What’s the best way to immerse yourself in French culture? With food of course! France is known for its luxurious dishes, delicate pastries, and exquisite dining experience. And for good reason! French food is some of the best in the world. But while you may think of French cuisine as complicated and expensive to make, some of their best dishes embrace a simple elegance. If you want to keep up your child’s cultural immersion at home and get involved in fun (and delicious!) ways, we’ve found some easy French recipes for beginners for you to try.
A Classic: French Onion Soup
Unlike French fries, French onion soup really does come from France! This is a classic dish. Though the soup does have wine in it, don’t worry, this recipe makes sure it cooks off. No alcohol for the little ones! The recipe is simple enough, and will have a gorgeous onion-y sweetness with the rich smoothness from the Gruyère. Chocolate-dipped Madeleines
Madeleines are delightfully light and fluffy biscuits, almost like little cakes. This recipe breaks down each of the steps to make these madeleines, and includes pictures as well as definitions for baking terms. That makes it perfect for working with kids. Don’t be discouraged by the number of steps - this is only because the recipe is broken down into small tasks, making it one of the best easy French recipes for beginners.
You’ll need a madeleine pan for it, however. These are easy to find, and often quite cheap. Walmart will usually stock them, or if you live near a Winners or Superstore, they’re likely to have some on the shelves. When all else fails, Amazon comes to the rescue!
Elegant Stew: Boeuf (Or Mushroom!) Bourguignon
This is no doubt a favourite, particularly among anglophones. Boeuf, or beef, bourguignon is a French dish that has made its way into non-French speaking cultures because of its rich, luxurious depth of flavours and tender meat.
The recipe here is full of wine, but again, don’t worry, it cooks off. It’s in the oven for several hours - plenty of time! And trust us, it’s worth it. This recipe takes a while, but if you’ve got kids helping you, this can be a great way to teach how to chop and have some patience. Keep them occupied with games while you wait.
Alternatively, if you or a family member is vegetarian, or if you want to try something a little different, Jamie Oliver has your back. Oliver’s mushroom bourguignon is a veggie twist on a classic dish.
These next two recipes are the ultimate easy French recipes for beginners! The croque monsieur and croque madame are two simple sandwiches that pack a whole lot o’ flavour. The croque monsieur, as you may already know, is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with bechamel sauce and dijon. Bechamel is a staple in any French kitchen, and not as tough to make as you may think. Moreover, if you make a big batch, it goes beautifully on lasagna for dinner later that night or even simple savoury crepes. The croque madame is a croque monsieur with a little something extra - a fried egg on top! This makes it the perfect breakfast sandwich, or an especially filling lunch after a busy day of brainwork. If your kids are set on cooking it themselves, this is the kid-friendly recipe for both monsieur and madame. They aren’t quite the same but will certainly do the trick. Cooking these will give your kids confidence from cooking it themselves, and shows initiative in their learning.
Ratatouille - Minus the Rat!
Slipping vegetables into kid’s meals can be tough. Fortunately, Disney helped out a little bit when they named one of their more popular animated films in the early 2000s by the name of this dish.
Ratatouille, if you’ve never had it, is a vegetable stew with lemon and basil. This particular recipe contains thyme and balsamic alongside the usual onions, eggplants, zucchinis, tomatoes, basil, lemon. It’s super simple, and ridiculously tasty.
Your kids are probably too young to have seen the 2007 film, so why not make a night of it? Have a little dinner and movie with your kids - French role-play kitchen and restaurant and then an after dinner flick for a reward.
Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse
These may be easy French recipes for beginners but they have some sophistication and may seem like they’re more adult-friendly than anything. Don’t be fooled - kids will absolutely love them. But as a special bonus this mousse recipe is an add-on for the kids. Chocolate mousse is a classic French dessert. While mousse may seem complicated, Valerie Bertinelli’s recipe is very straightforward and kid-friendly. As an added bonus, the base of the recipe is chocolate pudding. If you want to save a bit for their lunches, your kids probably won’t complain! Easy French Recipes for Beginners are Endless
This is just a taste of French culinary culture. Other delicious dishes include cassoulet, quiche Lorraine, dauphinoise potatoes (AKA potatoes au gratin), gougeres (French cheese puff biscuits), duck confit, French lentils with dijon (this one’s vegan!), and, of course, chicken cordon bleu, to name just a few.
If you’re planning a French restaurant night with the kids, these easy French recipes for beginners will certainly help. If you want to know how to make it more of an educational experience, speak to your FranceABC tutor for tips.