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cooking terms
An explanation of some of the cooking terms you may see in recipes.

Select a letter below if you are looking for a particular term, or just scroll through the list.

B C D E F G J K L M P R S T W

Bake
To cook using dry heat by placing foods in an oven (covered or uncovered, whatever your choice).

Baste
To moisten and improve the flavor of foods (usually meats) by brushing on, drizzling or spooning over pan drippings, fruit juices, sauces, etc.

Beat
To rapidly stir food in a circular motion using a spoon or fork, rotary egg beater or electric mixer.

Blanch
To boil or steam foods briefly in order to either remove the skins (tomatoes, nuts, etc), whiten, or prepare food for freezing by stopping the enzymatic action.

Blend
To mix ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Boil
To heat liquids until bubbles form on the surface and steam forms.

Braising
A method of cooking foods (most often used for meats) by quickly browning in oil and then cooking slowly in liquid (wine, stock, etc) in a covered pot .

Brown
To cook food quickly (usually meats) over high heat by either frying or grilling until the surface browns sealing in all the succulent juices.

Caramelize
To melt either sugar or sugary foods by cooking slowly over low heat until the contents become browned. Be carful not to burn.

Chop
To cut food either into small chucks (finely chopped) or large chunks (coarsely chopped).

Cream
To mix an ingredient or combination of ingredients until soft, smooth and well-blended. Usually the ingredients contain butter and sugar.

Cut in
To mix butter, fats, etc. into dry ingredients by using a pastry blender or two knives.

Deep Fry
To cook food by placing in enough hot oil cover the food completely.

Dredge
To coat food with flour, bread crumbs, etc.

Deglaze
The process used to make a great-tasting sauce using the browned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan by heating a little bit of wine or stock and stirring to loosen the brown bits.

Dust
To sprinkle lightly with sugar or flour.

Emulsify
To bind together substances which do not normally mix, such as oil and water. Egg yolk is a commonly used for this purpose.

Fillet
To cut the bones from meat or fish.

Flake
To break food into small pieces, usually done with a fork

Fry
To cook food in hot fat over medium to high heat.

Fold
To combine two ingredients, usually a heavier ingredient (whipping cream) with a lighter ingredient, (egg white). Using a spatula, lift the heavier mixture from the bottom and blend with the lighter mixture on top.

Grease
To prevent foods from sticking by lightly coating a pan with butter, oil, cooking spray, etc.

Grill
To cook food on a rack under heat.

Grind
To transform food into pieces ranging from small (fine grind) to large (coarse grind) using a food processor or grinder.

Julienne
To cut food into matchstick-sized strips

Knead
To mix dough on a floured surface by pressing the dough down with the palm of your hands then folding it over itself; repeat the process until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Leaven
Adding a leaving agent such as yeast, baking powder or baking soda to ingredients in order to allow either dough or batter to rise.

Marinade
A savory usually acidic sauce in which meat, fish, or vegetable is soaked to enrich its flavor or to tenderize it.

Mince
To finely chop food, resulting in tiny pieces.

Mix
To combine ingredients until smooth and evenly distributed.

Panboil
To cook uncovered over high heat in a pre-heated, lightly-greased heavy pan, constantly removing any fat that accumulates.

Parboil
Partially cooking food in boiling water, stock, etc for a few minutes just to tenderize the food, cooking is normally completed using another method.

Pare
To remove skin from fruits and vegetables using a knife.

Poach
To cook food slowly in simmering water, milk, stock, etc.

Puree
Foods usually fruits or vegetables reduced to a smooth, thick consistency using either a blender, food processor or a sieve.

Reduce
To boil a liquid, uncovered, until the volume is reduced by evaporation, which thickens and intensifies the flavor.

Roast
To cook food in an oven, using dry heat, placing food on a spit before a fire, or surrounding food with hot embers, sand or stones.

Sauté
To cook quickly over high heat in an open frying pan with a small amount of butter, oil or cooking spray, turning food frequently.

Scald
To heat milk to just below the boiling point.

Sear
To cook at very high heat for a short period of time in order to brown meat and seal the surface ensuring that the juices are trapped within.

Shred
To cut or tear food into long, thin strips.

Sift
To pass dry ingredients, usually flour and baking powder, salt, etc. through a fine-meshed strainer or sifter to blend ingredients thoroughly and remove larger pieces thereby lightening the texture of the mixture.

Simmer
To cook in liquid just below the boiling point.

Stew
To cook food slowly and for a long period of time using a small amount of liquid in a covered pan or pot.

Stir-fry
To cook food quickly over high heat with a small amount of oil using a skillet or wok, being sure to constantly stir ingredients.

Strain
To remove solid particles from a mixture or liquid by pouring through a colander or sieve.

Toast
To brown with dry heat in an toaster or oven.

Top and Tail
To take the top and bottom off a vegetable e.g. carrot or courgette

Toss
To blend foods together by gently turning the pieces over until the ingredients are well mixed.

Whip
To add air and volume to food by beating rapidly using a wire whisk, beater or electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy.