France is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world. Cuisine from France is highly regarded for its finesse and flavour, as well as its diversity across the country. From dishes of humble and historic origin, to modern and elegant masterpieces, or even dishes borrowed from abroad, French food is a cuisine that everyone can enjoy.
From desserts and breads, stews and snails, here is an A to Z breakdown of some of France’s most iconic and delicious foods.
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Andouillette – Pork sausage containing pig intestine and chitterlings, onion, wine and pepper, served hot or cold.
Axoa – Basque stew of chopped or mashed veal, espelette peppers, tomatoes and onions.
Baba au rhum – Small yeast-risen sponge cakes soaked in rum and syrup, with raisins and topped with crème Chantilly.
Bacalao al pil pil – An elegant dish of salt cod in a gelatinous sauce of olive oil, chilli and garlic.
Baeckeoffe – An Alsatian casserole made with pork, lamb, onion, leek, potato, and white wine.
Baguette – The signature bread of France, characterised by its long length and crunchy crust.
Béchamel sauce – White roux sauce of butter, flour and milk, and one of France’s ‘mother sauces.’
Blanquette de Veau – Veal cooked ‘en blanquette’ with butter, onions, mushrooms and carrots, served with a creamy white sauce, and rice or potatoes.
Boeuf Bourguignon – A slow-cooked stew of beef and Burgundy red wine, often with carrots, mushrooms, onions and lardons, and served with mashed potato or fries.
Bouillabaisse – A classic Marseillaise stew, made with seafood such as rockfish rascasse, conger eel or mussels, as well as tomato, onion, garlic, herbs and a rouille sauce.
Breton Crêpes – Buckwheat flour crêpes, usually topped with ham, cheese and egg.
Brie de Meaux – Soft cow’s milk cheese from Meaux, with a characteristic white rind.
Brie de Melun – An unpasteurized brie with a strong, salty flavour.
Brie Noir – Two-year aged brie with a dark colour and earthy taste.
Brioche – Light and fluffy bread with a high butter and egg content.
Brocciu – Soft whey cheese popular in Corsica.
Bûche de Noël – Sponge cake rolled into a log shape and generously covered in butter cream, icing and ornaments, served at Christmas.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Black-skinned grapes used in wine making, particularly in the Bordeaux region.
Calissons – Sweet melon or orange flavoured cookies made of almond meal with a white icing fondant and almond shape.
Camembert – Soft and creamy cow’s milk cheese with an edible white rind.
Canelé – Cylinders of caramelised vanilla and rum cake, with a custard centre.
Canistrelli – Small shortbread biscuits from Corsica, for dunking in coffee.
Cantal – Raw cow’s milk cheese with a hard texture, one of France’s oldest cheeses.
Carbonnade Flamande – A rich and hearty stew of beef and onion, made with dark beer and herbs.
Carignan – Red grape variety, originally from Spain.
Carottes Vichy – Carrots cooked in water and sugar to create a sweet glaze.
Cassoulet – A slow cooked Occitan casserole dish made with pork garlic sausage, white beans, duck confit, tomato and onion, sealed with a bread crumb crust.
Chausson aux pommes – Puff pastry filled with butter, apple, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
Chardonnay – Green skinned variety of grape used for white wine.
Choucroute garnie – A savoury dish of sauerkraut cooked in Riesling and onions, served with potatoes, pork, bacon and sausages such as morteau.
Chouquettes – Small choux pastry balls topped with crunchy rocks of sugar.
Civet de Sanglier – Wild boar stew of red wine, bay leaves, thyme, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes.
Clafoutis – A tart with a custard base, filled with black cherries and with a golden brown crust.
Comté – Semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, the most produced of all AOC cheeses.
Confit de Canard – A bistro favourite of duck roasted in duck fat and herbs, served with potatoes cooked in duck fat (pommes de terre à la sarladaise).
Coq au vin – Chicken braised with red Burgundy wine, with lardons, mushrooms and garlic.
Coquilles Saint-Jacques – Scallops baked in the shell with a creamy sauce and cheese.
Corsu Vecchiu – Raw sheep’s milk cheese with a semi-final texture from Corsica.
Couscous merguez – Couscous dish of North African origin, with spicy merguez sausage, chickpeas, tomato, turnip, carrot, and ras-el-hanout spice.
Crème Brulée – Iconic baked custard tart with a hard shell of blowtorched sugar, to be cracked with a spoon.
Crème Catalan – A variant of the crème brulée flavoured with cinnamon and citrus fruits.
Croissant – One of France’s most recognisable pastries, a croissant is a flaky, airy pastry in a distinctive crescent shape.
Croustade aux pommes – A crunchy pastry with an apple filling, sometimes with Armagnac.
Croque Madame – Ham and cheese sandwiched between two slices of pain de mie, covered in melted Gruyère cheese and topped with a fried egg.
Croque Monsieur – A brasserie staple of ham and cheese sandwiched between two slices of pain de mie, and topped with melted Gruyère cheese.
Dacquoise – Chilled cake with layers of biscuit, hazelnut and almond meringue, and buttercream.
Dijon mustard – Mustard made with verjuice instead of vinegar from the city of Dijon.
Éclair au chocolat – Choux pastry in a log shape, filled with crème pâtissière, and glazed in chocolate.
Embruns aux algues – A cow’s milk cheese produced with pieces of seaweed, giving a strong, salty flavour.
Époisses – Soft cow’s milk cheese with a creamy centre and orange rind.
Escargots de Bourgogne – Snails cooked in the Bourgogne style, with butter, garlic and herbs, and served in their shells.
Espagnol sauce – One of the French ‘mother sauces’ made by reducing beef stock with vegetables, sugar, and tomato paste.
Far Breton – Flan-style cake often filled with Armagnac-soaked prunes or raisins, with a golden brown crust.
Fiadone Corse – Corsican lemon cheesecake made with brocciu cheese.
Ficelle Picarde – A savoury pancake filled with ham, cheese, mushrooms, with a rich and creamy sauce.
Financier – Small rectangular cakes with a crispy outside and fluffy inside, flavoured with beurre noisette.
Flan – Eggs, milk, sugar and caramel combined to form a custard tart, with a caramelised top.
Fois gras – Duck or goose liver with a rich, buttery taste.
Fondue Savoyarde – A dish of hot melted cheese such as comté or reblochon, into which bread or other ingredients are dipped.
Galette des rois – A flat cake of almond meal traditionally served during the feast of Epiphany.
Gâteau Basque – Basque country specialty of flour, butter and sugar, filled with either black cherry jam or vanilla pastry cream.
Gâteau Ménage – Brioche-like cake with a top layer of goumeau, a creamy topping made with cream, egg and sugar, sometimes filled with chocolate or fruit.
Gâteau Nantais – Pound cake soaked in rum, topped with white royal icing.
Gaufres fourrée Lilloise – Two thin waffles sandwiching a layer of rum-based vergeoise paste.
Gratin dauphinois – A hearty baked dish of sliced potato, milk or cream, and gruyère cheese.
Grenache – Widely planted red wine grape, originating in Spain.
Hachis Parmentier – Similar to a Shepherd’s pie, a dish of beef mince, tomato and egg, with a layer of puree on top, and covered in gruyère cheese.
Hollandaise sauce – Emulsion of butter and egg yolk, with lemon or vinegar, one of France’s ‘mother sauces.’
Île flottant – Meringue served on top of custard, usually topped with chopped almonds and caramel sauce.
Intxaursaltsa – Basque walnut sauce made with milk, sugar, cinnamon and walnuts.
Jambon Beurre – Classic baguette sandwich of ham and butter.
Jésuite – Triangular pastry with a crispy and flaky crust, filled with frangipani cream, and dusted with almonds and sugar.
Knack – Alsatian sausage similar to a frankfurter.
Kig ha farz – Breton stew of pork or beef, with vegetables and egg, milk and buckwheat flour.
Kouglof – Tall yeast-based cake containing cognac soaked raisins and baked in a circular Bundt mold.
Kouign Amann – Flaky and buttery pastry from Brittany with a crispy caramelised crust.
Langres – Cylindrical cow’s milk cheese with a creamy, crumbly texture.
Livarot – A soft washed rind cheese with an orange rind and characteristic strings of reedmace tied around it.
Macarons – Two colourful shells of meringue with hard tops and rough crusts, sandwiching a sweet flavoured ganache, with a variety of flavours.
Macarons d’Amiens – Small cakes with a crispy shell and soft inside, made of almonds, honey, fruit compote, sugar, and eggs.
Madeleines – Small almond sponge cakes with distinctive shell shapes.
Marmite Dieppoise – A hearty fish stew, often including mussels, prawns, celery, onions, leeks, and a sauce of wine or cider.
Marmitako – A thick and starchy fish stew containing tuna, tomato, potato, paprika and onion.
Maroilles – A rectangular cow’s milk cheese with an orange rind and strong smell.
Marrons glacés – Boiled chestnuts candied in sugar syrup, often eaten at Christmas.
Mayonnaise – Cold, thickened sauce made by emulsifying oil, egg yolk and lemon juice or vinegar.
Merlot – France’s most planted variety of red grape.
Millefeuille – Many thin sheets of puff pastry arranged in three layers, with crème pâtissière filling, and a marbled fondant layer on top.
Mimolette – Large, spherical cheese with an orange centre and brown rind, resembling a cantaloupe.
Munster – A soft cheese with a strong smell and mild taste.
Mogettes de Vendée – White beans popularised in Pays de La Loire, eaten with garlic toast, in stews, or with butter.
Morbier – A semi-soft cow’s milk cheese with a characteristic vein of ash running through it.
Moules de Bouchot – Breton mussels cooked with white wine sauce and served with fries.
Mousse au chocolat – Creamy dessert of chocolate and whipped egg whites to give a soft and fluffy texture.
Neufchatel – A soft and crumbly mold-ripebee cheese, often sold in a heart shape.
Nonnettes – Small gingerbread cakes sweetened with honey, orange marmalade and lemon glaze.
Omelette à la Mère Poulard – A speciality omelette from Mont Saint-Michel, made of foamy beaten eggs.
Opèra – Rectangular layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with chocolate ganache, buttercream, with a glazed chocolate top.
Pain au chocolat – Square shaped pastry with two bars of chocolate running through its centre.
Pain au Raisins – Spiral-shaped leavened butter pastry, with raisins and crème pâtissière.
Pain de mie – Sandwich bread loaf, with a study fluffy centre.
Pain d’épices – Spiced cake made of rye flour, spices, honey, as well as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
Palets de dames – Small, round vanilla cookies with a sweet white glaze on top.
Palmier – a yeast-free puff pastry formed into a palm leaf shape, with a caramelised crispy crunch.
Paris-Brest – Wheel-shaped ring of choux pastry, sliced horizontally with a praline cream filling, topped with almost and icing sugar.
Pinot Noir – Wine grapes with black skins, notable for growing in tight clusters.
Pistou – Cold sauce of garlic, basil and olive oil from Provence.
Pissaladière – A pizza-like dish made with anchovies, caramelised onions, black olives, and Provençal herbs.
Poires à la Beaujolaise – Pears soaked in red wine, cinnamon, cloves and honey, and poached in the spiced wine sauce.
Poires Tapées – Pears dried out in wood fired ovens, and mechanically flattened, served hot served with honey, wine and spices.
Poulet Basquaise – A Basque dish made with chicken stewed in a sauce of red espelette pepper, tomato, onion and white wine, and served with rice, fries or pasta.
Poulet Chasseur – Sautéed chicken in a reduction sauce of white wine, brandy, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions.
Profiteroles – Choux pastry balls, usually filled with crème Chantilly, custard, or ice cream.
Quenelle – Egg-shaped serving of creamed dish or meat, usually packed and served in sauce.
Quiche Lorraine – A classic French quiche, made with eggs and milk, lardons, and baked in a pie crust.
Raclette – A plate of potatoes, charcuterie and cornichons, covered with melted raclette cheese.
Ragôut d’Escoubilles – A stew with variable ingredients, but commonly includes veal, sausages, olives, mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes.
Ratatouille – A stewed vegetable ragôut from Nice made with courgette, onion, garlic, aubergine and bell pepper, served hot or cold.
Reblochon – Soft washed-rind cheese made with raw cow’s milk, used in tartiflette.
Religieuse – A small profiterole balanced on top of a larger one, filled with crème pâtissière, glazed with chocolate ganache, and decorated with crème Chantilly.
Rillauds d’Anjou – Slices of pork belly soaked in brine and fried in lard to be served hot or cold.
Rillettes de Porc – A spread of sliced preserved pork, served on toast or with cornichons.
Riz au lait – Vanilla rice pudding made by simmering rice in milk with sugar.
Rouille – Thickened sauce of egg yolk and olive oil, with garlic, bread crumbs and saffron, often served with seafood.
Roquefort – Blue cheese known for its sharp, tangy taste.
Sablé Breton – Sweet and salty butter cookies from the Brittany region.
Saint-Honoré – An elaborate dessert with a puff pastry base, a ring of profiteroles, glazed with caramel and finished with crème chiboust.
Salade Lyonnaise – A salad of lettuce, lardons, egg and croutons.
Salade Niçoise – Salad of Niçoise olives, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tuna or anchovies, with an olive oil or vinaigrette dressing.
Salmon en papillote – Salmon fillets baked in paper with vegetables and herbs, and served with cream cheese.
Sauce Tartare – Thickened sauce of mayonnaise spiced with chopped capers, pickles, tarragon and dill.
Sauce Tomate – French ‘mother sauce’ with tomatoes, butter, flour, vegetables, and meat broth.
Sauvignon blanc – Green-skinned grape variety from the Bordeaux region.
Soufflé – An egg-based dish known for its puffy shape, with sweet and savoury varieties.
Soup à l’oignon – Caramelised onion and meat stock soup, topped with bread and cheese.
Steak tartare – A patty of beef or horse mince mixed with spices and onions, served raw with an egg yolk on top, often accompanied by fries or salad.
Steak frites – Rare filet of entrecote steak, served with fries and a reduction sauce.
Suisse de Valence – shortbread biscuit flavoured with orange peel and orange blossom, in the shape of a Swiss guard.
Syrah (Shiraz) – Red wine grape, widely grown in France and throughout the world.
Tapenade – Savoury spread made of pureed olives or anchovies.
Tarte au chocolat – A filling of chocolate, cream and eggs set in a crumbly shortcrust pastry tart.
Tarte au citron – Lemon, eggs, sugar and corn flour set in a shortcrust pastry, often topped with meringue.
Tarte aux fraises – Crumbly shortcrust pastry with a young if glazed strawberry slices and crème pâtissière.
Tarte aux mirabelles – A tart of small, sweet plums local to Alsace-Lorraine.
Tarte aux myrtilles – A custard of cream, sugar and eggs set in a shortcrust pastry and topped with fresh blueberries.
Tarte des Alpes – Sweet shortcrust pastry with a lattice pastry typing and a sweet jam filling.
Tarte flambée – A circular or rectangular pizza-like dish, topped with crème fraîche or fromage blanc, onions and lardons
Tarte framboise – Shortcrust pastry with a layer of crème pâtissière and raspberries.
Tarte Normande – Apple tart from Normandy, with a shortcrust pastry, egg custard, apples and almonds, and baked until caramelised.
Tarte tatin – Upside down apple tart made with caramelised apples in butter and sugar.
Tarte Tropézienne – A sweet brioche filled with vanilla cream and sprinkled with pearl sugar.
Tartiflette – A rich winter dish of layered potato, cream, lardons, and reblochon cheese
Teurgoule – Norman rice pudding made with milk, rice, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Tielle Sétoise – A small, spicy pie filled with tomato and octopus, with a bready crust.
Tomates Farcies – Tomatoes stuffed with a filling such as minced beef or rice, and baked.
Ugni Blanc – The most planted variety of white grape, used mainly for Cognac.
Valençay – Pyramid-shaped goat’s cheese with a grey charcoal rind.
Veau aux olives – Corsican dish of veal in red wine, olives, tomato, onions and herbs.
Veloute – Meaning ‘velvety’, a French ‘mother sauce’ of light clear stock thickened with a roux of butter and flour.
Vichyssoise – A thick soup of leeks, potatoes, onions, cream and stock, served cold.
Vol au vent – Hollow puff pastry cases, into which savoury or sweet fillings can be added.
Waterzooi – Originally from Belgium and popular in northern france, a stew of fish or chicken with a vegetable, egg yolk and cream sauce.
Welsh – Based on the Welsh rarebit, made of toasted bread with Dijon mustard and melted cheese, with a fried egg on top.
Zinfandel – Black-skinned wine grapes of Austrian origin, grown in Cotes de Thongue.
Zeste de citron – Lemon zest, used as an ingredient in sweet and savoury recipes.
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Want to Read More?
To discover the most delicious dishes of France by region, click here!
For my ultimate guide to regional French cheeses, click here!
For my comprehensive guide to French desserts, click here!
What’s what in a French boulangerie? Click here for my guide to French cakes and pastries!
France, as one of the world’s most culinary countries, has a diverse and delicious list of classic foods. But it’s a difficult task to list them all, and surely many others deserve their rightful place on this A-Z. Let me know in the comments what other foods belong on this list (especially if you discover an X or Y food)!