached to provide a rich flavor as well as an incredibly tender texture.

Interestingly, every part of the duck is fully used to make a meal, with the neck often extracted for making soup.

Coming from Gascony, duck confit even has a canned version for convenience use.

Coq Au Vin

Coq Au Vin

  • Traditional

Coq au vin is a French entrée of a stewed chicken braised in wine, specifically Burgundy, for a tangy, saucy, and rich flavor. The dish is slow-cooked until the chicken is fully tender.

In addition to chicken and wine, this dish also has lardons, mushrooms, and herbs, which intensify the aroma.

Steak Frites

Steak Frites

  • Traditional

Steak frites is a meat creation coming from France and Belgium with the name stands for steak-and-fries. It consists of steak, potato fries, and a dipping sauce.

This meaty serving is a common item at European brasseries, even seen as a national dish of Belgium.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

  • Traditional

Quiche lorraine is a savory tart with a pastry crust filled with meat, cheese, bacon, and vegetables.

The name “quiche” came from the word “kuchen,” meaning “cake.” This dish is believed to come from Lorraine when the Germans were still ruling the place.

Fit for serving hot or cold, quiche lorraine is a great choice for breakfast brunch, or even lunch in France.

French Steak

Chateaubriand (French Steak)

  • Traditional

Chateaubriand is a French steak featuring cut beef tenderloin with a delicious red wine sauce. Its name stems from its creator, François-René de Chateaubriand.

Usually grilled or roasted, the steak is often enjoyed at medium-rare and in thick cuts. Aside from the meat, mushrooms are included with the sauce to improve the flavor.

Beef Bourguignon

Bœuf Bourguignon

  • Traditional

Beef bourguignon is a type of French beef stew cooked using red wine. This classic French dish came from Burgundy, where red wine takes root from.

The beef of bœuf bourguignon is sliced into cubes so they become tender more easily. When served, the beef stew is best enjoyed with boiled or mashed potatoes.

Pot Au Feu


  • National
  • Traditional

Pot-au-feu is the national dish of France, a rich and tender beef stew with potatoes, carrots, and sometimes leek and onion. French people usually cook them on cold winter days.

The stew has many versions of the country, with hand, pork, sausage, and chicken even used. All cooked in one pot, the stew’s name is translated directly to pot on the fire.

Salade Nicoise

Salade Niçoise

  • Traditional

Salad niçoise is a French salad named after the city of Nice, where it originates from.

Created by Auguste Escoffier, the salad is a mixture of tomatoes, eggs, tuna fish, and beans. Everything is mixed then finished with an olive oil dressing.

Interestingly, the traditional version of salade niçoise doesn’t come with cooked vegetables, while the modern adaptation requires green beans and potatoes.

soupe a loignon

Soupe à L’oignon

  • Traditional

Soupe à l’oignon is a classic French onion soup created in the romantic city of Paris and dates back to the mid-19th century.

The French soup is made by cooking onion in stock until the mixture is mushed up before serving it with melted cheese and bread on top. As a starter, the soup is valued for its comfort.

Ratatouille Nicoise

Ratatouille Niçoise

  • Traditional

Ratatouille Niçoise, or ratatouille, is a French dish where vegetables of tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, herbs, and zucchini are stirred together.

Invented in the 18th century by poor French farmers, they collected all of the ripe peasants on the field and cooked them.

The modern adaptation of this stew requires a base of tomatoes layered with the remaining vegetables.



  • National
  • Traditional

Cassoulet is a famous French bean stew that originated in Castelnaudary. It is a rich, warm, and hearty dish with pork and white beans as the main ingredient.

During wartime, the townspeople gathered every available ingredient and slow-cooked them in an earthenware pot called cassole.

Over time, it became a classic dish of French cuisine and expanded its popularity globally. When served, cassoulet comes with breadcrumbs on top for a touch of crustiness.

Omelette French


  • Traditional

Omelette is among the most common fried egg dishes in France. Omelette is cooked differently across countries, with the French version first made in the 16th century, with the name derived from ‘amelette’ in French.

They have a very smooth surface along with a fragrant profile thanks to the butter. The inside is fluffy, while the outside is soft before they are rolled up for serving.

Alternatively, France even has omelette de la mère Poulard, which features no fillings but garnished heavily with herbs instead.


Escargot (Cooked Snails)

  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Escargot is a snail specialty in France with the name derived from the word “snail” in French. It is simply a cooked snail dish cooked with wine, garlic butter and served with a baguette as an appetizer.

Despite being made using snails, escargot has an earthiness that reminds you of mushrooms and, of course, a buttery and garlicky taste. Originally considered a food for the poor, escargot was recently considered a delicacy.

Cuisses De Grenouille

Cuisses de Grenouille

  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Cuisses de grenouille are dishes made using frog legs that come from the Dombes region. These legs are a part of the national diet in the country.

On average, 4000 tons of frogs are eaten by the French every year. These frog legs are often smothered with garlic and butter and then fried or included in a soup.

Steak Tartare

Steak Tartare

  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Steak tartare is a French culinary creation that is completely made of raw meat and egg yolks. The name “tartare” is sometimes thought to derive from the Tatar people, with a myth suggesting they tenderized meat under their saddles.

The dish allows locals to enjoy the best flavor of beef with a creamy profile of egg yolk.

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

  • Traditional

Tarte tatin is a sweet dessert that is a tart named after the creators, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. They were first made to serve in their hotel before becoming popular in the entire country.

This tart is made of a puff pastry with caramelized apple and sugar. Its sweet taste is fantastic, thanks to the fruits and caramelized profile.

Paris Brest


  • Traditional

The Paris-Brest is a French dessert consisting of choux pastry filled with praline-flavored cream. Garnished with flaked almonds, it was created in 1910 by patissier Louis Durand to commemorate the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race.

Interestingly, the circular shape of the pastry represents a bicycle wheel. The dessert quickly became popular among cyclists for its energy-boosting properties and has since become a staple in French patisseries nationwide.

Chocolate Souffle

Chocolate Soufflé

  • Traditional

Chocolate soufflés are a French dessert made from a rich chocolate base folded into stiffly beaten egg whites. The sweet treat offers a light, airy, and intensely chocolatey profile.

These soufflé are best baked until they puff up and served immediately to savor its delicate rise. When you get to the filling, it’s a thick and sweet sauce mixture that delicately flows out.

Roll Bread

Brioche (Roll Bread)

  • Traditional

Brioche is a sweet and buttery kind of bread popularized in France. The bread is rich and tender thanks to its high content of eggs and butter, giving it a soft, light texture and a flaky crust.

Often eaten for breakfast or as a snack, brioche can be served plain, filled with fruit or chocolate chips, or used as a base for desserts. It comes in various forms, including the classic “Brioche à tête” and “Brioche de Nanterre.”

The dough of brioche requires a double rising process, first at room temperature and then in the refrigerator, which enhances its flavor and texture.

Beignet French


  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Beignets are a type of French fritter or deep-fried pastry, often made from choux pastry or yeast dough. These sweet treats vary in shape, the flour used, and fillings, with over 20 different versions in France alone.

This dessert has been popularized worldwide, with variations including fillings of fruit, jam, or chocolate chips. Beignets are a favorite pick for breakfast thanks to their light, airy texture and are often served hot and fresh.

Macaron French


  • Traditional

Macarons are a sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond meal, and often food coloring.

The modern macaron, as known today with its sandwich cookie form filled with sweet fillings, became popular in the 1930s.

Originating from France, the Parisian-style macaron is known for its smooth top, ruffled circumference, and a variety of flavors ranging from traditional sweets like raspberry or chocolate to savory options. The macaron is typically filled with ganache, buttercream, or jam.

What Is the History of French Dishes?

French dishes have evolved significantly over the centuries. Originating in France, it was first documented in the 14th century by Guillaume Tirel, also known as Taillevent.

By the 17th century, chefs like François Pierre La Varenne and Marie-Antoine Carême began shaping a distinct French culinary identity, moving away from foreign influences.

Central to French cuisine are cheese and wine, varying regionally and protected by appellation laws. The 20th century saw culinary tourism, and the Guide Michelin introduced the broader public to both elite urban and rustic countryside cooking, making regional dishes popular nationwide.

In 2010, UNESCO recognized French gastronomy as an “intangible cultural heritage,” highlighting its global impact on cooking and culinary education. French cuisine has developed from heavily seasoned medieval dishes to lighter, more refined flavors that define French dishes.

What Features Define French Dishes?

French cuisine is characterized by its diversity, complexity, and elegance, reflecting France’s rich history and cultural heritage. Key features include:

  • Diverse Influences: French cuisine has evolved through centuries of social, political, and economic changes. Early influences include Roman and Celtic traditions, with significant developments during the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and subsequent periods.
  • Regional Varieties: France’s culinary landscape is marked by regional specialties, influenced by geography, climate, and local resources. From Brittany’s seafood to Normandy’s cheeses and Bordeaux’s wines, regional diversity is a hallmark of French cuisine.
  • High-Quality Ingredients: Emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients, often sourced locally. Seasonal fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood are central to French dishes.
  • Technique-Driven: French cooking is known for its meticulous techniques, from basic skills like chopping and sautéing to complex preparation and presentation methods.
  • Sauces and Pastries: A wide variety of sauces, such as béchamel and hollandaise, are foundational to French cuisine, as are pastries and desserts like croissants and éclairs.
  • Wine and Cheese: France’s global reputation for wine and cheese is reflected in its cuisine, with specific pairings enhancing the flavors of meals.
  • Haute Cuisine: The concept of haute cuisine, which focuses on the artistry and intricacy of food preparation and presentation, has influenced fine dining worldwide.
  • Culinary Education: France’s culinary schools have set standards for professional cooking and hospitality, influencing chefs globally.

Don’t miss out on the chance to take your French meal to the next level by accompanying them with the right choice of drinks.

What French Dishes to Pair with Beverages?

There’s no better way to savor these specialties than to enjoy them with the fine refreshments of France, which perfectly balance the taste profiles:

  • Coq au Vin: Traditionally enjoyed with robust red wines, enhancing the rich flavors of the dish.
  • Bouillabaisse: Pairs well with light, crisp white wines that complement the seafood’s flavors without overwhelming them.
  • Ratatouille: Best served with medium-bodied red wines, which balance the earthiness of the vegetables.
  • Quiche Lorraine: A versatile dish that goes well with both light reds and full-bodied white wines, depending on the richness of the quiche.
  • Salade Niçoise: Ideal with dry rosé wines, matching the salad’s freshness and variety of ingredients.
  • Tarte Tatin: Complemented by sweet dessert wines, which echo the caramelized flavors of the tart.
  • Beef Bourguignon: Requires a full-bodied red wine, echoing the depth and intensity of the stew.

If you find these French dishes helpful, please give them a heartfelt share so they can reach more people struggling to find some French dishes to try. If you have other French specialties, share them with me and others in the comment section.

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *