For those who love to cook, you have likely come across a recipe with French roots. Its rich flavors, often decadent yet simple recipes are vibrant and full of life. When it comes to gearing up your kitchen, these essentials tools for French cuisine are handy. I find that I use them on a regular basis, not just for “French cuisine.”
For me, French cooking goes back to my family roots. My mother’s family is from (and still is there) France and it influences a lot of my cooking today. I have fond memories of making aioli with my Mamy, whipping up bœuf bourguignon with my mom, and exploring a plethora of recipes. Today, it has become a big part of the inspiration for cooking at home.
What I love about French cuisine is that you can incorporate it so easily. For example — take a very simple salad with greens from your market. Just add a basic vinaigrette with Provencal roots, and the entire dish is transformed. French cuisine doesn’t have to always be complicated.
So if you have stopped by our house, you’ll notice a few tools and essentials I keep around. The “batterie de cuisine” as the French call it or the utensils for preparing a meal, are the core to French cooking. If you’re looking to incorporate more French-style cooking in your home, take a look at these 10 essential tools.
10 Essential Tools For A French Kitchen
A personal note on cooking…
Whenever I step into the kitchen, it’s a place that transports me. I put on my favorite playlist, often classical music or French tunes. It’s a space for me and just me. A moment to be creative and turn my mind off from the day. Never too much pressure to perform but rather an opportunity to explore.
For me, cooking is about good ingredients that come together beautifully. Calculated recipes are my Achilles heel, but following directions has always been like that for me. I love to play around with what is left in the fridge and consider notes of sweetness with spice, textures, and color. Most importantly — we eat with our eyes first, so I love to spend extra time presenting the dish.
There are nights that a box of mac&cheese will do. Others, it’s an hour love affair of preparing, cooking, and plating. Time in the kitchen can be wonderful, restorative, and a moment for you. Whatever that may look like.
Above: Staub Cast Iron Pan. Preferred sizes: the round Dutch oven, the deep skillet in 11-inch , and the cast iron “perfect pan.”
Undoubtedly a heated subject is whether to pick Le Creuset or Staub for your enameled cast iron pan. But the one answer that is definitive is that cast iron pans are a staple of French cuisine. From using the dutch oven to create rich sauces to the deep skillet (our most used pan) to cook every day, it’s an investment for your kitchen.
I’ll make one note on why I prefer Staub — the interior color of Staub is dark grey which means wear and tear are not as noticeable. The lids fit arguably better and the finish on proteins is perfection.
Above: Linen Tea Towels. On Etsy from $14, From Shoppe Amber Interiors for $40 (use code “ 15JESSICAW” for 15% off your Shoppe Amber Interiors order)
I can’t say often enough how useful these are in the kitchen. I use linen tea towels for everything from hand towels to wiping up a mess, to using it for a hot lid. They’re incredibly versatile plus add a wonderful decorative piece to the kitchen.
Above: a Rimmed Baking Sheet + Silicone Baking Mat. Thick aluminum 3-piece set by Nordic Ware for $33 and a reusable Silpat silicone mat for $23.
A thick baking sheet that has a rim keeps all the sauces in. Use it for roasting vegetables, chicken, and everything else. Alongside it, one of my favorite French utensils is the Silpat silicone mats. They’re nonstick so easily remove cookies or macaroons off it. Plus, it distributes the heat evenly.
Above: Alice Waters’ Mortar & Pestle. Source exact here for $275. Similar versions from Amazon for $25 and a ceramic one for $50.
Let’s back up here and first note, this is actually from Japan. It’s a Japanese Suribachi or mortar and pestle. Its role for French cuisine? The perfect tool for creating dynamic vinaigrettes and crushing sauces and spices. Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse claims it has her most useful kitchen tool, and I have to agree.
Above: Mauviel Copper Beating/Mixing Bowl. From Williams Sonoma from $75. Alternates on Amazon from $35, and 3-piece Cuisinart set from Bed Bath & Beyond from $75.
A few mixing bowls are always necessary for either baking or even tossing a salad. I love the French maker Mauviel and their classic copper beating bowl, though there are more affordable options available.
Above: Le Parfait Canning Jar. Source on Amazon from $16. Alternate, Ball Jars from $13.
One of the most useful items in the kitchen is a mason jar. Use it to store sauces, dried goods, ingredients, and more. I even use them sometimes as a glass for water while I cook. It makes the pantry feel a bit more organized as well when you can clearly see what is in there.
Above: Opinel Paring Knife. Available at Amazon from $16. Pallares Solsona pairing knife from $22.
A classic for the kitchen is a solid pairing knife and started in 1890, brand Opinel has been making French knives for some time. The paring knife is perfect for everyday tasks like peeling and quick prep. I do love my Opinel but I have to give a mention to the Spanish maker, Pallares Solsona. We have a few of their knives and love their paring knife as well.
Above: 9 Inch Removable Bottom Tart Pan. On Amazon for $10.
At some point in your French cuisine adventures, you’ll come across a recipe that calls for a tart pan. Whether it’s a summer tomato tart or an apple tart in the winter, this is one tool I always keep around. I prefer mine with the removable bottom as I find it easier to transfer after cooking.
Above: the Market bag. A Panier Woven bag on Etsy for $55. Reusable Parisian-style net bag for $16 (set of 4).
The first step of cooking is gathering ingredients and do like the French do with a proper market bag. Whether you prefer a “panier” style that is more structure for a big haul or a reusable net bag, both are household staples.
Above: French Butter Dish. From Shoppe Amber Interiors for $60
(use code “15JESSICAW” for 15% off your Shoppe Amber Interiors order)
One of the most useful things in the kitchen is butter, ready to be used. This little tool keeps the butter soft at all times by storing water underneath to create a seal. The butter stays fresh, ready to use, and you don’t need a refrigerator.