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Parfait samples by pinguino in Osaka, Japan.jpg
Layered Japanese parfait models in Osaka, Japan
Place of originFrance
Serving temperatureFrozen
Main ingredientsSugar, syrup, eggs, cream
French parfait
Layered American parfait in Tokyo, Japan
Jelly of quail, langoustine cream and parfait of foie gras at The Fat Duck

Parfait (/pɑːrˈf/,[1][2] also UK: /ˈpɑːrf/,[3] French: [paʁfɛ] (listen); meaning "perfect") is either of two types of dessert. In France, where the dish originated, parfait is made by boiling cream, egg, sugar and syrup to create a custard-like puree. The American version consists of layers differentiated by the inclusion of such ingredients as granola, nuts, yogurt and liqueurs, topped off with fruits or whipped cream.[4][5] The oldest known recipe dates back to 1894.[6]

Either type is typically served in tall glassware together with a long spoon known as parfait spoon. The classical parfait glass is stemware, with a short stem and a tall slender bowl, often tapered towards the bottom, also used for serving milkshakes.


In France, parfait refers to a frozen dessert made from a base of sugar syrup, egg, and cream.[7] A parfait contains enough fat, sugar, alcohol, and to a lesser extent, air, to allow it to be made by stirring infrequently while freezing, making it possible to create in a home kitchen without specialist equipment. The fat, sugar, alcohol or air interferes with the formation of water crystals, which would otherwise give the ice cream an uncomfortable texture in the mouth. The formation of ice crystals is managed in the making of regular ice cream by agitating the ice cream constantly while it freezes or chemically by adding glycerol. Neither should be necessary when making a high-quality parfait.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, parfait can refer to a very smooth meat paste (or pâté), usually made from liver (chicken or duck) and sweetened with liqueurs.[8]

United States and Canada[edit]

In the United States, parfait refers to either the traditional French-style dessert or to a popular variant, the American parfait, made by layering parfait cream, ice cream, and sometimes fruit. It is usually served in a tall clear glass, but can also be served in a short and stubby glass. The clear glass allows the layers of the dessert to be seen. A topping is usually created with whipped cream, fresh or canned fruit, or liqueurs.[needs verification]

Recent trends in the United States and Canada have introduced parfaits without cream or liqueurs. These are made by simply layering yogurt with granola, nuts, and/or fresh fruits (such as peaches, strawberries, or blueberries).[9][10] This version is sometimes called a yogurt parfait or fruit parfait. Vegan parfaits are also available. [11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PARFAIT". Cambridge English Dictionary. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Parfait". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  3. ^ "parfait". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2020-11-16.
  4. ^ "Parfait".
  5. ^ "Parfait definition". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on January 5, 2017.
  6. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  7. ^ (2018-11-25). "The Parfait Dates Back To 1864 As A "Perfect" Frozen Dessert". South Florida Reporter. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
  8. ^ Recipe by Barney Desmazery. "Velvety duck liver parfait recipe - Recipes". BBC Good Food. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  9. ^ "Yogurt Parfait". General Mills. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  10. ^ "Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait: McDonald's Parfait Cup". McDonald's. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  11. ^ "Vegan Breakfast Parfait". October 12, 2019.

External links[edit]