10 French Cookbooks as Sweet and Savory as France Itself

The robust flavors of France cooked from your home kitchen, no plane tickets required. 

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Most people think of one of two things when it comes to French cuisine: the romantic, delicate dance of flavors that come alive in your mouth with every spoonful…or snails. But we’re not going to offend French cuisine by diminishing its delicious possibilities down to snails. Not when there are so many recipes to explore.  

One of the biggest draws to the beautiful French culture is the cuisine. Just one bite of a crepe or a large bowl of the ever-iconic French onion soup is enough to whisk you away to the elegant streets of Paris…and you can do it from home! With the help of these 10 cookbooks, you’ll not only discover mouth-watering options for both new and master chefs, but you’ll also get to read a little bit of the history that makes France’s cuisine so renowned. 

The Apprentice

The Apprentice

By Jacques Pepin

The Apprentice is more than just a cookbook—it’s a lively coming-of-age memoir about a young French boy from a war-torn rural background who made his way from his mother’s humble cafe to pioneering America’s culinary awakening. From a man who has lived many lives, Pepin includes approximately 40 recipes in this book that are equally stimulating for a master chef and simple enough to allow for the limitations of the typical household kitchen. Foodies and history buffs alike will enjoy every page. 

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish

By Stephane Reynaud

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish is exactly what it sounds like: each of the 150+ recipes only requires one pan or one pot to make. With the focus on writing a cookbook that makes French meals approachable and accessible, Reynaud included recipes that take ten minutes to prepare and can be left to cook in the oven until they’re done. 

But the best part about this book is that it’s fully illustrated, making it a great book for beginner chefs or people who simply don’t have the time to cook, but still want a variety of meals. It includes appetizers, main courses, and desserts, and also features a wide variety of vegetarian dishes. 

The Little Paris Kitchen

The Little Paris Kitchen

By Rachel Khoo

While Rachel Khoo has a lovely story about her dream of becoming a French chef and how she got there, The Little Paris Kitchen is certainly heavier on the cook, and lighter on the book. Featuring 120 simple but classic recipes, Khoo provides us with options for everyday cooking, summer picnics, snacks, and other events that require tasty French treats. 

But the two things that make her book stand out are that her recipes are easy to make in even the littlest Parisian kitchens, and her focus revolves heavily around immersing yourself in French culture. Included in her book is a French Basics section, which details cooking techniques, basic recipes, and even typical pantry items that are crucial to have on hand if, like Rachel, you also want to become a French chef. 



By Martha Holmberg

The only single-subject book on our list, we couldn’t resist adding Crepes by Martha Holmberg, for obvious reasons. There are very few recipes more exciting than crepes. With 50 different recipes, ranging in difficulty as well as flavor and purpose, Holmberg shows us just how versatile crepes can really be. 

Her extensive culinary career has enabled her with quite the imagination, resulting in sweet recipes like the “Mile-High Meyer Lemon & Whipped Cream Crepe Cake” as well as savory ones like the “Pesto & Creme Fraiche Crepes with Arugula Salad.” There’s a crepe for every occasion. 

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book

By Alice B. Toklas

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book is a wonderfully detailed account of Toklas’s life in France during the first half of the 20th century. Though a narrative-style book, there are plenty of recipes included, and we get a peek into what the cuisine was like in France during this era. Spoiler: it’s quite different from how we eat now. 

Unlike most other cookbooks, there is no specific order of the recipes. They are simply included in chronological order depending on when Toklas first discovered and cooked each one, as she collected recipes all her life. It’s a beautiful homage to her partner Gertrude Stein as well as to the time. 

French Comfort Food

French Comfort Food

By Hillary Davis

When searching for comfort foods, many of us lean on European cuisine to get the job done. And additionally, many of us turn to French food for its warm, often cheesy qualities and savory herbs, typically paired with a hefty soup or topped off with a fruity dessert. 

Hillary Davis not only includes timeless recipes and modern takes on the classics, but also family recipes and recipes she’s made for her friends. As we’ve said, the best way to become a French chef is to immerse yourself in the culture—and Davis does just that while blending recipes she found from people she loves with the culinary traditions of her regional heritage. 

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Mastering the Art of French Cooking

By Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck

It’s been said that Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking is one of the most accessible cookbooks for those who want to experience French cuisine but can’t buy a plane ticket to taste it in person. Adorned with over 100 instructive illustrations by Child’s husband, this cookbook lays out how you can cook an authentic French meal in your American kitchen with American ingredients. 

Because of this, it does teach the key techniques of French cooking through Child’s own commentary, but leaves room for variation as everyone’s kitchen functions a little bit differently. 

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Les Halles Cookbook

By Anthony Bourdain

Some people work better when they’re being motivated—and if that’s how you work in the kitchen, then you’ll love the snarky commentary in culinary TV personality Anthony Bourdain’s book. 

While you may expect more of a New-York-style French recipe book, Bourdain is a passionate fan of authentic French bistro and dedicates much of his book to his cooking philosophies as well as his technical culinary skills. Charming, funny, and overall entertaining, this cookbook is a good read as well as a practical one. 

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The Complete Bocuse

By Paul Bocuse

The best way to describe Paul Bocuse’s The Complete Bocuse is by calling it a reference book. Often referred to as “an Encyclopedia of French cuisine” by fans, Bocuse’s book includes 500 traditional French recipes with varying difficulty levels. It’s divided into 22 chapters, 14 of which cover savory recipes and eight that cover sweet. 

If you’re looking to learn how to cook like the masters, Bocuse’s book features conversion tables, French culinary vocabulary, and appendixes that include information like how long you should cook specific types of meat for. It’s a great resource to have on hand in the kitchen, especially if you learn better by starting with the technical steps. 

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The French Laundry Cookbook

By Thomas Keller

The reason why The French Laundry Cookbook is so loved—besides the obvious talent of the chef and the incredible meals he whips up in his restaurant—is because this book talks about more than just cooking the food. It talks about sourcing your food, it emphasizes the benefits of putting whole foods in your body, and it takes a moment to remind us to appreciate the process. 

Appreciate your ingredients, appreciate your kitchen, and appreciate all that had to happen to put that meal on your plate. These recipes are not for the weak. But Keller’s one hundred and fifty original recipes and game-changing techniques like the proper way to cook green vegetables or using vinegar as a flavor-enhancer, are sure to encapsulate you.