12 Recipes for a Classic French Breakfast

Start Your Day in the French Way

Have you ever wondered what a real French breakfast is like? The traditional French bistro breakfast is light, sweet, and typically includes both coffee and chocolate. Wake up like a Parisian, without leaving the comfort of your own home, with our collection of classic French breakfast recipes. From cafe au lait, to French croissants, sweet pastries, and more filling dishes, this is simple, delicious French morning fare at its best.

  • 01 of 12

    French Cafe au Lait

    French Cafe au Lait

    The Spruce / Nita West

    Enjoy a mellow, Parisian-style cafe au lait at home, without changing out of your pajamas. You'll be amazed by how easy it is to prepare this popular French coffee beverage with equal parts steamed milk and strong hot coffee. This clever recipe even includes a trick for steaming hot milk using a glass jar, and your microwave—no fancy steam wand or espresso machine required.

  • 02 of 12

    Easy French Pain au Chocolat

    Easy French Pain au Chocolat

    The Spruce / Nita West

    Eating chocolate treats in the morning is a very French habit—perhaps to leave time in the day for walking off calories. Pain au chocolate, a sweet roll filled with melting dark chocolate, may be the most beloved of all French pastries at breakfast time, and this recipe makes it possible to achieve in your own kitchen. Don't be alarmed by the multiple steps—each is quite straight-forward, and the end result is impressively delicious.

  • 03 of 12

    French Omelette

    Classic French Omelet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    If you wouldn't consider breakfast complete without eggs, the French omelette is an obvious choice. You only need 10 minutes to whip up a cafe-classic omelette with this easy egg recipe that can be customized to taste with your favorite fillings. Enjoy it with a side of fresh fruit for a healthy morning meal, or a light lunch or dinner with a side salad and crusty bread.

  • 04 of 12

    French Baguette

    French Baguette

    The Spruce

    Crusty, chewy, and sublimely French, the baguette is an essential element of the French breakfast menu. If you've always wanted to try your hand at baking a traditional French baguette, this is the recipe you've been waiting for. Tear off hunks of bread for dunking into your morning coffee (yes, the French actually do this), or make like a true Parisian and top toasted slices with thinly-sliced radishes, butter, and fleur de sel.

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  • 05 of 12

    Chocolat Chaud (French Hot Chocolate)

    French Hot Chocolate

    Grant and Caroline / Getty Images

    French hot chocolate, or chocolate chaud, is a deep, rich, magnificent part of any bistro-style French breakfast. Simply melt chocolate squares in hot water, and stir in milk, to create a thick, steaming, luxurious beverage that the French consider an aid to good digestion. Enjoy it in a mug topped with whipped cream, or serve in bowls along with French baguette or brioche toasts for dunking.

  • 06 of 12

    Fresh Fig Jam

    Fresh Fig Jam

    The Spruce

    You need only three simple ingredients—fresh figs, sugar, and lemon juice—for this rich homemade jam that would be right at home on any Parisian breakfast table. Use it for topping baguette slices at breakfast, or spread atop crostini slathered with goat cheese, and sprinkled with coarse salt and rosemary, for an elegant party appetizer.

  • 07 of 12

    French Butter Croissants

    French Butter Croissants

    The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

    Wow family and friends at brunch with a basket of home-baked, buttery, flaky French croissants. Creating the famous French breakfast pastry is a fun challenge for home bakers who can afford to plan two days ahead. Most of the time is needed for resting the dough, between short intervals of hands-on work. Your patience will be rewarded with a dozen large, freshly-baked croissants just like those from the corner bakery.

  • 08 of 12

    Flat White Espresso

    Flat White Espresso

    @mp_develops / Twenty20

    For many Parisians, the ultimate breakfast consists simply of croissants and dark coffee. Whip up a flat white for your morning breakfast tray, and take a virtual trip to France without ever leaving home. It's a potent yet palatable brew that combines one part deep, dark espresso with two parts steamed milk. Use a hand-held steam wand to swirl the milk into the coffee, and create a picturesque finish.

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  • 09 of 12

    Buckwheat Crepes

    Buckwheat Crepes

    Lisa Hubbard / Getty Images

    In Brittany, on France's northwest Atlantic coast, crepes are de rigueur at breakfast time. It might take a little practice to get the hang of making these buckwheat crepes, but once you master the skill, you can stuff them with your choice of sweet or savory fillings for a classic Breton dish to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

  • 10 of 12

    Honeyed Fruit Salad

    Honeyed Fruit Salad

    kajakiki / Getty Images

    Fresh fruit is an elemental part of the French continental breakfast with bread or pastries, and coffee. This elevated fruit salad drizzles colorful berries and stone fruits with a special honey-and-wine dressing, for a healthy and delicious addition to your morning table. You can enjoy any leftovers with an assorted cheese platter, fresh baguette, and perhaps some sparkling white wine for a lovely lunch.

  • 11 of 12

    Basic Brioche

    Basic Brioche

    The Spruce

    Rich, buttery, tender, and slightly sweet, there's nothing quite like French brioche bread. This classic French loaf makes wonderful breakfast toast, topped the French way with butter or fruit preserves. It is also great for grilled cheese, and makes a sturdy sandwich bread for brown bag lunches and picnics. Use leftover slices for French toast or bread pudding.

  • 12 of 12

    French Almond Croissants

    French Almond Croissants

    The Picture Pantry / Getty Images

    French almond croissants filled with a thick ribbon of fragipane (a sweet almond filling) and topped with crispy, toasted almonds are a fabulous breakfast or brunch treat. To make them ahead, allow croissants to proof for one hour at room temperature after shaping, then place in the fridge overnight in an airtight container. In the morning, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with nuts, and pop them into the oven to bake up quickly.