Cooking Terms: Useful List of 100+ Cooking Terms Every Chef Knows

Are you a beginner cook who struggles with understanding cooking terms and definitions? Or maybe you’re an experienced cook who wants to expand your culinary knowledge? Either way, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll break down common cooking terms and provide simple explanations to help you become a better cook. From blanching to charring, we’ve got you covered.

Cooking Terms and Culinary Definition

Cooking Terms

Culinary definition: Culinary is something that related to food or cooking.

Sentence examples:

  • Mary learned a lot of culinary skills from Gerard.
  • Venison plays a pivotal role in our culinary heritage.
  • I can’t cook at all, so a toasted bagel is about the limit of my culinary skills.

List of Cooking Terms

Below are some basic cooking terms in English including cooking verbs.

  • Sweeten
  • Sweat
  • Stir
  • Stew
  • Shell
  • Shred
  • Shuck
  • Sieve
  • Sift
  • Simmer
  • Skewer
  • Skim
  • Deglaze
  • Descale
  • Devil
  • Dice
  • Dip
  • Bake
  • Barbecue
  • Baste
  • Blacken
  • Salt
  • Saute
  • Scald
  • Scallop
  • Scramble
  • Slice
  • Souse
  • Sprinkle
  • Steam
  • Steep
  • Caramelize
  • Char
  • Layer
  • Leaven
  • Char-broil
  • Chill
  • Chop
  • Ferment
  • Fillet
  • Flambe
  • Flavor
  • Chunk
  • Churn
  • Raw
  • Refrigerate
  • Roast
  • Roll
  • Blend
  • Dough
  • Marinate
  • Mash
  • Measure
  • Melt
  • Boil
  • Braise
  • Bread
  • Brew
  • Sliver
  • Coddle
  • Knead
  • Cool
  • Congeal
  • Garnish
  • Juice
  • Microwave
  • Pour
  • Precook
  • Prepare
  • Preserve
  • Press
  • Process
  • Pulp
  • Zest
  • Wash
  • Wedge
  • Mix
  • Gratin
  • Grill
  • Infuse
  • Grind
  • Cream
  • Cut
  • Oil
  • Oven fry
  • Overcook
  • Burn
  • Freeze
  • French fry
  • Fricassee
  • Hash
  • Pan fry
  • Uncured
  • Parboil
  • Peel
  • Percolate
  • Pickle
  • Heat
  • Tenderize
  • Toast
  • Fry
  • Grate
  • Add
  • Squeeze
  • Break
  • Spread
  • Taste

Cooking Verbs

Basic Cooking Terms

Bake

Baking is the process of cooking food in an oven using dry heat. This method is often used for bread, cakes, and other baked goods. To bake, you need to preheat your oven to the desired temperature, place your food in the oven, and let it cook for the required amount of time.

Boil

Boiling is the process of cooking food in water or other liquids at a high temperature. This method is often used for pasta, rice, and vegetables. To boil, you need to bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add your food, and let it cook until it is tender.

Fry

Frying is the process of cooking food in hot oil or fat. This method is often used for chicken, fish, and potatoes. To fry, you need to heat your oil or fat in a pan or deep fryer, add your food, and cook until it is golden brown and crispy.

Grill

Grilling is the process of cooking food over an open flame or on a grill. This method is often used for meat, fish, and vegetables. To grill, you need to preheat your grill to the desired temperature, place your food on the grill, and cook until it is charred on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

Simmer

Simmering is the process of cooking food in liquid at a low temperature. This method is often used for soups, stews, and sauces. To simmer, you need to bring your liquid to a simmer, add your food, and let it cook until it is tender and flavorful.

Advanced Cooking Terms

Caramelize

Caramelization is the process of browning sugars in food to create a rich, nutty flavor and a deep brown color. To caramelize foods like onions or carrots, cook them over low heat for a long time until they turn golden brown. This technique is often used in French cuisine to add depth of flavor to dishes like French onion soup.

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Deglaze

Deglazing is the process of adding liquid to a pan to loosen the browned bits of food that stick to the bottom. This technique is used to create flavorful sauces and gravies. To deglaze a pan, remove the food and add a liquid like wine or broth. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the browned bits, and then simmer the liquid until it thickens.

Emulsify

Emulsification is the process of combining two liquids that normally don’t mix, like oil and vinegar, into a smooth, creamy mixture. This technique is used to create dressings, sauces, and mayonnaise. To emulsify, slowly add one liquid to another while whisking vigorously. The key is to add the liquids slowly and whisk constantly until they are fully combined.

Reduce

Reducing is the process of simmering a liquid to concentrate its flavor and thicken it. This technique is used to create rich sauces, gravies, and soups. To reduce a liquid, simmer it over low heat until it thickens and reduces in volume. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the liquid and the desired consistency.

Sauté

Sautéing is the process of cooking food quickly in a small amount of fat over high heat. This technique is used to create dishes like stir-fry and pan-seared meats. To sauté, heat a small amount of oil or butter in a pan over high heat. Add the food and cook it quickly, stirring constantly, until it is browned and cooked through.

International Cooking Terms

Al Dente

Al dente is an Italian term that means “to the tooth.” It is used to describe pasta that is cooked until it is firm to the bite. To achieve al dente pasta, cook it in boiling water for a few minutes less than the package instructions suggest. This term is also used to describe vegetables that are cooked until they are still slightly firm.

En Papillote

En papillote is a French term that means “in parchment.” This technique involves wrapping food in parchment paper and baking it in the oven. The parchment paper creates a steam pocket, which helps to cook the food and infuse it with flavor. This method is often used for fish, chicken, and vegetables.

Mise En Place

Mise en place is a French term that means “putting in place.” It refers to the preparation and organization of ingredients before cooking. This includes chopping vegetables, measuring out ingredients, and setting up equipment. Mise en place is essential for efficient and successful cooking.

Sous Vide

Sous vide is a French term that means “under vacuum.” This technique involves cooking food in a vacuum-sealed bag in a water bath at a precise temperature. Sous vide cooking results in tender and flavorful food, as the vacuum-sealed bag locks in moisture and flavor. This method is often used for meat, fish, and vegetables.

Umami

Umami is a Japanese term that means “pleasant savory taste.” It is one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami is often described as a meaty or savory flavor, and it is found in foods such as mushrooms, soy sauce, and Parmesan cheese.

Baking Specific Terms

Cream

When a recipe calls for creaming ingredients together, it means to mix sugar and fat (usually butter) together until light and fluffy. This process helps to incorporate air into the mixture, which will help your baked goods rise and become tender.

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Fold

Folding is a gentle mixing technique used to combine delicate ingredients without deflating them. To fold ingredients together, use a rubber spatula to gently lift and fold the mixture over itself until everything is evenly combined.

Knead

Kneading is the process of working dough with your hands to develop gluten, which gives bread its structure and chewy texture. To knead dough, press it with the heels of your hands, fold it over, and repeat until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Proof

Proofing is the final rise that bread dough goes through before baking. During this time, the yeast in the dough ferments the sugars, producing carbon dioxide gas that causes the dough to rise. To proof dough, cover it and let it rest in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in size.

Whisk

Whisking is a mixing technique that involves vigorously beating ingredients together to incorporate air and create a light, fluffy texture. To whisk ingredients together, use a wire whisk and make quick, circular motions until everything is evenly combined.

Culinary Terms for Preparation

Chop

Chopping is a technique used to cut ingredients into small pieces. Depending on the recipe, the size of the chop can vary. For example, a fine chop is smaller than a rough chop. To chop an ingredient, use a sharp knife and cut it into small pieces.

Dice

Dicing is similar to chopping, but the pieces are usually smaller and more uniform in size. To dice an ingredient, cut it into small cubes.

Julienne

Julienne is a technique used to cut vegetables into thin, matchstick-like pieces. To julienne an ingredient, first cut it into thin slices and then cut those slices into thin strips.

Mince

Mincing is a technique used to cut ingredients into very small pieces. To mince an ingredient, use a sharp knife to chop it into tiny pieces.

Zest

Zesting is a technique used to remove the outermost layer of citrus fruit. The zest is often used to add flavor to dishes. To zest a fruit, use a zester or a grater to remove the colored part of the peel.

Cooking Methods

Braising

Braising is a cooking method that uses both dry and moist heat. It involves browning the food first in a pan and then cooking it slowly in a covered pot with liquid. This method is often used for tougher cuts of meat as the slow cooking time helps to tenderize the meat.

Poaching

Poaching is a gentle cooking method that involves cooking food in liquid that is just below boiling point. This method is often used for delicate foods such as eggs, fish, and chicken breasts. Poaching can help to retain the natural flavors of the food and keep it moist.

Roasting

Roasting is a dry heat cooking method that involves cooking food in an oven. This method is often used for larger cuts of meat such as beef, pork, and poultry. Roasting can help to create a crispy exterior while keeping the inside moist and tender.

Steaming

Steaming is a gentle cooking method that involves cooking food over boiling water. This method is often used for vegetables, seafood, and dumplings. Steaming can help to retain the natural flavors and nutrients of the food.

Stir Frying

Stir frying is a quick cooking method that involves cooking food in a wok or pan over high heat. This method is often used for vegetables, meat, and seafood. Stir frying can help to create a crispy exterior while keeping the inside moist and tender.

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Cooking Tools and Equipment

Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife is one of the most important tools in any kitchen. It is a versatile knife that can be used for a variety of tasks, such as chopping, slicing, and dicing. When selecting a chef’s knife, look for one that feels comfortable in your hand and has a sharp blade. A good chef’s knife will make all the difference in your cooking.

Cutting Board

A cutting board is necessary for any cook. It provides a stable surface for cutting and chopping ingredients. When selecting a cutting board, look for one that is durable and easy to clean. Wooden cutting boards are a popular choice, but plastic cutting boards are also a good option.

Mixing Bowl

A mixing bowl is essential for any cook who likes to bake. It is used to mix ingredients together and can also be used for marinating meats. When selecting a mixing bowl, look for one that is sturdy and has a non-slip bottom. Stainless steel and glass mixing bowls are popular choices.

Spatula

A spatula is a versatile tool that can be used for flipping, stirring, and scraping ingredients. When selecting a spatula, look for one that is heat-resistant and has a comfortable grip. Silicone spatulas are a popular choice because they are flexible and easy to clean.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some basic cooking terms?

If you’re new to cooking, it can be overwhelming to see all the different terms used in recipes. Some basic cooking terms include sautéing, boiling, simmering, roasting, and baking. Understanding these terms will help you follow recipes and cook with confidence.

What are some common foreign kitchen terms?

Many recipes use foreign terms that might be unfamiliar to you. Some common foreign kitchen terms include “mise en place” (preparing ingredients before cooking), “al dente” (pasta cooked to be firm to the bite), and “umami” (a savory taste). Learning these terms can help you broaden your cooking knowledge and try new recipes.

What are some unusual cooking terms?

Cooking has its own unique vocabulary, and some terms might sound unusual or even strange to those who are not familiar with them. Some unusual cooking terms include “julienne” (cutting vegetables into thin, matchstick-like strips), “blanching” (briefly boiling vegetables before shocking them in ice water), and “deglaze” (using liquid to lift browned bits from the bottom of a pan). These terms might sound intimidating, but they’re essential to many recipes.

What are the vocabulary words for cooking?

Cooking has a vast vocabulary, and it can be challenging to keep track of all the terms. Some common cooking vocabulary words include “mise en place,” “roux” (a mixture of flour and fat used as a thickening agent), “emulsion” (a mixture of two liquids that don’t usually mix), and “marinade” (a mixture of ingredients used to flavor and tenderize meat). Knowing these words can help you better understand recipes and cooking techniques.

What are some fancy cooking terms?

Some cooking terms might sound fancy, but they’re commonly used in many recipes. Some fancy cooking terms include “sous vide” (cooking food in a vacuum-sealed bag in a water bath), “en papillote” (cooking food in parchment paper), and “flambé” (pouring alcohol over food and setting it on fire). These terms might sound intimidating, but they’re often used in everyday cooking and can add an extra touch of elegance to your dishes.

What are some common culinary terms?

Culinary terms are essential in professional kitchens, but they’re also useful for home cooks. Some common culinary terms include “mise en place,” “deglaze,” “chiffonade” (cutting herbs or leafy vegetables into thin strips), and “braising” (cooking food in a small amount of liquid over low heat). Understanding these terms can help you elevate your cooking skills and try new recipes.

Last Updated on November 10, 2023

2 thoughts on “Cooking Terms: Useful List of 100+ Cooking Terms Every Chef Knows”

  1. 🙂I was looking for a cooking term that wasn’t there but loved that I could pop this up in Facebook. Thank You 👍👏

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