Diving into French starter recipes is the perfect starting point for dinner parties or simply for infusing your home meals with a touch of French elegance. Renowned for their rich flavours and delicate presentations, these starters do not only satiate your palate but also offer a glimpse into France’s storied culinary heritage.
Join us as we explore some of the most iconic French starter recipes that have been cherished across generations, giving you the inspiration you need to elevate your next gathering or family dinner. Ready for a unique gourmet experience? Let’s begin!
Easy To Prepare French Starter Recipes
Dive into the heart of French cuisine with these authentic starters: from the rich bisque to the zesty Sardines en Escabeche and the iconic Oeufs Mimosa. Each dish offers a unique taste experience, promising to kickstart any meal with elegance and flavour. Prepare your palate for a delightful journey through France’s culinary traditions.
1. Escargot Bourguignon (Burgundy Snails)
Escargots à la Bourguignonne is one of the traditional French starter recipes highlighting the significance of snails in French cuisine. Consumed in large volumes, these snails offer a unique taste, often described as earthy and tender, akin to mushrooms. Rooted in France’s rich culinary history, this escargot recipe dates back centuries, symbolising both tradition and gastronomic adventure.
- 48 Snails
- 5 Paris mushroom
- 2 cloves garlic
- 12 sprigs of parsley
- 250 g Butter
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 3 pinches black pepper
- Finely chop the mushrooms, two large garlic cloves, and a dozen well-stocked sprigs of parsley; mix everything with 250g of good butter, a heaping teaspoon of fine salt, and three pinches of pepper.
- Place a bit of this mixture at the bottom of each shell, then place a snail in it, and stuff it with your butter mixture, levelling it with the back of a knife so that it doesn’t exceed the outer edges of the shell.
- Arrange your prepared snails side by side in an ovenproof dish (or better yet, in a snail dish), with the opening facing up, and bake at 270°C (about 520°F) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
- Serve the snails when the butter is bubbling. The snails should be eaten very hot.
2. Foie Gras (Fatty Liver)
Foie Gras is one of the luxurious French starter recipes made from duck or goose liver. Renowned for its rich and buttery texture, it holds a special place in French cuisine and is often served on festive occasions. Its smooth flavour profile, often paired with sweet accompaniments, makes it a sought-after dish worldwide.
- 1 goose or duck foie gras (liver), about 600g
- Allow the foie gras to sit at room temperature for an hour, then separate the two lobes. Using a fork, remove the veins and scrape off any blood spots. Don’t worry about damaging the foie gras; it will reconstitute itself during cooking.
- Gather the pieces, season with salt and pepper, and place them in a covered bowl. Let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.
- On a work surface, lay out two sheets of plastic wrap (30×45 cm), one on top of the other. Cut the foie gras into two lengthwise pieces. Roll one half in the first layer of wrap, pushing out as much air as possible.
- Tighten well to form a cylinder, tie a knot at each end, and cut off the excess. Roll this parcel again in the second layer of wrap. Repeat the process for the second half of the foie gras.
- Once well wrapped, immerse the parcels in water at 80°C, cooking them for 10 minutes for semi-cooked foie gras and 15 minutes for fully cooked. It’s essential to constantly monitor the temperature, which may vary between 78 and 82°C. For better temperature control, don’t overfill the pot.
- Bring the water to a heat over low heat, then add some cold water if the temperature rises too much.
- Remove the parcels with a slotted spoon and immerse them in a bowl of water and ice to halt the cooking process. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
- Place them on a plate and let them rest in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
- Slice or spoon onto plates, fresh French baguette, or toasted brioche.
3. Tapenade (Olives Spread)
Tapenade recipe is a savoury spread hailing from the Provence region of France, made primarily from olives, capers, and olive oil. This Mediterranean classic is often spread on toast or used to flavour dishes, offering a punchy, salty kick. Its versatile nature makes it a must-have in many kitchens, perfect for elevating simple dishes or enjoying as a standalone appetiser.
- 299 g black olive
- 8 Capers
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 fillets anchovies in oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Finely chop the garlic clove.
- In a blender bowl, combine the anchovy fillets, capers, chopped garlic, black olives, and olive oil, and blend until relatively smooth.
4. Cervelle de Canut (Cheese Spread)
Cervelle de Canut is a traditional Lyonnaise speciality, a creamy cheese dip seasoned with herbs, garlic, and shallots. Originating in Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, this dish offers a refreshing blend of flavours and is often enjoyed with fresh bread or potatoes. It’s a testament to the city’s rich culinary heritage, bringing a piece of Lyon to every table it graces.
- 300 g of fresh cheese or curd cheese
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 small shallot
- 1/2 bunch of parsley chervil
- 1/2 bunch of chives
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar
- Drain the fresh cheese in a cloth or cheesecloth. Let it rest for at least 4 hours.
- Finely crush the garlic clove. Peel and finely slice the shallot.
- Wash the herbs and chop them finely.
- In a bowl, mix the fresh cheese with the garlic, shallot, and herbs. Add the oil and vinegar.
- Serve the Cervelle de Canut as a starter, with slices of toasted bread.
5. Oeufs Mimosa (Deviled Eggs)
Oeufs Mimosa, often known as deviled eggs in other cultures, are hard-boiled eggs filled with a creamy yolk, mayonnaise, and mustard mixture, often garnished with paprika or chives. As one of the classic French starter recipes, these delightful bites are perfect for gatherings or as tasty snacks. With their bright and inviting appearance, they’re sure to be a hit at any table.
- 4 Eggs
- 5 teaspoons Mayonnaise
- A few chives sprigs
- First, start by boiling water. Then, immerse the eggs in it for 10 minutes.
- After that, dip them in cold water for a few moments and peel them.
- Cut them in half and separate the whites from the yolks.
- Grab a bowl and add half of the yolks, mayonnaise, chopped chives, salt, and pepper, then mix everything together.
- Once done, stuff the egg whites with this mixture and crumble the remaining yolk on top.
6. Bisque (Crustaceans Soup)
Bisque is a creamy, rich seafood soup that ranks high on the list of classic French starter recipes. Traditionally made with shellfish like lobster or shrimp, it offers a deep flavour profile that promises a luxurious dining experience. It’s a go-to dish for those wanting to bring a touch of French elegance to their dinner tables.
- 2 cooked lobsters
- 1 L of fish stock or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 onion
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 carrot
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 canned chopped tomatoes
- 60 ml of liquid cream
- 50 g of butter
- 50 g of flour
- 1 pinch of Cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 250 ml of white wine (I replace with clam juice)
- Shell the lobster, cut the meat into cubes and set aside.
- Crush and break the shell into small pieces.
- Prepare a roux by mixing the soft butter and flour together.
- Chop the onion, peel the carrot and celery, and dice them.
- Heat olive oil in a pot, add the shells, and sauté for a few minutes until they have a nice colour.
- Add the carrot, celery, and onion.
- Sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, tomato paste, and canned tomatoes.
- Add the bay leaf and thyme.
- Pour in the fish stock (or vegetable broth).
- Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, and reduce the heat.
- Let it simmer gently for about 40 minutes.
- Blend using an immersion blender and strain while pressing with a spoon to extract the maximum juice.
- Return to the heat, add the roux, and stir continuously until it thickens.
- Add the liquid cream and sprinkle with Cayenne pepper.
- Adjust the seasoning to taste.
7. Sardines en Escabeche (Sardines)
Sardines en Escabeche is a standout among French starter recipes, offering a delightful blend of marinated sardines with zesty flavours. It’s a must-try for seafood enthusiasts seeking an authentic French culinary experience.
- 12 fresh sardines
- 50 cl of both
- 10 cl of white vinegar
- 3 tbsp. of flour
- 4 tbsp. of olive oil
- 12 shallots
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 bunch of curly parsley
- 3 sprigs of thy me
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 bay leaf
- 12 peppercorns
- Behead and gut the sardines, leaving the scales on.
- Flour the sardines.
- Sauté them in 3 tablespoons of oil on high heat for 2 minutes on each side.
- Peel the shallots and garlic cloves, then mince them.
- Sauté them in a saucepan with a tablespoon of oil.
- Add the broth and vinegar.
- Add the peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and chopped celery.
- Season with salt.
- Let this marinade cook for 10 minutes.
- Arrange the sardines in a terrine.
- Pour the boiling marinade over them.
- Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. The longer the sardines marinate, the better they taste.
- Serve chilled.
French starter recipes like those detailed above underscore the country’s rich culinary heritage. From the delicate texture of Oeufs Mimosa to the bold flavours of Sardines Escabeche, French appetisers set the stage for a memorable dining experience. As you explore these dishes, you’re not just tasting food but partaking in timeless traditions that continue to make French cuisine globally renowned.