15 Fast French Recipes for Elegant Weeknight Meals

Photo: © Leela Cyd

Get your French cooking tools ready and add some serious panache to your weeknight dinner rotation. We've rounded up our quickest dishes with classic French flair to help you create simple, elegant meals any night of the week. Choose from a cheesy soufflé, chicken Dijon, steamed mussels, and more delicious French recipes you'll want to make again and again.

01 of 15

Fromage Fort

Fromage Fort
Marcus Nilsson

Fromage fort is the ultimate way of using leftover cheese. Chef Jacques Pépin's father used to combine pieces of Camembert, Brie, Swiss, blue cheese, and goat cheese together with his mother's leek broth, some white wine, and crushed garlic. These ingredients marinated in a cold cellar for a week to a week and a half (he liked it really strong). Now Pépin's wife, Gloria, makes a milder version in a food processor that takes only seconds. It's delicious with crackers or melted onto toasts.

02 of 15

Chicken Dijon

Chicken Dijon. Photo © Johnny Valiant
© Johnny Valiant

Food writer 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.

03 of 15

Omelet Soufflé

Omelet Soufflé
© Kate Mathis

Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot, of the food science blog ideasinfood.com, are beloved by chefs like Richard Blais for their culinary innovations. Here, they share their method for creating a fluffy omelet from their book Ideas in Food.

04 of 15

Warm Camembert with Wild Mushroom Fricassee

Warm Camembert with Wild Mushroom Fricassee
© Frances Janisch

Chef Daniel Boulud makes this oozy appetizer with Vacherin Mont d'Or, a creamy cheese sold at top cheese shops. Camembert is as rich and runny as Vacherin Mont d'Or but much easier to find.

05 of 15

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.

06 of 15

Bouillabaisse Sandwiches

Bouillabaisse Sandwiches
© Ellie Miller

In his reinterpretation of the classic Provençal seafood stew bouillabaisse, chef Aaron Whitcomb piles seared fish fillets, tangy tomato, and shaved fennel on bread slathered with saffron mayonnaise.

07 of 15

Seared Cod with Spicy Mussel Aïoli

Seared Cod with Spicy Mussel Aioli.
© Tina Rupp

This simple, sophisticated dish from chef Eric Ripert relies on store-bought mayonnaise to enrich the sublime garlicky mussel sauce. It can be on the table in just 30 minutes.

08 of 15

Double-Baked Cheese Soufflé with Parmesan Cream

Double-Baked Cheese Soufflé with Parmesan Cream
Johnny Valiant

Hearty and filling, this soufflé from chef Alain Ducasse proves that pastries can be savory as well. It's served with a rich cream sauce made from Comté and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for extra flavor.

09 of 15

Lemony Chicken Fricassee with Shallots and Morels

Lemony Chicken Fricassee with Shallots and Morels
© Tina Rupp

Typically, a fricassee is made with chicken or another kind of white meat stewed in a white sauce with vegetables. For her version, chef Katy Sparks sizzles chicken in butter until it's crisp, then cooks it with shallots and morels, finishing with lemon for a hit of tartness.

10 of 15

Steamed Mussels with Tomato and Garlic Broth


Mussels have three things going for them: They're inexpensive, quick to cook, and delicious. Using clean farmed mussels negates their one big drawback — the tedious chore of scrubbing and debearding.

11 of 15

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.

12 of 15

Lazy Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet

Lazy Cassoulet Recipe
Alison Miksch

Cookbook author Molly Stevens' quick take on cassoulet includes boneless, skinless chicken thighs, smoked sausage, and plenty of white beans. "Everything gets gently folded together, spread in a shallow dish (either a gratin or a heavy skillet), topped with breadcrumbs, and baked until bubbling hot on the inside and crunchy-golden on top," she says.

13 of 15

Strip Steak Frites with Béarnaise Butter

Strip Steak Frites with Béarnaise Butter
© Con Poulos

This brilliant take on steak frites is a specialty of chef Andrew Carmellini. He tops seared strip steaks with a butter infused with tarragon, shallots, and vinegar — key ingredients in béarnaise sauce — and serves them with tangy French fries made from vinegar-brined potatoes. The meal comes together in just over an hour.

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Branzino with Mesclun and Tomato-Herbes de Provence Vinaigrette

Branzino with Mesclun and Tomato-Herbes de Provence Vinaigrette
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Branzino, known as loup de mer, or "wolf of the sea" in French, is mild and sweet. Its delicate flavor pairs nicely with a summery tomato and mixed herb vinaigrette. Scoring the fish skin before cooking prevents the fillets from curling in the pan.

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Chloe Crespi Photography

Chef Ludo Lefebvre's bouillabaisse starts with a quick-cooking and 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. Be sure to use shell-on shrimp; those shells add flavor and body to the stock.

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