Even more French culinary terms you should know

11 French terms you can start tossing around today

Not that you must use these all the time like an elitist, but it helps to know what they are when you come across them on TV or when you're chatting with a fellow foodie. 

Beurre noisette

Nothing crazy about this one; it’s just a fancy name for brown butter. The term literally means “hazelnut butter” because of its fragrant, nutty quality.


Simply put, it’s sausage. There are lots of different types of boudin in French cooking. Two of the most well known are boudin blanc, a white pork sausage; and boudin noir, a dark blood sausage also known as black pudding in the UK.


An elevated version of the dried cubes you can find in the soup aisle at the grocery store. Bouillon is a stock made from beef, veal or poultry bones.

Bouquet garni

A bouquet or bundle of herbs tied with kitchen string, most commonly featuring bay leaves and thyme, and may have parsley and rosemary and other fresh herbs. It is used to flavour soups, stocks and sauces.


This is also known as “I don’t have the patience to cut something that small.” Brunoise is a very small and uniform dice, cubed to 1/16 of an inch, to be exact.


A stuffing made of minced mushrooms, along with some onions or shallots and herbs for flavour, and cooked in butter. Duxelles is most commonly used when making beef Wellington. It can also be used in sauces.


This is a braised meat dish, usually with meat that's been cut, lightly cooked before being braised, and in a white sauce (unlike a beef bourguignon or coq au vin). According to the interwebs, chicken fricassee was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favourite dishes, who knew?

Gratiner or Au Gratin

To finish the top of a dish (often a casserole) with a crust, usually of breadcrumbs or cheese (or both) and broiled it until golden and crispy. My mouth waters just thinking about it.



The term meaning to coat something. To coat the back of a spoon, nappe refers to the consistency you are looking for when making custards and sauces.


Pâte à choux or choux pastry

A French pastry dough most commonly used for profiteroles and éclairs. It’s made by boiling water and butter together, to which flour is quickly added to make a paste. Once the mixture cools slightly, eggs are beaten in to act as the leavener. The mixture is then piped into whatever shape you desire, baked, filled, and most importantly, eaten!


Traditionally, this term refers a mixture of creamed meat or fish. Today, it more commonly refers to the shape. Have you ever ordered dessert and wondered how they shape the ice cream into a perfect football shape? Well that’s a quenelle. They are super easy to make too. All you have to do is take two spoons and scrape the ice cream (or whatever else you may be shaping) from one to another, over and over onto itself, until it’s the right shape.