We’ve compiled a list of culinary terms you may see in our recipes. Some of these terms are more common than others. You may have a slightly different understanding of some of these. However, we use these meanings when we refer to the culinary terms given.
Please refer back to this list from time to time as we add to our terms.
Al dente – An Italian expression which literally means “by the tooth.” We use it to describe pasta cooked for a slightly shorter time, creating a slightly chewy texture. Al dente may also describe vegetables cooked to a crisp-tender by stir-frying, steaming, or boiling.
Bake – We use this term to describe cooking in the oven. Baking differs from roasting (see roasting below)
Baste– When we moisten food during cooking, we call it basting. Basting prevents food from drying out and adds flavors. Common bastes include pan drippings or a sauce.
Beat – Beating a mixture of food is done with a hand mixer or electric mixer. Beating food quickly adds as much air as possible and creates a smooth mixture.
Blanch – To loosen skins, firm flesh, or brighten color and flavor, we use the technique of blanching. If a recipe instructs to blanch a food, it means to dip into boiling water for a short amount of time, usually a few seconds. Remove from the boiling water and dip under cold water to stop cooking.
Boil – Liquids heated until they are bubbling when a recipe calls for boiling. When bubbling is vigorous and continues, we call it a rolling boil.
Braise – Braising, also known as stewing, requires cooking in a small amount of liquid. Cooking by braising concentrates the flavors in the liquid, which can then be used to make a sauce.
Bread – To bread, we coat the surface of a food with a flour or bread crumb mixture before cooking. Breading creates a crunchy surface.
Broil – Broiling uses a direct heat source, such as an oven broiler or gas flame, to cook food quickly. Expect a nicely browned exterior from broiling.
Caramelize – Cooking over low heat to release natural sugars in food causes a caramelize effect. Caramelizing produces a more intense flavor and aroma. Carrots and onions caramelize well.
Chop – Chop, dice, mince? Chopping results in larger pieces. See the video below. Using the correct knife and ensuring it is sharp results in a better cut.
Cream – To cream ingredients together, work them against a surface such as the side of a bowl, until they are smooth with an even consistency. Creaming ingredients such as shortening and sugar in baked goods forces tiny bubbles into the mixture. These air bubbles contribute to the fluffiness in the end product.
Cube – To cube food, we cut it into small pieces about the size of dice.
Cure – We cure food using a variety of different methods. This is done to preserve it. Pickling is one example.
Deep-fry – To deep-fry, food is cooked fully submerged in hot oil.
Deglaze – Adding a liquid to the pan to loosen and combine with the cooked ingredients and juices after sauteeing or roasting. This adds flavor to the resulting sauce.
Dice – When we dice, we cut foods into smaller pieces, roughly the size of 1/4 inch.
Dredge – To dredge food, coat it lightly with dry ingredients, such as flour, before cooking.
Drizzle – Pour a liquid over a food in a thin stream to create a drizzle.
Etouffee – A French term meaning “to smother or suffocate,” this is a method of cooking food over low heat with a minimal amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.
Flambé – To Flambe, ignite a sauce or other liquid so that it flames. This is typically done with liquors such as brandy since they ignite easily.
Fine Dice – A cube-shaped cut 1/8 inch in size.
Fold – To fold dry ingredients or batter into a whipped product, without deflating the light and airy texture essential to the finished product requires a special technique. Using a rubber spatula, reach down through the center of the whipped product to the bottom of the bowl and lift up some of the batter on top of the foam. As you turn your wrist to deposit the batter on top of the foam, you turn the bowl a few degrees, repeating the process until the mixture is homogenous.
Glaze – To glaze, brush a food with sauce, icing, or another topping to create a shiny surface.
Grate – To grate or shred food, use a grater.
Grill – A gas or charcoal grill is usually used for grilling. Using a special grill top inside offers another option.
Hull – To hull nuts or seeds, remove the outer covering.
Julienne – To julienne food, cut into thin stick-shaped pieces.
Marinate – To marinate, soak a food in a seasoned liquid mixture, allowing it to absorb the flavors of the marinade. **Macerate is the term for soaking fruit in a similar manner.
Mash – To mash a food, you crush, beat or squeeze it using a fork or a masher.
Match Cut – Match cut requires a long thin cut, like match sticks, approximately ¼ x ¼ x 3 inches;
Mince – To mince, cut into very fine pieces using a knife, food grinder, blender or food processor.
Panfry – Pan-fry means to cook quickly in a small amount of hot oil. Pan-frying technically means to cook larger pieces in a hot pan, turning only once or twice.
Parboil – Parboil by cooking in boiling water until partially done.
Pare – Pare by cutting off the outside skin. on food such as potaoes and apples.
Peel – Peel by stripping or cutting off the outer covering of food such as oranges, bananas, tangerines.
Poach – Poach by cooking in a liquid that is held just below boiling (simmer)
Puree – To puree, grind, chop, or mash a cooked food into a thick paste. Use a blender or sieve to create a puree.
Reduce or Reduction – We reduce a liquid by cooking to allow some of the water evaporates, creating a concentrated product. Reduction concentrates the flavor of a broth or sauce and helps thicken the sauce.
Refresh – Refresh just-boiled vegetables by rinsing under very cold water to stop their cooking.
Roast – Roast food in an uncovered pan in the oven to produce a well-browned exterior and a moister, cooked interior. Roasting is done dry; that is, no liquid (such as water or broth) comes into contact with the food. While roasting is often considered the same as baking, the terms are actually different. Roasting requires cooking food at a higher temperature to brown the surface of the food quickly.
Roll – Similar to dredge, roll involves coating the food lightly with a fine powdery substance such as flour.
Sauté- Sauté means to cook quickly in a small amount of hot liquid, such as water or broth. Some people use a small amount of oil to sautee.
Score – Score a food by making shallow or deep cuts in a decorative pattern with the point or a knife. Scoring ensures food cooks evenly.
Shred – Shred food by cutting into many, very fine strips or pieces.
Sift – To sift, shake through a fine sieve. Sifting combines dry ingredients and adds air to the ingredients.
Slice – To slice food, cut into even slices.
Snip – To snip food, cut into small uniform lengths using kitchen shears.
Strain – To strain a liquid, pour through a strainer, sieve, or cheesecloth to remove unwanted particles or to separate out solids.
Wedge – A wedge is a wedge-shaped cut of food, often a reference to a cut from an apple or lemon.
Other Culinary Terms
If you find culinary terms that you are not familiar with in our recipe section, please contact us. We respond quickly! Moreover, knowing and understanding these culinary terms will help you truly enjoy the experience of cooking!
Keeping these culinary terms close at hand when cooking helps ensure proper usage. Moreover, knowing and understanding these terms will help you truly enjoy the experience of cooking!