On my first trip to France when I was in my twenties, I bought a classic French pot lid in a flea market. Ten inches in diameter, it is a tin-lined copper disk with a cast iron handle. It reminded me of the French cooking heritage I loved. Little did I know that it would become one of my most-used kitchen tools. Or that the copper lids would become really expensive. On the hunt to find an alternative, I finally found a new iteration that, while not as perfect as the original, is affordable and incredibly useful.

My old 10-inch lid fits 10-inch pots and pans…

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

…and balances well on smaller ones as well, becoming a “universal” lid…

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

New French copper universal lids are pricey and not easy to find. French Copper Studio sells them (though I haven’t checked the quality). You can sometimes find vintage ones on Ebay and Etsy in various sizes and conditions. (Make sure they are not warped; they need to fit snugly on the rim of the pan so steam doesn’t escape.)

Looking for an affordable alternative (and needing a rare twelve-inch lid), I tried All-Clad’s stainless steel copy of the classic French universal lid design ($60). At twelve-inches in diameter, it works well for 7″ to 12″ pans and pots. For the most part, it’s well worth having, with a couple of caveats. The stainless steel can temporarily warp when exposed to very high heat, and the handle can get hot if near the flame (things that simply don’t happen with the copper tops). It’s also not as wonderful looking as the copper. But it’s a joy to have one lid that covers a range of pan sizes, and that can hang easily to keep in easy reach. I use it all the time.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Because universal lids aren’t very heavy, if I need a REALLY tight seal, I put a rock on it to weight it down.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Either style of lid makes a great wedding or house gift.

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