National dish of france

What is France’s National Dish?

Croissants to Snails, France has a some iconic food but what is France’s National Dish? Our guide will take you through the most popular food in France from the perspective of someone who actually lives in France.

France has an incredibly rich and diverse food culture with 100s of incredible regional dishes that are steeped in history. Despite this diversity there isn’t a single dish that the French agree is their national dish. This is mainly due to the regional pride on

The National Dish of France

Despite what many English speaking websites may say, the National Dish of France is surprisingly not ‘Pot-au-Feu’. After living in Paris for 7 years, it’s not something I’ve seen very often at all on restaurant menus.

So what is the National Dish of France according to the French? Well according to a survey in 2017 by the Toluna Institute for the Nestlé France Foundation, the ‘Most French Dish’ is Beef Bourguignon.

The top 10 French National dishes according to the French public are:

1. Beef Bourguignon

National dish of france beef bourguignon

A French classic from the Burgundy region, Beef Bourguignon is a braised beef dish with red wine and vegetables. Made popular in the US by Julia Child’s very good recipe, it’s a classic abroad and in France.

Beef chuck, oxtail or other tough cuts of beef are marinated in red wine from Burgundy and then cooked slowly in the wine and beef stock. Carrots, mushrooms and onions are added near the end and the sauce is reduced to a thick, silky consistency and the stew is served with pomme purée (mashed potatoes). You can easily find Beef Bourguignon in bistros and bouillons of Paris.

2. Blanquette de Veau

blanquette de veau dish of france
Photo by Sebring12Hrs

Veal blanquette (veal stew) is most likely a dish you won’t have heard of but I can confirm that it is very popular in France. Served in schools, bistros and office cantines all over the country, it’s not a surprise it’s no. 2. It’s a real home recipe in France and hasn’t exported that well in other countries to the lack of availability of veal.

Tough veal cuts (such as breast or shank) are cooked slowly in veal stock, white wine and a mirepoix. Lots of herbs are adding during the braise to add even more flavour. The sauce is usually finished with either creme fraîche or cream and egg yolks.

3. Steak Frites

national dish of france steak frites

Steak and fries are, admittedly not a particularly traditional French dish but a class nonetheless. Delicious and varied, steak frites are served up all over the country and can be found in pretty much any French restaurant.

Steak frites will always include French fries but the steak and accompanying sauce do vary. In most French bistros they’ll have a ‘butchers cut’ as their steak which means they’ll cook whatever steak that comes in from their suppliers. More common that not you’ll find bavette steak (flank steak in English) served as it’s cheap yet very tasty cut. Sauces may will generally include peppercorn, béarnaise or the classic Entrecôte sauce.

4. Cassoulet

Photo by Julien Domec

Cassoulet is an incredible, hearty bean based stew from the South West of France. A very regional dish, a cassoulet can be found in most bistros or brasseries specialising in South Western cuisine. It’s also a dish that is popular amongst families and home cooks in France.

Cannellini beans are cooked in a flavourful broth along with Toulouse sausage, pork neck and cured pork. The resulting stew is finished under the grill with breadcrumbs and confit duck legs. It’s incredibly good and certainly deserves its place in the top 5 French dishes! You’ll be able to find this predominantly in the South of France but also in other cities like Paris.

5. Duck Breast

duck breast

Magret de Canard (duck breast) is very popular in France, served in a variety of ways it’s almost always present on bistro menus. Duck is at the heart of South Western French cuisine and you’ll often see the breast cooked simply and served with pomme salardaise (small cubes of potatoes fried until crisp and finished with garlic and parsley).

Other classic Duck breast dishes include Duck à l’Orange (duck with orange) and Duck with Cherry sauce.

6. Chicken & Fries

poulet frites

Poulet frites is another bistro classic that’s well loved by the French. Similar to many Anglophone countries, Sunday is day for Roast Chicken family lunches. The difference in France? The chicken is served with crispy French fries instead of roast potatoes.

Often French families will buy rotisserie chicken from butchers and take home. Gravy isn’t popular in France but generally they’ll pick up a small pot of roasting jus from the butcher. A popular dish in most brasseries or rotisserie chicken restaurants on Sundays or any other day of the week.

7. Snails

national dish of france snails

Les Escargots are an iconic French dish and they’re popular for a reason. Not for picky eaters, they are however enjoyed daily by gourmands across France. For those unsure, I can tell you they are very mild in flavour and they have a texture similar to cooked chicken.

Snails from Burgundy are roasted in lots and lots of garlic parsley butter and served fresh out the oven. There’s usually a lot more butter than snails which is perfect for mopping up with fresh baguettes. They’re often found as entrées on menus in bistros across the country and if you’re in Paris, you’ll easily find them in brasseries or bouillons.

8. Frogs legs

frogs legs

Another emblematic dish of France, frogs legs are certainly another controversial element of French cuisine that are not for the squeamish. However like snails, their taste is mild and they’re often served with garlic and parsley sauces. Despite their popularity amongst the French, I admit it’s one food that I don’t see particularly often on menus in France. That said, they’re often available in speciality butchers and do remain popular amongst French families.

9. Côte de Boeuf

Cote de boeuf

The Côte de Boeuf is a prized cut of beef in France. Usually reserved for large family BBQs or special meals out, the large, bone-in rib cut is extremely popular here. In restaurants this cut will nearly always be a sharing option and the prices will reflect that – you can expect to pay around €70-90 for 2 people for a Côte de Boeuf with sauce and fries. Butchers almost always have this cut in stock and works really well as a sharing steak on a BBQ!

10. Mussels & Fries

moules frites

In last place is the ubiquitous moules frites. Mussels & fries is actually a Belgian dish that became popular in France in touristy destinations. First invented in Lièges in Belgium in the late 1800s, it’s spread to France and is mainly popular in the North of the country – close to the Belgium border. An easy, filling and cheap meal, you’ll find it as either specials in bistros or mainly in touristic towns near the sea.

So that was the most French food according to the French population but which are the most popular foods? In late 2022 a poll for the TV station TF1 was conducted to see what food was actually the most popular amongst the population and the results aren’t too surprising.

  1. Chicken fries
  2. Raclette
  3. Pizza
  4. Couscous
  5. Bœuf bourguignon
  6. Veal Blanquette
  7. Quiche lorraine
  8. Paella
  9. Choucroute
  10. Cassoulet

Whilst there are some crossovers between the list, there’s some standout non-French food. Couscous has been top of the list for quite some years owing to a North African influence from immigration. Couscous Royale with 3 different types of meat is a classical example of cross-cultural food evolution as this is a dish that you’ll only find in France. Racelette is also a very popular dish but is typically only eaten in winter time.

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