How to talk about kitchen utensils in French

How to talk about kitchen utensils in French

by Anne-Lise Vassoille

Updated January 25, 2023

France is famous across the globe for its gastronomy. It’s a world with its own specialties and traditions. Indeed, even before booking a table and ordering food, you’ll first have to know the difference between a brasserie, a bistro and a restaurant in France. And if you’re at home, you’ll need to master the vocabulary not just of food, but of all the utensils in French that surround it. La vaisselle (tableware) includes different types of objects, with all the necessary cutlery and dinnerware to create l’art de la table (fine tableware) that French people so cherish. Ahead of the actual meal, you’ll also need all the cooking utensils in order to prepare some fancy dishes. 

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15 cutlery words in French

Les couverts (cutlery) include all the hand tools you need to serve and eat food. If you’re invited to a fancy dinner, then you may even be presented with l’argenterie (silverware). Here are 15 of the most common cutlery:

un couteaua knife
un couteau à poissona fish knife
un couteau à fromagea cheese knife
un couteau à paina bread knife
une fourchettea fork
une fourchette à poissona fish fork
une fourchette à desserta dessert fork
une cuillèrea spoon
une petite cuillère a small spoon
une cuillère à desserta dessert spoon
une cuillère à caféa coffee spoon
une grande cuillèrea large spoon
une cuillère à soupea soup spoon
une louchea ladle
une pelle à tartea cake server

It’s worth noting that une petite cuillère is a common expression to refer to either a dessert spoon or a coffee spoon, while une grande cuillère stands for a soup spoon.

15 words around dinnerware in French

Of course, cutlery would not be enough to eat and drink at a French table. Other elements of la vaisselle (dinnerware) are also required for that same purpose:

une assiettea plate
une petite assiettea small plate
une grande assiettea large plate
une assiette à soupea soup plate
une assiette creusea deep plate (i.e. a soup plate)
une assiette à fromagea cheese plate
une assiette à desserta dessert plate
un verrea glass
un verre à eaua water glass
un verre à vina wine glass
une coupe à Champagnea Champagne glass
une flûte à Champagnea Champagne flute
une tassea cup
une tasse à caféa coffee cup
une tasse à théa tea cup

Once again, une petite assiette is a common way to refer to either a cheese plate or a dessert plate, whereas une grande assiette is used only for the main dish of the meal. 

8 kitchen utensils names to serve food in French

More utensils are also needed in order to serve French food:

un plata serving dish
un saladiera salad dish
une soupièrea soup dish
une saucièrea gravy bowl
un bola bowl
un plateau à fromagesa cheeseboard
un dessous de plata hot dish stand
une carafe à eaua water carafe

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12 French words for cooking utensils

Back in the kitchen, you’ll need more utensils to cook and bake some mouth watering dishes ahead of the meal:

une casserolea saucepan
une poêle à frirea frying pan
une poêle à crêpesa pancake pan
une plaque de cuissona baking pan
un moule à gâteaua cake pan
une spatulea spatula
une cuillère en boisa wooden spoon
un éplucheura peeler
une passoirea colander
un foueta whisk
un rouleau à pâtisseriea rolling pin
une planche à découpera cutting board

The rules of the art de la table in France

Now that we have gone over the most important vocabulary around cutlery, dinnerware and other kitchen utensils in French, you also need a fast course on the proper table manners in France. There are a few elements of etiquette that may surprise you. 

To start with, you should put your hands on the table, on each side of the plate, rather than on your lap under the table. It’s considered equally rude to put your elbows on the table. You may even hear parents tell their children, “Ne mets pas tes coudes sur la table” (don’t put your elbows on the table).

You should also wait for everyone to be served before starting to eat. When cutting a piece of food like meat, you should use your knife with the right hand and your fork with the left hand. You should then keep your fork in the left hand to bring the food to your mouth.

During more formal dinners, you should also avoid cleaning the sauce off your plate with bread.

Get a mouthful of the vocabulary of dinnerware and cutlery in French

If you want to enjoy food in France to its fullest, don’t forget to learn the most useful words for kitchen and dining utensils in French, as well as the most important rules for good table manners. These are part of the intricacies that make French gastronomy such an elegant and exquisite experience.

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Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries, such as hospitality and travel, as well as health and well-being. Settled down in London since the end of her university years, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.

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