French steak frites

Classic French Steak Frites

French Steak Frites is a classic French dish and one France’s most popular national dishes. On menus in restaurants across the country, you’ll find plenty of variations of the dish including different cuts of beef and accompanying sauce.

easy French steak frites recipe

This recipe brings together home made French fries, béarnaise sauce and a perfectly grilled steak for a satisfying French bistro style dinner!

What is Steak Frites?

Steak Frites is simply Steak and Fries in French. It’s a common brasserie and bistro dish found across France. Traditionally it comprises of a cheap, flavourful steak cut, thin cut French fries and béarnaise sauce or compound butter.

French bistro dish steak frites recipe

In this recipe, I’ll deep dive into the elements and show you how to make this French Bistro classic at home!

What’s the Best Cut of Beef to Use?

There’s no real rules regarding which cut of beef to use for a steak frites however you’ll find in France that the cheaper, more flavourful cuts are preferred. Onglet (Hangar steak in the US) and bavette are the two most popular

  • Onglet: Onglet in French is Hangar steak in the US. It’s probably my favorite steak. Full of flavour and plenty of texture. It’s affordable but must be cooked on either blue or rare. (Some restaurants in Paris will refuse any cuisson past this!)
  • Bavette: Bavette is another very popular steak cut in France. Just like onglet it’s incredibly flavoursome but it can be on the tougher side therefore it’s imperative to cook it blue or rare. It’s also important to slice it across the grain so it’s not too tough.
  • Rump: Rump (generally called rumsteak in French) is harder to find in France but some restaurants do serve it in their steak frites.
  • Ribeye: Ribeye (entrecôte in French) is another great cut popular all around the world.
  • Fillet: The most expensive cut and certainly the most tender. Generally in France you’ll see this served with béarnaise or peppercorn sauce.

French Fries

Crispy French fries really do make steak frites. Now you can buy frozen fries and put them in the fryer. This saves time and means you can still get crispy, hot fries on your plate but home made are better!

French fries 2nd cook
French fries are their 2nd cook

I use Charlotte potatoes as I’m in France but you can use:

  • USA: Russet
  • UK: Maris Piper
  • France: Charlotte
  • Australia: Russet Burbank

I triple cook them to achieve the crispiest yet fluffiest fries you can imagine. You can do either of the first 2 steps ahead of time and leave the fries in the freezer. Find out how to do this below.

triple cooked French fries
French fries after their 3rd and final cook

Béarnaise Sauce or Compound Butter?

A good steak frites needs something to cover those crispy fries and juicy steak. For me Béarnaise sauce is king as it’s luxurious yet surprisingly simple to make.

béarnaise sauce
Béarnaise sauce is perfect for dipping crispy French fries in!

You can make a compound butter or, a beurre maître d’hôtel, which is probably more straight forward and you can make ahead but I have to go with béarnaise.


Makes enough for 2.

  • 2 onglet or bavette steaks, 150g each
  • 400g potatoes (see above for variety)
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch tarragon
  • 50ml white wine
  • 40ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Frying oil

How to Make Steak Frites

Triple Cooked French Fries

  1. Take your potatoes and give them a good rinse. Without peeling the skin, cut them into 1 cm thick French fries and place into a cold bowl of water. Rinse them until the water is no longer cloudy.

  2. Place them into a boiling pot of water and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove and let them cool on a rack over a baking tray. Place into the fridge to dry out the fries.

  3. When they’re cold, remove them and heat a pot of oil or fryer to 130c/266f and fry for around 6 minutes or until they have a very pale, golden crust. Drain and place back onto a baking tray rack. Let them cool and place into the fridge. If you’re making these ahead you can place them into the freezer until you’re ready for the final fry.

  4. Just before you’re ready to eat, take out the cooled or frozen fries and heat up the fryer to 180c/356f.

  5. Place your fries into the hot frying all and cook for 1-2 minutes or until crunchy and piping hot. Drain on kitchen paper and season with salt immediately.

Béarnaise Sauce

  1. Take a sprig of tarragon and place it into a small pot with a splash of water, white wine, minced shallots and vinegar. Bring the mixture to the boil and reduce until you have a table spoon of liquid left. Strain this through a fine sieve and reserve.

  2. Melt the butter in a pot or in a microwave. Ensure that it’s not too hot. It should be melted but not hot!

  3. Place the egg yolk and reduced vinegar liquid into a heatproof bowl and whisk together. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly. After 1-2 minutes it should start to thicken up. Still on the heat, slowly pour in the melted butter whilst whisking constantly. You should now have a thickish sauce. If you want it thicker, continue whisking whilst on the heat. Remove when it’s at a consistency of your liking. Season with lemon juice, salt and add as much chopped tarragon leaves as you like! Reserve at room temperature

Steaks & Plating

  1. For the steaks, take them out 1 hour before cooking and right before cooking, season with salt and pepper.

  2. Place a frying pan on a high heat and add a few tablespoons of oil. When smoking hot add your steaks and cook for 1 minute each side, flip and repeat. Keep on flipping until you have an even crust. Remove when the core temperature hits 34c/93f (for rare). Place onto a warm plate and rest in the oven (for at least 5 minutes).

  3. Place your rested steak, fries and a dollop of the béarnaise sauce onto a warm place and serve immediately.

Where’s the Best Steak Frites in Paris France?

If you’re visiting Paris and want to eat a classic Steak Frites then you need to check out guide to the best steak frites in Paris.

We’ve also got a guide to the best bistros in Paris where you’re guaranteed to find a great steak on the menu.

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