A bain-marie (also known as a water bath) is a French term for a piece of equipment used in science, industry, and cooking to heat materials gently and gradually to fixed temperatures, or to keep materials warm over a period of time.


The bain-marie comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and types, but traditionally is a wide, cylindrical, usually metal container made of three or four basic parts: a handle, an outer (or lower) container that holds the working-liquid, an inner (or upper), smaller container that fits inside the outer one and which holds the material to be heated or cooked, and sometimes a base underneath. Under the outer container of the bain-marie (or built into its base) is a heat source.

Typically the inner container is immersed about halfway into the working-liquid

The smaller container, filled with the substance to be heated, fits inside the outer container, filled with the working-liquid (usually water), and the whole is heated at, or below, the base, causing the temperature of the materials in both containers to rise as needed. The insulating action of the water helps to keep contents of the inner pot from boiling or scorching.

When the working-liquid is water and the bain-marie is used at sea level, the maximum temperature of the material in the lower container will not exceed 100 degrees Celsius (the boiling point of water at sea level). Using different working-liquids (oils, salt solutions, etc.) in the lower container will result in different maximum temperatures.


A contemporary alternative to the traditional, liquid-filled bain-marie is the electric "dry-heat" bain-marie, heated by element below both pots. The dry-heat form of electric bains-marie often consumes less energy, requires little cleaning, and can be heated more quickly than traditional versions. They can also operate at higher temperatures, and are often much less expensive than their traditional counterparts. Fact|date=January 2008

Electric bains-marie can also be wet, using either hot water or vapor, or steam, in the heating process. The open, bath-type bain-marie heats via a small, hot-water tub (or "bath"), and the vapour-type bain-marie heats with scalding-hot steam.

Culinary applications

* Cheesecake is often baked in a bain-marie to prevent the top from cracking in the center.
* Custard may be cooked in a bain-marie to keep a crust from forming on the outside of the custard before the interior is fully cooked.
* Classic warm sauces, such as Hollandaise and beurre blanc, requiring heat to emulsify the mixture but not enough to curdle or "split" the sauce, are often cooked using a bain-marie.
* Some charcuterie such as terrines and pâtés are cooked in an "oven-type" bain-marie.
* Thickening of condensed milk, such as in confection-making, is done easily in a bain-marie.
* Controlled-temperature bains-marie can be used to heat frozen breast milk before feedings.
* Bains-marie can be used in place of chafing dishes for keeping foods warm for long periods of time, where stovetops or hot plates are inconvenient or too powerful.


Bains-marie were originally developed for use in the practice of alchemy, when alchemists needed a way to slowly and gently heat materials.Fact|date=May 2008 In that early form of chemical science, it was believed by many that the best way to heat certain materials was to mimic the supposed natural processes, occurring in the earth's core, by which precious metals were germinated.Fact|date=May 2008

The device's invention is popularly attributed to Mary the Jewess, an ancient alchemist traditionally supposed to have been Miriam, a sister of Moses.Fact|date=May 2008 The name comes from the medieval-Latin term "balneum" (or "balineum") "Mariae" — literally, "Mary's bath" — from which the French "bain de Marie", or "bain-marie", is derived.

See also

* double boiler
* Double steaming


* [ José María de Jaime Lorén. 2003. Epónimos científicos. Baño María. María La Judía. Universidad Cardenal Herrera-CEU. (Moncada, Valencia).]
* [ Prof. Dr. Hassan S. El Khadem. 1996. A Translation of a Zosimos' Text in an Arabic Alchemy Book. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. Volume 84. Number 3, Pages 168-178. September 1996]
*EN 60335-2-50 Household and similar electrical appliances – Safety – Part 2.50: Particular requirements for commercial electric bains-marie (73/23/EEC Low Voltage Directive)

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  • bain-marie — [ bɛ̃mari ] n. m. • 1516; de bain et de Marie, sœur de Moïse, connue comme alchimiste ♦ Liquide chaud (eau, le plus souvent) dans lequel on met un récipient contenant ce qu on veut faire chauffer. Faire prendre une crème au bain marie. Des bains… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Bain-Marie — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Marie. Bain marie utilisé pour faire fondre du chocolat. En cuisine, le bain marie dési …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bain Marie — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Marie. Bain marie utilisé pour faire fondre du chocolat. En cuisine, le bain marie dési …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bain marie — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Marie. Bain marie utilisé pour faire fondre du chocolat. En cuisine, le bain marie dési …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bain-Marie — Bain Ma|rie [bɛ̃...], Bains Marie [bɛ̃...] das; <aus gleichbed. fr. bain marie> Wasserbad (zum Warmhalten von Speisen) …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • bain-marie — 1822, from Fr. bain marie, from M.L. balneum Mariae, lit. bath of Mary. According to French sources, perhaps so called for the gentleness of its heating. Middle English had balne of mary (late 15c.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Bain-marie — Bain ma rie , n. [F.] A vessel for holding hot water in which another vessel may be heated without scorching its contents; used for warming or preparing food or pharmaceutical preparations. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bain-marie — (franz., spr. bäng marī ), Wasserbad, s. Bad, S. 242 …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Bain-marie — (frz., spr. bängmarih), Wasserbad, Gefäße von Zinn oder Eisenblech mit heißem Wasser zum Warmhalten der Speisen, Kochen von Puddings und Früchten …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • bain-marie — (izg. bèn marȉ) ž DEFINICIJA reg. posuda s toplom vodom koja održava toplinu jela ili služi za njihovu pripremu; banjamarija, »banja Marija« ETIMOLOGIJA fr …   Hrvatski jezični portal

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