in

17 Traditional French Dishes to Eat

Learn about French cuisine with these common dishes.

France is known for its beautiful landscapes, history, and excellent food. French food is known for being exquisite, elegant, and tasty. Some of it might even be dishes you’ve seen on menus or have heard before. 

bourguignonne snail au gratin

French food encompasses many dishes, from salads to breakfast items, desserts, and so much more. You’ve probably heard about escargot because it seems odd that people eat snails, but there are plenty of other dishes to try too.

Popular French Foods

Whether you’re planning a trip to France soon and wonder what types of dishes you can try there or are on an adventure to learn to cook new cuisines, here are some of the most popular French foods you can try. 

Bœuf Bourguignon (Beef Bourguignon)

Not all traditional French meals are known internationally, but boeuf bourguignon is.

This dish originates from the region of Burgundy, or Bourgogne in French. It’s in east France and is perfect for keeping you warm on cold days or nights. 

Before it was a popular French dish, it was what many French considered peasant food.

This French dish is the perfect example of how classic dishes can transform into an elegant meal that everyone can enjoy.

Commonly referred to as beef bourguignon, this is a beef stew made with red wine and beef broth. Simmering the beef in red wine and broth is what gives it its delicious flavor.

How everyone seasons it may vary, but generally, people use garlic, pearl onions, herbs, and mushrooms.


Soupe À l’oignon (French Onion Soup)

French onion soup might be the most well-known French dish around the world.

We can trace the origins of this delicious soup back to the 18th century, but some people claim it goes back further to the time of the Romans. 

This French soup has everything you could want in a soup. It’s warm, has plenty of cheese, has excellent flavor, and is served with croutons and more cheese.

Most people make French onion soup with beef broth, and the prominent flavor comes from the caramelized onions. 

Once the caramelized onions have simmered in the beef broth, it’s topped with croutons and swiss cheese before being placed into the oven to broil the cheese on top. 


Cassoulet

If you’re looking for a classic French comfort dish, cassoulet is your dish.

Cassoulet is a dish that originates in Southern France and is particularly popular in Castelnaudary, Toulouse, and Carcassonne. The meal’s name comes from the pot you cook the dish in, a cassole. 

The main components of cassoulet are white beans slowly stewed with some kind of meat.

Most traditional versions of the dish use duck or pork, but the best part about this dish is that you can use whatever meat you have at home. 

You’ll stew the dish with broth, white wine, and whatever seasonings you prefer. Most people go for an onion to add flavor and garlic, salt, and pepper. 


Confit De Canard (Duck Confit)

One of the most well-known and finest French dishes is confit de canard or a duck confit.

Confit refers to the centuries-old cooking process called confit. While duck confit is a famous dish all around France, it originates in the Gascony region in its north. 

Before you cook the duck, you’ll marinate the meat in garlic, thyme, and salt for 36 hours. The longer, the better. 

Once the duck is perfectly marinated, it’s slowly cooked in duck fat for hours before serving.

Most people and restaurants serve the dish with garlic potatoes on the side, but you can have whatever side dish you prefer if you’re making it at home. 


Ratatouille

You’ve probably heard of the movie Ratatouille, but did you know that it’s a famous French dish?

Originally from the southeastern region of Provence, this is a stewed vegetable dish that’s perfect for almost any occasion. 

Ratatouille can be a meal on its own, a side dish, or used to stuff other dishes like omelets or crepes. How to prepare the meal is widely debated.

Some people prefer sauteing all the veggies in one pan and then layering them, while others saute them all separately before layering. 

Vegetables used in Ratatouille are eggplant, carrots, bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and garlic.

Other ingredients in the delicious dish include tomatoes, basil, thyme, and other herbs. It’s tasty, colorful, and will satisfy your hunger.


Coq au vin

A French dish that is sure to impress anyone is coq au vin. This popular French dish is braised chicken cooked in wine.

Most people cook their chicken in a red Burgundy wine but depending on where in France you are, you’ll see different variations. 

For example, you’ll see coq au Riesling, coq au champagne, and others when you travel through different French regions. While chicken is the most commonly used bird for the dish, you can use capon too. o

Coq au vin requires you to braise your chicken in wine, or some people call it pot-roasted.

In addition to the tender chicken, it incorporates the flavors from bacon or salt pork, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and sometimes brandy. 


Quiche

Quiche is one of the most popular and versatile French dishes out there.

While you can find it all over France, you can usually find it throughout other countries regardless of whether you’re at a French restaurant or not. 

This dish can be served hot or cold and incorporates almost any ingredient under the sun. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, an appetizer, or at parties when cut into slices. 

Typical fillings for this savory pie include mushrooms, peppers, onions, and other veggies. As for meat, you can go without or have it with ham, shrimp, bacon, or anything else.

The cheese and flakey crust are arguably the best part of the dish. You can also add any seasonings you like!


Crêpes

Crepes are a very thin pastry that’s popular in France and is internationally known. People love crepes because they can either be sweet or savory, depending on your mood. 

Most people associate crepes with the Brittany region in northwest France, but you can find this delicious pastry throughout the country.

You’ll often see carts at parks and other outdoor areas in France selling crepes, especially in Paris. 

Similar to quiches, there are several fillings you can use for crepes. The sweet ones typically feature powdered sugar, chocolate, and fruit.

As for the savory options, you can add cheese, onions, garlic, meat, or veggies. Egg and cheese crepes are popular savory options. 


Salade Niçoise

You can eat this meal as a side dish or on its own. It’s a great lunch option if you’re thinking about eating it as a meal by itself since it’s light and refreshing.

Nicoise salad originates from the Provence region of France but is in French restaurants worldwide. 

Depending on where you’re at, the preparation of the salad may vary. Being able to customize salads however you want, including a Nicoise salad, is one of the best parts of the dish. 

Traditional Nicoise salads consist of lettuce, boiled eggs, tuna, tomatoes, green beans, olives, and anchovies. You’ll find places with fresh tuna and others that use canned tuna.

The dressing for the salad is a simple herb vinaigrette. It’s vinegar, oil, shallots, and other seasonings. 


Steak Frites

Steak Frites, better known as steak with French Fries, is a beloved French dish that will never go out of style. The meal is super simple and is just a piece of beef with crispy French fries. 

Even though French fries aren’t native to France, many people consider it a French dish when paired with a slice of steak.

The French fries for this meal have to be deep-fried twice to get that crispy texture and golden brown color. 

For the steak, it can be any cut. You’ll regularly find steak frites that are served with a sirloin, t-bone, or rib-eye.

Usually, the steak will come with delicious butter and parsley topping. Traditionally, the French eat their steak medium-rare to rare, but you can order it however you prefer.


Blanquette De Veau (Veal Ragoût)

Blanquette de veau is a popular dish in France but is much lesser known outside of the country than other famous meals.

Also called veal ragout, blanquette de veau is veal slow-cooked in a sauce for hours. 

Veal ragout usually uses the chest or shoulder of the animal, but other variations use other parts of the veal and other meat like a lamb.

Chefs slow cook the veal in a white sauce. They prepare the sauce with fresh cream, butter, flour, egg yolk, and lemon juice for a bit of acidity. 

Many chefs also add carrots and mushrooms to the stew to add a pop of color and flavor. You’ll commonly see this dish served with white rice and mushrooms.


Escargot (Cooked Snails)

Arguably the most exotic French delicacy is escargot or cooked snails.

It’s one of those dishes that you can’t knock until you try it, and you shouldn’t leave France or a French restaurant without at least tasting it. 

The snails are chewy and almost have a clam texture which can be off-putting for some people. You can easily overlook the texture when they’re prepared well and with enough seasonings. 

Most chefs will serve escargot with a rich butter sauce. The sauce typically uses plenty of butter, garlic, white wine, and parsley.

You’ll see the dish come out with the sauce coating the snails while still in their shells. It’s an amazing French appetizer to try at least once in your life.


Pot-Au-Feu (Beef Stew)

A famous French meal commonly made for a large family or group is pot-au-feu or beef stew.

This traditional French dish is comforting, warm, and will put a smile on anyone’s face. 

Depending on where you are in France or who’s cooking the stew, recipes will vary. Many people choose to use seasonal vegetables to make them taste fresher.

Regardless of the other ingredients, the basis of the beef stew is generally the same across the country. 

The beef stew consists of beef, beef broth, onion, turnips, and carrots. It’s cooked in a pot on the stove for several hours, making the meat tender.

Some people add other veggies, and potatoes are a great way to thicken the stew. 


Omelette

Everyone probably knows what an omelet is, and it’s a popular food in France.

This perfect breakfast or brunch dish is customizable, which is one of the main reasons it’s popular. 

The ingredients you can add to the standard egg base are almost unlimited. Veggies, meats, cheese, and other toppings can help you make the omelet the perfect meal for you. 

You’ll see higher-end omelets that incorporate wild mushrooms to make the traditional dish a little more elegant and complex. Smoked salmon is typical for making this dish fancier.


Tarte Tatin

One of the most classic French desserts is Tarte Tatin which is essentially an apple tart.

Many people believe the dish was made by accident when Stephanite Tartin was attempting to make an apple pie. 

Tarte Tatin is the perfect combination of apples, sugar, and pastry. The apples and sugar need to cook for much longer than you would an apple pie to make it correctly. 

The rest of the pastry is then put on top of the apple and sugar mixture. Then, it’s placed into the oven before serving. It’s the perfect dessert for any occasion. 


Steak Tartare

Steak tartare is a French appetizer that has spread worldwide and has many adaptations. 

The dish is usually raw beef or even raw horse meat. The meat is diced into small pieces mixed with raw eggs, capers, seasonings, and pickles. 

Many people eat the raw meat mixture on its own, but many restaurants serve it with slices of bread.

You’ll find some places that add extra garnishes to the steak tartare, but that’s not classically French. 


Flamiche

Flamiche translates to cake in Dutch. This meal originally comes from northern France, which shares a border with Belgium, giving the dish the name flamiche. 

This French dish is similar to quiche in many ways but is slightly different.

It’s a puff pastry that you can fill with various things. Most people choose to fill the pastry with cheese and veggies. 

If you want a traditional French filling, it’s cream and leeks. It’s a delicious, oniony dish that’s great for breakfast or a snack. 


Popular French Foods

  1. Bœuf Bourguignon (Beef Bourguignon)
  2. Soupe À l’oignon (French Onion Soup)
  3. Cassoulet
  4. Confit De Canard (Duck Confit)
  5. Ratatouille
  6. Coq au vin
  7. Quiche
  8. Crêpes
  9. Salade Niçoise
  10. Steak Frites
  11. Blanquette De Veau (Veal Ragoût)
  12. Escargot (Cooked Snails)
  13. Pot-Au-Feu (Beef Stew)
  14. Omelette
  15. Tarte Tatin
  16. Steak Tartare
  17. Flamiche

Final Thoughts

French cuisine is delicious whether you’re in the mood for a stew, steak, breakfast items, or anything in between. Each dish is unique, and everyone prepares things a little bit differently, but at their roots, they’re classically French. 

If you’re interested in learning to cook French cuisine, crepes are delicious, versatile, and easy to make. Here you can learn all about this French dish! Or, if you’re planning a trip to Lyon, France, you can’t miss any of these spectacular French restaurants.

This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.