15 Classic French Dishes You Need to Master at Home

Want to master the French cooking technique? In the food world, French cuisines are masterful. And you’ll know the difference between French cooking and other types of cooking only when you try out these classic French dishes at home.


To inspire you to take on French dishes, here are 15 delicious and quintessential dishes you can easily master at home. They will take you back to the times where authentic French country food and a good bottle wine were inseparable. These recipes come with easy preparations and minimal cleanup.


1. Bouillabaisse

Only a seafood stew can be made French with delicious tomatoes and saffron.

Ingredients:


3 lbs. of fish fillets (each pound should be a different kind of fish)

1 lbs. of clams/mussels

1 lbs. of crab/squid

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of sliced onions

2 thinly sliced leeks

1/4 thinly sliced fennel bulb

or 1 tsp of fennel seeds

2 crushed garlic cloves

3 chopped tomatoes

1 fresh bay leaf

3 thyme sprigs

2 tsp of salt

half tsp of saffron

handful of orange zest

8 oz. of fish stock/clam juice

1/4 tsp of black pepper

French bread, sliced and toasted

For sauce:

1 tbsp of clam broth/fish stock

2 garlic cloves, peeled

half cup of extra virgin olive oil

half tsp of salt

1 red hot pepper

1/4 cup of white bread bits

Method:

  1. For the sauce rouille: Add fish stock or clam broth in a blender. Top with garlic, pepper, bread, and salt. Blend until it reaches a smooth consistency. Add olive oil while blending and stop immediately after the oil dissolves.  
  2. Heat 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions, fennel, and leeks. Sautee for a few minutes and cook on medium high heat for not more than 15 minutes.
  3. Throw in the garlic, salt, orange zest, thyme, saffron, bay leaf, and tomatoes. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Combine the mixture with mussels, crab, or squid. Place the shellfish at the side of the gravy, and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add pepper and salt. Discard the bay leaf, orange zest, and thyme from the gravy.
  6. For serving: Transfer broth to a plate. Put a bread slice of toasted French bread on the side and pour a serving of the rouille sauce on top of the broth. Serve immediately.

2. Beef Bourguignon

What you missed out on French cooking class you can make up for with this hearty and savory Beef Bourguignon recipe.

Ingredients:


8 lbs. of bacon, sliced and diced

2 and a half lbs. of 1-inch cut beef chuck roast

1 and a half tsp of salt, kosher

3 medium-sized diced carrots

2 medium-sized sliced yellow onions

2 cups of wine, red and divided

handful of black pepper

3 medium-sized sliced celery stalks

2 minced garlic cloves

1 tbsp of tomato juice

1 bay leaf

4 thyme sprigs

1 cup of beef or chicken broth, low-sodium

1 lbs. of sliced white button mushrooms


For seasoning:

boiled pasta

baguette, crusty

parsley, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat a cooking skillet over medium high heat. Throw in the bacon slices and cook until crispy and slightly golden. Remove the skillet from heat and transfer the cooked bacon on paper towels. Spoon 1 tbsp of bacon fat and transfer it in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Marinate the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Add a single layer of beef cubes on top of the shimmering bacon on the skillet. Do this in batches and while searing the dish on medium high heat. Transfer to a slow cooker and fill with 1/4 cup of wine. Cook until the meat browns beautifully. Once it’s brown and fragrant, pour the remaining wine in the dish.
  3. To sear the beef, heat 1 tbsp of bacon fat and deglaze with wine. Continue doing this until all the beef is seared and cooked.
  4. Add onions and 1/4 tsp of salt to cook for another 10 minutes. Combine with carrots, celery, and cook for 5 minutes more. Add tomato juice and garlic and mix well for 2 minutes. Transfer all the cooked content into the dish with the bacon and beef cubes.
  5. Stir all the vegetables and meat together and slow cook on slow for up to 8 hours.
  6. Serve hot with parsley, cooked pasta, and crispy baguette.

3. Classic French Souffle

Who hasn’t heard of the Classic French Souffle? But not many have cooked it at home. It pairs wonderfully on your dinner table. The creamy spinach and cheese make the best additions.

Ingredients:


1 and a half tbsp of butter, softened

4 tbsp of butter, softened

3 tbsp of Parmesan cheese, grated

1 pound of chopped spinach

2 tbsp of all-purpose flour

half tsp of kosher salt

1 cup of milk, whole

1/8 tsp of black pepper

3 eggs

1/8 tsp of nutmeg, grated

Method:

  1. Use a deep casserole dish and brush the insides of it with 1 and a half softened butter. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place the remaining cheese on one side of the dish.
  2. In a saucepan, cook chopped spinach and saute until the juice evaporates. Don’t overcook the spinach as it is prone to burning very easily.
  3. In another saucepan, melt the 4 tbsp of butter and add salt and all-purpose flour. Cook for 30 seconds and add milk and mix for 4 minutes.
  4. Combine with the cooked spinach and cook for another minute. Season with nutmeg and black pepper.
  5. Beat the 3 eggs in a bowl until it stiffens and peaks. Divide into 3 parts and add one part of the egg white into the spinach pan. Add the remaining 2 parts into the mixture. Spoon portion of the mixture into the casserole dish and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes until it is evenly cooked.  
  6. Serve immediately with some fresh greens on the side.

4. Traditional Ratatouille

You’ve seen the movie. Now it’s time to cook this big-as-life recipe with delicious zucchini, eggplant, and herbs.

Ingredients:


1 pound of cubed eggplant

2 and a half tsp of divided salt

3 chopped garlic cloves

2 and a half pounds of peeled tomatoes

half tsp of fresh ground black pepper

3/4 cup of chopped parsley

1/4 cup of chopped basil

1 and a half pound of thinly sliced onion

3 chopped bell peppers

2 pounds of thinly sliced zucchinis

2 pounds of thinly sliced yellow onions

1/3 cup of dry white wine

2 tbsp of olive oil

Method:

  1. Take out 2 large-sized plates and place dry paper towels on each. Spread the eggplants on each and marinate with 1 3/4 tsp of salt. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. In a heated saucepan, cook black pepper, basil, garlic, parsley, and tomatoes. Let the vegetables cook slowly, do not boil as that makes the dish soggy.
  3. In a skillet, add the bell peppers and onion with olive oil over medium heat. Cook and stir from time to time for 10 minutes. Transfer into the tomato mixture.
  4. Add eggplant and zucchini to the mixture. Cover and cook for 45 minutes on low heat. Combine with white wine and 3/4 tsp of salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

5. Sole Meuniere

Some of the best classic French dishes are the simplest to cook. Like this delectable fish recipe. It transforms everyday ingredients into a beloved distro-inspired dish.

Ingredients:


2x400g skinned Dover soles

2 tbsp of plain flour

4 tbsp of vegetable oil

1/3 cup of butter, unsalted

2 tsp of lemon juice

1 tbsp of parsley, chopped

6 thin lemon wedges

Method:

  1. Marinate the Dover soles with salt and white pepper. Combine with flour on both sides and remove the extra flour.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the Dover soles and some butter. Let fry for up to 5 minutes until it turns slightly golden. Flip the fish to the other and fry for 5 minutes. Do this for each Dover sole fish.
  3. Carefully remove the bones of the Dover fish. Discard the frying oil and melt the remaining butter for one minute. Add lemon juice, parsley and other seasonings. Pour this mixture over the Dover fish and serve with freshly cut lemon wedges.

6. Coq Au Vin

This dish is served in restaurants all over the world. Coq Au Vin is a slow-cooked meal topped with mushrooms, onions, and tenderized chicken.

Ingredients:


3 lbs. of bone-in and skin-in chicken pieces

2.5 cups of red wine, dry

1 cup of chicken stock

8 oz. diced bacon

1 diced shallot

6 minced garlic cloves

1 thawed pearl onions

1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

1 tbsp of tomato juice

3/4 lbs. halved bella mushrooms

1/4 cup of brandy

4 thyme sprigs

2 bay leafs

parsley, chopped

salt and black pepper

Method:

  1. Marinate chicken, wine, and chicken stock in ziplock bag. Marinate and refrigerate for 8 hours.
  2. Heat deep a saute pan and fry bacon until brown and crispy. Transfer the fried bacon and set aside in a plate. Use the remaining bacon grease and add half of the marinated chicken after seasoning it with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken on a separate plate and cook the remaining half of the chicken with the bacon grease. Set aside.
  3. Cook shallots, pearl onions, mushrooms, and garlic on the pan with bacon grease for 5 minutes. Keep stirring until the mushrooms are slightly brown.
  4. Combine with flour and tomato juice. Cook for one minute. Gently pour in the brandy and wine, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add the chicken and bacon to the pot. Cook on low heat for 60 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Sprinkle some salt and pepper for seasoning. Serve with freshly cooked noodles or mashed potatoes and chopped parsley. Serve hot.

7. French Onion Soup

Caramelized onions have never tasted so delicious before. If you’ve devoured this French dish only in restaurants, it’s time you cooked it at home.

Ingredients:


2 pounds of onions, thinly sliced

3 thyme sprigs

3/4 tsp of salt

1 California bay leaf

half stick of butter, unsalted

2 tsp of flour, all-purpose

3/4 cup of white wine, dry

4 cups of beef broth, low-sodium

1 and a half cup of water

half tsp of ground black pepper

6 slices of baguette

1 piece of Emmental

2 tbsp of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method:

  1. Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, salt, and thyme leaves with butter. Cook until the onions are slightly brown, which should take about 40 minutes. Combine with flour and wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the beef broth with water and pepper and cook for another 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven rack to 350 degrees.
  3. On a baking sheet, spread the bread and toast for 15 minutes on each side.
  4. Remove from the oven. Set aside while preheating a deep dish broiler. Put the crocks in the baking dish.
  5. Discard away the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Divide the finished soup among crocks. Slice 6 ounces of Gruyere with cheese to cover each crock. Top coat with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  6. Broil each crock for 5 minutes each until the cheese melts and bubbles at the top.

8. Classic Croque-Monsieur

A typical French crowd-pleaser, this recipe speaks does well on a Sunday family get-together filled with lots of love, laughter, and, of course, deliciousness.

Ingredients:


600ml of whole milk

4 tbsp of flour

4 tbsp of butter

salt, nutmeg, and white pepper to taste

12 slices of French bread

6 ham slices

60g of Gruyere cheese

Method:

  1. For béchamel sauce: Heat butter over medium high heat in a saucepan.
  2. Add flour and stir continuously for a few minutes. Set aside for 2 minutes at room temperature.
  3. In a cooking pot, add milk with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer on low heat for 2 minutes. Whisk until it reaches a thick consistency, which should take around 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool down at room temperature.
  4. For the Croque-Monsieur: Slice the bread and toast it in a 180 degrees preheated oven for a few minutes on both sides. Spread some béchamel on each toast, top with a ham slice, gruyere cheese, and the other toasted bread slice.
  5. Spread another thin layer of béchamel and gruyere. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

9. Steak Frites

Want something quick and savory? Try the classy Steak Frites straight off of a French culinary magazine.

Ingredients:


For the thyme gravy:

2 tbsp of unsalted butter

2 minced garlic cloves

1 tbsp of flour

1 and a half cup of beef stock, low-sodium

1/4 tsp each of black pepper and salt

half tsp of thyme sprigs, dried

half cup of dry red wine

For frites:

4 medium-sized russet potatoes

1 liter oil, canola

kosher salt to taste

For steaks:

2-inches of strip loin steaks

ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste

1 tbsp of oil, canola

Method:

  1. For the thyme gravy: Heat butter on a pan over medium-high heat and add garlic. After a minute of cooking the garlic with butter, add flour. Cook for a minute. Combine with wine and simmer gently until the gravy becomes thin. Set aside.
  2. For the frites: Cut the potato fries and soak them in lukewarm water. After a few minutes, drain them on paper towels before frying. Use a deep fryer with canola oil and bring the temperature up to 350 degrees for frying. Add the potato fries and fry for 8 minutes until they look crisp.
  3. Remove from heat and lay the potato fries on paper towels. Set aside to cool down. It is likely that the potato fries will become slightly soggy while draining. But you need to fry them once again so that they become crispy.
  4. For the steaks: Make sure the steak is at room temperature before grilling. Cold beef steaks are much harder to cook on both sides. Marine each steak side with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high rate, to a medium rare, on a gas grill with oil. This means cook each steak for 4 minutes on each side.
  5. While the steak grills, fry the potato fries again at 350 degrees. Serve hot with the deliciously grilled beef steak cooked to medium rare.

10. Country French Toast

When it’s time to cook breakfast, it’s time to cook French toast. It’s most definitely a hearty option you cannot pass up on.

Ingredients:


1 cup of flour, all-purpose

2 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 cup of whole milk

2 eggs

12 bread slices, of your choice

Method:

  1. Combine cinnamon, baking powder, sugar, and flour in a bowl.
  2. Combine vanilla extract, eggs, and milk in an 8-inch square dish.
  3. Combine the dry and wet ingredients together. Whisk well.
  4. Take a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  5. Dip each bread slice in the batter and immediately place on top of the non-stick skillet. Cook each side for 5 minutes until they are brown. Serve with dusting powdered sugar or fresh cinnamon or maple syrup.

11. Chocolate Mousse

This one is for chocolate lovers. It’s the epitome of French cooking with coffee, dark chocolate, and lots of love. This recipe can easily become the masterpiece you’ve always been searching for.

Ingredients:


6 ounces of chopped dark chocolate

6 ounces of salted butter chunks

1/4 cup of coffee, strong brewed

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup of castor sugar

1 tbsp of rum

1 tbsp of cooking water

4 large egg whites

1 tbsp of castor sugar

half tsp of vanilla extract

salt to taste

Method:

  1. Place a medium bowl over a small saucepan filled with boiling water. Add the chocolate, butter, and coffee into the medium bowl. Sit until the mixture melts. Set aside from the heat.
  2. In a large bowl, add ice water and keep aside. Add the egg yolks, sugar, water, and rum in a different bowl. With the help of a whisk (electric even) whisk the egg mixture until it stiffens and is thick.
  3. Place the egg mixture in the bowl of ice water. And keep whipping the egg until it cools down.
  4. Combine the chocolate mixture with the egg.
  5. Add salt and egg whites in another bowl and whisk well. Top with castor sugar and whisk until it stiffens and is thick. Add in the vanilla extract.
  6. Combine all the mixtures together and pour a small amount in ramekins and refrigerate for 4 hours. Serve cold.

12. Apple Pie

Just the name “pie” can make you hungry, right? Even though they’re super easy to make, everybody will want to know your secret way of cooking this delicious classic French Apple Pie.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

3 cups of apples, peeled and sliced

1 tsp of cinnamon, grounded

half cup of Bisquick mix

half cup of granulated sugar

1/4 tsp of nutmeg

half cup of milk

1 tbsp of softened butter

2 eggs

For streusel:

half cup of Bisquick mix

1/4 cup of nuts, chopped

1/4 cup of brown sugar

2 tbsp of butter, firm

Method:

  1. Brush a glass pie plate with butter. Combine apples, cinnamon, and nut meg in a bowl and transfer to the pie plate.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and transfer over the apples in the pie plate. Mix half cup of Bisquick, nuts, brown sugar, and butter in a medium bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the pie plate.
  3. Bake in a 325 degrees preheated oven for 45 minutes. Set aside to cool down at room temperature for 5 minutes and refrigerate. Serve cold.

13. Simply French Crepe

In the mood for at-home brunch? Start your French cooking journey with a simple French Crepe topped with fresh strawberries and raspberries.

Ingredients:

1 cup of all-purpose flour

half cup of water

2 eggs

3/4 cup of whole milk

3 tbsp of butter, melted

Salt for seasoning

1 tsp of vanilla

2 tbsp of sugar

Method:

  1. Blend the eggs, flour, water, milk, and butter in a blender. Store the batter in the refrigerator to avoid bubbles.
  2. Put some butter in a pan and heat over medium-high heat. With the help of a ladle, swirl a small amount of the batter on the heated pan. Let cook for a minute. Flip it over and cook for another minute.
  3. Remove the crepe from the pan and garnish with some vanilla and powdered sugar. You can also serve it with fresh strawberries or maple syrup.

14. Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Nobody denies the likes of a good slow-roasted chicken recipe brimming with the flavors of fresh herbs and lemon. The roasted potatoes, on the other hand, make the entire dish complete.

Ingredients:

3 pounds of skin-in whole chicken

2 tbsp of butter, unsalted and softened

1 sage sprig

3 thyme sprigs

2 rosemary sprigs

2 garlic cloves

3 medium-sized potatoes, plainly roasted

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 lemon’s wedges

Method:

  1. Brush the whole chicken with butter and marinate with salt and pepper. Place two lemon quarters inside the chicken cavity along with the sage, rosemary, and thyme. Put garlic cloves and shut the cavity tight.
  2. In a cast-iron pan, heat butter and place the whole chicken on top of it. Surround the chicken with the remaining lemon quarters. Bake in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 60 minutes. Take it out of the oven, add some more butter and bake it for 45 minutes.
  3. Cover the chicken in foil for 10 minutes and serve with roasted potatoes.

15. Nicoise Salad

What would French cuisine do without a good Nicoise salad? You French cooking journey will not be complete if until you master the art of cooking this beautiful recipe.

Ingredients:

For the salad:

1 can of tuna

1/4 lbs. of trimmed green beans

half pound of white potatoes

4 eggs, hard-boiled and quartered

4 cups of salad greens

2/3 cup of Kalamata


For dressing:

half cup of olive oil

1/4 cup of wine vinegar, red

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp of mustard, Dijon

4 anchovies

salt and ground better to taste

Method:

  1. Boil the potatoes in salt water until they are soft. Slice each in two halves.
  2. In a skillet, run a bit of oil and place the potatoes. Cook for 2 minutes and transfer to a medium bowl. Marinate the potatoes with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Use the same boil you used for boiling the potatoes and boil the green beans for 2 minutes. Transfer the beans into a bowl of ice water. And dry them on paper towels.
  4. Add vinegar, mustard, garlic, anchovies, oil, and chives in a food processor. Blend with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the salad greens in a deep bowl. Top with the anchovies dressing followed by the boiled green beans and potato halves.
  6. In a separate bowl, toss the tomatoes and green beans with the dressing and add them on top of the platter. Finish by placing shreds of tuna in the center of the platter and the hard-boiled eggs too. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.  

Conclusion

Without a doubt, cooking like the French do isn’t easy. The fact that they aren’t makes French cuisine so loved and respected around the globe. Whichever recipe you decide to master first, you need to know a few things about French cooking.

For example, there’s a basic technique in French cooking that we all know and love so much. It’s called Sauteing. Sauteing is the art of shallow frying ingredients with less oil or fat in a pan. The most famous sautéed ingredients are potatoes.

Another famous French cooking technique is flambéing. Flambeing is using alcohol over high heat to cook meat dishes. The most favorite alcohol used in French cooking is brandy, or you can also say red wine. Once the alcohol burns away from the pan at a high temperature, the flavor it leaves behind is simply delicious.

Other French cooking techniques that are mentioned in this article are grilling, broiling, and baking. Even though you know a little about each technique, there’s a way of incorporating it in French cuisine.

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