21 Irresistible French Appetizers

When you consider that much of the modern world has been influenced by the French way of cooking and eating, you tend to pay attention when something is French.

21 Irresistible French Appetizers

Termed “hors d’oeuvre” in France, its people certainly love their appetizers. And who doesn’t? Nibbling on small plates of food before a big meal is a sure-fire way to build excitement and work up appetites. 

Served alongside an aperitif drink, each of these French appetizers is the perfect way to kick off a french-inspired evening of eating and drinking.

From smoked salmon canapes to foie gras and everything in between, your guests will be sitting pretty and saying their merci’s before the main has even left the kitchen. 

1. Smoked Salmon Canapes

Smoked salmon is one of those ingredients that can’t help but invite an air of elegance into the room. The cool thing about this French-inspired appetizer recipe is that it takes less than ten minutes to put together, ready for the table.

That’s right, with just three simple ingredients coming together over a plate of blinis, we have no doubt that even the least savvy home cooks can comfortably whip this one up.

Smoked salmon, cream cheese, and lemon juice have been called up to the plate, and you just know they will hit a home run. 

2. Socca

If you have never sampled or heard of socca before, we suggest you get in line. Socca is essentially a flatbread with a base of chickpea, not flour.

What this simple yet important swap does (apart from making it gluten-free) is gives socca an earthy flavor that regular bread would have a hard time touching, even if it tried.

Originating in the south of France in the city of Nice – socca is sold on every street corner along the French Riviera for a reason – it is delicious.

3. Baked Camembert

Baked camembert is a great appetizer idea. Why? Because it asks for very little but offers a lot. If you want to serve your guests or family a big dose of the wow factor, present them with whole baked camembert.

Camembert is perfect as it is. But, when it gets baked it turns into a melted pot of pungent goodness that nobody will turn their nose up at.

Serve alongside some crusty french bread for the ultimate dipping duo to start the evening’s proceedings of eating. 

4. Tomato Bruschetta

Though there may be a turf war surrounding the origin of tomato bruschetta (we’re looking at you Italy), there is no denying the French people’s love of it.

This recipe certainly isn’t the simplest bruschetta recipe you can find on the internet, but dare we say, that is a good thing?

Taking just five minutes to prepare and a further ten to cook, this French-inspired bruschetta that leans on ingredients like parsley, balsamic vinegar, and lemon to flavor the tomatoes and smoked ham is perfection on bread. 

5. Sardine Canapes

Sardines are an incredibly popular ingredient plucked from the Mediterranean for all who live by it to enjoy.

When you consider that most of Southern France straddles the great European Sea, it makes perfect sense why sardine canapes are so popular there.

This recipe calls for you to mash up the salty sardines and slide them under boiled egg yolk. Season with pepper, lemon juice, Tabasco, and butter for a delicious down-in-one appetizer. 

6. Paillassons De Courgettes

Paillassons de courgettes is a classic French fritter that the south has a particular affinity for. And don’t worry, its recipe is a lot easier to make than its name is to say.

Whip this one together with a delectable selection of zucchini, onion, egg, flour, pepper, salt, and a little oil in no time at all.

The trick with paillassons de courgettes is to ensure that the grated zucchini is sufficiently drained of their moisture before mixing with the rest of the ingredients. Do this and you have already won. 

7. Jambon Persillé

We know that this list of French appetizer recipes has been a little biased to the south so far, so this recipe is here to buck that trend. Jambon Persillé is a hearty appetizer that hails from the northern Burgundy region of France.

Jambon Persillé is perfect for those chilly winter nights where you want to warm the bones from the first bite of an appetizer.

Ham hock simmered in white wine and transformed into a parsley-heavy terrine, yeah, you could say this appetizer is a big one.

8. Alsatian Cheese Tart

Alsace is another northern region of France that sits at the foothills of the mighty European Alpine Mountain Range.

Everybody knows that cheese reigns supreme in France, and when you learn that they also invented the fabled tart, well, a cheese tart appetizer starts to make a lot of sense.

Cottage cheese, bacon slices, sour cream, freshly grated parmesan, and onion come together inside crispy and golden puff pastry for all to enjoy.

9. French Cheese Puffs

Keeping with the cheese theme for just a moment, we bring you the oh-so memorable French Cheese Puff. Throw your calorie counter out the window and say hello to your new favorite appetizer.

If you can, try to source a hard French cheese for these oven-bound puffs. Something like a Comte or Gruyere will do nicely. Another hot tip is to go hard on the Dijon mustard if you prefer your puffs with a pungent kick. 

10. Brie With Pesto

Some days you want to spend all afternoon in the kitchen, listening to your favorite music, and drinking your favorite wine. Other times, you want to put some brie and pesto on bread and call it the appetizer.

This warm brie and pesto recipe is a from-scratch one but, considering how much of it you can make quickly, it is still considered light work.

Pine nuts, basil, garlic, and parmesan are what make this brie and pesto appetizer such a winning formula.

11. Mini Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur is an iconic French sandwich that features all of the good (and naughty stuff). So, when we came across this mini Croque Monsieur recipe, there was no deliberating, it had to be included.

On first inspection, Croque Monsieur is just a ham and cheese sandwich. But, in reality, it is so much more.

Bechamel sauce, grated gruyere cheese, dijon mustard, and thin ham slices are spread out on mini white bread slices. Whack them in the oven to bake for 15 minutes tops for a classic french appetizer to appease the masses. 

12. Potatoes Au Gratin

Potatoes au gratin can be served as an appetizer just the same as it can be served right alongside the star of the show as a side dish – the choice is yours.

Thin-cut slices of red potatoes are meticulously placed in a baking dish full of cheese and cream. That’s right, this is another one of those creamy appetizer numbers that will feel like home in the darker months of the year.

Both shredded cheddar and gruyere are featured in naughty proportions and we are all the better for it. 

13. Black Olive Tapenade

Most people have brought home a jar of tapenade from the store to serve atop bread as an appetizer.

However, when you take the time to make your own tapenade, you quickly realize that the store-bought stuff pails in comparison to the homemade variety.

This black olive tapenade is a shining example of just how special homemade tapenade can truly be.

Sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, parsley, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, and two types of Californian olives – we don’t even have to sell this ingredient lineup, because you already know it’s going to be good. 

14. French Potato Salad

We don’t care who it is going to offend, potato salad has a place on every bbq table in the country. This French potato salad recipe is cool because it keeps it light while remaining to bring the flavor, and then some.

We’re talking spicy brown mustard and cider vinegar for the dressing and with the addition of parsley and green onion, this dish is bursting with a fresh and vibrant edge.

Prepared in just ten minutes flat, you can serve a big salad bowl of this alongside a pile of chicken skewers and everyone will be smiling (including you). 

15. Steak Tartare

If you are looking to impress your guests with an appetizer that is oh-so French, steak tartare has your number.

As a disclaimer, steak tartare is a dish that may turn some eyebrows among the more fussy eaters, so we would suggest saving this one for the right crowd. Why? Because it features beef and requires no cooking.

Intentionally keeping beef raw may sound like a crazy idea, but once you take your first bite, you will realize it is far from the case.

Another disclaimer though, you must source the freshest and highest quality cuts of beef for this recipe and grind it yourself. There are no shortcuts on that one.

16. Foie Gras

Foie Gras is another French classic that requires the right palette to enjoy, but boy-oh-boy does it hit all the right notes. What is foie gras you ask? Foie gras translates from French as “fatty liver”, meaning the liver of a duck.

This recipe doesn’t ask you to make foie gras yourself (thankfully), that job is left up to the professionals. Your task is to construct an appetizer out of the stuff using ingredients like red current jelly and chicken stock.

With just 10 minutes of prep, what could possibly go wrong? 

17. Crab Deviled Eggs

Making 24 individual crab-deviled eggs in less than thirty minutes may sound like an unachievable task, but with this recipe to guide you, it is an easy breeze. It is just us or does this recipe scream opulent 80s lifestyle?

If you are looking to bring a little slice of that over-the-top 80s life into your home for a french-inspired feast, you have found your appetizer.

Seasoned with parsley, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, and mayonnaise, the tasting notes are big bold, and beautiful.  

18. Duck Pate En Croute

Duck pate wrapped in pastry and served alongside fig jam is as gourmet as it sounds. This is a very involved recipe that should not be undertaken by anyone who is pushed for time.

When you have an afternoon spare and you are happy to let it float on by in the kitchen are the times when you should whip this recipe out.

Don’t be put off by the 24-hour recipe time. Gladly, it doesn’t take quite that long from where you are standing, but you will need to chill the dish in the fridge overnight.

19. Vegetable Gratin

If you liked the sound of potato gratin, then why not give this vegetable gratin a run?

Full of healthy and nutritious vegetables like zucchini and eggplant layered in a magnificent vision of color, this recipe will be a conversation-stopping appetizer, we can assure you of that. 

20. Fromage Blanc Spread

Any appetizer that takes just five minutes to prepare is an appetizer alright by us. Fromage blanc seasoned with chives, chervil, parsley, tarragon, and garlic has a good helping of red and white wine mixed through and that is it.

Spread over bread, each bite will remind you of France. 

21. Pissaladière

Hailing from southern France, pissaladiere is a tart of caramelized onion and anchovy paste. It has a tangy and pungent aroma that knocks you for six and leaves you wanting another piece.

Black olives, thyme, and rosemary sprigs are ever-present in this summertime tart that can’t help but bring the sunshine on a cloudy day. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A French Appetizer Called?

In France, an appetizer is called hors d’oeuvre, meaning “small plate”. They can be served hot, they can be served cold – there is no hors d’oeuvre rulebook. The only stipulation is small and before the main meal. 

What Is A French Charcuterie?

Charcuterie can be eaten hors d’oeuvre just as easily as it can be served as the main meal. Consisting of cured meats and cheese, there are very few French people who haven’t got a long-lasting soft spot for charcuterie. It just doesn’t happen.

Conclusion

So there you have it. 21 of the best French appetizers this side of the Atlantic. Whether you lean into the warm arms of a potato gratin or the light and vibrant embrace of Fromage blanc matters little.

What does matter is you are going to knock the socks off every guest that calls around for hors d’oeuvre from here on out. 

21 Irresistible French Appetizers

21 Irresistible French Appetizers

Recipe by Jenna

Prepare a selection of these 21 irresistible appetizers that are French by definition and delectable by nature.

Course: Appetizers
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Jenna
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