Frog legs are a delicacy which have been eaten for centuries. Born out of food shortages and necessity, cuisses de grenouilles (meaning “frog thighs”) have been part of French cuisine for over a 1000 years.
Today they are considered a delicacy, and nearly 70 tonnes of frog legs are consumed every year in France. It is also very popular in many other parts of the world, including Italy, Spain, China, Korea, and other parts of Asia. All those people can’t be wrong, can they?
There are two main ways that frog legs are cooked, either deep fried or baked with herbs. You can find variations of these types of dish serving cuisses des grenouilles all over France, from Michelin-starred restaurants to local brasseries.
If you have never had frog legs before and are the squeamish type, you have to think of them as an icebreaker to the more adventurous side of French gastronomy like foie gras, escargot, and tripes (food guts).
I’m kidding of course, but if it helps, I really do find that frog legs taste a bit like chicken. And they’re actually much better than that with strong flavors like garlic, lemon, and parsley.
Indeed, in France, it is such a widely regarded delicacy that the species had to be protected with enforced limits and heavy fines on the capture of frogs. In most regions, it is strictly allowed for personal consumption and required to be broiled, fried or barbecued and consumed on the spot.
These days, there is such a shortage of frog legs in France, most of the cuisses des grenouilles consumed comes from imports overseas. So with all that encouragement, let’s get to how the French serve and eat frog legs, shall we? Allons-y!
How cuisses de grenouilles is served
The most popular type of frog legs that you will find are cuisses de grenouilles à la persillade. The frog legs are covered with flour, oil, garlic, and parsley, and lightly fried.
Other popular recipes in France with frog legs are:
- Cuisses de grenouilles à la provencale – with peeled tomatoes, garlic and parsley
- Cuisses de grenouille à la poulette – with egg and cream
- Grenouilles en brochettes – barbecued on a stick
- Cuisses de grenouilles à l’aïoli – served with aioli sauce
- Cuisses de grenouilles à l’armagnac – cooked in armagnac
- Cuisses de grenouilles au vin blanc – cooked in white wine
- Cuisses de grenouilles à la lyonnaise – with chopped onions, butter, and parsley
But frog legs is just a type of meat, and can actually go into any type of dish instead of lardons. Other varieties you may find are:
- pizza avec grenouille
- quiche grenouille
- tourte grenouille
- omelette de grenouilles aux herbes
- souffle de grenouilles
- cassoulet avec grenouilles
- gratin de grenouilles
The town of Vittel in the Vosges department is famous for its annual foire aux grenouilles (meaning “frog legs festival”) which is held every April. (The town is also the town for which Eau Vittel mineral water is named after.)
Is it safe to eat?
Yes, the cuisses de grenouille that you get in France at reputable restaurants should be perfectly fine to eat. And considering it is high in protein but lower in fat than other meats, there is a lot of nutritional value to the delicacy.
Frog legs are approximately 72 calories for 100 grammes and have a high content of B vitamins (B1, B2 and PP), and iron.
Ordering at a French restaurant
The most common serving of frog legs that you will find in Paris at restaurants aimed for tourists, is the cuisses de grenouilles à la persillade (with parsley).
Crispy and fried, they come in a large bowl and look and taste like chicken wings. And it goes down like chicken wings too, which is what you want if you are trying it for the first time.
Proper dining etiquette
Sprinkle the frog legs with a bit of lemon, pick them up with your fingers and dig in. You will be provided with a wet nap to clean your hands after.
You can also choose to place the legs on you plate and cut off the meat with a knife and fork. You can read more about French dining etiquette and table manners here.
What to eat with it?
Cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs) with parsley is usually served alongside potatoes that have been roasted, puréed, or even french fries.
It may also be served with rice or a side of julienned cooked vegetables.
What drinks to have with it?
Frog legs pair well with white wines like Chablis from Burgundy or a Reisling from Alsace. You can read more about French wines here.
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about other popular French dishes. A bientôt!