Culinary Glossary

Follow recipes, prepping and cooking steps like a practiced cook with this list of basic cooking terms and techniques.


absorb to soak up. Foods will absorb flavors from sauces and seasonings.


bake to cook food with dry, indirect heat, usually in an oven.

barbecue, barbeque to cook food on a barbecue or grill over open flames.

baste to pour oil, drippings, or other liquids like stock over food as it cooks to keep it moist.

batter to coat food in a batter before cooking. Battered foods are usually fried, although they may be baked.

beat to combine food by quickly stirring it with a whisk, spoon, or electric mixer.

blacken to cook food in an extremely hot skillet. The food is usually coated in a spice rub and then seared and finished, giving it a very crispy crust and a black appearance.

blanch to cook food in boiling water then immediately place it in cold/ice water to halt the cooking process.

blend combining a number of ingredients to form a smooth paste or mixture. 

boil to heat a liquid until rolling bubbles break the surface, or to cook food in boiling liquid.

bone to remove the bone from the meat.

braise to quickly sear food then cook it at low heat for a long time in a covered dish. Braising helps to tenderize tougher foods and develop their flavors.

bread to coat food with bread or cracker crumbs. Most breaded foods are baked or fried; the breading helps keep the food moist and gives it a crispy crust.

broil to cook food directly under direct, intense heat.

brown to quickly fry food to cook only the outside and keep the inside moist. Gives food a nice crust and seals in juices.

butter to spread butter on something.

butterfly to split a food item from the middle but not cutting it entirely.


can to preserve food in a jar or can.

candy to coat with sugar or candy. Candying is usually done to fruits and edible flowers. It preserves color and flavor by sealing them in with cooked sugar.

caramelize to heat food until the natural sugars inside begin to break down. It gives foods a sweet, nutty flavor and causes them to brown.

carve to cut cooked meat or other foods into pieces for serving.

chop to cut food into small pieces.

clarify gently melting the butter, to separate the fats and milk solids from each other.

coddle to cook food in liquid that is just below boiling.

confit cooking meat on a low heat in its own fat. 

cool to put food aside or in the freezer or refrigerator to let it cool to room temperature or below.

cream to beat food, usually butter and sugar, until it is smooth and completely combined.

crisp to make food crispy. Fresh vegetables can be crisped by putting them in ice water; bread can be crisped by putting it in the oven.

crumble to break food up into small pieces, usually done with the hands.

cube to cut food into small, even cubes. Cubed food should be larger than food that is diced or minced.

cure to cook a food item without heat by packing it with salt mixture to draw out moisture.]

cut in to blend the fat with flour, usually for a pastry.


deep fry to cook food by fully submerging it in hot oil. Makes food very crispy.

de-fat to remove fat from something, like trimming solid fat from meat or skimming rendered fat off the top of soups and stocks.

deglaze to add liquid like stock, wine to loosen the stuck bits of food on the bottom of the pan.

dice to cut food into tiny cubes.

dissolve to mix a dry ingredient into a wet ingredient until the dry is no longer visible and is completely combined with the wet.

dollop a small amount of food like yoghurt, whipped cream, that have been formed into a roundish shape. 

dress to add a dressing to a salad, or to prepare meat for cooking by cleaning it.

drizzle to slowly pour liquid over food.

dry to take the moisture out of foods using a drying device or by simply cutting it into small pieces and hanging it in the sun. Drying is done to preserve food.


emulsify to make an emulsion. An emulsion is a combination of two liquids that don’t normally mix together (oil and water), typically made by slowly adding one of the liquids into the other and mixing quickly to combine them evenly .


ferment to break down or change food through the use of yeast and other microorganisms. Fermentation is used to produce many alcohols and cheeses.

flake to break food into small pieces or layers, usually done with a fork.

flambé to sprinkle food with liquor and briefly light the liquor on fire before serving.

fold to combine a light, airy mixture with a heavier, creamier one. The light mixture is added on top of the heavy one and it is mixed by going down through both mixtures, around and up the side of the bowl, and folding them over the top. Folding keeps the air bubbles in the lighter mixture from being destroyed, so the final product will be smooth and light.

forage to find your own food. People often forage for wild berries and edible mushrooms.

freeze to store something at freezing temperatures.

fricassee to make a fricassee. A fricassee is a dish of stewed meat, often chicken and vegetables served as a stew.

frost to decorate a cake or cookie with frosting.

fry to cook food in hot oil or melted butter.


garnish to add decoration to a dish, usually an edible one, such as fresh herbs.

glaze to cover food in a thin, shiny liquid.Glazes can be sweet or savory.

grease to coat the surface of a pan with grease or shortening to prevent food from sticking to the pan.

griddle to cook food on a griddle or other large flat pan that doesn’t require using lots of oil. Griddles are commonly used to cook pancakes and sandwiches.

grill to cook on a grill, over an open flame or hot coals.

grindto crush food like salts, seeds, spices and coffee beans into very small particles or powder.


heat to warm food up, usually after it has already been cooked.


ice to chill food until it’s icy cold. Also,to decorate a cake or cookie with icing.

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


jell to solidify a food that is mostly liquid, usually with the help of gelatin.

julienne a knife cut where the shape resembles matchsticks.


knead to mix dough by hand or machine into a smooth, stretchy mass that is easy to work with.


lace to add extra flavorings such as spices or alcohol to food to make it more flavorful.

lard to insert a piece of fat or bacon into a piece of lean meat that might be dry without the addition of the extra fat.

leaven to add a leavening agent like eggs, yeast, or baking soda to make batters and doughs rise.

line to cover the inside of a pan or dish. Linings can be everything from wax paper to prevent food from sticking to pieces of food that will form the outside of a dish and add texture, flavor, and structure.


macerate to soak a fruit/dry fruit in a liquid so that it takes the flavour of the liquid.

marinate to soak food in a marinade to flavor or tenderize the food.

mash to make food smooth by crushing it up; as a noun, slang for any mashed food, such as potatoes.

melt to heat food, like butter, to turn it from its solid into a liquid state.

microwave as a verb, to cook or reheat food in a microwave oven.

mince to cut up food into very small pieces, often done with some type of machine.

mix to combine ingredients. Usually done with a spoon, fork, whisk, or electric beater.


oil to add edible oil to prevent sticking and flavor any pot, pan or other cooking vessel.


pan fry to cook food in a small amount of hot oil over medium-high heat on the stove.

pané to coat in breadcrumbs.

parboil to slightly boil the food to soften them, generally, before roasting.

peel to remove the rind or skin, usually of a fruit or vegetable, using a knife or peeler.

pickle to preserve food in a brine or vinegar mixture. Vegetables like cucumbers and peppers are commonly pickled.

poach to cook food in almost-boiling liquid.

prep Short for to prepare; to do cooking preparation ahead of time. Prep work often means measuring out ingredients, chopping vegetables, cleaning fish, and other tasks that can be done beforehand to be ready to cook when it’s time.

preserve to prepare foods so that they can be stored for a long time. Some of the ways this is achieved are freezing, canning, pickling, drying, and salting.

pressure-cook to cook food using a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers cook food with very hot steam pressure and can cut cooking time down considerably without damaging the food.

purée to reduce solid foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to a perfectly smooth consistency. This is usually done with a blender or by forcing the food through a strainer.


reconstitute to change the texture of a dry food by soaking it in warm water.

reduce to simmer or boil a liquid like soup or gravy to intensify the flavor and thicken it.

refrigerate to cool or preserve food in a refrigerator.

render to melt away the fat from a food item, generally meat, on a low heat.

rest to let foods like dough and cooked meat sit untouched. Dough rises and retains its shape better if allowed to rest;cooked meat that is rested reabsorbs the juices released during cooking.

ripen to let food become ripe or riper; to allow foods like cheese, fruit, and vegetables get to or near peak maturity before using or eating.

rise to cover dough and set aside to allow it to double in size. Yeast causes dough to rise.

roast to oven-cook food, uncovered, at higher temperatures. Works best with tender meats and vegetables.

roll to coat something in a topping like nuts or powdered sugar; to make food into a ball shape; to roll out; to flatten food, usually dough, with a rolling pin.

roux cooking flour and fat together to use it as a thickener.


salt to add salt to foods for flavoring or to preserve foods using salt.

sauce to cover a food with or to add a sauce to food.

sauté to cook food quickly, often in a small amount of heated oil or melted butter.

score to make shallow cuts on the surface of a food item to increase crispiness, render fat and flavour absorption.

sear to brown meat quickly on all sides in a very hot pan; this seals in juices and makes a nice crust on meat.

season to add spices to foods to improve their flavor.

seed to remove the seeds from foods.

shred to cut food into short, thin strips using a grater or by hand. Meat can be shredded by pulling it apart by hand or with utensils.

shuck to remove the outer covering of food; to shuck oysters,shuck an ear of corn.

simmer to cook food in liquid that’s just below the boiling point.

skim to remove something from the top of a liquid, such as rendered fat off the top of stock or soup.

skin to remove the skin of fruit, vegetables, or meat before or after cooking.

slice to cut food into slices, or into thin, even pieces.

smoke to preserve food by exposing it to smoke, either partially or totally cooking it in the process.Hot-smoking food heats it as well.

spoon to use a spoon to place foods like sauces over other food; to serve food with a spoon.

spread to evenly coat food with a spread or other topping; spreading butter on toast.

steam to cook food with steam from boiling water.

steep to soak dried ingredients in liquid so the ingredient takes on the flavour of the liquid.

stew to cover food in a small amount of liquid and cook for a long time at a low temperature. Stewing is done in a covered pot and is commonly used to cook tougher meats and vegetables.

stir fry to cook food quickly on high heat in little oil while stirring constantly.Stir frying is usually done in a wok or other large, open pan and is common in Asian cooking.

stir to combine ingredients using a spoon or similar utensil.

strain to pour liquids into a strainer to remove unwanted particles or to remove liquids from foods like pasta.

sweat to slowly cook vegetables in a small amount of oil or butter in a tightly covered pan. The vegetables cook in their own juices and don’t brown.

sweeten to make food sweeter by adding sugary or sweet ingredients like sugar, syrup, or fruits.


temper to heat and cool food, usually chocolate, multiple times to make it easier to work with and give it a glossy finish.

tenderize to make food, usually meat, more tender by pounding, marinating, or slow-cooking it.

thicken to add a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch to food, usually a sauce or soup, to make it thicker. Thickening can also be achieved by boiling food to evaporate some of the liquid.

toss to combine ingredients by lightly mixing them together.

trim to remove unwanted or inedible parts of food; trimming the fat off of steak.


whip to incorporate air into food by beating it quickly, usually with a fork, whisk or machine.

whisk to mix ingredients together or to whip air into something using a whisk,a utensil made of loops of metal wires.