My guide to the best French pastries contains the most famous French desserts with recipes and tutorials on how you can make them yourself. I chose these French pastries and desserts because they are the most delicious and famous French pastries, and also the most reliable recipes.
- The most famous French dessert recipes
- 1. Croquembouche
- 2. Mille Feuille
- 3. Crème brûlée
- 4. Eclair
- 21. Paris-Brest
- 6. Financier
- 7. Galette
- 8. Macaron
- 9. Choux au craquelin
- 10. Galette des Rois - Kings' cake
- 11. Yule log
- 12. Mousse
- 13. Brioche
- 14. Tarte
- 15. Floating island
- 16. Fraisier cake
- 17. Charlotte cake
- 18. Clafoutis
- 19. Palmier
- 20. Rum baba
- 21. Madeleine
- 22. Mont Blanc
- 23. Crème caramel
- 24. Opera cake
- 25. Canele
- 26. Croissant
- 27. Kouign-Amann
- 28. Soufflé
- 29. Beignet
- 30. Tarte Tatin
- 31. Cronut
- French Pastries FAQs
- Related French pasty and dessert recipes
- Top 31 Best French Pastries
French pastries are revered around the world, millions of people enjoy them in cafes and restaurants and many of my readers make them at home. I love eating French pastries as much as I love baking them, besides I am passionate about sharing French pastry recipes with you!
Baking at home can be challenging, and it is important to use good recipes from pastry chefs that show you exactly how to get the best results. Consider this article as your ultimate guide to french pastries!
The most famous French dessert recipes
A croquembouche is a showstopper! You will see croquembouche in the windows of French bakeries, and it isn't hard to see why it's a famous French dessert. First, the french pastry dough puffs are filled with crème diplomate, then piled into a pyramid. Then, wrapped in a delicate cobweb of spun sugar caramel.
It crunches in the mouth when you eat it, which is why the name derives from "croque en bouche"! Croquembouches are traditionally served at weddings, Christenings, or First Holy Communion events and they make an eye-catching and delicious spectacle that feeds a crowd.
2. Mille Feuille
Mille feuille (or "thousand leaves") is a famous French dessert made from layers of puff pastry and pastry cream. To make homemade mille feuille, you bake puff pastry under weights so it remains compacted and crisp and doesn't puff up high. Afterward, the crispy layers of Mille Feuille are stacked with crème pâtissière or crème mousseline. And finally, topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, or fruit.
You can easily make this flaky pastry using my classic French puff pastry recipe, or alternatively, use your store-bought puff pastry.
3. Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée (which translates as "burnt cream") is one of my favorite French desserts. It is a rich cream custard baked in a water bath with sugar sprinkled over the top that is torched (or brûléed) until it melts to form a hard and crunchy top layer.
You can flavor crème brûlée with cinnamon, chocolate, or vanilla. Crème brûlée is a great French dessert to serve at a dinner party. It's also naturally gluten-free.
Eclairs are famous French pastries made from choux pastry dough such as profiteroles or cream puffs. For the choux pastry, you will only need a few simple ingredients such as water, flour, milk, and eggs. The eclairs are baked and then filled with a variety of creams eg. crème diplomate and afterward glazed in melted chocolate ganache. They are so indulgent!
In French pastry shops, eclairs look so pretty neatly lined up on bakery counters in long paper cases, ready to be picked up and enjoyed. The word "eclair" actually means "lightning" or "thunderbolt" in French, which suits their long and narrow shape!
Pastry chef Louis Durand created the Paris-Brest dessert in 1910 to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race. It is made from choux pastry piped into a circular, ring-shaped design and filled with delicious praline crème mousseline. Bakers decorate Paris-Brest with crunchy flaked almonds and powdered sugar so that each bite has the most delicious texture.
I love Paris Brest so much that I created a Paris-Brest online Class that you can join to make this delicious dessert in a special, Ferrero Rocher flavor.
French Financiers are another small bite-sized tea cake, but don't confuse them with madeleines! These french sweets are made with nut flour and browned butter (a "beurre noisette") and baked into dainty rectangles. They can be flavored with spices like cardamom, and they are often decorated with chopped nuts, too.
Financiers are shaped like little bars of gold which is where they get their name, which I think is so sweet!
A galette is a flat, free-formed French pastry dessert that is so easy to make. To make a galette, first, make a crisp and buttery pie dough and then top it with ingredients like fresh fruit before forming a crust with the edges. Bake the galette and in minutes you will have a crispy, buttery, and fruity French dessert.
Galettes are very simple, and you can have fun with flavors and fillings, which makes them one of my favorite easy French desserts. The best thing is that no special equipment is required, the dough comes together in just a few minutes then the entire shaping process is done by hand.
Macarons are delightfully pretty cookies made with almond paste and meringue mixed together into a batter and piped into little rounds. You can fill these cute French pastries with delicious flavors like fruit purees or chocolate ganache (or even a crème brûlée flavor!).
Macarons are classic french desserts, make great gifts, and they work well as petit fours to serve after dinner, too. I love making macarons so much that I even created a macaron class that you can join online today!
9. Choux au craquelin
Choux au craquelin are crispy cream puffs, made from choux pastry (the same as eclairs) and craquelin dough. The craquelin dough melts over the choux pastry as it bakes and forms a crackly patterned exterior and delicious crunchy texture.
Choux au craquelin puffs up as they bake and form an air pocket inside (like profiteroles). This is another choux pastry you can fill with all sorts of creams including pastry cream.
10. Galette des Rois - Kings' cake
Galette des Rois is a French dessert traditionally served on the Epiphany, marking the end of the Christmas season. Two layers of puff pastry are sandwiched with a frangipane filling and baked. The windows of French patisseries are full of these circular golden-brown desserts in early January and they are hugely popular.
French home bakers will sometimes put a dried bean inside the cake and whoever finds it becomes king or queen for that day. Children love this game!
11. Yule log
Yule log (or "Bûche de Noël") is another festive French dessert served at Christmas. A thin layer of moist sponge cake is spread with filling and then rolled into a log shape. It is sometimes made with chocolate frosting to resemble an actual log, but you can try lots of other flavors too.
Yule log is named after the wooden log that families burn at Christmas time, which is traditionally known as "yule time".
A light and airy French mousse is traditionally made with whipped egg whites folded into an egg yolk sabayon base or sometimes made in other ways eg. with a cream cheese base. Mousse is sometimes served in a cup or can be made into a light and airy cake.
If you make homemade mousse you can play with all kinds of flavor combinations, the possibilities are endless! Mousse can be made with fruit purees or chocolate as a dessert, but you can also make a savory mousse that works well as an appetizer.
Brioche is a type of French bread made from dough enriched with butter and eggs. It has a tender, moist crumb, and signature golden brown crust. Brioche is a versatile sweet, and rich bread used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Try making Brioche for French cinnamon toast, or even use it for sandwiches.
Have you ever seen dainty fruit tartes in the windows of French patisseries? These classic french desserts are not that hard to make and they are very beautiful desserts. Tarts are super versatile and I have an entire range of recipes for them but the most classic tart is a Pâte sablée shortcrust pastry case filled with silky vanilla custard and topped with fresh fruit decoration. Tartes are sometimes brushed with a glaze after baking for a high gloss finish.
Join my affordable online tarte class if you want to learn more about how to make pastry shop-looking French tarts in your home kitchen!
15. Floating island
Floating Island is a classic French dessert that resembles an island, hence the name! The dessert is effectively a crème Anglaise custard with poached meringue floating on top, which sounds complicated but it is a lot easier to make than it sounds.
This fancy-looking French dessert does not require baking and only contains simple ingredients so it is in fact quite simple to make yourself at home.
16. Fraisier cake
Fraisier cake is a famous French dessert that looks beautiful and tastes even better. It is made from two layers of moist Genoise sponge, a vanilla-flavored créme mousseline filling, strawberry jelly, strawberry compote, and fresh strawberries.
Assembling a homemade fraisier cake can be tricky, but it's well worth the effort and in my recipe, I teach you how to make it step by step. "Fraise" means strawberries in French, which is where fraisier cake gets its name.
17. Charlotte cake
A charlotte cake (or "Charlotte aux Fraises") looks so professional but is in fact incredibly easy to make! This beautiful French cake is filled with silky and luxurious Crème mousseline and decorated with fluffy ladyfinger biscuits and fresh strawberries.
Charlotte cake has a wonderful fresh and fruity flavor. It is similar in texture to tiramisu and just as delicious. The best thing about Charlotte cake is that it is super easy to make and does not require baking, you do not even have to turn the oven on!
Clafoutis is a rustic French dessert that comes from the Limousin region of France. High-end restaurants serve Clafoutis in cities all over the country, even though it is traditionally a basic rural dish. It is crustless and similar to flan with a custard-like creamy texture, and it is so easy to make for a fancy brunch or afternoon dessert.
It traditionally contains cherries that grow in central France, but you can make it with other fruits, and every mouthful has the most amazing fruity flavor.
Palmiers are a great example of how something doesn't have to have lots of ingredients to be delicious! Puff pastry and sugar are rolled up into the shape of a palm and baked in the oven. That's it!
Palmiers are really easy to make at home with store-bought puff pastry, and you can enjoy them in no time.
20. Rum baba
Rum baba (or "Baba au rhum") is a yeasted bundt cake (similar to brioche) soaked in rum syrup that was invented in Paris in the 19th century. It's a moist, boozy, and unbelievably tasty French dessert usually smothered in whipped mascarpone frosting and perhaps best enjoyed by adults!
Madeleines are soft French tea cakes with the most delicious texture. They are sponge cakes made from a Genoise cake batter baked in special madeleine trays shaped like shells. Madeleines are such dainty and cute French cakes and they taste great with afternoon tea or even with morning coffee.
Madeleines are also super versatile. You can flavor the batter or glaze them with chocolate. These mini teacakes are considered to be easy french pastries to make.
22. Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc is a French dessert named after the famous mountain in the alps, and it looks like a little mountain! To create your own Mont Blanc, bake a crunchy meringue base and top it with chestnut puree and whipped cream. The result is a beautiful (and tasty) mini snow-capped mountain.
Mont Blanc is also very popular in tart form and can sometimes be made in small individual portions or as one large dessert to feed a crowd.
23. Crème caramel
Does baked vanilla custard (quite similar to flan) with a layer of caramel sauce sound good to you? This French dessert has a smooth and creamy texture and wobbles a bit like jelly, but contains no gelatine! Crème caramel is a very popular French dessert often found on the menus of Parisian-style brasseries all over the world.
24. Opera cake
Opera cake is an elaborate almond sponge cake with layers of coffee syrup, coffee-flavored French buttercream, and chocolate ganache. It is called opera cake as it apparently resembles the tiered seating of a grand opera house! It was created by a French pastry chef called Cyriaque Gavillon in the 1950s and is perfectly designed to enjoy with coffee.
Canelés are small French pastries with rich, moist, and custard-like interiors and crispy, caramelized shells. They are traditionally baked in copper molds at a very high temperature which gives them a deep golden color and glossy sheen. The texture of canelé is incredible, I highly recommend you try them!
Croissants are famous French breakfast pastries renowned around the world. They take several days to make due to the lamination of the dough, but it is well worth it! An enriched puff pastry is folded, rolled, and formed into the ubiquitous crescent shape before being brushed with an egg wash and baked until golden brown.
Croissants are one of the most closely associated foods with French culture, and consequently, I've never met anyone who didn't love them!
Kouign-Amann (pronounced "queen-a-mahn") is a notoriously difficult French pastry to make, but notoriously tasty! This delicious French pastry is originally from Brittany, France, and the name translates as "butter cake" in Breton, a Celtic language spoken there. I love learning where the French pastry names come from!
The Kouign amann dough is laminated with butter and sugar that caramelize and go crispy as it bakes, like a caramelized croissant. Traditionally, the butter is salted for a deliciously sweet yet salty, crunchy yet buttery soft French pastry.
Soufflés are made with whipped egg whites that trap air and expand as they bake and force the soufflé to rise up majestically in the oven. The result is a tremendously light and fluffy French dish! Soufflés can be sweet with melted chocolate or. fruit purees. For a savory version, cheese is folded into the egg whites before pouring into a soufflé dish and baking.
Beignets are pillowy soft French donuts that make the most delicious sweet snack. A yeasted dough fried until golden brown on the outside and fluffy and warm on the inside. Beignets are irresistible when dusted with powdered sugar. I highly recommend trying to make these delightful French treats.
30. Tarte Tatin
The Tatin sisters invented tarte Tatin at Hôtel Tatin in the 1880s. This famous French dessert made from puff pastry and sweet caramelized apples tastes delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream and a dusting of cinnamon. You can make French tarte Tatin with classic puff pastry, a rough puff, or use store-bought puff pastry to save time.
The cronut is a recent patisserie invention, but a very French one! Acclaimed French pastry chef Dominique Ansel invented the cronut at his bakery in New York and caused a sensation. Cronuts went viral! A cronut is a perfect cross between a croissant and a donut, circular morsels of flaky, buttery pastry that are deep fried, glazed, and filled with pastry cream.
Cronuts are one of the best French pastries to make at home if you have several days and a lot of patience. They are so worth the hard work!
French Pastries FAQs
Croissants, eclairs, madeleines and macarons are some of the most popular French pastries.
Croissants, mille feuille, and kouign-amann all take several days to make but they are incredibly delicious!
France is known for macarons, mille feuille, eclairs, cannele, Paris-Brest, profiteroles, opera cake, financiers, floating island, and more.
Related French pasty and dessert recipes
Top 31 Best French Pastries
French pastry recipes
- Mille feuille
- Crème brûlée
- Choux au craquelin
- Galette des Rois
- Yule log
- Floating Island
- Fraisier cake
- Charlotte cake
- Rum baba
- Mont Blanc
- Crème caramel
- Opera cake
- Tarte Tatin
- Select your favorite recipe(s)
- Go to the individual recipes
- Enjoy the most amazing French pastries
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