Glossary of Cooking Terms


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. Food is cooked slowly with gentle heat, causing the natural moisture to evaporate slowly, concentrating the flavor

Baste - To brush or spoon liquid fat or juices over meat during roasting to add flavor and to prevent it from drying out

Batter - A mixture of flour, fat, and liquid that is thin enough in consistency to require a pan to encase it. Used in such preparations as cakes and some cookies. A batter is different from dough, which maintains its shape

Beat - To smooth a mixture by briskly whipping or stirring it with a spoon, fork, wire whisk, rotary beater, or electric mixer

Blanch - To boil briefly to loosen the skin of a fruit or a vegetable. After 30 seconds in boiling water, the fruit or vegetable should be plunged into ice water to stop the cooking action. Then the skin can easily be peeled off with a knife or fingers

Blend - To mix or combine

Boil - To cook food in heated water or other liquid that is bubbling vigorously

Braise - A cooking technique that requires browning meat in oil or other fat and then cooking slowly in liquid. The effect of braising is 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 - To fry in a little oil over medium heat until the outside of the meat or vegetables changes to a crispy brown color (hence the name)

Brush - To lightly coat (using a pastry brush) a food with a liquid (like melted butter or egg white)

Chop - To cut into irregular pieces

Coarsely chop - To chop something into relatively large pieces

Combine - To blend 2 or more ingredients into a uniform mixture

Core - To remove the inedible center of fruits such as pineapples

Cream - To beat vegetable shortening, butter, or margarine, with or without sugar, until light and fluffy. This process traps in air bubbles, later used to create height in cookies and cakes. Note - sometimes butter gives off liquid when creamed, we don't know what this is, but have been told to pour it off

Cube - To cut a food into pieces of approximately equal height and length

Cut in - To mix with a cutting motion, usually a pastry blended, knives or a fork are used

Curdle - To cause protein in a food to coagulate into chunks, usually the result of adding acid or overheating milk or egg-based liquids


Dash - A small, imprecise quantity of anything (i.e. salt)

De-bone - To remove bones from any meat

Degrease - To remove fat from a liquid, by either skimming fat from surface with a spoon, or refrigerating liquid and removing solidified fat

Deglaze - To remove bits of meat and juices left in a pan after cooking meat with a liquid (wine, broth, water etc.). This process follows degreasing, and the result is used as a base for sauce or gravy

Dice - To cut into small cubes (see Cube)

Dredge - To sprinkle or coat with a powdery substance (i.e. flour)

Drippings - The liquid left at the bottom of a pan where meat was cooked (used to make sauces and gravies)

Drizzle - To pour a liquid in a light trickle

Entrée - A French term for the main dish in a meal

Finely chop - To chop something into very small pieces

Flute edges - To form grooves in the pie crust around the edges

Fold - To cut and mix lightly with a spoon or rubber spatula to keep as much air in the mixture as possible

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

Garnish - (v) To decorate. (n) Small decorative bits of food (usually edible) that are added to a dish before serving

Glaze - (n) A liquid coating that gives food a shiny surface. (v) To coat a food with a glaze

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

Grease - To coat a pan or skillet with a thin layer of fat (oil, butter etc.)

Grill - to cook directly over the heat source (usually a fire)

Grind - To crush or process a food into a fine powder (usually with a machine)


Julienne - To cut into long thin strips

Knead - To fold, stretch and press dough in a mass, with hands, until elastic

Leavener - An ingredient or process that produces air bubbles and causes the rising of baked goods such as cookies and cake 


Marinate - To soak a food (usually meat) in a seasoned liquid, usually of vinegar or wine with oil, herbs, spices, etc.

Mince - To cut or chop into very small pieces

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

Pit - To remove the pit or stone from the center of a fruit (like a plum or cherry)

Prick - To pierce with a fork or knife

Proof - To test the yeast to be sure it's active. More info can found in the Food Tips section on page 212.

Punch down - To reduce in bulk by punching, as in bread dough (or your little brother)

Puree - (n) A substance, which has been processed into a thick paste. (v) To put a substance through a sieve, masher or food mill to create a thick liquid, paste or mash

Quarter - To cut into four pieces


Reduce - To lessen the amount of a liquid through prolonged cooking, this intensifies flavor and consistency

Roast - To cook by exposure to dry heat in the oven

Sauté - To lightly fry in a small amount of oil or fat, stirring frequently

Scald - To bring a liquid to a temperature just below the boiling point

Scorch - To burn (but in that artistic, chef-like way)

Scum - Extraneous matter or impurities formed on the surface of a liquid (like soup)

Sear - To brown with sudden application of heat or fire

Sieve - (v) To put a substance through a fine mesh thereby either reducing particles to smaller ones or separating larger particles from smaller ones. (n) Utensil used for sifting or straining finer food particles from coarser ones (or separating liquid and solid ingredients)

Sift - To remove large lumps from a dry ingredient such as flour or confectioners' sugar by passing it through a fine mesh. This process also incorporates air into the ingredients, making them lighter

Simmer - To cook food in a liquid at a low temperature so that small bubbles just begin to break the surface

Skim - To remove or clear scum off a surface (usually a liquid)

Sprig - A shoot, twig, or small branch

Steam - To cook over boiling water in a covered pan, this method keeps foods' shape, texture, and nutritional value intact better than methods such as boiling

Steep - To soak tea or herbs in a liquid at a temperature under the boiling point, thereby transferring flavors and other attributes to the liquid

Stir-fry - To fry quickly over a high heat in a lightly oiled pan while stirring continuously

Strain - To remove one substance from another (like liquid from a solid or visa versa); to filter

Stalk - The stem of a plant (like celery)

Trim - To remove undesirable bits from a food

Vegetarian - (adj) Food without meat, poultry or fish. (n) A person who adheres to vegetarian principles. Note: vegetarian has many definitions, for the purpose of this book we mean Lacto-ovo vegetarian

Vegan - (adj) Excluding all animal products and by-products (i.e. meat, dairy, honey etc.). (n) A person who adheres to vegan principles

Whip - (v) To incorporate air into ingredients such as cream or egg whites by beating until light and fluffy. (n) The utensil used for this action

Whisk - (v) To mix or fluff by beating. (n) The utensil usually made of wire or wires, that is used in whisking

Zest - (n) The thin, brightly colored outer part of the rind of citrus fruits. Zest contains volatile oils, and is used as a flavoring. (v) To remove the zest of a citrus fruit by grating