22 Traditional French Recipes

Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee
Photo: © SNEH ROY

French cooking showcases best-quality ingredients in technique-driven recipes to produce elegant dishes that allow simple flavors to shine. Here, we've gathered a sampling of our traditional French favorites: the wine-braised chicken stew coq au vin, the Provençal fish stew bouillabaisse, a vegetable-based take on French onion soup, and more. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy cooking your way through these classics.

01 of 22

Bacon, Cheddar, and Onion Quiche

Bacon, Cheddar and Onion Quiche
MICHAEL TUREK

"To make a proper tarte flambée, you need a wood-burning oven with a stone floor," explains chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten of the thin-crusted Alsatian pizza topped with bacon, onions, and fromage blanc. Here, he folds those same basic ingredients (replacing the fromage blanc with cheddar) into a light custard and bakes it in a buttery pastry crust. "Not everyone has a pizza oven at home, so I decided to make it in the form of a quiche."

02 of 22

Bouillabaisse

ludo-lefebvre-bouillabaisse-0319.jpg
Chloe Crespi Photography

Chef Ludo Lefebvre's bouillabaisse starts with a quick-cooking, but deeply flavored, seafood broth. Layering a base of aromatics with fresh snapper, scallops, shrimp, and a mix of Pernod and dry white wine creates a long-simmered flavor in under an hour.

03 of 22

Gruyère Cheese Soufflé

Gruyère Cheese Soufflé
© Christina Holmes

To get the most crust with the cheesiest flavor, Jacques Pépin uses a wide, shallow gratin dish, then creates a lattice on top with thin slices of American cheese. A soufflé ramekin would work too.

04 of 22

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée
© Stephanie Meyer

"This creamy, rich dessert is the perfect love letter. And you should know how to make a great custard (plus, it's always fun to use a blowtorch in the kitchen)," says chef Andrew Zimmern. "I made crème brûlée for dessert the first time I cooked for my wife when we had just started dating, and it worked out perfectly in every way."

05 of 22

Hot Niçoise Salad

Hot Niçoise Salad
© John Kernick

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow transforms one of her favorite salads, the Niçoise, into a hearty one-dish dinner by roasting tuna steaks on a tangle of beans, tomatoes, anchovies, and olives.

06 of 22

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin
© Tara Fisher

The traditional braised chicken stew usually marinates overnight, but this lighter, quicker version is equally delicious.

07 of 22

Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee

Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee
© SNEH ROY

This lightened-up classic is fast to pull together — especially if you buy pre-sliced mushrooms. It has a rich, slow-cooked flavor. A splash of cream makes it extra decadent but still light.

08 of 22

Toulouse-Style Cassoulet

Toulouse-Style Cassoulet
© Tina Rupp

Although there are innumerable versions of cassoulet, most are based on a stew of white beans and various forms of pork. This version by acclaimed cookbook author Paula Wolfert includes duck confit and the French garlic sausages that are a specialty of Toulouse.

09 of 22

Caramelized Onion and Bread Soup with Brûléed Blue Cheese

Caramelized Onion and Bread Soup with Bruleed Blue Cheese
Greg DuPree

In this vegetarian version of classic French onion soup, blue cheese and oloroso sherry bring new layers of flavor and depth. Notes of toasted nuts and fruit compote in the sherry pair well with caramelized onions, and its briny acidity cuts through the richness of the cheese.

10 of 22

Blanquette de Veau

Blanquette de Veau
© Lucy Schaeffer

Chef Daniel Boulud prepares his classic, creamy veal stew with veal stock, sometimes adding sweetbreads and finishing the dish with shavings of black truffle. For this easier version, omit the sweetbreads and truffle and opt for store-bought vegetable broth — or even salted water — over veal stock.

11 of 22

Camembert Baked in the Box

Camembert Baked in the Box
© Con Poulos

This tender, melty cheese bakes in its box to keep it from collapsing. Be sure to buy Camembert in a box that's stapled, not glued.

12 of 22

Chicken Dijon

Chicken Dijon. Photo © Johnny Valiant
© Johnny Valiant

Cookbook author Melissa Clark's favorite part of the chicken is the drumstick, because it's juicy and easy to brown. She likes using only drumsticks in this mustardy stew — thickened with tangy crème fraîche — so that all the meat cooks at the same rate.

13 of 22

Crêpes Suzette

Crêpes Suzette
© Con Poulos

While restaurants traditionally make the buttery, orange-flavored sauce for this famous dessert tableside from start to finish, chef Jacques Pépin finds it easier to prepare largely in advance when entertaining. He flambés the liquor in front of his dinner guests and pours it over the platter of crêpes while still flaming.

14 of 22

Chanterelle Omelets with Fines Herbes Sauce

Chanterelle Omelets with Fines Herbes Sauce
© Andrew Purcell

Why does chef Thomas Keller make a one-egg omelet? Because the result is so much more delicate and alluring than the supersize omelets made with multiple eggs, especially with a creamy chanterelle filling.

15 of 22

Short Rib Bourguignon

Short Rib Bourguignon
© Michael Turek

This classic dish originated from the Burgundy region of eastern France as a pauper's dish, created to turn tough beef into a delicious meal. Here, chef Aaron Barnett upgrades it with short ribs.

16 of 22

Ratatouille

Ratatouille
Photo by Kelsey Hansen / Food Styling by Greg Luna / Prop Styling by Stephanie Hunter

Cookbook author Rebekah Peppler's ratatouille relies on a simple technique for creating a richly flavorful dish: cooking each vegetable separately. After just a few minutes in the pan, the vegetables release water, deepen in flavor, and become just tender enough to begin to break down.

17 of 22

Chicken Chasseur

Chicken Chasseur
© Leela Cyd

A French classic that never seems to go out of style, this dish combines mushrooms and chicken in a tomato and white wine sauce. The name, literally "hunter's chicken," harks back to a time when game birds and mushrooms from the woods were a natural autumn combination.

18 of 22

Ham Steaks in Madeira Sauce

Ham Steaks in Madeira Sauce
Greg DuPree

Julia Child was a longtime Food & Wine contributor — and a champion of ham. For this recipe, she was inspired by a dish called jambon à la morvandelle, the signature dish of famous French chef Alexandre Dumaine. "Although supermarket ham will do, real country ham will give you a dish more like Dumaine's fabled creation," wrote Child.

19 of 22

White Bean and Ham Stew

White-Bean-and-Ham Stew
© Con Poulos

This hearty stew called garbure, from southwestern France, is loaded with vegetables, beans and meat, the exact ingredients depending on availability. Chef Jacques Pépin's version includes ham hocks and cabbage and is topped with toasted bread smothered in melted Gruyère cheese.

20 of 22

Marseille-Style Shrimp Stew

Marseille-Style Shrimp Stew
Johnny Valiant

Large shrimp make this a knife-and-fork stew. Cookbook author Melissa Clark spreads a garlicky French rouille on toasts for dipping in the stew.

21 of 22

Lobster Thermidor

Lobster Thermidor
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Classic lobster thermidor stuffs gently cooked lobster meat back in its shell with a wine-based sauce and a touch of cheese before coming together under the broiler. The natural sweetness of lobster still shines through the rich, but not heavy, cremini mushroom and dry sherry-laced creamy sauce.

22 of 22

Braised Baby Artichokes with Tomato Coulis

ludo-lefebvre-bouillabaisse-0319.jpg
Chloe Crespi Photography

This zippy Provençal classic is known as artichokes barigoule. Served over whole-grain brown rice or buckwheat couscous, it makes a lovely vegan main course.

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