It’s hard to deny that the French know a thing or two about cooking. What could be wrong about enjoying copious amounts of cheese and wine? Classic French cooking is revered as some of the best in the world (when executed correctly, of course), which likely has something to do with the fact that it’s been around since the 17th century. You know what they say… practice makes parfait (sorry, not sorry)!

Many French cooking terms have become well-known here in North America and you’ve probably seen them on restaurant menus… but do you know what they mean? Here’s a guide to common terms in French cuisine. Study it so you can sound like you know what you’re talking about next time you’re hanging out with your fancy French-food-loving friends.


French for ‘under vacuum’, sous-vide cooking involves vacuum sealing the food in plastic and then either boiling or steaming it for a long period of time. This cooking method is said to heat the food more evenly than other methods, while preserving moisture for a tender, delicious outcome. 


Foods cooked ‘en papillote’ are baked inside a parchment paper wrapping. This method helps retain moisture in the food and is often used for cooking fish in the oven. If you’re a fan of Luvo’s Steam in Pouch meals you’ll definitely like this!


You know how when you’re making a sauce and you start by sauteing onions, carrots and celery or similar ingredients? You’re making a mirepoix — which is a mixture of braising vegetables.

Mise en place

Whenever I watch cooking shows I’m always fascinated by the assortment of little bowls with perfectly chopped ingredients ready to be added to a recipe. In French cooking, that’s called a mise en place — a method designed to make meal assembly quick and effortless.


Mmmmm lobster bisque. Is there such thing as chicken bisque? The short answer is no because a bisque is a French soup based on a broth made from crustaceans like lobster and crab.


Have you ever received an invitation to a fancy party that said canapes would be served? What the heck is that? A canape is generally an appetizer involving a piece of bread or a cracker with flavorful toppings.

Hors d’Oeuvres 

This French cooking term is probably one of the most common but what does it mean? We all know it refers to appetizers, but its literal translation is ‘outside of work’, or food enjoyed outside the main meal event.


A terrine is basically a fancy French meatloaf. It’s a mixture of minced ingredients shaped into a loaf and then baked or steamed and most of the time it’s a lot more delicious than it sounds.


A roux is a sauce-thickening trick made with equal parts flour and fat (usually butter). For example, if you are making gravy and want it to be thicker, simply add a roux and voila!


Ragout is the French word for a thick stew consisting of seasoned meat and vegetables stewed together so their flavors mingle.

Are you a fan of French cooking? Share your favorite French recipe in the comments section below and be sure to download Luvo’s 7-day meal and fitness plan for more nutrition tips and recipes.