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What is the Difference between a Double-boiler and a Bain-Marie.

A double boiler is one pot or bowl affixed on top of a pot of boiling water, on “top of the stove”. It is used for making things like melted chocolate, or an egg custard from scratch. It is the steam emanating from the boiling water that does the gentle cooking.

A Bain-Marie is usually a roasting dish filled with water surrounding a dish that needs to be cooked surrounded by water, like a Christmas pudding, cheese soufflés, caramel custards, etc. This method is usually used with dishes that need to be cooked thus “in the oven”.

This is the difference between a Double Boiler - Stove Top, and a Bain-Marie - In The Oven. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Swoooooozan (talkcontribs) 14:52, 16 February 2020 (UTC)

Bain-marie and a double boiler are not the sameEdit

In American usage, a bain-marie is NOT a double boiler (I believe in the UK they are used interchangeably).

A double-boiler is used on the stove to gently melt (for example, chocolate) or cook. You can purchase special nesting pots, but it works perfectly fine with a heat-proof bowel sitting over simmering (not boiling) water. The water does not touch the bowl.

A bain-marie is used in the oven when baking custards like creme caramel, flan, or creme brûlée. The baking dish or ramekin is placed inside of a roasting pain and water is poured around it. The goal is to insulate the custard from the extreme heat of the oven and to slow down the cooking process. Some people put towels underneath the ramekins, but this is not required. Obviously here the water *does* touch the bowl. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cogorno (talkcontribs) 06:14, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

Different from a double boiler?Edit

Is this different from a double boiler? It looks like a bain-marie is used in an oven and a double boiler used on a stove top. Anyone familiar with these things? --rmhermen 19:36, 14 January 2002 (UTC)

That's pretty much the difference. Also, a Bain-marie allows water to come up to the level of the stuff being cooked, while a double boiler might not come that far. -- JHK 21:50, 14 January 2002 (UTC)
Well, what's it used to cook? That sort of info is what would distinguish this from a dictionary entry. --LMS 21:53, 14 January 2002 (UTC)
Primarily, custardy things -- I use it for a chocolate bread pudding recipe -- but you should use one for any custard -- it helps keep the eggs from breaking. I don't see that there is any way to distinguish it, though, unless someone writes in a "development of" kind of way JHK 15:43, 25 February 2002 (UTC)
"by submerging the container into a larger one with boiling or near boiling water. " Hmmmm... in photography if you need to process a film at 20°C in a room at 10°C a good way is to is to put the film tank in a large can of water at 20° to buffer the temperature (of course your chemicals should be heaten to 20° too). I've always called it a bain-marie even if no boiling water is involved.... Ericd 22:04, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure a bain marie does not go in the oven. Then the oven would be doing the cooking not the hot water. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:14, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Narrow definitionEdit

I think, the participants of this topic has focused on a narrow definition. In fact, bains-marie is used for storing foods to be still warm before servicing; this definition is taken from the intended use paragraph of the European harmonized standard "EN 60335-2-50 Household and similar electrical appliances – Safety – Part 2.50: Particular requirements for commercial electric bains-marie" according to 73/23/EEC Low Voltage Directive. Electric bains-marie can be dry or wet type; also, the wet type is vapourized or boiling. A heat source keeps "the bowl" warm; so, the dry bains marie is similiar to an electric pan, the open bath type bains-marie is made up of a bathtube which is used as a hot water bath for food bowls, and finally, the vaporized bains-marie heats the food bowl with vapour. Electric bains-marie is not a cooking device according to the standard EN 60335-2-50; it is used for keeping the foods in hot condition for servicing. (edit by Aran Suildur) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:11, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

A bain marie is a water bath. The inner smaller pot sits inside it, submerged partway in the water. If you were to melt chocolate in an open bain marie, it would seize because of the steam.
A double boiler is a double-decker pot fitted so that an upper pot rests above the water in the lower pot. The top pot is heated only by steam, but the pots are tightly fitted so the steam cannot escape and get into the upper pot.
They have similar uses, but the double boiler can handle more delicate foods. (talk) 12:55, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Sort the article outEdit

I think someone should take it upon themselves to try to sort out the article because just putting stuff on the discussion page is not much help. There seems to be a straight conflict between those who think it is the same as a double boiler and those who think it is not. Who's right? ( I know it may seem odd to write on the discussion page that there is too much being put on the discussion page but I think this is an increasing problem on Wikipedia.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:42, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Big EditEdit

I've gone ahead and basically cleaned up the whole article -- please review and approve as needed. I do see that much of it was written by someone whose first language isn't English (but who might be an excellent sous-chef), so I've worked mostly on syntax, grammar, and sentence structure, and of course overal MOS stuff. I've deleted things that didn't seem relevant, or were pieces of info that were extraneous -- stuff people likely to look up this article aren't going to really care that much about. I poked around and did some research, and there do seem to be many, many versions of bains-marie in existence, ranging from things like chafing dishes to things like double-boilers. I think we're safe if we just describe, as simply as possible, the basic versions of all pieces of equipment referred to as "bains-marie," with some examples of what they're used for, and keep away from implying that there's only one kind and that it's "exactly like a double-boiler" or "exactly like a chafing dish."

Anyway, that's my two francs. Sugarbat (talk) 06:18, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Double Boiler or Bain-marie?Edit

It really would be nice if there were some clarification about the basic terminology here. Is a Bain-marie a generic term for any device that uses water as a buffer to regulate temperature while a double-boiler is a more specific type of item? Or are they synonyms? Or is one the common term in the US but not the UK? Or are there design differences such as a bain-marie having the upper vessel sitting directly in the water bath, while a double-boiler has the upper pan heated by steam from below?

I tried to do some investigating myself and checked at least WordNet and But it would be nice for someone who knows more about culinary matters and regional terminology to find some good references in that realm and clarify.

Wordnet wasn't a lot of help with synonyms and word relationships in this case, though it did define double-boiler "double boiler, double saucepan (two saucepans, one fitting inside the other)" while the definition of bain-marie was less specific.'s first definition of bain-marie seems to imply that it works by placement of the inner vessel in the hot water of the outer. Its second definition is "British. a double boiler." When looking up "double boiler" it indicates that the term originated in America in 1875-1880 and it indicates two interlocking pots.

My interpretation is that if you're in the US and say "double boiler" you mean a specific device with interlocking saucepans that is usually used on the stove top. If you use the term "bain-marie" you might mean any device (including those designed for baking or chafing) that uses water to buffer the temperature. If you're in the UK and say "bain-marie" you may mean the same thing as what most in the US would call a double boiler.

Anyone know for sure or can shed more light from some good culinary sources? (talk) 07:29, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

No Distinction.

Basically there is no distinction between a double broiler and any method for keeping food warm by placing it in a container over hot water. The name Bain-marie applies to both a double broiler and a steam table. Ref: The Professional Chef The American Culinary Institute, 8th e., 2006,John Whaley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken New Jersey, p. 163. --FBelden (talk) 22:40, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

From a UK perspective I perceive them as two slightly different things, although admittedly very similar. To my knowledge a bain-marie is a water bath with the inside vessel being surrounded by the water (often used in the oven with a shallow pan), whereas a double boiler is a bowl on top of a saucepan (or sometimes a second saucepan on top) filled with a small amount of water used to heat the top part. I also quite often see people saying that the water should not touch the top part in a double boiler but I am not sure if that actually changes the heating. It may just be a precaution to stop over-flowing of boiling water? I see there is a bit of debate here and decided to investigate some sources:

  • Joy of Cooking By Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, p.154 and 774, refers to a double boiler as over not in boiling water.
  • Creme Brulee: The Bonjour Way By Randolph W. Mann, p.13, describes a double boiler as a bowl not touching the boiling water.
  • BBC Good Food Magazine Glossary (, describes a Bain Marie as a large shallow pan of water surrounding the inner vessel.
  • Paul Hollywood's chocolate éclairs on BBC Food (, describes a double boiler as a bowl over but not touching simmering water, used to cook in the oven or on a hob (or also to keep food warm).
  • Crème brûlée by John Burton Race on BBC Food (, describes a Bain-marie as a deep pan with water coming up halfway to the ramekins placed in the water. This is then cooked in the oven.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary (British English 2019 electronic version), describes (paraphrasing here) a bain-marie as a pan of hot water with another container inside it. A double boiler on the other hand is described as a saucepan with a detachable upper part which is heated by boiling water in the lower part.
  • Baking For Dummies By Emily Nolan, couldn't find page numbers, see "Getting over the gear" section, which describes a double boiler as a bowl of saucepan which fits on top of a saucepan of water.
  • How to Cook Everything (10th anniversary edition) By Mark Bittman, couldn't find page numbers, see "Seven Minute Frosting", also describes a double boiler both as a bowl over boiling water and as a bowl which fits into a pot.
  • Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques By Jacques Pépin, p.71, describes a bain-marie as a skillet with tepid water surrounding ramekins which is heated on a hob/stove.
  • The Wikitionary entry for Bain-Marie and double boiler ( describes them both as a pan of hot water with smaller pans placed inside.
  • The Collins dictionary descries a double boiler as one on top of the other / the top sitting partially inside.
  • Merriam Webster dictionary describes a double boiler as two saucepans. One fitting on top of the other so that the top one is heated by boiling water in the bottom one.
  • The American Woman’s Cook Book (victory binding edition) by Ruth Berolzheimer, p.312, descries placing ingredients into the top part of a double boiler.

I have also seen the terms used interchangeably in some places, but there is a common pattern of distinction that I have seen in sources: a double boiler being a bowl/pan on top of a pan of boiling water and a bain-marie as vessels containing the food to be heated partially submerged in a larger vessel containing water. I also found a few places which describe a bain-marie as a type of double boiler, implying that a double boiler is a more generic term. As a side note, looking at Google Trends data shows that the term double boiler is more commonly searched in the US and Canada whereas bain-marie is dominant everywhere else in the world. Perhaps there are some geographical differences also making it more confusing?

Lastly, I apologise if I have not formatted anything correctly. I am a new contributor and am not used to posting here. Jopoco (talk) 21:42, 25 May 2020 (UTC)

Merge proposalEdit

Why are we using a French word as an English Wikipedia entry, when there's a perfectly good English term? This thing is a double boiler. In fact, until coming here, I'd never heard of a "bain-marie", and I'm somewhat north of half a century in age. The multiple questions here, as well as at Talk:Double boiler, indicate that the choice of the French term as an article entry is ill-advised and only causes confusion. (Lest one accuse me of being biased against the French, I'd say the same thing about any other language here, when equivalent English terms are available. This is the English Wikipedia, is it not? There's already an interwiki link to the French Wikipedia's "bain-marie" entry.)
The article contents should be merged into Double boiler, with passing mention of the "bain-marie" French term.—QuicksilverT @ 16:09, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

The English name is Bain-Marie. "Double boiler" may be what the Americans call it; but that language is not English, whatever they call it. And it works well for porridge. (talk) 20:33, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Merge Because they are the same thing, not for linguistic reasons. Dbpjmuf (talk) 01:45, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Merge. They are the same thing. No one on either this page or the Double boiler page has given any indication as to what the differences are, other than "Well WE call it a ....." Differences might be (i don't know):

  1. Whether the water touches the upper pot - although this is irrelevant as the temperature will be the same regardless. The water temperature and the steam temperature that close to the water level, and in a mostly enclosed space will be the same as the water temperature.
  2. Whether a Bain-marie is just a water-bath chafing dish used to keep food warm, and a double boiler is used to actually cook a food.
  3. Whether or not it is used on the stove-top or in the oven. The article (and picture) indicate that it is a stove-top device. However, the TECHNIQUE of surrounding cooking containers with water in a larger container in the oven (e.g. ramakins in a roasting pan) might be properly called a Bain-marie technique. I don't know.

There appears to be no difference other than regional nomenclature, which can easily be discussed in a merged article. BeadleB (talk) 08:46, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

Don't MergeEdit

The term "double boiler" generally refers to cooking only. Conversely, Bain Maries are used in science and industry. Clearly, the two articles should remain separate to distinguish between the two. (talk) 17:35, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

The process is essentially the same with minimal variation. I'd think you can redirect double boiler to Bain Marie and simply explain the subtle difference in the article.--MartinezMD (talk) 01:56, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
Merge In UK English, 'bain-marie' is a standard name for the cooking equipment. I've no idea what the industrial equipment would be called, but if I had to guess, it's probably 'double boiler'...
All the best. –Syncategoremata (talk) 05:28, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
Don't merge. Double boiler is necessarily a specially-made piece of equipment, whether for culinary or industrial use; whereas bain-marie is simply a technique in which a pan is kept just below boiling point by being semi-immersed in boiling water. In the kitchen it is often (or even usually) improvised.AdeMiami (talk) 07:05, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
That doesn't explain why we need two articles which have about 95% overlap. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 21:30, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
Merge. Even if they're not identical, they're far too similar to warrant having unrelated separate pages, and neither one is so long as to make the combination onerous. AdeMiami is also incorrect that double boilers are never improvised--see the Google Image Search results for "double boiler" to see the assortment of things people refer to colloquially as double boilers. About half of them are metal mixing bowls fitted over saucepans, which is how I learned to do it. Relsqui (talk) 18:29, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

Requested move 04 July 2014Edit

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: not moved. No counter-arguments for to Necrothesp's and victor falk's claim this is an ENGVAR case. Jenks24 (talk) 07:59, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Bain-marieDouble boilerDouble boiler currently redirects to here, and although I've never heard of "Bain-marie", I've heard of "Double-Boilers" many times. The discussions on this page seem to indicate a mild consensus towards merging a Bain-marie article into a Double Boiler article, but nothing supporting what has happened -- the opposite -- merging Double Boiler into Bain-Marie Relisted. Jenks24 (talk) 12:56, 12 July 2014 (UTC) jheiv talk contribs 09:38, 4 July 2014 (UTC) jheiv talk contribs 09:38, 4 July 2014 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Support - per nom jheiv talk contribs 09:40, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Tentative support as per WP:UE Red Slash 20:46, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support according to Martha Stewart, in English, a bain-marie is made from china or porcelain, so double boiler is the more generic kitchen term. -- (talk) 06:11, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
    Martha Stewart is wrong, a bain-marie is the process or technique of using two containers, as the article makes clear, not the containers themselves, which are only referred as thus as a secondary derived denotation. Pick any two pots in your kitchen, as long as they're of different sizes you have a bain-marie. walk victor falk talk 23:00, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
    • Comment the edit history at Double boiler (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) will need to be displaced, I suggest double-boiler -- (talk) 06:15, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
      • The use of double-boiler would seem to be contrary to the MOS:HYPHEN guideline. —BarrelProof (talk) 03:10, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
        • It would just be used to preserve the edit history, and exist as a redirect, so MOSHHYPHEN doesn't apply as it would be a redirect. (though feel free to adjust my suggestion with an ndash) And it would be a functional redirect instead of a useless pagename (as would result from a parentheticalized format disambiguator), as it would be usable as the adjectival form, for people who can't type dashes, or for those who believe compound terms should exist with a connector. -- (talk) 04:51, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
          • I am not an expert on what is necessary on Wikipedia in regard to historical recording. However, I suggest that there must be some way to deal with this situation without distorting the title in that manner. I think that perhaps what is needed is what is known as a WP:HISTMERGE. —BarrelProof (talk) 08:13, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
            • The problem is WP:Parallel histories when double boiler was merged here, so a histmerge can't be done, thus my displacement suggestion, as WP:MAD says we need to keep the edit history around, and I'd prefer it to not just be occupying a useless pagename, when it could be a usable redirect instead, as the edit history page will necessarily be a redirect. -- (talk) 17:40, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
              • The desire to preserve an edit history should not drive title selection. See WP:RF. —  AjaxSmack  04:27, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
                • The selection of a pagename that is WP:RF friendly is what my suggested displacement name is about. If the displaced edit history occupies a usable redirect form, then it is WP:RF-friendly, because the redirect is usable as a redirect to the page from the searchbox. -- (talk) 04:44, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
                  • The desire to preserve an edit history should not drive the title selection. It should not cause us to use a title that is contrary to the MOS:HYPHEN style convention. —BarrelProof (talk) 06:38, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Apparently an ENGVAR issue and not a UE issue. I'm English. I've never heard the term "double boiler" and wouldn't know what it was. I do, however, know what a bain-marie is. As the article was created under this name it should stay under this name. -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:25, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. UE seems applicable here. Calidum Talk To Me 14:22, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose I knew what a bain-marie was but I had never heard of "double boiler" before this RM. WP:UE does not apply, bain-marie is a French loanword, listed in my concise OED, like many other technical cuisine terms. I would agree with Necrothesp this might be an wp:engvar issue. walk victor falk talk 23:00, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
    • Absolutely. This is a misapplication of UE. Loan words that appear in reliable English dictionaries do not fall under it. -- Necrothesp (talk) 08:20, 21 July 2014 (UTC)


Any additional comments:

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.
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