25 Classic French Desserts

Oh là là, nous aimons les desserts!

croissants on a purple background

People watching along the Champs-Élysées,, museum-hopping in Provence, sunbathing in the Riviera… while you may not be easily able to get to France to experience all it has to offer, you CAN enjoy some of its most famous desserts right within the comfort of your own kitchen. Join us in getting inspired by these 25 recipes for your own kitchen journey from the French countryside to the “City of Light”.

While French patisserie has a reputation for being finicky, our recipes are anything but! We’re big fans of using shortcut methods to make recipes that would be largely impossible without industrial tools (like a croissant dough sheeter—think a pasta maker the size of a small car) totally do-able at home. For example, whereas regular croissants use a process called laminating wherein you endlessly fold your dough around a wide slab of butter to create those flaky layers, our recipe uses a borrowed pie crust technique that achieves something very similar, for half the effort! Ditto our recipes that use puff pastry, like our palmiers or tarte tatin. You could make your own, but when the frozen stuff is out there, why would you?

For all the hullabaloo about butter-and–chocolate-heavy French pastries, they actually spotlight a TON of fruit in their desserts. Recipes like cherry clafoutis or fruit tart are the best in summer, when the berries are beautifully ripe. In fall or winter, go with poached pears (they actually poach better if the fruit is underripe) or a tart or cake that celebrates Normandy apples. French desserts year-round? Mais, oui!

For more region-specific ideas, check out our list of Spanish, Mexican, Italian, and Greek dishes too.

chocolate souffles on a pink background
1 of 25
Chocolate Soufflés

Soufflés don't have to be something to fear! For tall, beautiful results, whip your egg whites well, coat your ramekins with sugar, DON'T open your oven (though you might want to), and serve these beauties right away.

Get the Chocolate Soufflés recipe.

crepes on a plate topped with fruit and powdered sugar
2 of 25
Easy Crêpes

The secret to perfect crepes? Let the batter rest at least 20 minutes at room temperature or longer in the fridge. This allows the flour to absorb the liquid and gives the gluten a chance to relax so your crepes will be tender instead of chewy. Perfect for breakfast or an after dinner treat!

Get the Easy Crêpes recipe.

round french apple tart with a slice missing
3 of 25
Apple Tart

In a classic French recipe, you're supposed to cook down an apple compote to go on top of the crust and under the spiral of apples. Not here. We skipped the sauce completely and macerated the slices in brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla to make sure they got nice and jammy in the oven.

Get the Apple Tart recipe.

pink french macarons
4 of 25
Easy French Macarons

These delicate French cookies are somehow simultaneously crispy, chewy, soft, and light as air. This makes them the perfect blank canvas for creative flavors and colors. Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature to achieve the greatest success.

Get the Easy French Macarons recipe.

closeup of an ice cream filled profiterole topped with chocolate sauce
5 of 25

Profiteroles sound fancy, but don't be intimidated. They're basically just little ice cream-filled, chocolate-covered puffs of goodness.

Get the Profiteroles recipe.

chocolate pot de creme topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
6 of 25
Chocolate Pots De Crème

Somewhere between pudding and mousse, pots de crème somewhat defy explanation. What is easy to explain is how decadent and delightful they are, both because of their rich chocolate flavor and the specialness of serving them in individual containers.

Get the Chocolate Pots De Crème recipe.

palmiers topped with raw sugar
7 of 25
Easy Palmiers

Palmiers, also known as elephant ears due to their shape, are delicious and so simple to make. Sugar is sprinkled on top of flaky layers of puff pastry and then rolled so that when cut the cookies look like little hearts. So cute!

Get the Easy Palmiers recipe.

french apple tarte tatin
8 of 25
Tarte Tatin

This classic tart construction relies on fruit being laid over caramel then topped with puff pastry. The caramel might be a little tricky, but we promise going low and slow and resisting the urge to stir is the way to make sure that you have the perfect caramelized bottom.

Get the Tarte Tatin recipe.

cracked creme brulee in a ramekin
9 of 25
Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée says "fancy" like no other dessert: it's deliciously rich, luxuriously smooth, and indulgently creamy. And cracking that glassy sugar surface right before your first bite? Delightfully fun.

Get the Crème Brûlée recipe.

slice of galette de rois
10 of 25
Galette De Rois

While Mardi Gras king cake is made of a yeasted dough rolled with a cinnamon sugar filling, galette de rois is made of puff pastry sheets filled with almond frangipane and jam. Prior to baking, the puff pastry is scored and egg washed, giving the final pastry a beautiful golden hue.

Get the Galette De Rois recipe.

french apple puff pastry tart cut into 9 squares
11 of 25
French Apple Tart

This tart is so easy to make and uses a store bought puff pastry, meaning it can be ready in under an hour. The glaze uses a little Grand Marnier, which can be left out or replaced with rum or cognac. It really brings the whole tart together and we highly recommend it!

Get the French Apple Tart recipe.

golden poached saffron pears with vanilla ice cream
12 of 25
Poached Pears

The not-too-sweet poaching liquid in this recipe features a star–and, no doubt, not cheap–ingredient: saffron. It gives the liquid and the pears a gorgeous sunny color that we think is worth it for this dish. If you want an affordable swap, use ground turmeric!

Get the Poached Pears recipe.

cherry clafoutis on a plate
13 of 25
Cherry Clafoutis

Super-creamy and custardy in texture, clafoutis is almost like a cross between flan and cake. The secret ingredient? Amaretto. It gives the dessert the slightest hint of almond flavor.

Get the Cherry Clafoutis recipe.

croissants on a purple background
14 of 25
Fast(er) Homemade Croissants

There's really no such thing as a quick croissant, but this recipe is about as fast as they come.The dough is basically a borrowed pie crust technique, cutting large chunks of cold butter into flour and skipping the intimidating traditional laminating process.

Get the Fast(er) Homemade Croissants recipe.

french apple custard cake with a slice missing
15 of 25
French Apple Cake

This easy cake has just enough batter to hold all of the apples together, making super soft with an almost custard-like texture offset by its sugary, crunchy top.

Get the French Apple Cake recipe.

shortbread crust fruit tart topped with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and orange wedges
16 of 25
Fruit Tart

The mascarpone filling is light, slightly tart, and just sweet enough to pair well with the apricot preserve-glazed fruit of your choice. Bonus: the shortbread-like crust here gets pressed in rather than rolled out, which makes it no-fuss and stress-free.

Get the Fruit Tart recipe.

beignets on a plate being sprinkled with powdered sugar
17 of 25
Easy Beignets

Traditional New Orleans beignets are a fried pastry made from French pâte à choux, an eggy yeasted dough used for things like profiteroles and eclairs. To make things simpler, we made a unyeasted dough that comes together and fries up in minutes. Let the good times roll!

Get the Easy Beignets recipe.

slice of lemon tart topped with whipped creme on a black plate with two lemon slices
18 of 25
Best-Ever Lemon Tart

This impressive tarte au citron is surprisingly easy to make. We love serving it with a big dollop of homemade whipped cream or candied lemon peel.

Get the Best-Ever Lemon Tart recipe.

baked brie wrapped with jam in puff pastry on a plate surrounded by fruit and crackers
19 of 25
Baked Brie

We love this as an after dinner snack alongside some French wine. Pick your jam wisely—some Bonne Maman maybe, or make your own!

Get the Baked Brie recipe.

french toast on a plate topped with maple syrup and pats of butter
20 of 25
French Toast

There's a ton of lore as to where french toast originated, and it likely wasn't France. However, since the BEST bread for this brunch dish is fluffy French brioche, we think it still counts.

Get the French Toast recipe.

buche de noel roll cake decorated like a log
21 of 25
Bûche de Noël (Yule Log Cake)

The Bûche de Noël cake is a French Christmas tradition that dates back to the 19th century. The cake represents the yule log that families would burn starting on Christmas Eve to symbolize bringing good luck with the new year. While no one is positive on exactly how the yule log turned into a cake, everyone can agree it's a delicious tradition we never want to end.

Get the Bûche de Noël (Yule Log Cake) recipe.

loaf of brioche bread
22 of 25
Brioche Bread

If you love butter, you'll live for this brioche bread. This recipe produces two loaves, with each loaf containing a WHOLE stick of butter—so you can imagine how rich each fluffy bite will be. Serve it with jam or use it to make bread pudding for the perfect after dinner treat.

Get the Brioche Bread recipe.

flan on a plate
23 of 25
Best-Ever Flan

This French crème caramel never goes out of style. The addition of egg yolks to our version makes it particularly rich (and leaves you with just enough egg whites to French macarons).

Get the Best-Ever Flan recipe.

peach galette
24 of 25
Peach Galette

Rustic French galettes are much easier to make than pie, but have all your same favorite elements like buttery crust and sweet fruit filling. Don't worry if yours isn't perfect—they're supposed to look homemade!

Get the Peach Galette recipe.

red wine truffles topped with nuts, cocoa powder, and coconut on a pink plate
25 of 25
Red Wine Truffles

We love chocolate truffles, particularly ones filled with wine. All you need to do is reduce your favorite French red and voila, a classic treat with a boozy twist.

Get the Red Wine Truffles recipe.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Meals & Cooking