It’s safe to say that France is not the best country for vegetarians. The French culture around eating meat is one of indulgence and appreciation. In France, meals are often served with meat as the main ingredient. The French are known to enjoy their cuts of steak, pork, and poultry to say the least.
French chefs take their time with the preparation and presentation of their meat-based meals, ensuring a high-quality product that has been cooked to perfection. The French also have a deep appreciation for the flavors and textures of different meats, and they use a variety of seasonings and sauces to enhance the flavor.
Eating meat is an important part of French culture, and it is enjoyed throughout the country.
So what kinds of meat do the French consume? These are the most popular French meats:
Let’s dive into how the French consume each of these meats.
Animal Meats Eaten in France
The following is a list of the animal meat that is eaten in France, with an emphasis on the type of meat, the recipes made with that meat, and the cultural reasons behind why this meat is enjoyed.
Chicken is by far the most popular everyday meat consumed by the French population in prepared recipes and restaurant dishes. The list of French chicken dishes is certainly quite long!
This poultry meat is present in a number of popular dishes like Chicken Paillard, Cordon Bleu, and Chicken Normandy. In its most simple form, roasted chicken, or poulet rôti, can be bought at any French boucherie and quickly served at home with a side dish of roasted vegetables. Coq au Vin is a traditional French dish made with chicken cooked in red wine, bacon, and mushrooms.
Label Rouge is a French certification system that indicates high-quality, sustainably-raised poultry products. The Label Rouge certification is awarded to poultry producers who meet strict criteria for animal welfare, feed quality, and product quality. Poultry products with a Label Rouge certification are considered higher quality than non-certified products and are often more expensive as a result.
Pork, or pig meat, is another prevalent meat in France. Pig meat such as ham is the most popular eaten animal meat in France according to the French Agriculture Ministry, with 33kg (72 lbs) consumed per person per year.
Ham is used in famous dishes such as the lunchtime staple Croque Monsieur and sister dish Croque Madame. Seriously, you can’t walk down the sidewalk in Paris at lunchtime without seeing at least one plate of Croque Monsieur on a brasserie table, showing how vital pig’s meat is to the French diet!
Pass by any boulangerie and there’s a chance their Parisien sandwiches have sold out; this favorite sandwich is made of ham, swiss cheese, and butter on baguette bread, and millions are sold each day in France.
Pork is famously used in many Charcuterie products, which we cover below. It’s also the main ingredient in popular regional dishes like Flammekueche (tarte flambée) and Choucroute Garnie.
Beef is a staple in French haute cuisine and is used in many upscale and expensive French dishes. In fact, France has the European Union’s biggest cattle herd totaling 18 million cattle heads, including 3.5 million dairy cows.
Boeuf Bourguignon is a famous French slow-cooked stew made with beef, red wine, onions, mushrooms, and other ingredients. The beef is braised until tender and is typically served with country bread or mashed potatoes. Pot-au-Feu is another famous French beef stew made with vegetables like carrots, leeks, onions, and turnips.
Beef is the main ingredient in France’s many different steak recipes. Steak Frites is a classic dish that consists of a grilled or pan-fried steak served with french fries. The steak is typically seasoned with salt and pepper and is often accompanied by a béarnaise or red wine sauce.
Entrecôte is a cut of beef from the rib area that is known for its tenderness and flavor. It is often grilled or pan-fried and served with a sauce and a side of fries. Chateaubriand is a dish that consists of a thick cut of beef tenderloin that is grilled or pan-fried and served as a main course. Filet Mignon is a type of beef steak that is cut from the small end of the beef tenderloin. It is known for its tender texture and rich flavor, and delicate taste, making it one of the most prized cuts of beef, often served in upscale restaurants as a luxurious main course.
Steak Tartare is a dish made with raw ground beef, typically seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs, and sometimes served with a raw egg yolk on top.
There are also regional variations in the way that beef is prepared, with different areas of the country known for their own specialties.
Duck meat is commonly used in French dishes such as Duck Confit, a slow-cooked dish of duck legs cooked in its own fat, and Magret de Canard, a breast of a duck that is pan-fried or grilled. Duck à l’Orange is a beloved dish made with duck meat that has been roasted and served with a sauce made from orange juice, sugar, and spices.
Foie gras is a rich and luxurious French delicacy made from the liver of a fattened duck. Duck is also frequently used in French cuisine to make stocks, soups, and sauces.
Blanquette de Veau is a classic French dish made with veal simmered in a creamy sauce. It is typically served with rice or mashed potatoes. Veal Escalope is a thin, breaded cutlet of veal that is often pan-fried and served with a variety of accompaniments, such as potatoes, vegetables, or a sauce. Veal stew, or Ragoût de veau, is a hearty and flavorful wintertime dish made with veal and a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, onions, and potatoes. Veal is also used to make terrines, pâtés, and other charcuterie items.
Lamb is traditionally consumed in certain regions of France, such as the Pyrenees and the Massif Central. Lamb has been a French favorite since the ancient times of Lutetia (Paris’ former name). It is still used in many meaty dishes.
The traditional Roast Lamb dish Confit d’Agneau is typically made with a whole leg of lamb, seasoned with herbs, salt, and pepper, and roasted in the oven. The tender and juicy cut of meat is served with roasted potatoes, vegetables, and gravy. Lamb Chops, or Côtelettes d’Agneau, are small cuts of lamb that are typically grilled or pan-fried and served as a main course.
Navarin d’Agneau is a hearty stew made with chunks of lamb, carrots, onions, potatoes, and other vegetables. The ingredients are simmered together until tender, and the dish is typically served with crusty bread or mashed potatoes.
Game meats like hare are consumed in the more rural parts of France. Lapin à la Moutarde is a popular French dish made with rabbit meat that has been cooked in a mustard sauce and served with potatoes. Rabbit stew is a hearty and flavorful soup made with rabbit, vegetables, and wine. Rabbit Terrine is a type of pâté made with ground rabbit meat, often mixed with other ingredients such as vegetables, spices, or wine.
Frogs are considered a delicacy in French cuisine and are consumed in a variety of dishes. Roger La Grenouille is a famous restaurant in Paris that specializes in preparing frogs for diners since 1930.
Frog legs, or Cuisses de Grenouille, are a popular dish in France and are often served as a main course. They are typically battered and fried, and are sometimes served with a garlic butter sauce.
Frogs can also be used in stews, soups, and casseroles, where they are simmered with other ingredients such as vegetables, herbs, and spices. Fried frogs are a traditional dish in some regions of France, too.
Quail isn’t consumed as much by the French as these other French meats, but there are a few popular dishes where this meat is used. Roasted quail is a simple French dish where the quail is roasted in the oven with herbs and spices. Second, Caille à la Stanislas is a classic quail dish consisting of quail stuffed with foie gras, mushrooms, and truffles, and served with a sauce made from the quail’s roasting juices, brandy, and cream.
Goose is somewhat rarely consumed in France, but there are some regional rustic dishes where it’s still used today. Traditional Roast Goose, or Oie Rustique, is a popular dish in French country cooking that consists of a roasted goose, typically served during the holiday season, especially Christmas. The bird is seasoned with herbs, salt, and pepper and is often stuffed with ingredients such as onions, apples, and spices before being roasted in the oven. There is also a delicious French Goose Gratin recipe which adds a cheesy topping to this meat. Lastly, some versions of foie gras feature goose liver.
I hope you learned about the types of meats eaten in France thanks to this article! These French meats form the basis of many beloved French recipes as well as the country’s most popular meat products.