French Cookware Explained

French Cookware Explained

France is renowned for its cuisine, and French chefs have traditionally set the standard for culinary excellence across the world. We can safely say, therefore, that the French know how to make, select, and perfect high-quality cookware.

Whether you’re a Francophile or just want to cook like the world’s best chefs, traditional French cookware is a great place to start. Here are some ideas to inform your choices.

Copper Cookware

More copper cookware is sold in France than anywhere else in the world. Why? Because copper cookware warms quickly and cools down fast, giving you unparalleled control over your food’s temperature as you cook. This means that you can quickly stop a sauce from scorching or reach that exact consistency that you need.

Of course, it wouldn’t be truly French if it didn’t have style as well as substance. Copper pans are beloved for their beautiful, shining finish. But like many things French, they are also high maintenance. If you want to keep up that shine you’ll have to wash them carefully and polish them often. Of course, many believe that a duller finish on a copper pan is the sign of a true cook since it means that the pan has seen a lot of use.

The final thing that makes copper cookware so very French is its long history. Much of the highest quality copper cookware available is made in France, some of it even forged and dipped in the traditional way – by hand.

Photo by Didriks via Flickr
Le Creuset Cookware

Another famous type of cookware from France is cast iron, specifically the Le Creuset make. Le Creuset cookware boasts a hefty price tag, but it offers the typical French style and flair as well as very high quality and greater ease of cooking.

Le Creuset puts the strengths of cast iron cookware to good use, for instance, in the ultra-slow-cooked French stews. Its heavy construction means that you get even and smooth heating without hot or cold spots that can ruin a meal. It also retains heat well and browns foods better than just about any other cookware.

Bare cast iron can also has some major disadvantages. It must be seasoned before you can use it, food can easily stick to its surface, and it can react with acidic foods. Furthermore, cleaning can be difficult because you can’t use soap or hard scrubbers without damaging the seasoning.

However, Le Creuset cookware avoids these drawbacks by surrounding the cast iron with a thick enamel finish. The enamel prevents rusting and sticking, and makes for absolutely easy cleanup of even the worst messes. You can even throw your Le Creuset pots and pans in the dishwasher – something that would damage regular cast iron heavily.

Furthermore, the enamel coating can be treated to result in a number of bright, cheerful colours. Typical Le Creuset cookware comes in varieties like fiery orange, rich blue, apple green, and sunny yellow coatings which are sure to brighten your kitchen.

If you really want to cook like the French, you need to start with collecting French cookware!

•With thanks to Benni Jenyfari

Photo by Didriks via Flickr

Cookware expert Benni Jenyfari has written for and other online consumer guides and informational websites.

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Sylvia is a freelance journalist based in France, focusing on business and culture. A valued member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia is a regular contributor to our publication.

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  •  Carolyn Skidmore
    2023-01-08 09:52:12
    Carolyn Skidmore
    I am thrilled. My sister in law gave me her deceased husbands copper saucepan. I live in Springfield Mo and the copper pan says Made in France. He died last yr at age of 90. I cleaned it up and I am so pleased to own it. He made fudge in it. I will keep it in my family.


  • Wayne W Wickers
    2022-11-17 08:06:40
    Wayne W Wickers
    I have been a lover of Le Creuset cast iron for so many years you could not believe.Over 50 years.I worked as a NYC Police officer in N.Y.C in 1962.At times while driving the “Paddy Wagon “ I was instructed to cook for the members of the Station.I was 21 years of age knew how to eat fine foods yet knew little of cooking them.My Mother was a gourmet cook before her time.I developed a love of cooking and oddly discovered my food developed a love for me.I discovered a small village shop specializing in Le Creuset cookware.At the time I was the father of 3 young children ages 4-2-1 years.I bought my first set of Le Creuset on a payment plan,the sweet owner of the shop took pity on me and helped me pay on time. From that humble moment I developed a love and talent for cooking,I Upon retiring from the N.Y.C. System because of an injury I now had 5 young children,Obviously I had to do something to aid my situation.I with the help of a very very supportive wife I gambled into the adventurous world of restaueranteur.I was successful! I opened my own restaurant in 1985 in N.Y. A French German steak house. I retired and moved to South Carolina in 1992 where I opened a “Gourmet N.Y.C. Hot dog stand.and fortunately became semi famous for my product,actually doing a local T.V. Show on E.S.P.N.T.V. I again retired to Florida where I wrote a weekly food column. Enough B.S. ! How can I buy a Le Creuset copper set of pots and pans? The Best on the market ? I have wasted hours and hours tonight searching on the net ,Seem to get much misinformation obviously I would not be wasting my time with you tonight if I did not trust your quality! Do you sell a high quality copper classic set of beautiful functional pots and pans ? I am now celebrating my 82 nd. Birthday and wish to purchase a new old friend.Hopefully we may spend many future years of love in the kitchen as we have in the past. I apologize for the lengthy diatribe.The truth takes time ,lies are quick!👨🏻‍🍳


  • Gilland McGuire
    2022-01-10 10:57:19
    Gilland McGuire
    Well discovered a PAUL REVERE HANDCRAFTED unique 17thCentury copper cook prototype, its consultant was President USA Thomas Jefferson son James Hemmings, first United States Chef, the Production delay caught up in the Lousiana Purchase....FRANCE received portion of REVERE formulation.


    •  Wayne Wickers
      2022-11-17 08:13:13
      Wayne Wickers
      Wow Impressive ! However I am looking for a highest quality cook set to now be used in my life! Too much watered down junk on the market!