Your Guide to 12 Types of French Bread
Ready to explore the different types of French bread? Here are a dozen you'll want to eat right now.
When it comes to types of bread, a baguette is quintessentially French. The forming of the loaf is key to making a proper baguette and usually requires a special proofing pan and cloth. The result is a long, skinny loaf with a chewy texture and a firm bite in the crust. It’s perfect for any occasion: slathered with butter or jam, topped with cheese or meat as an appetizer, or used to make sandwiches. For inspiration, take a look at these recipes that start with a baguette.
(Here’s how to make a baguette, step by step.)
French bread is wider and longer than a baguette, with a much softer crust. It doesn’t require any special equipment to make and it’s just as versatile as a baguette, but its soft outside makes it perfect for toast or garlic bread. Here’s how to make French bread at home.
As Taste of Home food stylist Josh Rink explains, “the French consider brioche to be somewhere between cake and bread. A proper brioche certainly carries a richness like cake, with the crumb and texture of bread.” It gets that flavor and texture from its velvety dough, which contains milk, eggs and lots of butter. Brioche rolls are our go-to choice for making burgers, and we love using a thick slice for French toast.
Croissants aren’t easy to make! The dough requires a detailed process called laminating that involves folding and rolling several times—freezing or refrigerating between folds—to create layers of butter within the pastry. But it’s totally worth it when you bite into the rich, buttery, flaky-crisp result. Croissants are delicious on their own for a breakfast or sweet snack, or try one of our other favorite ways to eat croissants.
Ficelle means “string” in French, and it refers to the extra-skinny look of this bread. It’s basically a skinny baguette, and it boasts the same chewy texture and firm crust. Use it in any recipe that calls for a regular baguette.
This gorgeous bread is essentially the French version of focaccia. It’s spongy and light, with a slightly chewy crumb and a rich flavor. Traditionally, fougasse is shaped into a giant leaf and garnished with fresh herbs. It’s the perfect bread to serve alongside dips as a snack or appetizer.
Pain de Campagne
This artisan French country bread is made with a sourdough starter, giving it an earthy, tangy flavor. Before baking, it’s formed into a rustic loaf and scored with a bread lame to allow the top to expand as it bakes. The result is delightfully crusty on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. Pain de campagne can be used to make sandwiches or toast, but it’s packed with flavor, so our favorite way to enjoy it is simply with a pat of good butter.
Pain complet is sometimes called wholemeal bread because of the addition of whole wheat flour. It can be made with 100 percent whole wheat (when it’s sometimes referred to as pain integral) or a mixture of whole wheat and white flours. It’s a hearty bread, which is why we like serving it on the side of soup or stew.
Pain a L’ail
Pain a l’ail isn’t technically a type of bread, but it’s so delicious that we had to include it on this list! It translates to garlic bread, and it’s usually made with a baguette or French loaf. The bread is cut into 1-inch pieces that aren’t sliced all the way through to the bottom, so the loaf remains intact. The cuts are slathered with a garlic- and herb-infused butter and baked to perfection.
Pain au Son
This hearty bread is made with at least 25 percent bran. After the dough is mixed, it rises in a greased loaf pan, creating a dense loaf with a tight crumb. You’ll often find it topped with extra wheat bran or oats. Bran bread has more fiber than you’ll find in most French bread, making it a nutritious option. Pain au son can also be formed into rolls instead of a loaf, so try serving it as dinner rolls.
Boule de Pain
A boule is a rustic round loaf with a crunchy exterior and a soft interior. Shaping the boule is key to its success. Start by folding the four corners of the dough into the center until it looks like an envelope. Then, flip the dough over so it’s seam-side down and drag it towards your body to create the rounded shape. Boules need to proof in a round basket to keep their shape, and we like baking them in a Dutch oven to get the right texture.
Despite its name, this bread from Normandy doesn’t actually contain brie (or any cheese at all, for that matter). The word brie refers to the extended kneading process involved in making this buttery bread, creating a tight gluten structure that makes the loaf very soft. Before it bakes, the top is scored to give it a unique look. It’s traditionally used to make Charlotte de pommes, a dessert filled with fruit or custard.