How to Read and Write Recipes in French

Besides being a language of love, French is also a language associated with gastronomy. Just think of the French Michelin Guides which award stars to the most outstanding culinary chefs in the world.

In this article, we will cover French recipe vocabulary terms, with the goal of teaching you to read and write cooking recipes in French. This is a fun way to enhance your level of fluency in French.

Learning to read French recipes will give you access to authentic French cuisine. Learning to write a recipe in French, will enable you to share your recipes with the francophone world.

What to write at the beginning of a French Recipe

At the top of a recipe, it is customary to provide information such as the preparation time, the cooking time, and the number of servings one batch yields.

Here are some French phrases which show how to write this part of a French recipe:

Temps de préparation: 20 minutes Preparation time: 20 minutes Temps de cuisson: 35 minutes Cooking time: 35 minutes Nombre de portions: 3 Servings: 3

How to Write a Recipe Description in French

Your recipe description should come after the number of servings, the preparation time, and the cooking time. The information you choose to include in your introduction might differ depending on who your audience is.

If you are writing for a food blog, for example, you might want to explain how you came up with your recipe idea.

Here are some example French phrases which illustrate how to write a recipe description in French:

L’abondance de pommes durant l’automne m’a donné l'inspiration nécessaire pour concocter cette délicieuse recette de muffins aux pommes. - The abundance of apples during the Fall inspired me to whip up this delicious apple muffin recipe. La saison froide me donne toujours envie de breuvage chaud, alors voici ma recette préférée de chocolat chaud. - The cold season always makes me crave a hot beverage, so here is my favorite hot chocolate recipe. Le gâteau au chocolat que j’ai mangé au restaurant était si bon que j’ai décidé d’essayer de créer ma propre version santé. - The chocolate cake I ate at the restaurant was so good that I decided to try and create a healthy version of it.

When writing a recipe description in French, it is a fairly common practice to suggest the best time to enjoy the recipe. Here are some examples:

Cette salade est parfaite pour les chaudes soirées d’été. - This salad is perfect for hot summer nights. Cette recette de lasagne est parfaite si vous avez besoin de beaucoup de lunchs pendant la semaine. - This lasagna recipe is perfect if you need a lot of lunches throughout the week. Cette recette de pâtes fera fureur même auprès des mangeurs difficiles. - This pasta recipe will be a hit even with picky eaters.

The main thing to remember when introducing your recipe is to use descriptive and colorful language.

Here are some French vocabulary words which are used to describe delicious food:

Appétissante, appétissant Appetizing
Délicieuse, délicieux Scrumptious
Délectable Delectable
Met l’eau à la bouche Mouth-watering
Bonne, bon Delightful
Satisfaisante, satisfaisant Satisfying
Superbe Superb
Divin, divin Divine

Here are some French vocabulary words which are used to describe taste:

Amère, amer Bitter
Fumée, fumé Smoky
Goût terreux Earthy
Fraîche, frais Fresh
Goût de beurre Buttery
Sucrée, sucré Sweet
Salée, salé Salty
Piquante, piquant Spicy

Below are some French culinary terms which are used to describe texture:

Moelleuse, moelleux Soft texture
Croustillante, croustillant Crisp
Duveteuse, duveteux Fluffy
Pâteuse, pâteux Doughy
En flocons Flaky
Collante, collant Sticky
Juteuse, juteux Juicy
Tendre Tender

How to Write an Ingredient List in French

When writing a recipe in French (or in any language for that matter) it is nice to include a section detailing the list of ingredients. That way the reader can make sure that they have all the necessary ingredients before getting started.

In this section, you want to include every ingredient necessary to make your recipe in the order in which it will appear in the directions. Here is a list of vocabulary words for ingredients that are commonly used in French cuisine:

Œuf Egg
Beurre Butter
Farine Flour
Sucre Sugar
Sel Salt
Poivre Pepper
Oignon Onion
Ail Garlic
Lait Milk
Huile végétale Vegetable oil
Crème à cuisson Cooking cream
Fromage Cheese
Tomate Tomato
Herbes fraîches Fresh herbs
Bœuf Beef
Poulet Chicken
Poisson Fish
Saumon Salmon
Truite Trout
Crevette Shrimp
Fruits de mer Seafood
Bouillon de poulet Chicken broth
Basilic Basil
Romarin Rosemary
Sauge Sage
Citron Lemon
Échalotes Shallots
Pâtes Pasta
Pâte Dough
Crème fouettée Whipped cream
Pépites de chocolat Chocolate chips
Poudre à pâte Baking powder
Bicarbonate de sodium Baking soda
Cassonade Brown sugar
Sirop d’érable Maple syrup
Sucre en poudre Powdered sugar
Lait condensé Condensed milk

For each ingredient, you also want to make sure to include the quantity needed.

Tasse Cup
Cuillère à soupe Tablespoon
Cuillère à thé Teaspoon
Millilitres Millilitres
Grammes Grams
Kilogrammes Kilograms
Onces Ounces
Livres Pounds

Lastly, if applicable, you want to include the state of the ingredient. For example:

Rôtie, rôti Roasted
Bouillie, bouilli Boiled
Pochée, poché Poached
Congelée, congelé Frozen
Décongelée, décongelé Thawed
En canne Canned
Fraîche, frais Fresh
Crue, cru Raw
Sèche, sec Dried

When you put everything together, the ingredient list of a recipe that you are writing in French could look something like this:

2 tasses de farine - 2 cups of flour 350 grammes de fruits congelés - 350 grams of frozen fruits 2 cuillères à table d’herbes sèches - 2 tablespoons of dried herbs 250 millilitres de lait bouilli - 250 milliliters of boiled milk

How to Write Recipe Steps in French

In this section, you want to list your cooking steps in order while making sure that the instructions are simple and to the point. You want to describe each step in as few words as possible and avoid complicated explanations.

If you are writing a cake recipe, you can write your instructions in French as follows:

Préchauffer le four à 350 degrés Fahrenheit. - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Graisser deux moules à gâteau de 9 pouces de diamètre. - Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Dans un bol, mélanger la farine, le bicarbonate de soude et le sel. - In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Dans un grand bol, fouetter les œufs avec le sucre. - In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar. Incorporer lentement les ingrédients secs. - Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients. Répartir également le mélange à gâteau entre les deux moules. - Divide the cake mix evenly between the two cake pans. Cuire au four pendant quarante minutes. - Bake in the oven for forty minutes. Laisser refroidir les gâteaux complètement avant de les démouler. - Let the cakes cool down completely before removing them from the pans.

If instead, you are writing down a pasta recipe, these French phrases might be better:

Portez l’eau à ébullition dans une grande casserole. - Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Cuire les pâtes selon le temps indiqué sur le paquet. - Cook the pasta according to the time indicated on the package. En attendant que les pâtes cuisent, coupez les oignons en dés. - While the pasta is cooking, dice the onions. Cuire les pâtes jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient al dente. - Cook the pasta until they are al dente. Combiner les pâtes et la sauce ensemble. - Combine the pasta and the sauce together. Mettre le plat au four jusqu’à ce que le fromage soit bien gratiné. - Bake until the top is lightly browned and the cheese is melted.

Other useful French cooking expressions include:

Faire saisir la viande jusqu’à ce qu’elle soit dorée. - Sear the meat until it is golden brown. Bien faire revenir les oignons et l’ail dans l’huile. - Brown the onions and garlic in the oil. Hacher finement tous les légumes nécessaires pour la sauce. - Finely chop all the vegetables necessary for the sauce. Verser la sauce sur les patates. - Pour the sauce on top of the potatoes. Assaisonner au goût avec du sel et du poivre. - Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cuire jusqu’à ce que les oignons deviennent translucides. - Cook until the onions become translucent. Cuire jusqu’à ce que le bœuf atteigne une cuisson medium-saignante et que le milieu soit parfaitement rosé. - Cook until the steak is medium-rare, and the middle is perfectly pink. Mettre le poulet au four jusqu’à ce qu’il soit bien cuit. - Cook the chicken in the oven until it is well done. Réchauffez l’huile d’olive dans un poêlon à feu moyen. - Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Farcir la dinde avant de la mettre au four. - Stuff the turkey before putting it into the oven. Cuire le brocoli à la vapeur. - Steam the broccoli. Faire mijoter la sauce pendant trente minutes. - Simmer the sauce for thirty minutes. Trancher le pain avant de le badigeonner de beurre. - Slice the bread before brushing it with butter. Faire fondre le chocolat lentement avant de le verser sur les fruits. - Slowly melt the chocolate before pouring it over the fruits. Étaler une fine couche de beurre sur le dessus de la pâte. - Spread a thin layer of butter on top of the dough.

Other Helpful Information to Include when writing a French Recipe

It can be useful for your readers to include some additional information about your dish in the recipe. For example, you can mention if and how the leftovers can be stored:

Cette lasagne peut se conserver au réfrigérateur pendant trois jours si vous la couvrez d’un papier d’aluminium. - This lasagna can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days if well covered with aluminum foil. Cette soupe se conservera au congélateur pendant un mois dans un contenant hermétique. - This soup will keep in the freezer for a month in an airtight container. Vous pouvez conserver ces muffins sur le comptoir pendant trois jours ou au réfrigérateur pendant une semaine. - You can keep these muffins on the counter for three days or in the refrigerator for a week. Malheureusement, cette recette de tartare ne peut pas être conservée et doit être mangée au moment-même de la préparation. - Unfortunately, this tartare recipe cannot be stored and must be eaten shortly after it is prepared.

You can also list the equipment needed to prepare the recipe. Here is a list of French vocabulary words for various cooking utensils:

Poêle antiadhésive Non-stick frying pan
Chaudron Pot
Plaque à cuisson Baking tray
Tasses à mesurer Measuring cups
Cuillère de bois Wooden spoon
Éplucheur Peeler
Pinces Tongs
Planches à découper Cutting board
Passoire Colander
Mixeur Blender
Bols à mélanger Mixing bowls
Ouvre-boîte Can opener
Râpe à fromage Grater
Friteuse Fryer
Mixeuse Mixer
Moules à gâteau Cake pan
Fouet Whisk
Louche Ladle
Mitaines de four Oven mittens
Thermomètre à viande Meat thermometer

Including nutritional information when writing a French recipe

Including nutritional information about the recipe can also be useful, especially if you are writing a French recipe for a blog or a social media account. For example, you could say:

Cette recette ne contient pas de produits dérivés des animaux et est donc végétalienne. - This recipe does not contain any animal-derived products and is therefore vegan. Cette recette de biscuits est sans gluten et donc complètement sécuritaire pour ceux intolérants au gluten. - This cookie recipe is gluten-free and therefore completely safe for those with gluten intolerance. Cette recette de smoothie vous permet de consommer jusqu’à trois portions de fruits et légumes. - This smoothie recipe allows you to consume up to three portions of fruits and vegetables. Cette recette ne contient pas de viande et conviendra à tous vos amis végétariens. - This recipe does not contain meat and will satisfy all your vegetarian friends. An Ending note…

And there you have it, the perfect guide to writing a French recipe. This article taught you various French cooking words such as ingredients, appliances, utensils, and cooking verbs. You can now easily start writing down, in perfect French, your best culinary creations to pass along to friends and family.

For those wanting to learn how to read and write recipes in other foreign languages besides French, we have a tutorial on reading and writing recipes in Japanese.

One last pro tip: make sure to keep your writing simple. Not everyone reading your recipe will have the same cooking skills, so you should avoid specific jargon and complicated words. Remember how you were as a beginner cook and write the recipe in a way that you would have understood then.