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List of cooking terms


Cooking involves many terms that aren’t used in other field and they may be hard to understand at times.  Here are some of the most common terms: 

  • Al dente An Italian expression meaning “by the tooth”, describing pasta cooked in a shorter time so that it has a slight resistance when chewed.
  • Bake    To cook in an oven
  • Beat To mix ingredients together using a fast, circular movement using a spoon, fork, whisk or mixer.
  • Blend To mix ingredients together gently with a spoon, fork or until combined. 
  • Boil To heat so that the liquid gets hot enough for bubbles to rise and break the surface.
  • Braise To cook by sautéing in fat and then simmering slowly in very little liquid. 
  • Broil To cook under direct heat.
  • Brown To cook over medium or high heat until surface of food browns or darkens
  • Fry To cook in fat or oil. 
  • Grate To grate food against the holes of a grater making thin pieces
  • Grease To lightly coat with oil, butter, margarine, or non-stick spray so food does not stick when cooking or baking
  • Knead To press, fold and stretch dough until it is smooth and uniform, usually done by pressing with the heels of the hands
  • Marinate    To soak food in a liquid to tenderize or add flavor to it ( the liquid is called a “marinade”.
  • Mash    To squash food with a fork, spoon or masher. 
  • Mince To cut into very small pieces, smaller than chopped or diced pieces
  • Mix To stir ingredients together with a spoon, fork, or electric mixer until well combined
  • Poach To cook very gently in hot liquid kept just below the boiling point
  • Pre-heat To turn the oven on ahead of time so that it is at the desired temperature when needed (usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes)  
  • Roast To cook by dry heat in an oven an open fire, or other heat source.
  • Saute To cook quickly in a little oil, butter or margarine
  • Simmer To cook in liquid over low heat (low boil) so that bubbles just begin to break the surface. 
  • Steam To cook food over steam without putting the food directly in water (usually done with a steamer)
  • Stew To simmer slowly in a small amount of liquid for a long time. 
  • Stir fry To quickly cook small pieces of food over high heat while constantly stirring the food until it is crispy tender (usually done with a wok.)



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