Bonjour friends! As an avid Francophile, I’m always seeking out classic French appetizers that transport my taste buds across the Atlantic. In my food blogging adventures, I’ve discovered so many delicious French starters that pair beautifully with wine and evoke that je ne sais quoi charm.
Today, I’m rounding up 18 of my favorite classic French appetizers to inspire your next dinner party or meal.
1. Brie With Pesto
First up on our list of French appetizers is the classic combination of warm brie with pesto.
This easy appetizer involves spreading pesto over slices or wedges of brie cheese and baking until the cheese is warm and gooey.
The basil pesto perfectly complements the creamy, rich brie. Feel free to use any type of cheese and either homemade or store-bought pesto.
This appetizer comes together in about 30 minutes and is sure to delight cheese lovers.
2. Alsatian Onion Tart
Next is a tasty Alsatian onion tart, which features sweet caramelized onions in a savory tart.
To make this French appetizer, sauté sliced onions with olive oil, salt and pepper until softened and browned.
Line a tart pan with puff pastry and spread the onions across the bottom. Top with grated Gruyère cheese, a pinch of nutmeg, and some Dijon mustard for a kick.
Bake the tart until the pastry is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve this onion tart warm alongside a fresh salad for a delicious French starter.
The interplay of the melted cheese, sweet onions, and flaky crust is magnifique!
3. Onion Galette
Another onion-based French appetizer is the onion galette. A galette is a rustic French tart or pie, and this savory version combines caramelized onions, garlic, and scallions.
To make this appetizer, mix together your sliced onion mixture with salt, pepper, olive oil and cook until browned.
Make your galette dough, roll it out into a circle, and top with the onion mixture. Add some grated Parmesan cheese, a smear of Dijon mustard, and bake until golden brown.
The crispy flaky crust and savory onion filling make this galette a quick French starter.
4. Mini-Croque Monsieur
For a heartier French appetizer, whip up some mini croque monsieurs, those quintessential French ham and cheese sandwiches.
To elevate the croque monsieur, make a simple béchamel sauce with butter, flour and milk.
Spread the béchamel on slices of bread, add slices of ham and Gruyère cheese, and top with another bread slice. Bake the mini sandwiches until the cheese is melted and bread is crispy.
Adding the creamy béchamel sauce takes the croque monsieur to the next level! For a croque madame, top it with a fried egg. Ooh la la!
5. Coquilles St. Jacques
These elegant scallop gratin appetizers called coquilles St. Jacques are a French bistro classic.
Cook fresh scallops in a sauce of white wine, cream, lemon juice and seasonings. Place the scallops in scallop shell halves or a baking dish, top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs, and broil until bubbly and browned.
Serving these heavenly scallops in the shell elevates this dish to new heights. They make for an impressive and tasty French starter.
For a gluten-free French appetizer, try making socca, a crispy chickpea flour flatbread that hails from Nice, France.
Mix together chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt into a smooth batter. Pour it into a cast iron skillet or baking sheet and bake until it’s golden brown with a lacy edge.
Cut the large chickpea pancake into wedges and enjoy it as-is or dip the crispy socca into soups or stews.
It’s a delightful French appetizer that comes together quickly with pantry ingredients.
7. Cheese Soufflé
What’s a French appetizer roundup without the classic cheese soufflé? Light, airy, and impossibly cheesy, a cheese soufflé makes for an impressive starter.
To achieve that perfect rise, whip egg whites into stiff peaks and gently fold them into the cheese base along with flavors like Dijon mustard and white pepper.
Bake in ramekins until puffed and golden. Serve alongside a tangy greens salad to balance the richness.
8. Alsatian Cheese Tart
Another cheesy French appetizer is the Alsatian onion and cheese tart or flammekueche.
This thin tart hails from the Alsace region and features a pizza-like crisp crust topped with crème fraîche, onions, and bacon.
To make this at home, simply roll out store-bought puff pastry, spread with crème fraîche, top with fried bacon bits, thin slices of onion, and grated Gruyère.
Bake until the pastry is crisp and cheese is melted. Cut into slices and serve this delicious French tart warm from the oven.
9. French Cake Sale
Looking for something a bit more unique? Try making a French cake sale, or gâteau de crêpes salées.
Despite its sweet name, this savory “cake” combines thin crêpes layered with cheese, meat, roasted vegetables, nuts and mushrooms.
Think of it like a moist, rich savory cake perfect for slicing and serving as an appetizer. The combination of textures and flavors makes this a showstopping French starter.
Transport your guests to Provence with this classic French appetizer called pissaladière.
It starts with a pizza-like dough topped with caramelized onions, anchovies, olives and tomatoes. The sweet and savory interplay makes this a stellar starter.
Roll out your dough into an oval, spread the onion mixture on top, add thyme and bake until crisp.
Let guests slice and serve this beautiful appetizer with fresh salad greens on the side.
11. Potatoes Au Gratin
For a rich, creamy appetizer, look no further than French potato gratin. This dish features thinly sliced potatoes layered with cream, cheese, onion and aromatics like garlic and thyme.
As it bakes, the potatoes become perfectly tender in the rich, velvety sauce. Top with more cheese and breadcrumbs for that classic presentation.
Served alongside roast chicken or beef, this potato gratin makes for the ultimate French comfort food.
12. French Cheese Puffs
These crispy French cheese puffs called gougères are the perfect bite-sized appetizers for your next soirée.
They involve making light, hollow cream puff dough shells and filling them with melted cheese for a savory twist.
Gruyère or Comté cheese pairs nicely with the choux pastry. Pipe the dough into bite-sized balls, bake until golden brown, then slice open and fill with the cheese.
Your guests will be delighted by these crispy, cheesy French puffs.
13. French Potato Salad
For a lighter French appetizer, a potato salad with mustardy vinaigrette is just the thing.
This salad features tender boiled potatoes tossed in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette with parsley, tarragon and bits of bacon.
The zingy herbs and vinegar brighten up the potatoes. Toss them while warm so they absorb the flavors.
Then top the potato salad with chopped parsley and scallions. This French-style potato salad can be whipped up in just 30 minutes.
14. Baked Camembert
Warm, oozing Camembert is a French classic that makes for an easy, impressive appetizer. Place a whole Camembert in a baking dish, drizzle with honey, and add fresh rosemary sprigs.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is soft and gooey. Accompany the baked Camembert with slices of French bread or crackers for spreading and dipping.
For an extra kick, try adding chili flakes or garlic to the cheese before baking. This appetizer is oozing with flavor!
15. Smoked Salmon Canapés
These elegant smoked salmon canapés are easy to make but look so impressive. Simply spread crackers or thin slices of French bread with cream cheese or crème fraîche.
Top with thinly sliced smoked salmon, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and fresh dill. Arrange the canapés on a platter for your next dinner party.
The flavor combination of the salty smoked salmon, tangy cream cheese, and rye crackers is absolutely divine.
16. Fromage Fort
Put those leftover cheese bits to use by making a French fromage fort or “strong cheese.”
This spread or dip features cheese combined with wine, butter, and spices whizzed in the food processor into a creamy concoction. Feel free to experiment with cheese varieties and seasonings.
The smooth, spreadable texture makes it perfect for crackers, bread, or veggies. Fromage fort is a creative way to use up cheese leftovers and make a stellar French appetizer.
17. Lyonnaise Salad
Next up is a classic French bistro salad from the city of Lyon. The lyonnaise salad features crispy lettuce, salty bacon lardons, and a poached egg served with a warm bacon vinaigrette.
Make the Dijon mustard dressing with the bacon drippings for maximum flavor. Toss the greens and lardons, then top with a freshly poached egg.
The runny yolk complements the smoky, tangy flavors of this salad nicely. Voila, a French salad perfect for starting a meal.
18. Olive Tapenade
And finally, we end with a beloved French appetizer, the olive tapenade. This salty, olive-based spread hails from Provence and makes use of black or green olives, capers, anchovies, olive oil, and spices.
Pulse the ingredients in the food processor into a thick, savory spread. Slather the olive tapenade on bread, crackers, chicken, fish or beef for an instant flavor boost.
It’s a versatile French appetizer that stores nicely in the fridge too.