Cooking Terms

Aerate: To incorporate air into ingredients to make them lighter.

Al dente: “To the tooth,” in Italian. The pasta is cooked just enough to maintain a firm, chewy texture.

Bake: To cook in the oven.

Baste: To brush or spoon juices over meat during roasting, adding flavor and to prevent drying out.

Batter: A mixture of flour, fat, and liquid that is thin enough to require a pan to encase it, such cakes. A batter is different from dough, which maintains its shape.

Beat: To smoothen a mixture by briskly whipping or stirring it.

Bind: To thicken a sauce or hot liquid by stirring in ingredients such as eggs, flour, butter, or cream.

Blackened: Seasoned foods are cooked over high heat in a super-heated skillet until charred.

Blanch: To loosen the skin of a fruit or vegetable by briefly boiling and then plunging into ice water to stop the cooking and allow the skin to be easily sliced off.

Braise: Browning meat in oil or other fat and then cooking slowly in liquid to tenderize the meat.

Bread: To coat the food with crumbs (usually with soft or dry bread crumbs), sometimes seasoned.

Broil: To cook food directly under the heat source.

Broth or stock: A flavorful liquid made by gently cooking meat, seafood, or vegetables (and/or their by-products, such as bones and trimming) often with herbs, in liquid, usually water.

Brown: A quick saut?ing, pan/oven broiling, or grilling method to enhance flavor, texture, and/or eye appeal.

Brush: To coat a food such as meat or bread with melted butter, glaze, or other liquid using a pastry brush.

Bundt pan: The generic name for any tube baking pan having fluted sides.

Butterfly: To cut open a food down the center without cutting all the way through, and then spread apart.

Brine: A water and salt solution used for pickling or preserving.

Caramelization: Browning sugar over a flame, with or without the addition of some water to aid the process. The temperature range in which sugar caramelizes is approximately 320? F to 360? F (160? C to 182? C).

Chiffon: Pie filling made light and fluffy with stabilized gelatin and beaten egg whites.

Chop: To cut into irregular pieces.

Clarify: Remove impurities from butter or stock by heating the liquid, then straining or skimming it.

Coat: To evenly cover food with flour, crumbs, or a batter.

Coddle: A cooking method in which foods are placed into separate containers and slowly cooked in a pan of simmering water.

Confit: To slowly cook pieces of meat in their own gently rendered fat.

Core: To remove the inedible center of fruits.

Cream: To beat vegetable shortening, butter, or margarine, with or without sugar, until light and fluffy.

Crimp: To create a decorative edge on a piecrust or seal edges together.

Crisp: To restore the crunch to foods; Soaking vegetables in an ice water bath or heating stale crackers in a medium oven.

Crush: To condense a food to its smallest particles.

Crystallize: To form sugar- or honey-based syrups into crystals.

Curd: Custard-like pie or tart filling flavored with juice and zest of citrus fruit, usually lemon.

Curdle: To cause semisolid pieces of coagulated protein to develop in food, usually as a result of the addition of an acid substance, or the overheating of milk or egg-based sauces.

Cure: To preserve or add flavor with an ingredient, usually salt and/or sugar.

Custard: A mixture of beaten egg, milk, and possibly other ingredients such as sweet or savory flavorings, cooked with gentle heat, often in a water bath or double boiler. Often used as a pie filling.

Cut in: To work vegetable shortening, margarine, or butter into dry ingredients.

Casserole: Food that are baked in various-sized deep dishes. Usually all the ingredients are mixed together or layered before cooking and topped with cheese.


Dash: A measure approximately equal to 1/16 teaspoon.

Deep-fry: To completely submerge the food in hot oil.

Deglaze: To add liquid to a pan in which foods have been fried or roasted to dissolve the caramelized juices stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Devil: To add hot or spicy ingredients such as cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce to a food.

Dice: To cut into cubes.

Direct heat: A cooking method that allows heat to meet food directly, such as grilling, broiling, or toasting.

Dot: To sprinkle food with small bits of an ingredient such as butter to allow even melting.

Dough: A combination of ingredients producing a firm but workable mixture for making baked goods.

Dredge: To sprinkle lightly and evenly with sugar or flour.

Drizzle: To pour a liquid such as a sweet glaze or melted butter in a slow, light trickle over food.

Dust: To sprinkle food lightly with spices, sugar, or flour for a light coating.

Drippings: The juices and fat that is collected from the pan of cooked foods, often used for gravies and sauces.

Dutch Oven: Large deep pots that are covered with a tight-fitting lid.

Egg wash: A mixture of beaten eggs with either milk or water; Used to coat cookies and other baked goods to give them a shine when baked.

Entr?e: Referred to the first course of a meal or the main dish.

Fillet: To remove the bones from meat or fish.

Filter: To remove lumps, excess liquid, or impurities by passing through paper or cheesecloth.

Flamb?: To ignite a sauce or other liquid so that it flames.

Flan: An open pie filled with sweet or savory ingredients

Flute: To create a decorative scalloped or undulating edge on a piecrust or other pastry.

Fold: To lightly mix ingredients with a spoon, slowly folding the heavier ingredient into the lighter one, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.

Fricassee: To lightly cook small pieces of meat in butter and then simmer in liquid until done.

Fritter: Sweet or savory foods coated or mixed into batter, then deep-fried (also known as beignet).

Frizzle: To cook thin slices of meat in hot oil until crisp and slightly curly.

Fry: To cook food in hot cooking oil, usually until a crisp brown crust forms.

Ganache: A rich chocolate filling or coating made with chocolate, vegetable shortening, and possibly heavy cream.

Garnish: A decorative piece of an edible ingredient such as parsley.

Glaze: A liquid that gives an item a shiny surface; To cover a food with such a liquid.

Gluten: A protein formed when hard wheat flour is moistened and agitated. Gluten is what gives yeast dough its characteristic elasticity.

Grate: To shred or cut down a food into fine pieces by rubbing it against a rough surface.

Gratin: To bind together or combine food with a liquid such as cream, milk, b?chamel sauce, or tomato sauce, in a shallow dish. The mixture is then baked until cooked and set.

Grease: To coat a pan or skillet with a thin layer of oil or butter.

Grill: To cook over the heat source, often outdoors over charcoal.

Grind: To mechanically cut a food into small pieces.

Hull (also husk): To remove the leafy parts of soft fruits, such as strawberries or blackberries.

Ice: To cool down cooked food by placing in ice; To spread frosting on a cake.

Infusion: Extracting flavors by soaking them in liquid heated in a covered pan; Refers to the liquid resulting from this process.

Jell (also gel): To cause a food to set or solidify, usually by adding gelatin.

Jerk seasoning: A dry mixture of various spices such as chilies, thyme, garlic, onions, and cinnamon or cloves used to season meats such as chicken or pork.

Jus: The natural juices released by roasting meats.

Jambalaya: A Creole dish that is made with rice, tomatoes, onions, and meat.

Julienne: To cut food into thin strips.

Kebab: Marinated meat that is skewered and grilled.

Knead: To press and fold dough in order to give it a smoother consistency needed for leavening.

Larding: Inserting strips of fat into pieces of meat, so that the braised meat stays moist and juicy.

Leavener: An ingredient or process that produces air bubbles and causes the rising of baked goods such as cookies and cakes.

Line: To place layers of edible (cake or bread slices) or inedible (foil or wax paper) ingredients in a pan to provide structure for a dish or to prevent sticking.

Loin: A cut of meat that typically comes from the back of the animal.


Marble: To gently swirl one food into another.

Marinate: To combine food with aromatic ingredients to add flavor.

Marzipan: A paste of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites used to fill and decorate pastries.

Mash: To beat or press a food to remove lumps.

Medallion: A small round bit of meat.

Meringue: Egg whites beaten until stiff, then sweetened; Used as toppings for pies or baked as cookies.

Mince: To chop food into tiny pieces.

Mix: To beat or stir foods together until they are thoroughly combined.

Moisten: Adding enough liquid to dampen, but not soak, dry ingredients.

Panbroil: To cook a food in a skillet without added fat, removing any fat as it accumulates.

Panfry: To cook in a hot pan with small amount of hot oil, butter, or other fat, turning the food over once or twice.

Parboil: To partly cook in a boiling liquid.

Parchment: A heavy, heat-resistant paper used in cooking.

Pare: To peel or trim a food, usually vegetables.

Pesto: A sauce usually made of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and cheese.

Pinch: Same as “dash.”

Pipe: To force a semisoft food through a bag (a pastry bag or a plastic bag with one corner cut off) to decorate food.

Pit: Using a sharp knife to take out the center stone or seed of a fruit.

Poach: To simmer in liquid.

Pressure cooking: A cooking method that uses steam trapped under a locked lid to produce high temperatures and achieve fast cooking time.

Proof: To let yeast dough rise.

Pur?e: To mash or sieve food into a thick liquid.

Parboil: To partially cook food in boiling water for just a few minutes.

Quiche: A pastry shell that is filled with eggs, cheese, cream, meats, and vegetables.

Ramekin: A small baking dish used for individual servings of sweet and savory dishes.

Reconstitute: To take a dried food such as milk back to its original state by adding liquid.

Reduce: To cook liquids down by water evaporation.

Refresh: To pour cold water over freshly cooked vegetables to prevent further cooking and to retain color.

Render: To melt down fat to make drippings.

Roast: To cook uncovered in the oven.

Saut?: To cook food quickly in a small amount of oil over direct heat.

Scald: Cooking a liquid such as milk to just below the point of boiling; to loosen the skin of fruits or vegetables by dipping them in boiling water.

Score: To tenderize meat by making a number of shallow cuts across its surface. Useful when marinating.

Sear: Sealing in a meat’s juices by cooking it quickly under very high heat.

Season: To enhance the flavor of foods by adding aromatic and/or flavorful ingredients; To treat a pot or pan with a coating of cooking oil and baking it to seal rough.

Seize: To form a thick, lumpy mass when melted (usually applied to chocolate).

Set: Let food become solid. (See also “Jell.”)

Shred: To cut or tear into long narrow strips.

Sift: Passing a dry ingredient through a fine mesh to remove large lumps and/or incorporate air, making them lighter.

Simmer: Cooking food in a liquid at a low temperature that small bubbles begin to break the surface.

Skim: To remove the top fat layer from stocks, soups, sauces, or other liquids.

Springform pan: A two-part baking pan in which a spring-loaded collar fits around a base; the collar is removed after baking is complete.

Steam: To cook over boiling water in a covered pan; allows food to keep shape, texture, and nutritional value better than methods such as boiling.

Steep: To soak dry ingredients in liquid until the flavor is infused into the liquid.

Stewing: Browning small pieces of meat, poultry, or fish, then simmering them with other ingredients in enough liquid to cover them.

Stir-Fry: The fast frying of small pieces of meat and vegetables over very high heat.

Thin: To reduce a mixture’s thickness by adding more liquid.

Toss: To thoroughly combine several ingredients by mixing lightly.

Truss: To use string, skewers, or pins to hold together a food to maintain its shape while it cooks (usually applied to meat or poultry).

Unleavened: Baked goods that contain no ingredients to give them volume, such as baking powder, baking soda, or yeast.

Whisk: To mix of fluff by beating; A utensil that is made from looped wires for the purpose of mixing or blending ingredients into a smooth consistency.

Water bath: Setting a container into a pan of simmering water to gently cook food. (See also “Coddle.”)

Whip: To incorporate air into ingredients such as cream or egg whites by beating until light and fluffy.