The Best French Cookbooks for the Home Cook

September13, 2019
by Emily Dilling
French cookbooks

While many of us come to France to eat, not all of us are equipped to recreate everything we found on our French plates once we get home. French cuisine can be intimidating, with its daunting sauces, its perfectly fluffy soufflés, and its masterful manipulation of primary ingredients that elevate things like butter and eggs to a form of art. A great introduction to tackling French cuisine is certainly by taking a French cooking class.  If you’re thinking about visiting Paris, consider booking a cooking class in Paris. It is a great way to make your trip an educational experience, meet new people, and make sure your coming home with more than just memories, but also new skills! Some classes, like the Cookn’ With Class French Market Tour and Cooking Class also have you hit the streets, exploring markets and discovering charming Paris neighbourhoods before getting busy in the kitchen.

Another great way to tackle French cooking is by surrounding yourself by French cookbooks on the subject. The artistry of French cooking has been celebrated far and wide by chefs and food writers who put their love of Paris bistros and French Onion Soup in lively and drool-worthy prose.

When I first started work on my own French cookbook, My Paris Market Cookbook, I looked to many other French cookbooks for inspiration. With the tables turned, I wrote recipes instead of just reading them. I realized what hard work goes into creating, testing, and writing recipes. While this is challenging work, it is also incredibly rewarding. Once my recipes were published and out in the World the pleasure of knowing they would be prepared and shared amongst family and friends made me truly appreciate the importance of the work I did. I now feel proud to be part of a large collection of French cookbooks and am thankful for the cookbooks that inspired me along the way. Here are a few of my favourites that I hope will inspire you, too!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child

You can’t have a list of French cookbooks that doesn’t start with Mastering the Art of French Cooking. An instant classic Child’s exhaustive transmission of French recipes was published in 1961 and remains beloved today. While there are a few recipes that may push the everyday chef’s skill set- who doesn’t remember the agonies of every woman Julie Powell in the 2009 film Julie & Julia– Child’s goal was always to help French recipes adapted to “American kitchens with American foods”. Anyone who has struggled with French recipes will appreciate the conversion from metric to imperial when it comes to measurements along with attention to all the little details like differences between French and American butter and many other elements that would otherwise set you up for failure.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan

Who doesn’t love Dorie? While she’s well known for winning our hearts with Dorie’s Cookies, well before that she was setting a place for us at her French table. This 2010 cookbook still manages to thrill and delight with 514 pages of enticing recipes including Paris inspired dishes like the Bistro Paul Bert Pepper Steak and French classics such as the Leek and Potato soup. Around My French Table has something for everyone, regardless of your level of cooking skill or knowledge.

Around my french table by Dorie Greenspan

Bistronomy: Recipes from the Best New Paris Bistros, Jane Sigal

If you’re looking for some culinary bedtime reading Sigal’s thoughtful work on the changing scene of Paris bistros is an essential bedside companion. Bistronomy is reflexion on French culinary heritage and contemporary chefs’ evolving approaches to traditional cuisine documents a turning point in the French bistro.  Published in 2015, at the height of the “New Paris” movement, Bistronomy commemorates an incredibly exciting time to eat in Paris and gives great suggests of where to go to experience this unique style of cuisine. And there are recipes, too! Favourites include Asparagus with Smoked Trout and Toasted Hazelnuts, Crisp Chicken with Potato Salad and Anchovy Vinaigrette, and Lemon Curd with Fresh Goat Cheese.

Bistronomy bu Jane Sigal

My Paris Kitchen, David Lebovitz

It sometimes seems that all rues lead to Lebovitz- whether your researching French chocolate, looking for Paris travel tips, or just wondering why the French act the way they do, chances are you’ll land on David Lebovitz’s blog. Not only has this chef and food writer distinguished himself as an authority on the expat experience in France, he has also managed to consistently publish specialized cookbooks that please crowds. My Paris Kitchen is one of these books- bringing together entrée, plat, and dessert à la Parisien. Armchair travellers will love exploring the city of light through this selection of Paris inspired recipes including Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries and Soupe à l’Oignon.

My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy, Mardi Michels

The whole family gets in on the fun with Mardi Michels’ In the French Kitchen with Kids. Full of kid-friendly recipes that combine basic cooking techniques with delicious outcomes, this French cookbook brings parents and kids together in the kitchen. From Croissants to Chocolat Chaud and savoury treats like Steak Frites, Pork Chops with Apples, and Crunchy Fish Cakes there are recipes for cooks of all ages to get excited about making and, most of all, eating! After reading through and trying out these recipes at home, you may even think about doing a little French cooking with kids in Paris on your next visit.

In the french kitchen with kids by Mardi Michels


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Emily Dilling

blogger emily, contributor

Emily Dilling is a France based writer and author of My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes. In 2005 Emily moved to Paris from her native California and began exploring the cities markets, restaurants, and cafés. In 2010 she founded the blog Paris Paysanne, where she writes about her favorite addresses and artisans in the city. She is also the producer and host of the Paris Paysanne Podcast. Emily currently lives in the Loir-et-Cher region of France, where she writes and works in the grapevines.


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