Appetizers

28 Easy & Popular French Appetizers

Simple and elegant appetizers for your next dinner party.

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
Learn more about me
Updated August 23, 2022

French appetizers will class up any dinner party or cocktail hour. These small elegant dishes are a staple of French cuisine and are often served before a meal.

They’re a great way to encourage your guests to eat, drink and enjoy themselves.

French appetizers

Hors d’oeuvres traditionally consist of cheeses, dips, pastries, and tarts. They’re designed to be eaten by hand in either one or two bites.

That way, your guests can enjoy a drink in one hand, and still snack with the other!

We’ve chosen some of our favorite French appetizers, from olive tapenade to the cheesy flavors of baked camembert. Fancy as they sound, these appetizers are actually very easy to prepare.

Impress your guests by serving up some of these popular French appetizers at your next dinner party.

01. French Cheese Puff Pastry

These delightful pockets of cheesiness are a classic French appetizer!

These pastries get their flavor from the addition of cheese to the dough. Smooth salty Gruyere cheese is typical, but parmesan would be delicious as well. To change things up, try adding chopped chives and bacon to these pastries before baking.

Because these cheese puffs are hollow, you can also fill them with ingredients like cream cheese.

02. Ham and Cheese Sandwich

This one bite hors d’oeuvre is inspired by the classic Croque Monsieur.

This recipe uses smoked ham and gruyere cheese folded into a buttery puff pastry dough. Add a layer of homemade bechamel sauce to get that classic Croque Monsieur creaminess. You can add mustard right to the pastry, or serve a mustard dip on the side.

These little pastries reheat well in the oven, so feel free to make a batch for the freezer too!

03. Fondant Potatoes and Parmesan Herb Palmiers

These buttery soft potatoes and crispy puff pastry are a match made in heaven.

Fondant potatoes are so easy to make you’ll be serving them up at every cocktail party! Simply saute potatoes in butter and bake with stock until they absorb all that delicious flavor. The herb flavors from the palmier perfectly compliment the richness of the potatoes.

You can choose to serve these two hors d’oeuvres separately, or as a pair.

04. Homemade Boursin Cheese

If you’re feeding a party, opt for this cheap yet tasty homemade Boursin.

This dip is made using cream cheese mixed with garlic, pepper, and herbs. Use a hand mixer to blend everything until it’s smooth and soft, just like store-bought Boursin! Serve this dip-able cheese with your favorite crackers, pretzels, or rustic bread.

Try using this homemade Boursin as a cooking ingredient in other dishes, such as Boursin stuffed mushroom.

05. French Onion Dip

With its classic play on savory and salty, French onion dip is always a crowd-pleaser.

Skip the pre-made versions at the store because this homemade dip tastes so much better. It uses beef bouillon paste, sour cream, and onion powder to get that irresistible umami flavor. Simply blend, and serve with vegetable sticks, ripple chips, or crackers!

A great wine pairing for this dip is a medium-bodied pinot noir. If you want something lighter, opt for a pinot gris instead.

06. Black Olive Tapenade and Crostini

Save a spot at the grazing table for this salty flavorful dip

Tapenade is a blend of olives, capers, and garlic blended into a paste. It’s common in French cuisine to eat tapenade with bread, or crostini in this case. For the best crostini, drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt on top before baking.

Serve tapenade with a smooth white wine like chardonnay to complement the saltiness.

07. Baguette with Cream Cheese

This traditional French appetizer is super easy, without skimping on the flavor!

This appetizer simply layers cream cheese, green onion, and garlic onto a sliced baguette. When baked, the cheese becomes gooey and soft, and the garlic fragrant and savory. These baguette slices bites make a delicious appetizer, but also a wonderful pairing for soups and salads.

Try adding some chopped crab meat on top to elevate this hors d’oeuvre even more.

08. Tomato Bruschetta with Balsamic Glaze

Olive oil and balsamic reduction help elevate the flavors in this tomato bruschetta appetizer.

Tomato bruschetta is one of those appetizers that is so simple, yet tastes so amazing. All you need is to chop up some onion, garlic, parsley, and tomato and toast it on top of some nice French bread. Each bite is bursting with so much freshness, acidity, and garlic flavor!

Lobster is sometimes added to bruschetta since it soaks up all those acidic flavors so nicely.

09. Lardon and Olive Cake

This recipe is also known as “cake salé” or savory cake in France!

This bread-like cake is baked with cubes of ham and big slices of mixed olives. The dough itself has no sugar, instead opting for eggs, cheese, and herbs. It’s a great alternative to tea sandwiches, and is much less messy to serve!

Serve up this savory bread in little cubes with a toothpick for your guests.

10. Tarte au Soleil with Pesto

A good hors d’oeuvre should taste delicious, but also look good too!

This filled pastry appetizer is baked and served in a circle to look like the sun. Use store-bought puff pastry and pesto to keep things simple, then bake the tarte until golden brown. The crispy shell of the pastry combined with bright basil pesto makes this a nice light dinner appetizer.

11. Pissaladière

This scratch-made flatbread is pillowy soft inside with a satisfying crispy bottom.

The dough is infused with earthy Mediterranean flavors like rosemary, bay leaf, and thyme. On top is a mixture of caramelized onions, pitted black olives, and the secret ingredient: anchovy paste. The anchovies pack an extra salty punch that will give your taste buds a treat.

12. Tarte Flambée

The appetizer combines all the best French flavors in one simple tarte.

The topping combines ham and onion with a creamy white cheese and creme fraiche sauce. The key is the crispy base, which tastes best made on a pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, a cast-iron skillet will get the bottom nice and crispy too.

13. Baked Camembert or Brie with Endive Scoop

Skip the crackers and bread and try baked cheese with endives instead.

Endives are a leafy vegetable with a similar taste to arugula. When paired with cheese, the creaminess helps compliment the endive’s slight bitterness. Camembert and brie melt best in the oven, but this recipe would work with maroilles cheese too.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian-friendly appetizer, this is a flavorful and fun option!

14. Oil Free Socca Bread

Don’t forget about your gluten-free guests!

This socca bread uses flavorful chickpea flour instead of typical wheat flour. The result is a slightly nutty but light taste. You can use socca to make flatbreads, bruschetta, or as a way to scoop up dips!

Not only is this socca bread gluten-free and wheat-free, it also contains no oil and is vegan.

15. Tuna Rillettes

Baked tuna with cool creme fraiche makes a nice light and fresh appetizer.

Fresh herbs like chives and parsley brighten up this tuna dish, meanwhile chopped shallot gives it some mild crunch. The creme fraiche adds a hint of tanginess to offset the fattiness of the fish. Use fresh tuna if you can, otherwise canned tuna will do.

Serve this tuna spread on a warm toasted baguette or herby crackers.

16. Classic French Tomato Mustard Tart

This appetizer honors the ultimate summer ingredient: the tomato!

Bright red garden fresh tomatoes will be the most flavorful for this tart. A layer of dijon mustard adds sharpness while a topping of grated cheese ties everything together. It’s a simple, wholesome appetizer that makes a great precursor to a summer meal.

17. Mini Quiche Lorraine

These tiny tarts are filled with lots of creamy, smoky flavor.

Quiche Lorraine is a classic French dish made with creamy egg custard. It’s usually served for brunch, but this mini version makes a great appetizer! The custard filling is made with salty bacon, caramelized onions, and sharp cheddar cheese.

This is an appetizer that freezes and reheats well, so feel free to make extra!

18. French-Style Stuffed Eggs

Fancy up a backyard dinner party with this stuffed egg recipe.

These stuffed eggs are similar to a deviled egg, but so much more delicious! The yolks are scooped out and replaced with a mixture of mayonnaise, ham, green onion, and herbs. It’s topped off with breadcrumbs and toasted to perfection for some crunch.

Unlike devilled eggs, these French-style stuffed eggs should be served warm.

19. Dill Shrimp

If you’re serving a rich meal, opt for a lighter appetizer like this dill shrimp.

To make this appetizer, simply buy peeled shrimp already prepared at the grocery store. Then, coat them with a mixture of sour cream, dill, and finely chopped cucumber. These shrimp are refreshing, crisp, and also low carb and gluten-free!

20. Cheese Soufflé

If you really want to impress your guests, start your dinner party with this cheese souffle.

The ingredients for this souffle are simple: egg, cheese, milk, and flour. Make sure you take these souffles out of the oven when the top is golden and it jiggles just slightly. When your guests dig in, they’ll be greeted with a light, airy, and delicate cheese flavor!

21. Caramelized Onion Tart

This sweet and savory onion tart is a simple yet elegant start to a meal.

The onions are caramelized in a decadent combination of balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and butter for richness. They’re then enveloped in a cheesy egg custard and baked into a flaky pie shell. For a rustic look, try making your pie shell from scratch.

22. Duck Liver Mousse Crescents

This appetizer scores high on presentation with its dainty and elegant crescent shape.

Duck liver, also known as foie gras, is famous for its buttery and rich flavor. A little goes a long way with this spread, so each crescent roll only needs a small dollop. The buttery crescent roll pairs with the smooth liver for an appetizer that is ultra rich and satisfying.

Add some thyme or any other herbs you prefer for a pop of freshness.

23. Smoked Salmon Canapés

Smoked salmon is an easy way to add bold flavor to any appetizer!

Who doesn’t love the smooth, rich, and salty flavor of smoked salmon? In this recipe, the smoked salmon is baked with cream cheese until soft. It’s served on blinis, but you can use rye bread too, or even slices of cucumber.

The combination of cheese and salmon tastes amazing served with a little champagne.

Drizzle lemon juice on the smoked salmon canapes for more freshness.

24. Blue Cheese Fritters

Think outside the box with these unique fried cheese fritters.

These fritters are crispy on the outside and full of tangy, creamy blue cheese on the inside. The dough is made from corn flour which adds a nutty flavor to the fritter. Since this appetizer is so rich, serve it with a sweet tasting dip like a chutney.

Serve these fritters fresh from the deep fryer for the best flavors and textures!

25. Mushroom & French Goat Cheese Triangles

These triangle pockets make a great mess-free finger food.

Rich French flavors of baby Bella mushrooms, clove, and fresh goat cheese are all wrapped in these adorable triangle pastries. Instead of traditional puff pastry, this recipe uses wonton wrapper dough for a lighter and crispier result. When baked, the outsides get nice and flaky, while the ingredients inside melt together.

Serve these triangles with a spicy mayo dip for a hint of heat.

26. Socca

This crispy chickpea bread is a great stand-in for a traditional French baguette in an appetizer.

Socca is sometimes referred to as Nice’s official street food. It’s made from a chickpea flour dough, often infused with flavors like caramelized onion. Serve little slices of this bread as an appetizer with plenty of cracked pepper like they do in Nice!

27. Salade Lyonnaise

A traditional lettuce salad is a nice light accompaniment if you plan to serve a rich meal.

This timeless salad uses simple everyday ingredients like lettuce, eggs, croutons, and bacon. Mix up this salad with a delicious red wine dijon vinaigrette for an upscale tasting, yet easy hors d’oeuvre. To keep your salad greens crisp, leave the vinaigrette off until just before serving.

If you want to be traditional, serve this salad with a poached egg!

28. Brandade de Morue au Gratin (Whipped Salt Cod Gratin)

This classic side dish gets a twist with the addition of salt cod.

Creamy potatoes au gratin is a beloved side dish, made with layered potatoes and cream. The addition of salt cod keeps the potatoes from tasting one note by adding a mild seafood flavor.

You can bake portions of this gratin into a muffin tin to create cute individual hors d’oeuvre portions.

28 Easy & Popular French Appetizers

Directions


  1. Choose one of these classic French appetizers.

  2. Gather your fresh ingredients.

  3. Have fun preparing bite-sized hors d’oeuvres.

  4. Pop open some wine and enjoy with friends at cocktail hour.

French appetizers - Pinterest