Cookbook Recommendations

Best French Cookbooks for Home Chefs

French cuisine holds a revered status in the culinary world, known for its rich flavors, meticulous techniques, and timeless elegance. For home chefs aspiring to cook French dishes in your own home, a reliable cookbook is an indispensable tool. Whether you’re drawn to the classic recipes of Julia Child or eager to explore the vibrant flavors of modern French cuisine, there’s a French cookbook suited to every taste and skill level. In this guide of the Best French Cookbooks for Home Chefs, I’ll share some of the best options for today’s home chefs. From traditional French cooking to contemporary interpretations, to gluten-free alternatives, these cookbooks offer a comprehensive exploration of French gastronomy, inviting readers on a delicious journey through the flavors of France. Join me a self-proclaimed Francophile to check out some of my favorite French cookbooks that will inspire and delight food lovers and home chefs of all levels.

What is French Cuisine?

French cuisine is a style of cooking from France. As with every cuisine in the world, it has changed and evolved over the centuries to become what it is today, yet some of the most famous French dishes are the ones from centuries ago. Signature dishes from France are an important part of the French culture and include boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, ratatouille, quiche, macarons and tarte tatin. Certain ingredients are used in traditional French cuisine such as olive oil, Dijon mustard, fleur de sel, truffles, herbes de Provence, creme fraiche, shallots, wine, French cheese, and of course French bread. In our world today we are lucky to have access to all of these ingredients in most places that we live. Each of these items helps to make the best meals and using them with the best French cookbooks for home chefs can bring a little bit of France to your home cooking. 

Classic French Cooking

When I think of classic French cooking the first recipe I think of is boeuf bourguignon and the first chef I think of is Julia Child, one of the most famous chefs. She was a fixture on our TV and in the cooking world making a huge impact on a lot of home chefs and Julia’s influence is still felt today. I remember when I first got her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, set as a gift I was so excited to immediately try out the recipes. Once I began flipping through the cookbooks it made me nervous – the French classic recipes looked like they would take a lot of time and be very complicated.

However, the moment that I finally tried a recipe I realized that all of the step-by-step recipes helped me make the complicated dishes and I have had success with every recipe I have tried from her cookbooks. Yes, it took 5 hours to make boeuf bourguignon, but it is one of the best dishes I have ever made. Do I think that if you have never cooked before her cookbooks should be your first cookbooks? No, but once you are comfortable in the kitchen and ready to try something outside of a beginner range then you should take a chance and try her recipes some are quick, such as sauteed mushrooms and others take time but all of them are worth the effort. The breakdown of the cooking techniques allows you to fully learn these classic French dishes and experience the world of French cuisine. 

  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child with Louisette Berthole & Simone Beck: A master class in classical French cuisine from a French-trained chef. This cookbook is a must have for every aspiring chef. Click here to read my full review.

Simple and Classic French Cuisine with a Modern Touch

French food can seem complicated and unattainable for so many home chefs, but it’s not the case. There are a ton of cookbooks that offer modern, simple recipes for the classic French recipes. The perception that French cooking has to be a time-consuming and elaborate process isn’t accurate. If you were to stumble into a French grandma’s kitchen for dinner you would see the way the simple way that they cook their delicious recipes. I imagine sitting down to the table with Grandma and her poulet aux champignons avec une sauce au vin blanc (chicken and mushrooms in a white wine sauce). Two of my favorite cookbooks for simple and modern French cuisine are below.  

  • À Table by Rebekah PepplerÀ Table offers a slew of recipes with simple instructions to make your next dinner party sublime. Your friends and family will think you spent hours making complicated recipes for the meal when in truth you didn’t. Click here to read my full review of this great French cookbook.
  • The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel KhooThis cookbook is a great example of how to make French food without overcomplicating it. Any home chef can achieve success with these recipes even in a small kitchen. In my mind, these are the recipes that you can imagine a French Grandma making in her French kitchen. To read my full review click here

French Baking and Pastry

A lot of people think of French pastries first when they think of French cuisine, and I am for sure one of them. I love all of the French desserts, especially the macarons and tarts. French baking and pastry recipes require you to follow traditional pastry techniques. The recipes may seem complicated but most of them just have a lot of steps that are detailed to help you make the best pastries in your own kitchen. I have tried many French pastry recipes and cookbooks over the years, and below are my go-to French pastry cookbooks.

  • French Desserts by Hillary Davis: This cookbook provides easy-to-understand recipes that allow home chefs of any level to make a delicious dessert in their kitchen. It inspires me to cook classic desserts that would be perfect for any French table or even the French countryside.  Click here to read my full review.
  • French Macarons for Beginners by Natalie Wong: Macarons are one of the most common sweets you find in France. They are so soft yet still have a crunch. All of the ingredients were easy to find in my local grocery store and the recipes made making the macarons much easier than I thought they would be. They were delicious and reminded me of the ones I bought last time I was in Paris. I can’t wait to make the strawberry ones again. Click here to read my full review. 
  • French Pastry Made Simple: Foolproof Recipes for Eclairs, Tarts, Macarons and More by Molly Wilkinson:  authored by an American chef living in Versailles, is one of my all-time favorites. (She also offers in-person classes). Her cookbook offers helpful tips along with delicious recipes. You can read my full review here.

French Cocktails and Snacks

What would French cuisine be without the delicious cocktails and snacks or aperitifs that are so well-known in France? The definition of aperitif is an alcoholic drink taken before a meal as an appetizer. In today’s world and food culture, it refers more to the drinks and appetizers that are had before a meal. I love a good cocktail (or mocktail) before dinner. My favorite cookbook for French cocktails and snacks is Drinking French.  

  • Drinking French by David Lebovitz: This cookbook has easy-to-follow recipes that will liven up any evening. David Lebovitz is a well-known American chef and food writer – he was even awarded the first Blog of the Decade award by Saveur magazine in 2019. Click here to check out my full review of it.

Gluten-Free French Cuisine

In today’s world, a lot of people have dietary restrictions that affect everything they eat. Many people are afraid to try new things when traveling due to their restrictions, however, in today’s society, there are options for everyone. Years ago, I stumbled across a great cookbook that just happens to be gluten-free, while focused on eating seasonally and is one of the best ways to get the most from all of the fruits and vegetables focusing on local ingredients. I was shocked to see you could make delicious French food and it is gluten-free. This cookbook is still one that I regularly use and one I recommend to everyone. 

  • Les Marchés Francais: Four Seasons of French Dishes from the Paris Markets by Brian Defehr & Pauline Boldt: This French market cookbook offers a wide variety of recipes for any season, but the summer ones are the ones I crave all year. Click here to read my full review.
Photo of coq au vin in a silver skillet on a white cloth

As our journey through the world of French cuisine comes to a close, we’re reminded of the timeless allure and endless possibilities that this culinary tradition offers. From the rich history and meticulous techniques of classic French cooking to the modern twists and simplified approaches of contemporary interpretations, there’s a wealth of flavors and experiences waiting to be discovered.

Whether you’re savoring the comforting aromas of a traditional boeuf bourguignon, indulging in the delicate sweetness of French pastries, or raising a toast with a perfectly crafted French cocktail, the essence of French cuisine transcends borders and captivates taste buds around the globe. These cookbooks allow you to bring a little bit of France into your home kitchen. All of these cookbooks showcase the chef’s love for French cuisine and have been able to provide recipes that make the cuisine accessible to today’s home chefs. 

As you explore the recipes and techniques shared in the best French cookbooks for home chefs, may you find inspiration, joy, and satisfaction in the art of cooking. From romantic dinners to festive gatherings, may the flavors of France enrich your culinary adventures and create cherished moments shared with loved ones. I hope these French cookbooks become a staple in your kitchen and you look to them to prepare French classics time and again. Bon appétit!

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