Savoury Cake Salé: A French appetizer you make out of anything

Looking for French appetizer ideas? Try cake salé, a savoury French loaf cake you can whip up and Macgyver using pantry staples & leftovers.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  

French cake salé, also known as savoury cake or salty cake, is a popular dish in France that can be served as an appetizer, snack, or light meal accompanied by a salad and a glass of wine.

It often makes an appearance at picnics, beach parties, and pre-dinner drinks during French apero get-togethers because it’s easy to make in advance, can be eaten warm or at room temperature, and is delicious.

Plus, you can easily convert this recipe to a vegan or vegetarian savoury French loaf cake.

I discovered French cake salé in 2011 when my neighbour invited me to her house, where she laid out slices of cake salé, charcuterie, and other salty bites with wine for guests to nibble on as we chatted away. I had no idea how popular this simple and versatile savoury cake appetizer was at the time, but I was hooked from the first bite. 

But what is cake salé, and is it easy to make? 

Let’s find out. 

By the end of this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about French savoury cake salé, including how to whip one up out of anything in your pantry, including leftovers. 

What is cake salé?

savoury cake served as an aperitif during apéro hour

Cake salé is not a dessert cake.

The batter for savoury French cake salé is similar to a thick cake batter but with salty and savoury ingredients added into the mix. Recipes vary, but cake salé typically contains a liquid, such as milk or water, grated cheese, herbs and spices, and additional savoury ingredients such as olives, ham, bacon bits, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. 

The thick cake batter is then poured into a long rectangular loaf pan (usually lined with parchment paper) and baked in the oven. 

Let it cool completely, slice and then serve it on a platter for your guests. 

Once you know how to make the base recipe for the batter, you can MacGyver it into hundreds of different recipes. It’s also easily converted to a vegan savoury cake or savoury muffins.

You don’t even have to pour the mixture into a prepared loaf pan. You could pour it into a cupcake or muffin pan, but then it would be called “muffin salé.”

muffin salé: savoury cake salé muffins

Why is it called cake salé in French?

top view of savoury French cake salé with bottle of olive oi, sundried tomatoes and crème fraiche

The literal translation for cake salé is “salty cake,” but idiomatically, it means “savoury cake” in English because the French word “salé” is also used to describe savoury foods. Sometimes, French recipes online will refer to cake salé as “gateau salé” because “gateau” also means cake in French. 

In English, this French dish is sometimes referred to as a “Savoury Loaf Cake,” “Savoury Pound cake,” or “Savoury Quick bread.”

How to pronounce cake salé
Cake Salé, is pronounced /Cake Sah-Lay/ and not “cake sale.” The acute accent over the “É” changes the way the letter “e” is pronounced exactly like in my last name “André”.

Isn’t “cake” an English word?

In the French language, the word “cake” is a borrowed word from Middle English, derived from the Norse word “kaka.”

“Cake” is a very common French cooking term in France that refers to the rectangular shape of the loaf pan or bread pan that it’s baked in rather than its ingredients. In French, this rectangular loaf pan is called a “moule à cake” or “moule à pain.”

Non-Stick Loaf Pan
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9 x 5-Inch (2-Pack).

Perfect for making savoury French cake salé

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02/18/2024 08:06 pm GMT

cake salé at French supermarket freezer section marketed as Cake aperitif

Above is a photo I took at my local Carrefour grocery store. It’s marketed as a cake aperitif. 

What Are The Basic Ingredients In A French Cake Salé?

baking ingredients on a table: eggs, flour, milk and oil

One of the best things about a savoury French cake is that you only need to know how to make the basic cake salé batter using simple ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen pantry.

Once you’ve made the batter, you can jazz it up by mixing whatever you want into the cake mix. I mean absolutely anything.

From sundried tomatoes, feta and olives to chorizo, dates, and goat cheese. The combinations are endless.

Base Cake Salé ingredients

Dry ingredients for flour mixture

  1. Flour
  2. Baking powder
  3. Salt & ground black pepper

Wet ingredients for flour mixture:

  1. Eggs
  2. Milk
  3. Oil:  (some recipes call for butter.)


  • Cheese is optional, but is often one of the ingredients in a savoury French cake recipe. 

Vegetarian and Vegan cake salé

If you’re a vegetarian, you can easily make a vegetarian cake salé by simply not adding any meat to the batter. 

And if you’re vegan, it’s easy to convert this into a vegan cake salé by replacing dairy products with vegan options.

Vegan milk replacement options for cake salé:

  • soy milk
  • nut milk, such as almond milk
  • coconut milk
  • rice milk

Possible egg replacements for vegan cake salé include:

As for the eggs, some French vegan recipes use an egg replacement others don’t.

  •  Chickpea flour
  • Aquafaba (liquid from a can of white beans or chickpeas whisked for about 1 minute until it’s a little foamy.)
  • Store-bought egg replacers


Once you have your batter, which will look a lot like a thick pancake batter, it’s time to start adding whatever fillings you like.

You don’t even need a recipe, but they’re nice to have for inspiration. 

Cake salé is excellent for using up leftovers.

Because you can put whatever you want into your savoury French cake recipe, it’s a great way to use up any leftovers loitering in your refrigerator.

Need to finish half that onion and bell pepper or the leftover cooked ham? Chop it up and throw it in your batter. 

Obviously, this list is far from exhaustive, but here is a picklist of ingredients that you can combine in a number of ways to come up with unique cake salé recipes.

  • Cheese: Feta cheese, Goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, Mozerella, Comté, Gruyere, Blue cheese, Cheddar cheese etc. 
  • Fresh or dried herbs: Thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, chives, herbs de Provence, etc.
  • Spices: Curry, peppers, Sriracha, jalapeno, Mexican spices etc. 
  • Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pistachio, pine nuts, etc. 
  • Vegetables: Zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, bell peppers, peas, spinach, spring onion, garlic etc. 
  • Meat: Ham, chicken, sausage, Salmon, Shrimp etc. 

What Are Some Common French Savoury Cake Recipes?

There are literally hundreds of different French savoury cake recipes you can make, but here are some popular recipes. 

French Cake salé recipe ideas ( with meat or fish)

Vegetarian Cake Salé Filling Ideas

If you’re looking for vegetarian options, here are a few ideas. 

  • Gruyere, white wine and thyme
  • Mushroom, parsley and Comté cheese
  • Sun-dried tomatoes and pesto
  • Feta and spinach
  • Bell Pepper and ricotta
  • Olive and feta
  • Pumpkin, goat cheese and olives
  • Tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil and olives

Vegan Cake Salé Filling Ideas

On to the basic recipe now.

Ham and cheese cake Sale slice: Savoury loafe cake aka Savoury french cake salé

Savoury French Cake Salé (Base Recipe)

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This is the base recipe for French cake salé often eaten with an apéritif in France.
Add any ingredients you want to the batter like chopped ham, grated cheese, and onions.

You can convert it to a vegan cake salé by replacing the milk, eggs and cheese with vegan options. You can also make savoury muffins with this recipe.


For Cake Salé Batter

  • Flour- 1.5 cups (200 grams)
  • Baking powder: 2 tsp (one 10 oz packet levure chimique)
  • Eggs- 3
  • Oil (olive oil, sunflower, peanut oil, butter etc.): 1/4 cup (60 ml) (6cl)
  • Milk: 1/2 cup (120 ml) (12cl)
  • Dash of salt and pepper

CHEESE (Choose any type you like)

  • 3.5 to 5 oz (100 g to 150 g) any cheese
  • Gruyère
  • Parmesan
  • Cheddar
  • Goat
  • Feta
  • Mozzarella
  • Blue
  • etc.

FILLINGS (Choose any ingredients you like)

  • ANY CHOPPED MEAT: Ham, bacon bits, sausages, salmon etc.
  • Onions, Garlic
  • HERBS: Thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, chives etc.
  • CHOPPED VEGETABLES:: Bell peppers, Zucchini, Olives, Sundried tomatoes, Peas, etc.
  • SPICES: Curry, pepper, Sriracha, jalapeno etc.


  • STEP 1: Preheated oven to 350°F (180 °C)


  • STEP 2: In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour and baking powder
  • STEP 3: Add oil and eggs and mix until absorbed by the dry ingredients.
  • STEP 4: Add milk to the batter and mix until the dough is smooth like pancake batter.
  • STEP 5: Add a pinch of salt & pepper to the mixture.

CONGRATULATIONS! Your base cake salé batter is ready for your fillings.


Time to add cheese, herbs, spices and other ingredients of your choosing.

  • STEP 6: (optional) add any cheese to your cake salé batter and mix.
  • STEP 7: Add any chopped ingredients you want now and gently fold into the dough mixture: (ham, olives, garbanzo beans, zucchini etc. (see recipe idea section).
  • STEP 8: Pour cake salé batter into a cake pan (or muffin pan).
  • STEP 9: Bake for 40 to 45 minutes on the bottom oven rack of the oven to prevent the top of the cake from drying out.


  • You'll know your savoury French cake salé is ready when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.
  • Serve warm, or at room temperature.
  • I've included a video of the whole process below for a ham and cheese recipe.

NOTE* nutritional information listed below is for the base recipe without cheese and fillings.

Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 154Total Fat 8.5gSaturated Fat 1.6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 63mgSodium 179mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 0.7gSugar 1gSugar Alcohols .9gProtein 10g

Disclaimer: Nutrition information provided for recipes on are estimate and for guidance only. I am not a dietician or nutritionist. It is the responsibility of the reader to review all listed recipe ingredients to ensure that none of the ingredients may cause a potential adverse reaction

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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