8 top French cookbooks to get a taste for classic cuisine

8 top French cookbooks to get a taste for classic cuisine


8 top French cookbooks to get a taste for classic cuisine

These culinary delights will help you recreate the dishes that remind you of holidays and refresh your knowledge of classics.

French cuisine has always been a popular choice. It was once regarded as the pinnacle in sophistication, from the extravagant haute cuisine of the 17th century to the more simple, regional dishes.

We miss those good times when you could hop on the Eurostar to get to Paris for lunch. But until the restrictions are lifted, it seems like the time is right to start cooking with these proven French recipes.

French cuisine is much more than just wine and cheese. It's influenced by the cultures of Spain, Italy, and other countries, and dishes vary greatly from one region to the next.

It's possible to find seafood dishes at Normandy's seafront, patisseries and crepes in Paris, as well as beautiful crepes and patisseries in Brittany.

French cuisine is known for its meaty dishes like entrecote, duck, and rabbit stew. However, these new titles are designed to change that perception with healthy, quick meals during the week and simplified versions of classics.

There are still many traditional methods and decadence available if you're looking for it. You can also find restaurant-worthy cuisine that will fill your entire weekend if you're feeling adventurous.

We were looking for recipes that were both easy to follow and enjoyable to read when we tested our cookbooks. Beautiful photography is important to us. We also like easy-to-find ingredients and a variety of inspirational recipes.

These cookbooks can be used to inspire you, whether you're looking for recipes that bring back happy memories or you are looking for classic recipes.

Our independent reviews are reliable. Although we may be paid a commission by some retailers, this does not affect our independent reviews. Our selections are based on real-world testing and expert opinion. This revenue is used to finance journalism in The Independent.

‘Rick Stein’s Secret France' by Rick Stein, published by Ebury Publishing


This book is for Rick Stein fans who enjoyed his TV series of the same title. It will help you recreate your favorite dishes. He begins his journey in Normandy's fishing port of Dieppe, then travels to Cassis, where he recreates many of the most beloved dishes from the region. We found the perfect Croque monsieur and buckwheat pancakes, with mushrooms and eggs, easy to find, and Rick's writing style was enjoyable to follow.

You can also order the more substantial seafood gratin with caramelized apple, rabbit stew, and Dijon mustard as well as the vegetarian-friendly confit tomatoes and aubergine tarte training. You will also find strong desserts, including tarts and souffles.

‘Christophe Pelé, Le Clarence: The Cookbook' (The glass and the plate) by Christophe Pelé and Chihiro Masui, published by GLENAT

Two-Michelin-starred Le Clarence was, without a doubt, one of our most memorable meals. The coffee table book includes 70 recipes by executive chef Christophe Pele and a series of interviews. It is as luxurious as the private home in which we dined. Even if you don’t try a single recipe, it’s still a wonderful book to look at.

It starts with the recipe for the restaurant’s aged Comte cheese goatres. (We recall that they were so good, we sold our grandmother to try them again), and then it moves on to chapters about milk, raw, and sea. It ends with a decadent cocoa-sorbet with chocolate shavings and cocoa crumble for those who have a sweet tooth. We have no other way to recreate that unique experience than with this book. We wish you all the best!

‘Provence the Cookbook Recipes from the French Mediterranean' by Caroline Craig, published by Interlink Books

Provencal French cuisine is an amalgamation of influences from both North Africa and Italy. Alex Jackson's restaurant, also called Sardine, was, unfortunately, unable to survive the financial consequences of covid. However, this beautiful book shares the exact same rustic, simple ethos. We love the way Alex ends each season with a "Grande Bouffe", a set menu that brings all the delicious recipes together in one feast. This is often centered around sharing-style meat joints. Highlights include roast hake and tomato salad, delicious bowls of sunshine orange bouillabaisse, and the autumnal salt-baked guinea fowl.

‘Sardine: Simple seasonal Provencal cooking' by Alex Jackson, published by Pavilion Books

Taking influence from Italy as well as North Africa, Provençal French cooking is a real melting pot of flavors. Alex Jackson’s restaurant (also called Sardine) was sadly unable to survive the financial impact of covid, however, this beautiful book shares the same simple, rustic ethos. We love how Alex finishes each seasonal chapter with a “Grande Bouffe” set menu, bringing all the wonderful recipes together in a feast, often centered around sharing-style joints of meat. Highlights include roast hake with samphire and tomato salad, decadent bowls of sunshine-orange bouillabaisse, and the autumnal salt-baked guinea fowl.

‘The French Menu Cookbook The Food and Wine of France – Season by Delicious Season – In Beautifully Composed Menus for American Dining and Entertaining' by an American living in Paris and Provence by Richard Olney, published by Harper Collins


Richard Olney is the best when it comes to vintage French cookbooks. This book was once voted the "best cookbook ever" by The Observer Food Monthly Awards and despite being first published in 1970, it still has a lot of fans today. The 150 recipes are centered on the flavors of Provence. Chapters are divided by season, despite it feeling like a modern way to cook. There are 32 menus that allow you to combine the recipes for different occasions, such as festive meals or casual lunches. Simple dishes include scrambled eggs with truffles and crepes al Normande (with brandy and apple) and lamb stew.

‘Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France' by Melissa Clark. Published by Bantam USA


This book is a favorite of Diana Henry, a food writer. It was written for Americans, and the measurements are in cups and ounces. This relatively new book is an absolute delight if you can ignore that. Beautiful photography is all over the book, including modern interpretations of old favorites like ham and walnut salad, chicken paillard, and poule au pot pie.

‘The French Revolution: 140 Classic Recipes made Fresh & Simple’ by Michel Roux Jr, published by Seven Dials

Albert Roux, a French chef, and restaurateur died in April at the age of 85. His son Michel Roux Jr. is the chef at La Gavroche (two Michelin stars) and continues his legacy. He cleverly substitutes rich, creamy sauces that are synonymous with French classic cooking (think hollandaise) with lighter options in this book. It's not a diet book, but it does open the door to a modern French-style cooking style that is suitable for everyday living. You can still indulge in duck confit pie or simple chocolate mousse.

‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Vol. 1' by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, published by Penguin Books

This French classic will be remembered for its 1961 publication. It has been an inspiration to many. We love the "How To ..." chapters that cover various ingredients and techniques, from "How do you use a knife" to "How to make fresh asparagus." This beautiful reprint is worth collecting, regardless of whether you cook with it.

The verdict: French cookbooks

Rick Stein's Secret France has been awarded our best buy award. It not only covers a wide range of delicious local dishes but also provides a great deal of information that is relevant to today's cooking.  We loved his happy instructions and the fact that ingredients were easy to substitute or find.



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