Basic Cooking Terms

This post is a glossary of basic cooking and food preparation terms that might be helpful as you’re reading recipes. We’re also including a link to a brief power point presentation that includes pictures along with the definitions. You’ll find it in the “Cooking Tips and Tricks” section if you’d like to refer back to it.

Click here for Basic Cooking Terms Power Point Presentation:




Bake: To cook in hot air in an oven.

Barbecue: To roast slowly over hot coals or in an oven and baste with a spicy sauce.

Baste: To moisten foods during baking or roasting with fat, juice, or sauce. Basting adds flavor and keeps the food moist.

Beat: To stir quickly with a spoon, wire whisk, beater, or mixer until ingredients are smooth.

Blanch: To put a food in boiling water for a very short time to precook it.

Blend: To mix ingredients until they are very smooth.

Boil: To cook in hot liquid that has bubbles that rise and break on the surface of the liquid.

Braise: To cook large pieces of meat or poultry slowly in a liquid.

Broil: To cook directly under a very hot heating unit in an oven.

Brown: To make the surface of a food brown by baking, broiling, or toasting it.

Chill: To put food in the refrigerator to make it cold.

Chop: To cut into small, uneven pieces.

Cool: To let heated food come to room temperature.

Cream: To beat sugar and a solid fat, such as butter, together until they are smooth, light, and fluffy.

Cube: To cut food into cubes about ½-inch in size.

Cut in: To combine solid fat, such as shortening, with a flour mixture by cutting the fat into tiny pieces with knives or a pastry blender.

Deep-fry: To cook food by completely immersing it in hot fat. This is also called French frying.

Drain: To remove liquid from a food by pouring off the liquid or drying the food with paper towels.

Fold: To combine ingredients by sliding a spatula down through a mixture, gently lifting and turning the ingredients until the mixture is blended.

Freeze: To lower the temperature of a food to its freezing point or below.

Grate: To cut food into small pieces using the small holes of a grater.

Grease: To rub lightly with fat or oil.

Grind: To crush food into very tiny bits by putting it through a food grinder.

Julienne: To cut food into long, thin strips the size of matchsticks.

Knead: To press and fold a ball of dough with the heels of your hands until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Mince: To cut food into very small pieces.

Mix: To combine ingredients by stirring or beating them.

Pan-broil: To cook meat in its own fat.

Parboil: To boil until partly cooked.

Pare: To cut off outer skin with a knife or vegetable peeler.

Peel: To strip or pull off the outer skin using your fingers or a knife.

Poach: To cook food gently in simmering liquid.

Preheat: To heat an oven to the cooking temperature before putting food in the oven.

Puree: To grind or mash food until it becomes smooth and liquid.

Recipe: A list of ingredients and directions for preparing a food.

Roast: To bake meat, fish, or poultry uncovered in hot air in an oven or over hot coals.

Sauté: To brown or cook lightly and quickly in a small amount of hot fat, also called panfrying.

Scald: To heat milk just until tiny bubbles form at the edge of the pan.

Scrape: To remove a very thin layer of outer skin by rubbing it with a knife or vegetable peeler.

Shred: To cut food into long, very thin strips using a knife or the large holes of a grater.

Sift: To put dry ingredients through a flour sifter or fine sieve.

Simmer: To cook in liquid that is almost boiling, but is not hot enough to bubble.

Slice: To cut food into flat pieces. The pieces may be thick or thin.

Steam: To cook in a pan using steam that rises from boiling liquid.

Stew: To slowly cook small pieces of food in moderate amounts of liquid.

Stir: To slowly move a spoon in a circle to combine ingredients.

Stir-fry: To cook small pieces of food by stirring quickly in a very small amount of hot fat.

Toast: To brown foods using dry heat, usually in an oven or toaster.

Volume: The space an ingredient occupies.

Weight: A unit of mass.

Whip: To beat rapidly with a wire whisk, beater, or mixer in order to make a mixture smooth and fluffy.

Yield: The number and size of portions a recipe will make.


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