French-Inspired Breakfast Menu

From Traditional Light Fare to Heartier Dishes

Most French breakfasts found on menus in restaurants, hotels, and home kitchens in France are light according to American standards, consisting of coffee, sometimes hot chocolate, and a roll or toast accompanied by a sweet spread of some sort. This modest menu may not be satisfying enough for some, leaving many to start their day on a hungry note. That's why this selection of foods includes both classic French breakfast items as well as those that are inspired by French cuisine and its ingredients (but would be too filling to be considered part of a traditional French breakfast).

If you are feeling ambitious and serving a large group, make the entire menu! Otherwise, choose just a few dishes to create a luxurious feast of easy recipes that will start any day off right.

  • 01 of 06

    French Pastries

    French Pastries

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    Can you even imagine a French breakfast without a croissant? These flaky, layered, crescent-shaped pastries are on a typical French breakfast menu but mainly eaten on weekends. If it is a weekday, though, treat yourself! And if you really want to be decadent, serve pain au chocolat—a sweet roll studded with dark chocolate chunks. Magnifique!

  • 02 of 06

    French Bread and Sweet Spreads

    French Sweet Breads

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    You can't think of France without thinking of bread so of course a loaf or a few slices would be part of a traditional French breakfast. Baguette is the obvious choice, but there is also a wonderful round bread called boule de pain which will stay fresh longer. Butter is a ubiquitous condiment, but serving a fruit jam as well as honey is almost always a part of the French breakfast table.

  • 03 of 06

    Chocolat Chaud (French Hot Chocolate)

    French Hot Chocolate

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    When Princess Maria Theresa of Spain married King Louis XIV of France, she gave him a gift of the dark chocolate that was favored in her homeland. The King took to the rich sweet immediately and employed a royal chocolate maker to create and sell chocolate, which has been a part of French food and culture ever since.

    This hot drink is a wonderful example of how the French use chocolate in luxurious ways. Considered French hot chocolate, chocolat chaud is quite irresistible. Chocolate is simply melted with water and then combined with milk to create a thick and rich beverage often enjoyed at breakfast time.

  • 04 of 06

    Honeyed Fruit Salad

    Bowl of fruit salad

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    Perfect for breakfast, this combination of colorful fresh fruit is given a drizzle of a special sweet dressing, making it a beautiful, delicious, and healthy dish. The strawberries, pears, peaches, and cherries are tossed in a mixture of honey, white wine, lemon juice, and zest, as well as sugar. Eat this fruit salad as a side dish or use the mixture to garnish crepes or waffles.

    You can also use any leftovers to accompany an assorted cheese platter and fresh baguette—add a bottle of sweet sparkling dessert wine for a lovely lunch.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Crepes With Salted Butter Caramel

    crepes with ice cream

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    Crepes with salted butter caramel is a classic Breton dessert popular in the northwest of France. Salted caramel has a tangy, rich taste combining sweet with salty, and has garnered somewhat of a cult following. Besides being absolutely delicious, it’s also easy to make. The crepes, on the other hand, may take a bit of practice. Swirling the pan just right to coat it with an even but thin layer of batter can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it, making crepes will be a cinch.

    For a truly impressive breakfast, add vanilla Chantilly cream and sautéed apples to your finished crepes.

  • 06 of 06

    Belgian Waffles

    strawberry belgian waffles

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    Ok, so these aren't technically French, but if you are wandering the streets of Paris you are sure to find several food stands and cafes selling this sweet treat. Although more work than when making a regular waffle (especially if you are using a mix), the results are worth it.

    The authentic recipe uses yeast, which creates the waffle's signature airy interior, and by beating the egg whites to stiff peaks you are guaranteed a waffle that is light, fluffy, and impressive on the plate. Serve with whipped cream and strawberries or a simple dusting of powdered sugar.