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18 Classic French Appetizers

by insanelygood

These traditional French appetizers will bring a fancy twist to any cocktail party.

If you’re looking for dainty hors d’oeuvres that are guaranteed to please, you’ve come to the right place!

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Olive Tapenade on Whole Wheat Crostini

Palatable, easy to make, and just plain good, French appetizers are a must-have for a laid-back party or holiday entertaining. 

They’re one-bite treats that don’t take all day to prepare, leaving you more time to relax and mingle with the guests.

The appetizers I’m about to share carry the distinction of French cuisine — simple yet elegant. 

They’re rich and decadent, featuring buttery, herby, and cheesy flavors. 

With these 18 French appetizers, you’ll be able to have the ultimate French dinner experience. Bon appétit!

1. Smoked Salmon Canapes

Serve these smoked salmon canapes to instantly brighten up your dinner party.

This appetizer comes together in 10 minutes or less. It’s proof that sometimes, achieving elegance is easy.

All you’ll have to do is spread some cream cheese on crispy bread, then top it off with a small piece of smoked salmon. 

Add salt and pepper to taste, and a sprinkle of lemon juice for a refreshing flavor. Bring out your champagne or sparkling wine, and enjoy.

2. Socca

Socca is like a rustic flatbread and pancake rolled into one treat. The best part? It only needs one ingredient — chickpea flour.

Technically, you’ll need other ingredients to make this flatbread, such as salt, water, and olive oil. But chances are, they’re already in your pantry.

With a little mixing and baking, you’ll get golden brown bread that’s amazingly crispy.

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Socca is thicker than a tortilla but thinner than naan. Enjoy it plain or dip it into a bowl of hot soup.

3. Alsatian Cheese Tart

This French tart is bursting with cheesy, creamy, and smoky flavors. Don’t be fooled by its lovely appearance because it’s a cinch to make.

Just roll out the pastry, spread the cheese mixture, scatter the toppings, and bake. So easy, right?

The result looks like pizza but is lighter because of the puff pastry. Making this cheese tart is also ideal to satisfy a pizza craving when you run out of dough.

4. Lyonnaise Salad

Salade Lyonnaise is one of my favorite French appetizers. I’ve never had a salad this indulgent before!

It’s full of protein and nutrients and is flavored with a delicious vinaigrette dressing.

Combine Dijon mustard, bacon fat, shallots, vinegar, and olive oil, and you’ll get this tangy, punchy dressing.

Mix with lettuce and bacon strips, then top with a poached egg.

Serve with some baguette slices because you’ll want to sop up the dressing and running yolk!

5. Onion Galette

Garlic, scallions, and onion make this pie savory and oh-so-yummy! Parmesan cheese and Dijon mustard are added for the maximum flavor. 

The flaky crust also adds a beautiful texture to this dish. If you’re a beginner, it’s quite tricky to make. 

The technique is to move quickly when rolling and folding the dough to achieve the perfect flakiness.    

6. Alsatian Onion Tart

This recipe yields a classic French tart filled with sweet melted onions surrounded by a savory crust.

Everything gets better once the shredded Gruyère on top melts. Yum!

Brushing the tart shell with a little Dijon mustard adds an interesting flavor to this dish. Meanwhile, a pinch of nutmeg brings a fall-inspired taste.

Serve warm with a glass of riesling and a green salad on the side for a fancy meal.

7. Pissaladiere

Pissaladiere is a popular dish from the Provence region of southeastern France. Like the Alsatian cheese tart, it looks pretty similar to pizza.

The difference is, pissaladiere uses strong white bread flour for the dough. Toppings include caramelized onions, anchovies, tomatoes, olives, and thyme.

It’s a sweet and savory treat that’s best served with a fresh, green salad.  

8. French Cheese Puffs

If you’re a fan of the cheese and wine combination, then you’ll love having these cheese puffs for your next cocktail party.

These cheesy balls are made with cream puff dough that yields a crisp outer shell. Inside, there’s a soft interior loaded with cheese.

These puffs are also ideal as a side dish. Dunk them into hearty soups or stews for a flavor explosion!

9. Cheese Souffle

Making a souffle seems like a great challenge. But with patience and practice, you can make this decadent cheese souffle over and over again.

This egg-based dish is light, airy, and full of cheesy goodness. The addition of ground mustard and white pepper brings a savory taste with a hint of spice.

Serve this souffle with a tangy salad for a perfectly balanced French meal. 

10. Fromage Fort

Have some leftover cheese? Well, if you’re a cheese lover like me, then maybe you have different cheeses in your drawer right now.

Slicing and putting them on bread can be boring sometimes. So why not make a fromage fort? 

This flavorful spread combines bits and pieces of leftover cheese, wine, and spices. And yes, you can use any type of cheese.

Pulse it away in a food processor, and you’ll get a smooth consistency. It’s great as a spread or dip! 

11. French Cake Sale

If you haven’t had a salty cake before, then this French cake sale is a must-try. Yes, you can have a salted cake, and it’s perfect as an appetizer!

Similar to a sweet cake, this savory version makes use of various ingredients, including vegetables, cheese, meats, and nuts.  

Make it right, and you’ll have a salted cake that’s rich and moist, with tasty bits of your favorite ingredients.

12. Brie With Pesto

Warm brie cheese and creamy basil pesto combine in this heavenly spread.

Get your baguette slices or socca ready because you won’t stop dipping into this appetizer!

The beauty of this recipe is that it allows you to use whatever ingredients you have on hand. If you don’t have brie, any type of cheese will do.

If you have store-bought pesto, you can use it instead of creating a homemade version. You’ll finish everything in less than 30 minutes.  

13. Coquilles St. Jacques

Coquilles St. Jacques translates to scallops in English and is a wonderful appetizer for seafood lovers.

This recipe creates a scallop gratin in a wine and cream sauce that’s then topped with cheese and crispy crumbs.

Some variations include mushrooms for an earthy flavor and aroma.

Coquilles St. Jacques is already gorgeous by itself, but you can still take it up a notch. Serve this dish in a large scallop shell for an eye-catching presentation.   

14. Baked Camembert

Camembert is a soft, creamy cheese with nutty undertones. Both local pubs and fancy French restaurants serve this popular appetizer because it’s a crowd favorite.

I fell in love the first time I made it, and I’m sure you will, too! The good news is, it’s super easy to make, and you’ll only need 20 minutes of your time.

Just add some chili flakes, honey, and rosemary to the Camembert, bake, and you’re done! Serve with crackers or garlic bread and devour. 

15. Mini-Croque Monsieur

These sandwiches may be small, but they’re packed with awesome flavors!

They’re basically an upgraded version of a ham and cheese sandwich with a delicious Béchamel sauce.

The mini-croque monsieur is a well-loved dish in France. Of course, don’t take my word for it.

The steps are easy. All it takes is some layering and baking here and there.

If you love this recipe, then you’ll also adore its famous variation, croque madame, with a fried egg on top.

16. Potatoes Au Gratin

Potatoes au gratin is the creamiest French appetizer of all. If you’re a fan of cheese and potatoes, this recipe is unbeatable.

Tender potatoes are thinly sliced and smothered in cheese sauce before baking. Onion slices are also added to infuse light sweetness to the dish.

Unbelievably cheesy, creamy, and delicious, potatoes au gratin pairs perfectly with any meaty main course you have for dinner.

17. Olive Tapenade

Tapenade is a staple in French cuisine, comprising olives, anchovies, capers, and classic spices. The result is a salty spread or condiment with various uses.

The simplest way to enjoy tapenade is to spread it on pita, chips, or bread. Some like to mix it with a veggie burger or top it on a salad.

In a few minutes, you can make the oh-so-flavorful olive tapenade. Just put everything into the food processor and pulse away! 

18. French Potato Salad

Besides being an elegant appetizer, this French potato salad is perfect for BBQ cookouts, tailgate parties, and picnics.

Unlike the mayo-based salad, this recipe creates a lighter version infused with herby and tangy flavors from the dressing.

Boiled baby potatoes are seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little bit of apple cider vinegar. Combine them with fresh herbs, green onion, and of course, the dressing.

In 30 minutes, you’ll have a refreshing salad with layers of beautiful flavors and textures. 

18 Classic French Appetizers

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French Appetizers

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