Lasagna, Casserole, and Other Food Names from Pots and Pans

You can trace the names of "casserole," "lasagna," and at least two other dishes back to the pans in which they are cooked. 

Mignon Fogarty
3-minute read

Foods that get their name from the pan in which they're cooked.

I found a wonderful book at the library a few weeks ago called “Word Mysteries & Histories,” which was written in the ‘80s by the editors of The American Heritage Dictionaries, and as I was leafing through the book, I came across the kind of information I imagine you could only know if you spend most of your time looking at etymologies. The entry was for the word “caldron,” which can be traced back to the Late Latin word for “kettle,” but then it gets interesting because the word “chowder” also goes back to the Late Latin word for “kettle.” 


“Caldron” makes sense because it’s kind of like a kettle, but “chowder,” while it still makes sense because you make chowder in a kettle, is more of a stretch. The fish stew gets its name from the pot you use to make it. 

Lasagna and Casserole

It turns out it’s not the only food that gets its name from a pot or pan. The American Heritage Editors write that “lasagna” comes from a Latin word for “cooking pot,” and “casserole” comes from a French word for “saucepan.”


I tried to find more foods that got their names from the names of pots or pans and found only one: “cassoulet.” This is a French casserole made from white beans and meat (often pork, lamb, sausage, goose, or duck). The word comes from an Occitan word that means an “earthenware dish.” (Occitan is a Romance language spoken in a few countries or regions including the south of France, Monaco, Catalonia, and the Occitan Valleys of Italy.)

I did find two other foods with interesting origins though.


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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