So, it’s your first time in the kitchen and you don’t know a simmer from a boil, what do you do? We’ve got you covered with this extensive list of cooking terms that every beginner should know before they find themselves in quite the sticky situation. Don’t worry, by the time you’re finished with this list, you’ll know your sifter from your skimmer and then some.
Al Dente – An Italian term used to describe pasta that is cooked until just firm.
Bake – To cook by dry heat in an oven.
Barbecue (BBQ or Barbeque) – Cooking over an open charcoal or wood fire at a low to medium heat for an extended period of time.
Baste – Moistening foods during the cooking process with pan drippings or sauce to prevent drying while also adding flavor.
Batter – A mixture containing flour and liquid that is thin enough to pour.
Beat – Rapidly and intensely mixing a combination of ingredients to incorporate air into the mixture. Can be done with a whisk or mixer.
Bias – To cut at an angle.
Blanch – To partially cook food by plunging it into boiling water for a short period of time before submerging it in cold water to stop the cooking process.
Blend – The mixing of two substances together to the point where they become incorporated with one another.
Boil – To heat liquid until it reaches its boiling point; to place something into boiling liquid.
Braise – To cook meat or vegetables until browned on each side before adding seasoned liquid and reducing heat to low before allowing to cook for an extended period of time.
Brine – A salty, flavorful solution used to pickle, cure, or tenderize food.
Broil – To cook on a grill under strong direct heat.
Broth – A flavorful liquid made from vegetables, water, herbs, and even proteins.
Butterfly – To split a food nearly in half.
Caramelize – The process of cooking sugar until it browns. This can also refer to the process of cooking various fruits and vegetables until they release their natural sugars.
Chop – The process of repeatedly cutting something into small pieces.
Clarify – The process of removing impurities from a liquid such as melted butter, meat stock, or vegetable stock. This is usually accomplished by skimming the surface of the liquid as it is heated.
Cream – The process of beating one or more ingredients into a creamy consistency.
Cure – To preserve by either drying or smoking.
Deglaze – To dissolve the glaze of juices and burnt bits left on the surface of a pan in order to create a sauce.
Degrease – To remove fat from the surface of a dish while cooking.
Dice – To cut food into small cubes.
Dissolve – To cause a dry substance to incorporate with a liquid.
Dredge – To sprinkle or coat flour.
Drizzle – To sprinkle drops of liquid over food.
Dust – To sprinkle with dry ingredients.
Filet – The piece of flesh after the meat has been boned.
Fillet – To remove the bones from meat or fish.
Flake – To break into small pieces.
Fold – The gentle incorporation of dry to liquid ingredients.
Fry – To cook in hot fat or oil.
Garnish – To decorate a dish with a piece of parsley, lemon slice, or other herbs and vegetables.
Glaze – To coat with a thin icing, jelly, or other liquid before or after the food has been cooked.
Grate – To separate foods into various shapes and sizes through the act of rubbing of a grater.
Grill – To cook on a grill over high heat.
Grind – To produce small particles of food by forcing food through a grinder.
Julienne – To slice fruits, vegetables, or cheeses into extremely thin strips.
Knead – To fold, push, and turn dough to produce a smooth and elastic texture.
Lukewarm – A food temperature of approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Marinate – To flavor, moisturize, and tenderize meat and vegetables by soaking them in a liquid mixture of seasonings.
Mince – To chop food into small pieces.
Mix – To stir together two or more ingredients until they are combined.
Pan-Broil – To cook uncovered in a hot pan.
Pan-Fry – To cook in small amounts of fat or oil.
Parboil – To boil until partially cooked.
Pare – To remove the outermost layer of a fruit or vegetable.
Peel – Removing the skin of a fruit or vegetable by hand or with a knife or peeler. Can also refer to the kins of a fruit or vegetable.
Pickle – To preserve food in a salt brine.
Pinch – Using your fingers to press a pie dough together.
Pit – To remove pits from fruits.
Planked – To cook on a thick hardwood plank.
Plump – To soak dried fruits in liquid until they swell.
Poach – To gently cook in hot liquid kept just below the point of boiling.
Puree – To mash foods until they are perfectly smooth.
Reduce – The process of thickening and reducing the amount of liquid in a sauce or soup to intensify its flavor.
Refresh – To run cold water over food that has been parboiled to quickly stop the cooking process.
Render – To melt down fat.
Roast – To cook by dry heat in an oven or over a fire.
Roux – A thickening agent made of equal parts fat and flour.
Sauté – To quickly cook something in small amount of fat.
Scald – To heat a mixture or liquid just below the boiling point.
Score – To cut slits in food by cutting partway through the outer surface.
Sear – To quickly brown a food by intense heat.
Shred – To cut food into narrow strips.
Sift – To put ingredients through a sifter to make it lighter and more uniform in texture.
Simmer – Bringing liquids to a temperature that is just below boiling.
Skim – To remove scum, fat, or other impurities from the surface of a liquid during the cooking process.
Steam – To use a small amount of boiling water in order to cook food.
Steep – To extract color, flavor, or other properties from a substance by leaving it in was just below the boiling point.
Sterilize – To destroy microorganisms by the process of boiling, steaming, or using dry heat.
Stew – To slowly simmer in a small amount of liquid for an extended period of time.
Stir – To combine ingredients with a spoon or whisk using a circular motion.
Toast – To brown and crisp food to develop flavor.
Toss – To mix lightly with a lifting motion using two forks or spoons.
Truss – To secure poultry with string or skewers in order to hold its shape while cooking.
Whip – To beat rapidly with a wire whisk or electric mixer to incorporate air into the mixture.
Well, now you know more than enough to start your great culinary adventure. Just make sure you don’t mistake boiling for broiling when you start working on your next meal.