Product Design

The Lightweight Danish Cookware We've Long Loved

September  6, 2017

We originally ran this article last year when we first launched Dansk in our Shop.

Few pieces of cookware get more attention from our stylists—and prompt more inquiries from our readers and customers—than a sweet little white butter keeper with a wooden handle. For years it's sat on our shelves and snuck into our photos, and we finally got to stock 'em in our Shop (along with bakers and casseroles in the same design, plus the whole shebang in a Food 52-friendly finish).

Peep the cutest-ever butter warmer, center left.

Vintage hounds and design fans will have guessed the little pot's brand by now: It's Dansk, an iconic Danish design that first took flight in the 1950s. Our own co-founder, Amanda Hesser, has been a fan of the line since eyeing a family friend's collection as a child, snatching up a bevy of it for herself as a young adult:

Just after college, I went to a Dansk store in Pennsylvania, where I'm from. I had little money and nowhere to live, but that didn't stop me from buying up glassware, cooking utensils, a colander, and bowls. Twenty-five years later, I still have much of this original stash (and have joyfully added more and more of the cookware).

Dansk, the company, was originally founded by two Americans, Ted and Martha Nierenberg, who spotted a set of wood and metal flatware they loved during a trip to a design museum in Denmark in 1954. They liked it so much, in fact, that they spent the rest of the trip tracking down the designer, Jens Quistgaard, and convincing him to design a line of cookware together.

He agreed. And Dansk was founded that same year.

Dansk is like the greyhound of cookware, only more durable.
Merrill Stubbs, co-founder of Food52
An early Dansk advertisement.

So much of a perfectionist was Jens that he insisted on designing the logo, right down to an original, hand-drawn font (the company still uses it). The cookware style he came up with—dubbed Kobenstyle—was to be deliberately lightweight, an easy-to-use foil to the heavy cast iron pots and pans that were so popular at the time. They decided on enameled carbon steel, with angular side handles on the pots and casseroles, and lids that could be flipped over to use as trivets.

You can even slip a skinny wooden spoon through the lid handle to lift and remove it, hands-free. (That's what Jens preferred to do.)

As fans of the cookware know, Dansk has come in and out of production over the years, each relaunch coming from a different manufacturer. The primary reason being the cookware's most desirable feature—those intricate, bending handles that give them a distinguished look—are actually incredibly difficult to manufacture.

Set them out to a chorus of oohs and aahs and you'll understand.

To make that production possible at scale, the current manufacturer has invested in robots to do the welding (originally, it would have been done by hand). They were then able to tackle a number of design improvements, including addresses enamel's predilection to chipping—especially at the edge where the wooden handles meet the pot.

A master metalsmith and woodworker, Jens was "fearless when combining the two materials," according to Jim Mylonas, the brand's V.P. and General Manager. It's a reputation that they're proud to continue (and we encourage cooking and serving with them the same way!).

We're so excited to be launching Dansk's Kobenstyle line in our shop after years of fawning over them in thrift stores; you'll find casseroles, bakers, and saucepans all in a crisp, glossy white finish.

Do you love Dansk? Tell us in the comments.

23 Comments

Angela H. May 20, 2018
Hello! Love the video showcased here. May I know what pasta recipe was used for the making of that video? It looks sooo good!
 
jan K. August 22, 2017
I bought 6 pieces in red, blue, green and yellow on my honeymoon in Europe in 1972 and still love them. I noticed that mine are made in France, whereas now they are made in China. I have the fondue pot, but am missing the holder if anyone has one they don't want! I also received as a wedding gift the wood salt-pepper grinder and am still using it daily! My dishes were also Dansk- primary colored flowers on white that I used for 20 years. Love reading the comments.
 
Jean U. August 22, 2017
My mother had turquoise casseroles in 1965, and when I moved out I started haunting the Dansk shops for deals. I have many of the pieces, including a paella pan, a lasagna baker, 3 sizes of casserole pans, a soup pot, and so many more. I LOVE DanskKobenstyle.
 
Sandi A. August 22, 2017
I fell in love with Dansk when I lived in Germany in the '60's and '70's and bought a number of pieces including a yellow version of the Kobenstyle casserole pot you feature now and two chafing dishes in yellow and blue. I also bought a lot of Danish oiled teak furniture. Love anything in that style.
 
NancyK August 22, 2017
Love it and have had it for many years. Mine is yellow and I don't think that's available any more.
 
Genevieve K. August 22, 2017
I have had and used Variation V as flatware since 1970 and in early 1991 had the opportunity to buy as much of Arabesque as could fit in my kitchen which is blue and white. I prefer plain white dinnerware so the Arabesque is perfect for all serving pieces. The wooden bowls and carving boards have not survived perfectly from 1956, but I still use (and cherish) salad bowls. The cookware was cobalt blue and long gone, but I will always miss the paella pan. Thank you for the memories today!
 
Leslie B. August 12, 2017
I had both Dansk dinner set (with the blue rim) and cookware --- blue in the 70's. Gone now, unfortunately --- but I loved that the cover of the pot could be used as a trivet!!! See red pot and cover in article/advertisement.
 
Susie B. April 6, 2017
I don't have any Dansk cook wear but we purchased a set of the blue dishes in the 1970's. They are so pretty and in good condition. One dinner plate broke right in half so I'm very careful using them. I don't use them everyday anymore to preserve them but I enjoy them when we do. We have the dinner plates, small plates, soup bowls, cup and saucers, cream and sugar dishes and hurricane lantern. I really treasure our Dansk set.
 
J F. April 6, 2017
I LOVE Dansk! And yes still have a couple of pieces from way back when we got married. Didn't have a lot of money but their pieces were perfect!
 
Buddy April 3, 2017
I meant to say "My wife and I........"
 
Buddy April 3, 2017
My wife and were early Dansk fans. Newly married, little money, but really liking Dansk, we acquired many pieces. Over the years, we gravitated to All Clad ware. A couple of years ago, going through a box left in the garage for years, I found a Dansk salt shaker/pepper grinder combination. I put it on E-Bay for sale. Sold it for $700! Stunning!
 
Karen April 2, 2017
I received two of these as wedding gifts back in 1981 and used both extensively over the years. Loved those pots and was so sad when I finally had to get rid of them - the enamel had chipped after being dropped. I'm beyond thrilled to see these are available for sale again.
 
Karen April 2, 2017
BTW, I was referring to the Dutch Ovens one was red and the other yellow.
 
Kathy April 2, 2017
Dansk, that is!
 
Kathy April 2, 2017
Dans -just the word brings a smile to my face. I received the large red casserole along with two smaller versions, as well as the butter melter, when I married in 1973. I also have the lasagna pan. A few chips here and there, but they still work beautifully and the best news for me is that they work on the induction stove we now have at our new home in Eymoutiers, France. Do you ship to France??
 
Bonnie April 2, 2017
I got married in 1972 and asked for Dansk pieces for my "kitchen shower". I was lucky enough to get the red Dutch oven, medium saucepan, small saucepan, the baking/lasagne pan and the fondue set. I still have them and use them for special occasion serving pieces. I also have a lovely wooden salt and pepper set but the pepper grinder is broken.
 
Janine April 2, 2017
I have my Mom's aqua blue pots from the 1960's. Especially love the butter melting pot. Recently purchased three matching pitchers at an antique shop. Can not wait to display everything on our soon to be renovated kitchen!
 
Sandi A. April 1, 2017
I've had Dansk pots and chaffing dishes and even a fondue pot that I bought in Europe in the '60's and '70's and still use them. Love them. They are such classic designs and beautiful.
 
Amy B. April 1, 2017
Received a blue 2 qt lidded casserole and a red paella pan as wedding gifts 44 years ago. Still have 'em, still use 'em, still love 'em. Very glad to see THEY'RE BACK.
 
Cydney C. April 1, 2017
Growing up in the late '60's my stepfather was the Dansk rep for Eastern Canada. Needless to say, my mother was decked out. I never wound up with any of it because she sold her house with everything in it (who ever heard of such a thing?). Anyway, I have collected vintage pieces (enamelware and various candle holders) through the years and still love the timeless style.
 
Cydney C. April 1, 2017
Growing up in the late '60's my stepfather was the Dansk rep for Eastern Canada. Needless to say, my mother was decked out. I never wound up with any of it because she sold her house with everything in it (who ever heard of such a thing?). Anyway, I have collected vintage pieces (enamelware and various candle holders) through the years and still love the timeless style.