A-Z of Cooking Terms – A Helpful Cooking Glossary | Crush Magazine (2022)

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words that lead even the most gifted cook to question everything they know. We’re here to put an end to all the confusion and have compiled a comprehensive A-Z of cooking terms to help you out.

A-Z of Cooking Terms – A Helpful Cooking Glossary | Crush Magazine (1)

Al dente

Generally, this cooking term is used when referring to the cooking of pasta and rice, but technically includes vegetables and beans too. Al dente is translated as ‘to the tooth’ meaning something cooked but left with a bite of firmness.

Au gratin

Sprinkled with breadcrumbs and cheese, or both, and browned. The phrase ‘au gratin’ literally means “by grating” in French, or “with a crust”.

Au jus

With its own juices from cooking, often refers to steak or other meat.

Au sec

Description of a liquid that has been reduced until it’s almost nearly dry, a process often used in sauce making.


To cover a meat with a layer of fat before cooking, it maintains the moisture of the meat while it cooks to avoid overcooking.


To pour melted fat or the juices of the liquid over meat or other food while cooking to keep it moist.


A quick method of cooking food, usually green vegetables, whereby the item is basically scalded in boiling hot water for a short period of time and then refreshed in ice cold water. This ensures that the veggie retains its bright green colour and a good firm texture.


Normally a cooking term used in the States, broil is what we know as grilling. Basically, you preheat the hot rod or grill at the top of your oven until it gets exceptionally hot. Place the food on an oven tray under the preheated grill until it browns and has some incredible flavour.


Braising is an old French method of cooking meat. It uses a combination of dry and moist heat, dry being when the meat is seared at a high heat and moist when it’s gently cooked in a liquid. This cooking method is ideal with sinewy, tougher cuts of meat.


The process of soaking meat in a brine, or heavily salted water, before cooking.


The process of combining two or more ingredients so that they become smooth and uniform in texture and lose their individual characteristics.


Ironically, to bone a piece of meat is to remove the bone from it.


Butterflying food refers to splitting it through the centre to thin it out, but not cutting through it entirely.


A cartouche refers to a piece of greaseproof or baking paper that is used to create a lid over a pot or saucepan. Usually cut in a circle and placed over a dish with a small amount of liquid. In the instance of poaching, it stops steam from escaping, it can also prevent skins from developing on sauces.


Most often refers to butter, where the milk solids and water are rendered from the butterfat. This is done by gently melting the butter, allowing the two to separate and then skimming off the solids.


To coddle something is to cook it in water just below boiling point. More recently, the term specifically applies to eggs using a device called a coddler. The low cooking temperature produces a much softer egg than if you were to boil it. Coddling… definitely one of our favourite sounding cooking terms.


A type of clear liquid that has been clarified by using egg whites and flavoured stock to remove fat.

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To remove the central section of some fruits, seeds and tougher material that is not normally consumed.


Regularly recognised with duck, but can include other meats, where the meat is cooked in its own fat (or other fat if necessary) at a low heat.


A non-heated method of cooking where the food item is packed with a salt mixture and left so that the moisture draws out.


When egg-based mixtures are cooked too quickly and the protein separates from the liquids, leaving a lumpy mixture behind.

Cut in

A method of blending, usually for pastry, where a fat is combined with flour. The method often refers to using a pastry blender to mix butter or shortening into the flour until the mixture is the size of peas.


A knife skill cut – the exact measurement changes but the shape is always a small square.


A small amount of soft food that has been formed into a round-ish shape. Yoghurt, whipped cream and mashed potatoes are all examples of foods that can be dolloped.


To coat moist foods with a dry ingredient before cooking to provide an even coating.


Dress has two definitions when it comes to cooking, firstly to coat foods (mostly salad leaves) in a sauce. It also refers to preparing poultry, fish and venison for cooking, which essentially is breaking them down off of their carcasses and sectioning the meat.

Deep fry

To cook food in a deep layer of hot oil.


To loosen bits of food that have stuck on the bottom of a pan by adding liquid such as stock or wine.


To remove the ends and the string from green beans.


The process of cooking off alcohol that’s been added to a hot pan by creating a burst of flames. The fumes are set alight and the flame goes out when the alcohol has burnt off.


Most commonly known as a very tender cut of beef, but can also refer to the meat of chicken and fish.


Refers to the process of gently breaking off small pieces of food, often for combining with other foods. For example, you would flake cooked fish to combine with cooked, mashed potatoes to make fish cakes.


The process of removing all fat, cartilage, and meat, from rib bones on a roast by cutting between the bones, often referring to lamb, beef, or pork rib.


Grilling food is applying dry heat to food either from above or below. In South Africa, grilling refers to cooking food under the grill in your oven (in the States this is called broiling) or can also refer to cooking food in a pan with grill lines.


A glaze is a sticky substance coated on top of food. It is usually used in terms of baking or cooking meats where a marinade will be brushed over the food continuously to form a glaze.

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A gratin is a topping that is often either breadcrumbs or grated cheese that forms a brown crust when placed under a hot grill.


Refers to applying a fat to a roasting tray or cake tin to ensure that food doesn’t stick.


To break something down into much smaller pieces, for example, coffee beans or whole spices.


Refers to the husk, shell or external covering of a fruit. More specifically, it is the leafy green part of a strawberry.


To allow the flavour of an ingredient to soak into a liquid until the liquid takes on the flavour of the ingredient.


This cooking term means the process of poking holes into the muscle of meat in order to tenderise it, also known as needling.

Jus lie

Meat juice that has been lightly thickened with either cornflour or any binding thickener.


Refers to a knife skill cut where the shape resembles matchsticks.


To work dough into a soft, uniform and malleable texture by pressing, folding and stretching with the heel of your hand.


The process of inserting strips of fat into a piece of meat that doesn’t have as much fat, to melt and keep the meat from drying out.


A binding agent of cream and egg yolks used to thicken soups or sauces.


The soaking of an ingredient, usually fruit, in a liquid so that it takes on the flavour of the liquid. Can also be used to soften dried fruit.


To impart the flavour of a marinade into food; usually requires some time to allow the flavours to develop. Can also be used to tenderise a cut of meat.


To finely divide food into uniform pieces that are smaller than diced or chopped foods.

Mise en place

This is the OG of kitchen cooking terms and means the preparation of ingredients, such as dicing onions, chopping veggies or measuring spices, before starting to cook. Check out more HERE.


The act of coating a food with a thin, even layer.


Injecting fat or flavours into an ingredient to enhance its flavour.

Par cooking

The process of not fully cooking food, so that it can be finished or reheated later.

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A thin, flattened piece of meat, rolled with a stuffing of ingredients i.e, vegetables, which is then cooked before served.


This cooking term refers to coating in breadcrumbs.


A mixture of starch and liquid that’s added to ground meat for hamburger patties/meatballs. Usually a mixture of bread, breadcrumbs or panko with milk, buttermilk or yoghurt.


To boil food only slightly, often used to soften foods like potatoes before roasting them. Helps to speed up the cooking process.


To cook in gently bubbling liquids such as a stock or a broth.


Cooked food, usually vegetables, that have been mashed or blended to form a paste-like consistency.


The process of preserving food in a brine, which is a salt or vinegar solution.


The process of simmering or boiling a liquid, usually a stock or a sauce, to intensify the flavour or to thicken the consistency.


Using a low heat to melt the fat away from a food item, usually a piece of meat. This rendered fat can then be used to cook with.


Technically defined as a method of dry cooking a piece of meat, where the hot air envelopes the food to cook it evenly and to allow it to caramelise nicely.


A roux is a flour and fat mixture cooked together, which acts as a thickener in soups, stews and sauces. (link to mother sauce article)


To restore a dried food to its original consistency, or to change its texture, by letting it soak in warm water.


To halt the cooking process, usually that of vegetables after being blanched, by plunging them into ice-cold water.


Meaning ‘to jump’ in French, sauteeing is cooking food in a minimal amount of oil over a rather high heat.


To heat a liquid so it’s right about to reach the boiling point, where small bubbles start to appear around the edges.


Similar to infuse, steeping is the process of allowing dried ingredients to soak in a liquid until the liquid has taken on the flavour of the ingredient.

Shallow fry

To cook food in a shallow layer of preheated oil.


Process of cooking in hot liquids kept just below boiling point.

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To remove a top layer of fat or scum that has developed on the surface of soups, stocks or sauces.


Method of cooking food by using steam.

Sear or brown

A method of cooking food over a high heat until caramelisation forms on the surface. This is often done before braising the food, to give it added flavour and is not usually intended to cook the food all the way through.


This refers to the gentle cooking of vegetables in butter or oil under a lid, so that their natural liquid is released to aid the cooking process. Often vegetables cooked this way will end up looking translucent.


Shallow, diagonal cuts made on the surface of meat and vegetables for the purpose of rendering fat, encouraging crispiness and flavour absorption.


To temper is the process of adding a small quantity of a hot liquid to a cold liquid in order to warm the cold liquid slightly. This is often be done before adding delicate ingredients to a hot mixture, where their format may be affected.An example of this would be adding eggs to a hot mixture – in order to prevent them curdling or scrambling you would add a little of the hot mix to the eggs and incorporatebefore adding the eggs into the heated mixture. Another example would be adding a cornflour slurry to a hot mixture; a little of the hot mixture is added to the slurry to temper the temperature before adding the mix back to the main mixture.


To cut and peel ingredients such as parsnips or potatoes into a barrel-like shape. For aesthetic purposes but also to ensure that they cook properly.


To bind the legs and wings of a bird to its body, ensuring it maintains an even shape so that none of the extremities dry out.


The process of heating up milk products to 137 degrees celsius for a few seconds and chilling it down rapidly, resulting in milk that’s 99.9% free from bacteria and extending its shelf-life.


To cut a zig-zag or decorative pattern around fruit or vegetables to create decorative garnishes for food presentation.


A type of savoury sauce in which a light stock, such as chicken or fish, is thickened with a flour that is cooked and then allowed to turn light brown, thickened with a blond roux.


The process of beating food with a whisk to incorporate air and to increase volume.


The process of using a whisk to incorporate air into food or to blend ingredients together smoothly.


Refers to removing the outer part of citrus (called the zest) either by using a grater, a peeler or a knife.

If you found this A-Z of cooking terms useful, then check out our Guide to French Cooking Terms. Also, if you’re keen to brush on your baking knowledge? Check out our Glossary of Baking Terms.

A-Z of Cooking Terms – A Helpful Cooking Glossary | Crush Magazine (2)

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What are some cooking terms used in recipes? ›

Commonly used words and phrases
  • Al dente: In Italian it means, “to the tooth.” It is when pasta is cooked to just firm.
  • Bake: To cook food with dry heat in an oven. ...
  • Barbecue: To cook food on a roast or spit over coals.
  • Baste: ...
  • Beat: ...
  • Bias: ...
  • Blanch: ...
  • Blend:

How many cooking terms are there? ›

Examples of Common Cooking Terms. Our list of 101 culinary terms includes cooking terminology, food prep terms, and beverage definitions that every restaurateur should know, from a la carte and au jus to yakitori and zest.

What are 5 cooking mixing terms? ›

Cooking terms (9) Cutting terms 5 Mixing terms 9 Preparations7
mixto combine 2 or more ingredients by beating or stirring
siftto put dry ingredients through a sifter to break up particles and mix thouroughly
tossto mix ingredients lightly
whipto beat rapidly until the mixture is fluffy
26 more rows

What are some food terms? ›

Dice: Chopping food into fine pieces, usually no more than an eighth or a quarter of an inch in size. Dollop: A semi-solid food, like sour cream, measured by the spoonful. Dredge: Coating raw food, like meat, with breadcrumbs or flour, before frying. Dress: To cover a salad or other food in a sauce.

What boiled meat called? ›

What is the term for boiling meat? Poach Cook gently over very low heat in barely simmering liquid just to cover. Reduce To thicken a liquid and concentrate its flavor by boiling it.

What is cooking with leaves called? ›

The name 'luau' comes from a dish made from the young leaves of the karo plant, which were cooked with sweet potatoes in coconut milk. The actual leaves, members of the agave family, are also called ti leaves. The leaves are removed before the food is eaten.

What do you call sauces? ›

sauce, liquid or semiliquid mixture that is added to a food as it cooks or that is served with it. Sauces provide flavour, moisture, and a contrast in texture and colour. They may also serve as a medium in which food is contained, for example, the velouté sauce of creamed chicken.

What is cooking in liquid called? ›

Simmer: To cook in liquid just below the boiling point; bubbles form but do not burst on the surface of the liquid. Skim: To remove surface foam or fat from a liquid. Steam: To cook food on a rack or in a steamer set over boiling or simmering water in a covered pan.

Is vegetable a culinary term? ›

Vegetable is a culinary term. Its definition has no scientific value and is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. All parts of herbaceous plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are generally considered vegetables.

What is the kitchen term of G? ›

Some common weight abbreviations include: g - gram. kg - kilogram.

What is combining fat and sugar called? ›

Cream. To beat solid fat and sugar with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth, light, and creamy.

What are the 4 main methods of baking? ›

So today we'll walk you through the 4 basic methods of baking so you don't end up with a disaster cake.
  • WHISKING. This method uses whisking instead of a raising agent to work air into the mix. ...
  • CREAMING. Possibly the trickiest of all!! ...
  • MELTING. This method tends to yield cakes that are more dense and moist. ...
Apr 4, 2022

Why is it important to know the different cooking terms? ›

Understanding and mastering the different types of cooking methods is essential to becoming a great chef or home cook. Knowledge of cooking techniques allows you to work with a variety of ingredients and kitchen equipment to achieve consistent, flavorful results in your cooking.

What is a culinary dictionary? ›

A Dictionary of Cooking, Food, and Beverage Terms.

What is meat water called? ›

broths (brôths, brŏths, brôthz, brŏthz) 1. The water in which meat, fish, or vegetables have been boiled; stock.

What is boiling steak called? ›

Sous vide (/suːˈviːd/; French for 'under vacuum'), also known as low temperature long time (LTLT) cooking, is a method of cooking in which food is placed in a plastic pouch or a glass jar and cooked in a water bath for longer than usual cooking times (usually 1 to 7 hours, up to 72 or more hours in some cases) at a ...

What is vacuum cooking? ›

In vacuum cooking, meats are cooked at reduced pressure and temperature. In one vacuum technique, known as sous vide cooking, foods are cooked in their own juices, thus retaining their natural flavours and moisture. Cooking time is usually increased because of the low temperatures employed.

What greens taste the best? ›

— What Does Green Taste Like?
  • Collard Greens. ...
  • Dandelion Greens. ...
  • Iceberg Lettuce. ...
  • Kale. ...
  • Kohlrabi. ...
  • Leeks. ...
  • Romaine Lettuce. Sweet with very slight earthy flavor. ...
  • Spinach. Earthy with acidic tones, making it a good choice for pairing salty, fatty and nutty tastes.

What are cooking greens? ›

Sturdy leafy greens, such as chard, kale, mustard, beet, collard, and turnip greens, are known as cooking greens. They bring valuable nutrients to your diet, along with some flavor and color to your table.

Is bay leaf poisonous? ›

Whether you call them bay leaves, bay laurel, or sweet laurel, this Mediterranean herb is a common ingredient in soups, stews, or braised meats. It's recommended that you remove the whole leaves or leaf pieces before eating. However, it's not because they're poisonous, but rather because they can be a choking hazard.

What is salt and pepper called? ›

Salt and pepper is the common name for edible salt and ground black pepper, which are ubiquitously paired on Western dining tables as to allow for the additional seasoning of food after its preparation.

What are the 7 condiments? ›

7 Condiments To Always Keep in Your Kitchen
  • Quality Olive Oil. I studied abroad in Spain during college, and if I only learned one thing it is this: olive oil goes on anything. ...
  • Balsamic Vinegar. Another kitchen basic, this vinegar is olive oil's best friend. ...
  • Sriracha. ...
  • Honey Dijon Mustard. ...
  • Ketchup. ...
  • Soy Sauce. ...
  • Nutella.
Sep 6, 2014

What is soup in cookery? ›

Basically, soup is a combination of foods (meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, etc.) that are cooked in water or broth. By definition, soups contain more liquid than stews contain.

What are the terms used in baking? ›

Baking Terminology
KneadProcess of working wheat-based dough by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook attachment into a smooth and elastic ball.
MacerateA technique used to soften fresh fruit and draw out its natural juice.
ProofFinal rise of a yeast dough after it is shaped and before it is baked.
21 more rows

Why is it important to know the different cooking terms? ›

Understanding and mastering the different types of cooking methods is essential to becoming a great chef or home cook. Knowledge of cooking techniques allows you to work with a variety of ingredients and kitchen equipment to achieve consistent, flavorful results in your cooking.

What does G mean in baking? ›

g - gram. kg - kilogram. lb or # - pound. mg - milligram. oz - ounce.

What is the cooking term to cut food into small pieces? ›

"Dice" means to cut food into even, small squares about 1/4" in diameter. And "mince" means to cut foods into even, very small pieces about 1/8" in diameter.


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