French Cooking Terms

Instructor: Emily France

Emily has experience teaching English and French and has a master's degree in International Studies

In this lesson, we will learn some basic French terms related to cooking. In addition to some general cooking vocabulary, we will discuss cooking utensils, common ingredients, and verbs or instructions you might see in a recipe.

Imagine you are throwing a dinner party and have decided to put together a French feast for your friends. You're starting out by making ratatouille, a traditional French dish made up of stewed vegetables. To begin, you get out all the necessary ustensiles de cuisine (cooking utensils), such as la poêle à frire (frying pan), le couteau (knife), and la planche à découper (cutting board). Next, you need to gather some ingrédients (ingredients), like l'huile d'olive (olive oil), le sel (salt), l'ail (garlic), and lots of légumes (vegetables). Your recette (recipe) instructs you to hacher (chop) the ingredients, faire chauffer (heat up) the olive oil, and sauter (sauté) the garlic. Then, the recipe says to mixer (blend) all the ingredients and cuire (cook) the dish au four (in the oven). Et voilà! You've made a delicious French meal!

Cooking requires utensils, ingredients, and a recipe.

Food is a central facet of life in France, and knowing some vocabulary related to cooking is an excellent entry into the French language and culture. Mastering some cooking terms will help you decipher French recipes and impress your friends by feeding them some delicious French dishes.

General Cooking Terms

Here are a few general cooking-related terms to get you started:

French English Pronunciation
la cuisine kitchen lah kwee-zeen
le cuisinier
la cuisineère
chef, cook luh kwee-zeen-ee-ay
lah kwee-zeen-ee-her
le four oven, stove luh foor
le four à micro-ondes
le micro-ondes
microwave luh foor ah mee-kroh-ohnd
luh mee-kroh-ohnd

Cooking Utensils

You're in the cuisine (kitchen) and know where all the appliances are. You're off to a great start! Cooking any recipe would be a tad difficult without the necessary tools, however. Here are some common ustensiles (oo-stahn-seel, utensils) you might find in a French kitchen:

French English Pronunciation
la casserole pot, pan, saucepan lah kah-suh-rohl
la poêle à frire frying pan, skillet lah poh-ehl ah freer
la marmite pot, kettle lah mahr-meet
le couvercle lid luh koo-vehr-kluh
la cuillère spoon lah kwee-her
le fouet whisk luh foo-ay
la spatule spatula lah spah-tool
le couteau knife luh koo-toh
la planche à découper cutting board lah plahnsh ah day-koo-pay

Here are some common kitchen utensils, including a skillet, a spoon, and a spatula.

Common Cooking Ingredients

Once you have the utensils required to prepare a meal, you'll also need to get the right ingrédients (an-gray-dee-ahn). Here are some basic ingredients that go into many French dishes:

French English Pronunciation
le bouillon stock, broth luh boo-ee-yohn
l'ail (m) garlic liy
l'huile d'olive (f) olive oil loo-eel doh-leev
le sel salt luh sehl
le poivre pepper luh pwah-vruh
le beurre butter luh buhr
les légumes (m) vegetables lay lay-goom
la viande meat lah vee-ahnd
le riz rice luh ree
les pâtes (f) pasta lay paht

Cooking Instructions

After collecting the right utensils and ingredients, you're ready to start cooking. Here are some verbs and terms you might see in la recette (lah ruh-seht, recipe):

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