These helpful cooking terms will help to make cooking in the kitchen easier. We have a list of 40 commonly used cooking terms that can help you be successful with that recipe.
We also have a list of helpful baking terms to help in your baking endeavors you may want to check out.
As I'm teaching my kids how to cook. I'm also learning the importance of teaching them the cooking terminology that's used in recipes. With many years of cooking under my belt. It's easy to forget that the younger generation may not know these cooking words.
Helpful Cooking Terms A-B
The best way to start the definitions of these cooking words. Would be to chop our way through in alphabetical order. Here are cooking terms A-B
- Al Dente~ when food is cooked but still firm when bitten into. Most of the time pasta is cooked Al Dente.
- Bake~ this means to cook with dry heat without direct exposure to a flame. Typically baking is done in the oven.
- Baste~ This one makes me think of Thanksgiving and turkey. Baste or basting means to coat the food with the drippings from the pan by pouring the drippings over the food.
- Beat~ means to rapidly stir a batter to incorporate all the ingredients. You normally would associate beat with baking. However, sometimes when cooking you do need to beat eggs or other ingredients in a recipe.
- Blanch~ Blanch is when you place food into boiling water for a short amount of time. Then add the food quickly into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
- Blend~ To combine two or more ingredients together. A lot of times this is done with a blender or a mixer.
- Boil~ heating a liquid in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. The bubbles are the liquid turning into a gaseous state. A full boil or rolling boil is when there are so many bubbles that no more heat will cause more bubbles. A gentle boil is when there are small bubbles on the liquid surface.
- Broil~ Broil or broiling means cooking food with direct heat.
- Brown or Browning~ this is where you partially or fully cook meat to help remove the fat. Think of ground beef as you brown it the fat starts to cook out of it. The ground beef will start to become brown in color as it cooks.
Cooking Terminology C-M
Lets roll into more cooking terminology from the letters C to M.
- Carmmelization~ This happens when sugar is introduced to heat. Think of onions being cooked in a saucepan. As the onion heats up it releases its natural sugar. Which will start to become a brown color which is caramelization.
- Chop~ is when you cut food with a sharp knife into small or bite-size pieces.
- Cool~ means to reduce the temperature of the food. Sometimes it's by placing the food into the refrigerator. And other times it's by letting it sit out on a countertop.
- Deep Fry~ Now I know this has you thinking of some deep-fried chicken or maybe French fries? Deep- fry is when you submerge a food into oil that is at high heat. Typically that is around 350℉ to 375℉.
- Dice or Dicing~ Is similar to chop but only on a finer/smaller scale.
- Dredge~ When you lightly coat wet or moist foods in a dry ingredient. Think of that deep-fried chicken again. The chicken is dredged in a coating before deep-fried.
- Grate~ is when you take a food item like a carrot and use a food grater to make the item smaller.
- Marinate~ is to soak meat in a sauce before cooking it. Marinating will help bring extra flavor to the meat.
- Melt~ is when a solid is turned into a liquid. Think of cheese being melted for a great mac and cheese recipe.
- Mince~ chopping foods into fine small pieces. I like using minced garlic, so this cooking term is used often in my recipes.
- Mix~ Mix is when you stir ingredients together until they are smooth.
Cooking Definitions J-R
We are simmering into cooking terms with the letters J-R.
- Julienne~ is when you cut vegetables into thin strips. Often julienne vegetables are used to garnish a recipe.
- Pan-broiling~ is when high heat and little or no grease is used to cook meat in a frying pan.
- Pan-Fry~ pan-fry or frying is when you cook foods on moderate heat with little grease in a frying pan.
- Peel~ grab the potatoes and peel them, is something my kids hear often. Peeling is when you remove the skin off of a vegetable like potatoes or carrots.
- Pouch~ pouch or pouching is when you submerge a food into a barely simmering pot of liquid to cook.
- Puree~ is when you take a cooked food and blend, grind, or press it into a creamy paste or liquid. Our Instant Pot Pumpkin Puree recipe is a good example.
- Reduce~ is when you simmer or boil a liquid to get the desired concentration. As the liquid simmers or boils steam releases and causes the liquid to become thicker.
- Roast~ roast is a dry heat where hot air from an oven or open flame surrounds the food and cooks the food evenly on all sides.
Cooking Words S-W
Wrapping up our list of 40 cooking terms with the letters S-W
- Sauce~ sauce or sauces are liquids that have various thicknesses and help to season or enhance a food item.
- Sauté~ when you use little grease or oil in a frying pan on high heat to cook food. This is most often done without the pan being covered.
- Scald~ is when you heat a liquid, (most of the time it's milk) to just below the boiling point.
- Sear~ sear or searing is when you get a perfect brown crust to the exterior of the meat. You can sear meat on a grill or in a frying pan using high heat.
- Seasoning~ Seasoning has to be one of my favorite cooking terms. This means when you add a blend of spices to enhance the flavor of food.
- Shred~ What comes to mind for me when I think of shred is chicken or pork. Taking two forks to pull the meat apart into thinner pieces.
- Simmer~ Is cooking foods gentle and slow. Simmering is much gentler than boiling but more aggressive than poaching.
- Slice~ slice or slicing is when you use a sharp knife to cut foods into thin pieces. Sliced tomatoes go really well on a hamburger.
- Stew~ stew is when a food is slow-cooked, think of beef stew.
- Strain or straining~ Pasta is what comes to my mind when talking about straining. To strain is when you separate a liquid from the food.
- Toast~ is when you brown food (like bread) by exposing it to direct heat.
- Whisking~ is using a utensil to incorporate air into ingredients until smooth.
We sure hope that you find these cooking terms helpful in the kitchen.
My Creative Manner is answering the question "what's there to eat" with simple recipe creations. ~ Jen
Other My Creative Manner articles you may enjoy are:
- Instant Pot Terms
- How To Organize A Pantry
- Parmesan Chicken With Mayo
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- Slow Cooker Beef Roast With Veggies
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