25 Classic & Most Famous French Desserts

Macarons, French toast, or crepes – these are dessert names we all know. French desserts, famed for their variety and cultural richness, captivate sweet tooths worldwide. Let’s revisit these quintessentially French treats together.

Let’s start this article with a quick infographic showcasing these typical French desserts:

French desserts
France’s most iconic desserts


1) Baba au Rhum

Baba au rhum
Credits – DR. Bernard Gross/Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons 3.0

Baba au rhum is a spongy yeast cake cake soaked in rhum. It is usually presented in a round shape with a small amount of whipped cream on it.

This is a traditional cake which is commonly eaten during religious celebrations such as Easter or Christmas.


2) Macaroons


Macaroons are popular in France, especially in Paris. Indeed, “Macaroons de Paris” became famous around the 2000s with the arrival of macaroons with a taste whose core is different from than the crust.

A lot of different macaroon flavors exist, going from the simple vanilla macaroon to the rose macaroon. Now there are even salted macaroons.

On the same subject: Which Macarons Are the Best and Where Can You Find Them in Paris?


3) Paris-Brest

Credits – Deror avi/Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons 4.0

Paris-Brest is a traditional pastry which is presented as a crown of choux pastry filled with a praline cream mousseline and dusted with almonds.

This pastry was created to celebrate the cycle race Paris-Brest-Paris, from which it got its name. Moreover, the pastry is shaped as a bicycle wheel.


4) Floating Island

Floating Island
Credits- Magnus Manske/Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons 2.0

Also called beaten eggs, the floating islands are made of sweetened egg white which is then, whipped and poached or cooked in a bain-marie; it is most of the time painted with caramel and served with custard.

Floating islands are one of the most popular desserts in restaurants.


5)  Millefeuille

Credits – Zantastik/Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons 2.0

Millefeuille is a pastry made of three layers of puff pastry and two layers of pastry cream put between them.

The top of the millefeuille is most of the time covered with frosting made of powdered sugar.

This pastry is loved by the French and has reached the pinnacle of the French pastry rankings.


6)  Chocolate Fondant

Chocolate fondant
Crédits – Lschiett2/Wikimedia Commons sous licence Creative Commons 4.0

Chocolate fondant is one of the great classics of French pastries. Be careful, however, not to mistake it with the lava cake which has a chocolate core flowing through the plate.

On the contrary, the chocolate fondant is named as such because, when you taste it, the chocolate melts in your mouth.


7) Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée

Another classic of French pastries: the crème brûlée.

The crème brûlée is served cold with a caramelized top.

It is made of egg yolk, sugar, dairy cream, vanilla and caramel.


8) Lemon Cream Pie

Lemon cream pie

You won’t find any fruit in this pie like you would with any other pie. Indeed, to make the lemon cream, lemon zest and juice are what is used.

The lemon cream pie can also be served with some meringue, this is what we call lemon meringue pie.


9) Tarte Tatin

tarte tatin

To speak a bit more about pies, we can list the tarte Tatin, a pie which was supposedly invented by the Tatins sisters due to an accident.

The tarte Tatin is a caramelized apple pie caramelized. What makes it so special is that the pastry is put on top of the filling. The pastry can either be a puff pastry, a sweet shortcrust pastry or a pie crust.


10) Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse is a dessert which must be served cold. It requires just a few ingredients like chocolate and whipped egg white.

Of course, chocolate mousse can now be made differently, we can for example add some sugar or citrus zest. It exists in every type of chocolate, whether it is dark or white. Vegan recipes were also created.


11)  Rice Pudding

Rice pudding

Rice pudding is a sweet culinary specialty which was created during the Crusades. Since then, the recipe has been developed as we now put some vanilla in it, to add more flavor. Rice pudding is a simple dessert, but one which everyone loves.


12)  French Toast

French toast

French toast is a classic of French pastries. Even if it is known under different names depending on the region, the recipe is still the same.

To make it, you will need bread, a mix of milk and eggs, all cooked and caramelized with sugar. An easy and simple dessert which everyone loves.


13)  Canelé


The canelé is a small pastry which comes from Bordeaux. The canelé is made with a soft dough flavored with vanilla and rum. Its cylindrical shape is known all around France and its baking process is what gives it its fully caramelized appearance.

You can have canelé as a dessert but also at breakfast or even as a snack.


14)  Poire Belle-Hélène

Poire Belle Hélène
Credits – Jens Rost under Creative Commons 2.0

The poire belle-Hélène is a dessert which, as its name suggests, is made with pear. The pears are poached in syrup and they come with vanilla ice cream covered with a chocolate coating.

This dessert which perfectly combines cold and heat is perfect if you are looking for a mix of flavors.


15)  Profiterole


Originally, the profiteroles were choux buns stuffed with pastry filling, dairy cream or whipped cream. But nowadays, it is possible to find profiteroles filled with vanilla ice cream.

Either way, profiteroles are always covered with chocolate.


16)  Crepe


Another classic of French pastries: the crepes.

Crepes are a symbol of the French pastry and are still loved, even after all this time.

Your crepe can have different flavors, it is all up to you and depends on what you put inside.

You can put chocolate, jam, sugar or even whipped cream, so many choices you won’t be able to resist.

On the same subject: The 17 Best Creperies In Paris Where to Eat the Best Crepes


17)  Chocolate Éclair

Chocolate éclair

The éclair, originally called “pain à la duchesse”, is a pastry which is made of elongated choux pastry stuffed with pastry filling and a chocolate frosting.

The chocolate éclair became so popular that now different flavors exist, such as coffee éclair or praline éclair.


18)  Clafoutis


Clafoutis is a cake traditionally covered in cherries. What makes the clafoutis so special is that it is completely covered with a thick flan-like batter, which makes the cherries only partially visible.

Clafoutis can also be made with other fruits, like plums for example. It can be served hot or cold depending on how you want to eat it.


19)  Far Breton

Far Breton
Credits – Pa i pou under Creative Commons 2.0

This cake comes from Brittany, it has a close resemblance with the clafoutis recipe we saw earlier.

The far Breton is usually made with prunes. It is easy to make; you just need eggs, sugar, flour, milk and prunes, you can also put different fruits in the cake.


20)  Chocolate Religieuse

Chocolate religieuse

The religieuse is a pastry which has the exact same recipe as the éclair, but with different positioning.

The religieuse is made with two identical choux pastries, one on top of the other. Both choux pastries are filled with chocolate pastry cream and a chocolate sauce.

Finally, a buttercream allows the two choux pastries to stick together.


21)  Saint Honoré Cake

Saint Honoré cake
Credits – Trougnouf/Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons 4.0

This pastry is made with whipped cream, Chiboust cream and small glazed choux pastries.

This pastry can have different flavors. It can be chocolate, coffee flavor, or vanilla flavored.


22)  Quatre quarts cake

Quatre Quarts cake

Just like the far Breton, the quatre quarts comes from Brittany, however, it is much more sold over France than the far Breton is.

The quatre quarts owes its name to the fact that it is made with a quarter of each of its four ingredients.

This cake can be eaten as a dessert, at breakfast or as a snack.


23)  Gateau Basque

Gateau Basque
Credits – Popo le chien/Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons 4.0

This specialty can be found on the other side of the country. The gateau Basque is a cake which comes from the French Basque country, it is a cake which is usually filled with almond pastry cream, or black cherries.

This cake has developed a lot in France and is really loved by the French.


24)  Tarte Tropezienne

Tarte Tropezienne
Credits – Forteclair/Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons 4.0

The tarte tropezienne comes from St. Tropez.

It is a cake made with sweet brioche, cut in half and filled with pastry cream and buttercream. Small pieces of sugar are left on top of the cake for even more flavor and a better appearance.


25)  Pain au Chocolat

Pain au chocolat

Even if people disagree on its name, everyone loves how it tastes.

Let’s finish this list of typical French desserts by talking about a famous French pastry.

The pain au chocolat or Chocolatine, if you prefer, is THE most famous French viennoiserie, with its puff pastry filled with chocolate, the pain au chocolat is the viennoiserie you don’t want to miss when coming to France.

Even if it is technically not a dessert, we cannot finish this list without talking about it. You can have pain au chocolat at breakfast, as a snack, or even both!