Cooking Terms

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Glossary of Basic Cooking Terms

There are many terms and unusual words that are used in cooking. Let us look at each of them in order to understand each recipe. Contact or let us know if we missed any. Thank you. 

Al dente: From the Italian term “to the tooth”. This is commonly used to describe pasta that is cooked until just firm.

Bake: Too cook food in the oven, surrounded by free-circulating dry heat.

Baking Powder: A leavener that is used in baking. It is a combination of baking soda and a dry acid such as a cream of tartar and a starch or a corn flour or rice flour which absorbs moisture. The most common type on the market is double-acting baking powder, meaning it can be activated the powder is mixed with liquid and again when it is heated.

Baking Soda: The base and the main ingredient in baking powder. Like baking powder, it is also a leavening agent in baking.

Barbecue: is a slow direct-heat cooking to cook meat, poultry or vegetables over an open charcoal, wood fire, or gas on a grill, sometimes includes marinating and basting with a barbecue sauce.

Baste: To keep foods moist during cooking by brushing, drizzling or spooning with a sauce or pan drippings for added flavor and to prevent drying out and to glaze the surface while cooking.

Batter: An uncooked pourable mixture usually containing flour, liquid and other ingredients, thin enough to pour.

Beat: To stir rapidly so that air is incorporated, creating a smooth creamy mixture by using a whisk, spoon or mixer.

Bind: To add ingredients such as eggs, cream or liquid to make other ingredients hold together.

Blanch: To cook briefly in boiling water to seal in flavor and brings out the color or to help loosen their skins for peeling; usually used for vegetables, seafood or fruit.

Blend: To combine two or more ingredients thoroughly to a certain consistency, using by  a whisk, spoon or mixer.

Boil: To heat water or other liquids until bubbles break continually on the surface and reaches to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bone: To remove bones from meat, poultry or fish.

Bouquet garni: A small tied bundle of herbs, usually leaves, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves that is added to soups, stews, or sauces to flavor, but is removed and discarded before serving.

Braise: To cook first by browning, then cover and cook slowly in a small amount of liquid over low heat in a closed container until tender.

Bread: To coat with bread crumbs before cooking.

Broil: To cook over intense direct heat either on a grill or under an over’s broiler.

Brown: To cook over high heat for a short period of time, usually in a preheated oven, on top of the stove, broiler or hot skillet to “brown” the outside without cooking the interior.

Caramelize: To heat sugar slowly, then boil until it liquefies and becomes a syrup of golden to dark brown color.

Chop: To cut food into pieces, which can range from very small (finely chopped) to large (coarsely chopped) pieces, by using a sharp knife or other chopping device,

Combine: To mix two or more ingredients together.

Cream: To beat and softened ingredients, usually sugar and butter until they become soft and creamy, well blended and smooth.

Cube: To cut food into squares, usually ranging in size from ½ inch to 1 inch cubes.

Dash: A very small amount of an ingredient to a mixture.

Deep-fry: To cook by completely submerging food in hot fat, most commonly in oil.

Deglaze: To dissolve the thin glaze of juices and brown bits from a pan by adding a liquid, then heating while stirring and scraping the pan over high heat.

Dice: To cut food into small cubes of uniform size and shape, ranging from 1/8 inch to ¼ inch cubes.

Dissolve: To cause a dry substance to pass into a liquid so as to form a solution.

Dot: To scatter small bits of butter over the top a prepared dish.

Dress: To coat foods such as salad with a sauce, generally made with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, but it could also include mayonnaise or other ingredients.. Also may be referred to as stuffing into the body cavity of poultry or meat for cooking.

Drain: To remove or draw off a liquid or fat from food through a strainer or by absorbing on paper towels.

Drizzle: To sprinkle drops of liquid lightly over food.

Dust: To sprinkle very lightly with confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, flour, sugar or another powdery ingredient.

Fillet: To cut or remove the meat, chicken or fish from the bones.

Fold: To combine light ingredients such as whipped cream or beaten egg whites with a heavier mixture, without stirring or beating but instead using a gentle over-and- under motion, usually with a rubber spatula.

Fry: To cook food in hot oil or fat in a skillet over high heat until brown and crisp.

Garnish: To decorate food with fresh herbs, edible flowers, lemon slices, fresh vegetables, chopped chives or other fruits to enhance its appearance and taste of the dish.

Glaze: To coat foods with glossy mixtures such as jellies, syrup, jam or sauces.

Grate: To rub foods against a serrated surface, such as cheese, to produce shredded or fine bits.

Grease: To lightly coat a pan’s interior surface with some fat like shortening oil or butter to prevent foods from sticking to it and to help with the browning.

Grill: To cook food on a rack under or over very hot coals or direct heat, as on a barbecue or in a broiler.

Grind: To reduce solid food into fine pieces using a mortar and pestle or a grinder or a food processor.

Julienne: To cut vegetables, fruits or cheese into thin matchstick-like size in shape.

Knead: To work and press dough after blending ingredients, with the palms of the hands on a slightly floured surface or mechanically.

Leaven: To cause a mixture to rise while it is baking by adding baking soda, baking powder or yeast.

Lukewarm: Neither cool nor warm; approximately body temperature.

Marinate: To soak, tenderize and flavor meat, poultry, seafood or vegetable in a flavored liquid.

Meringue: Egg whites beaten stiffly with sugar and then baked in a low oven.

Mince: To cut or chop food into extremely tiny pieces, usually with a knife.

Mix: To stir ingredients together.

Pan-broil: To cook on top of the stove in a hot fry pan over high heat, pouring off any fat or liquid as it accumulates.

Par-boil: To boil until partially cooked. Usually this is done to prepare food for final cooking in a seasoned sauce.

Pare: To use a thin knife to remove the peels or rind from fruits or vegetables.

Peel: To strip off the peels from vegetables and fruits.

Pickle: To flavor and preserve meats, fruits and vegetables in brine.

Pinch: The amount of ingredients you can hold between your thumb and forefinger.

Pipe: To decorate food with a smooth mixture, such as frosting in cakes, by forcing it through a pastry bag.

Pit: To remove the pits from fruits or olives.

Poach: To cook food gently over low heat in simmering liquid kept just below the boiling point.

Pound: To flatten or tenderize meat with a heavy mallet or pan.

Roast: To cook meat or poultry by dry heat in an oven.

Sauté: To cook and/or brown food in a small amount of fat or oil over relatively high heat.

Scald: To heat liquid over low heat, until just before it boils.

Scallop: To bake a food, usually in a casserole, with a sauce or liquid. Crumbs are often sprinkled on top at the end of the baking time.

Sear: To brown (usually meat) very quickly in a hot oven, under a broiler, in a pan or on a grill over high heat.

Shred: To tear or cut into long narrow pieces.

Sift: To pass dry ingredients through affine-mesh strainer, sieve or sifter to remove lumps and lighten the texture.

Simmer: To cook slowly in liquid over low heat to the point where little bubbles rise to the surface.

Skim: To remove fat or scum from the surface of a boiling liquid during cooking.

Steam: To cook food in the steam by using in a pressure cooker, double broiler or a steamer. A small amount of boiling water is used.

Steep: To extract flavor, color or other qualities from a substance by leaving it in hot water just below the boiling point.

Sterilize: To destroy bacteria or microorganisms by boiling, with dry heat, or steam.

Stew: To simmer slowly meats and vegetables over low heat in a liquid.

Stir: To mix ingredients together using a spoon in a circular motion.

Toast: To brown food by placing under direct heat.

Toss: To combine ingredients with a lifting motion.

Whip: To beat food rapidly either by whisk or mixer to add air and increase volume.

Whisk: A looped wire utensil used to mix or “whisk” eggs, sauces, dressing, and other liquid ingredients with a quick circular motion.

Zest: The outer rind of citrus fruit. Be careful not to cut into the bitter white pith that lies just below the peel.

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