If you’re cooking for the first time, it can be daunting to open a cookbook or read a blog recipe only to come across unfamiliar terms. In this article, you will find a glossary of the most common cooking and baking terms. This list will help you decipher your recipes and boost your confidence in the kitchen.
Al dente: When pasta is cooked for a shorter period of time so that it is just firm.
Bake: To cook food using dry heat with an oven.
Barbecue: To cook food over an open fire, grill, or coals.
Baste: To moisten food with liquid while it is cooking to add flavor and prevent the dish from drying out.
Beat: To mix ingredients quickly using a mixer, whisk, or spoon.
Bias: To cut food on a diagonal to increase the food’s surface area and speed up browning and cooking time.
Blanch: To put vegetables or fruits into boiling water for a short period of time before moving them into a bowl of ice water. This helps to increase the produce’s flavor, enhance color, or help remove skins.
Blend: to mix ingredients thoroughly using a mixer, blender, or whisk.
Boil: To cook in water above 212°F or 100°C.
Bone: To remove any bones from meat.
Braise: To cook meat or vegetables by browning them in a pan before simmering or baking.
Bread: To coat meat or vegetables in bread crumbs, flour, or cornmeal before cooking.
Brine: To soak meat in a salt water solution or rub salt directly onto meat.
Broil: To cook meat or vegetables under high direct heat in an oven.
Brown: To cook food over high heat on stovetop to enhance flavor and keep the food juicy.
Butterfly: To cut meat through the center without completely cutting the meat in half. This helps to speed up the cooking time.
Candy: To coat with sugar.
Caramelize: To cook sugar until it has browned or to cook food slowly until it turns brown.
Chiffonade: To cut leafy vegetables into thin strips.
Deglaze: To add liquid to a pan to loosen the brown residue of cooked food.
Dice: To cut food into ¼ inch cubes.
Double boiler: A pot made up of two stacked saucepans: water is placed in the lower pan to boil, and the top pan is used to cook the food. Double boilers can also be made with a heat-safe bowl that can be fit on top of a sauce pan. Double boilers are needed to gently cook food that is easily overcooked or denatured by high heat.
Dredge: To coat raw food with flour, bread crumbs, crackers, or cornmeal.
Drippings: The fats and juices released from cooking meat.
Dutch oven: A pot with a thick lining and lid that evenly distributes heat. It can be used on stove top and in the oven to cook stews, soups, braises, sauces, and bake bread.
Emulsify: To whisk or blend two ingredients that normally would not mix, such as olive oil and vinegar.
Fold: To carefully stir air-filled ingredients into a separate mixture by stirring under and over. This helps to ensure that few air bubbles are lost.
Giblets: The organ meats of poultry.
Grease: To rub oil, butter, or another fat into a cooking dish or baking pan to prevent food from sticking inside.
Julienne: To cut meat or vegetables into long and thin strips
Knead: To push, stretch, and fold dough usually to develop gluten, the protein structure that adds texture and shape.
Leavening: A rising agent added to food to help it rise. Agents include air, steam, yeast, baking soda, and baking powder.
Marinate: To soak foods in seasoned liquids so that they take on more flavor.
Mince: To cut food into very small and uniform pieces. Mincing involves cutting the food much smaller than you would if you diced or chopped the food.
Parboil: To cook partially by boiling.
Pith: The pale sponge-like lining on the rind of citrus fruits.
Poach: To cook food over lower heat while it is submerged in liquid that is barely simmering.
Proof: To rest dough so that it can rise before being baked. It also means to activate yeast by combining it with water until the mixture begins to bubble.
Puree: To mix or blend food until it is liquid.
Reconstitute: To soak dried food in water to rehydrate it.
Reduce: To boil down a sauce or liquid to thicken it and enhance the flavor.
Render: To preserve the fat drippings out of meat cooked over low heat.
Rind: The hard and thick outer layer of fruits or cheeses.
Roast: To cook large pieces of meat or vegetables under dry heat and uncovered.
Roux: A paste made from cooked flour and fat used to thicken a sauce.
Sauté/Panfry: To cook food over high heat with a small amount of oil in a pan or skillet.
Scald: To heat a liquid until it begins to bubble along the edges of a pot, but has not come to a full boil.
Sear: To quickly brown the surface of meat with high heat.
Score: To shallowly cut the surface of dough to allow steam to escape while food is baking. For meats, it allows marinades the penetrate through.
Simmer: To cook food in liquid that is below boiling. The bubbles are low and gentle.
Skewer: A thin wooden or metal rod that holds meat and vegetables together for roasting, grilling, or broiling.
Skim: To remove foam or fat from the surface of a liquid.
Steam: To cook food in a steamer or a pot with a tiny amount of water.
Steep: To soak herbs or coffee in hot water, resulting in the liquid taking on the flavor of the herbs or coffee.
Stew: To cook food combined with liquid in a pot with a cover over low heat.
Stir-fry: To cook food that has been cut into small pieces over high heat while constantly stirring.
Stock: The strained liquid from bones, meats, herbs, and/or vegetables that has cooked in water over low heat for several hours. The liquid is used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces.
Tenderize: To pound or pierce meat so that it becomes more tender.
Truss: To tie a whole chicken, turkey, or other poultry using twine or skewers so that it cooks evenly.
Whip: To incorporate air into food by beating the food with a mixer or whisk.
Yeast: A microbe used to convert starches and sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Yeast is used to leaven goods, brew beer, and make wine.
Zest: To grate the outer peel of a citrus fruit to use for flavor.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments section below!