Cooking Terminology

cooking terminology glossary

In this  Cooking Terminology page I have compiled a list of all the culinary terms that I have come across till date. To do this, I have used the online dictionaries as well as Wikipedia to a certain extent. I bet atleast a few of these would be new to you 😀  .

I shall keep adding to this list as and when I come across new terms. This list is by no means exhaustive. Just  an attempt to get you acquainted with the cooking terms that you come across in your daily life.

If you come across terms that do not find a place here, please do let me know, so that I can add them.

Al DenteAn Italian culinary term literally meaning, "to the teeth". That is food, typically pasta, rice or vegetables cooked to be firm to the bite.
Au Gratin

A French culinary term for a dish covered with breadcrumbs, cheese or browned bread crumbs and butter and browned in the oven.
Al mattoneAn Italian culinary term, which means "under a brick" or "with a brick".
It is a method of cooking in which the food, esp meat is weighed down with a brick as it cooks on a grill to give a crispy perfectly cooked meat.
Au PoivreA French culinary term meaning to coat in black pepper and cook.
Generally used with reference to Steak au poivre in which the steak is coated with black pepper and sauteed, braised or grilled.
Au secA French culinary term which means to reduce liquids while cooking to the point of almost dry, though not completely dry.
Au jusA French culinary term meaning 'with juice'. Generally it refers to meat dishes prepared or served with the juices released by the meat while cooking.
Bain marieA pan of hot water, in which a cooking vessel is kept for slow cooking.
BardingA thin slice of fat or bacon wrapped around a roast of meat or poultry to prevent it from drying out while cooking and keep the meat moist and juicy.
BasteTo moisten foods, esp meat , at intervals with a liquid like melted butter,fat, pan drippings etc during cooking to prevent drying out.
BatonnetA French culinary term meaning 'little stick' . A batonnet cut usually measures 0.6cm x 0.6cm x 5-6cm
BatterA liquid or a semi-liquid pourable mixture of wet and dry ingredients like flour, eggs, milk etc.
It can be used to make pancakes as well as to coat foods before frying.
BeatTo stir a mixture rapidly to incorporate air into it, using a whisk ,like in cakes.
BeignetsA square deep fried pastry served hot and sprinkled with icing sugar.
Beurre blancA French culinary term which is a seasoned butter sauce, flavoured with white wine, shallots and vinegar or lemon juice, usually served with sea food.
Also called White butter.
Beurre maniéA French culinary term meaning "kneaded butter".
It consists of equal parts of flour and butter and is used to thicken sauces and soups.
BlanchTo immerse food usually fruits and vegetables briefly in hot water and then transferring to an icebath to stop the cooking process.
BlanquetteA stew made of a light-colored meat, as chicken or veal, in white sauce or a cream sauce, often with mushrooms and small onions.
BlendMixing a substance with another so that they become a uniform homogenous substance.
Blind bakeTo bake the pie crust or other pastry without the filling. This process browns the crust and prevents a soggy base.
BloomBlooming is generally used in reference to gelatin, cocoa powder, spices and yeast.
To bloom gelatin is to let it sit in cool liquid so as to soften it before heating.
To bloom cocoa powder is to mix it thoroughly with a hot liquid and letting it sit for a few minutes.This intensifies the chocolate flavour.
To bloom spices is to fry them briefly in a little oil.This releases the fat soluble flavour compounds and makes them more flavourful.
To bloom yeast is to let it sit in warm water for a few minutes to activate it.
BocconciniAn Italian culinary term meaning "small mouthfuls". Usually refers to small balls of fresh mozarella cheese packed in whey or water.
Bouquet GarniA French culinary term referring to a bunch of herbs, typically encased in a muslin bag and used for flavouring soups, stews etc.
It is usually comprised of herbs such as parsely, thyme and bayleaf though any herb can be used.
The bouquet is usually discarded before consumption.
BraiseSauteing or searing food like meats and vegetables in hot oil or fat and browning them before simmering them in some liquid.
BrasareAn Italian culinary term meaning, 'to cook slowly'.
BrewTo brew beer is to extract beer by soaking, boiling and fermenting.
To brew tea or coffee is to mix it with hot water and let sit for a few minutes.
BrineTo brine is to soak foods esp meat in a highly concentrated solution of salt, usually to tenderise or preserve.
BroilTo cook food, esp meat or fish, by exposure to direct heat.
BrunoiseThis is a French term for a culinary cut, in which the food item is diced into fine uniform
cubes, often 2mm or lesser.
ButterflyTo cut food into two with the centre still joined, and the two halves spread on either sides to look like a butterfly.
CaramelizeTo brown foods , esp sugar, onion etc by heating it.
CartoucheA French culinary term which means a greaseproof paper lid placed on top of sauces ,stews etc while cooking or while cooling after cooking.
This reduces loss of moisture by evaporation as well as prevents a skin from forming on the surface.
Caul fatThe fatty, transparent, thin serous membrane that covers the intestines of cows, sheep, and pigs, often used as a casing for sausages and other meat.
ChapeluxA French culinary term meaning browned bread crumbs.
ChateauA culinary cut in which the food like potato is cut into large 7 sided barrel like a rugby ball.
ChiffonadeA French culinary term and is essentially a slicing techinique in which leafy vegetables or herbs are finely shredded and used as garnish in soups or salads.
ChineTo cut meat across or along the back bone.
ChopTo cut into pieces with strong downward movements of a knife or other chopping device.
Food can be finely chopped or roughly chopped.
ClarifyTo make clear. That is to remove unwanted substances from food, esp fat by heating it.
Ghee is obtained by clarifying butter completely till all the water in butter evaporates.
CoddleTo cook eggs esp and fruits in a liquid slowly and gently below boiling point
CompoteFruit stewed or cooked in a syrup, usually served as a dessert.
ConcasseTo roughly chop food, esp vegetables.
Particularly used with reference to tomatoes.
Tomato concasse means chopped tomatoes which has been peeled and seeds removed.
ConfitAlso a French culinary term.
To confit meat esp duck,goose or pork is to cook (usually salted meat) at low temperatures in its own fat as a method of preservation.
To confit fruits is to cook fruits in highly concentated sugar solution, which is also a means of preservation.
Garlic confit is garlic cooked and immersed in oil, esp olive oil.
Tomato confit is tomato slowly cooked in the oven with olive oil.
Floral confit means edible flower petals immersed in sugar and pectin.
CoreTo remove the tough central part and seeds from fruits like apple, pears, pineapple etc.
CoulisA French culinary term and refers to a sauce made with pureed and strained fruits or vegetables, used as a base or garnish.
CreamTo cream in baking means to mix butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy so as to incorporate air.
CrimpTo press or pinch into small regular folds or ridges, as in a pie.
CroquetteA small round or cone shaped mass of minced meat, fish or vegetables, coated with egg and bread crumbs and deep fried.
CroustadeA French culinary term which means, a crisp piece of bread or pastry hollowed to receive a savoury filling.
CurdleTo separate or cause to separate into curds or lumps as in milk and eggs.
CureTo preserve food, esp meat or fish by brining, salting, smoking etc to prevent spoilage.
Cut inTo distribute cold fat like butter into flour by performing a cutting in motion with a knife or pastry blender.
DashUsually a pinch of something, like salt and can be either 1/8th, 1/16th or even 1/24th of a tsp.
DeglazeTo add liquid usually stock or wine to remove browned bits of food particles stuck to the pan after frying food, esp meat. The resultant liquid is very flavourful and used in making sauces.
DegorgeTo degorge vegetables esp cucumbers and eggplants is to salt them to extract moisture from them prior to cooking.
To degorge meat or fish is to soak them in cold liquid to remove unwanted matter such as sand or blood before cooking.
DegustationA French culinary which means the action or an instance of tasting especially in a series of small portions.
DépouillerTo skin an animal.
DeseedTo remove all the seeds from fruits or vegetables.
DeveinTo remove the main central vein from a shrimp or prawn.
DockTo prick small holes, usually with a fork , on the surface of an unbaked dough or crust to allow steam to escape and to prevent puffing up while baking.
DollopA lump or blob of something soft, esp food.
Double BoilMelting or warming food, in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering hot water. The bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, but the steam from the water, heats up the bowl. Usually chocolates are melted by double boiling.
DredgeTo coat wet or moist foods with flour, bread crumbs or cornmeal before cooking.
DressGenerally a sauce like mayonaise added for flavour to foods like salads. Can also mean cleaning up the food for cooking or preparation before serving to make the food attractive.
DrizzleTo pour a thin steady stream of liquid like butter, olive oil, syrup, sauce etc over food to enhance flavour when cooking or for decorative purposes.
DuxellesA mixture of mushrooms sauteed with onions,shallots, garlic and herbs(usually parsely) used to make stuffing or a sauce.
EffilerA French culinary term meaning to thinly slice nuts such as almonds or to remove the fibrous part of beans by snipping off the ends.
EmulsifyTo mix or combine two liquids together which normally do not mix easily, like oil and water
En papilloteEn papillote in French or al cartoccio in Italian, is a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from folded parchment paper, but other material, such as a paper bag or aluminium foil, may be used.
Faire revenirA French culinary term which means to brown slowly.
FarceTo fill with a stuffing while cooking.
FermentTo let food sit at room temperature for a few hours to enable microorganisms like yeast, bacteria etc to break it down to simpler substances.
FermiereTo cut longitudinally and then sliced to desired thickness.
Fines herbesA blend of herbs (fresh or dry)used in French cooking usually including parsely, tarragon, chervil and chives.
FlakeA small thin piece of food esp fish or chocolate that breaks away easily.
FlambeAlso a French culinary term which means flamed.That is to pour alcohol esp brandy over food and set fire to it during cooking.
FluffEssentially to separate the grains (of rice) with a fork so that they do not stick together or become mushy.
FoldTo gently turn the mixture over itself, until it is mixed. This ensures that the air is retained and the mixture remains light and fluffy.
FrappeA drink served with ice or frozen to a slushy consistency and is often served with whipped cream.
Frappe coffee is a Greek iced coffee drink made from instant coffee, water and sugar.
Frenching1)Frenching a bone means to prepare a piece of meat for cooking by removing meat from the end of the bone
2)Frenching vegetables is to cut them into thin long strips or julienne them.
FricasseA method of cooking in which meat, especially chicken or veal is cut up, sauteed, braised, stewed, and served with its sauce traditionally a white sauce.
FryTo cook food in hot fat or oil, typically in a shallow pan.
GanacheA smooth mixture of chocolate and cream, used in cakes, truffles, and chocolates.
GarnishTo decorate or embellish food.
GrateTo reduce foods like vegetables, cheese etc to small shreds by rubbing against a rough or sharp perforated surface.
GreaseTo coat a pan with a layer of butter, oil etc to prevent food from sticking to it.
GrillA flat frame of metal bars, on which food can be cooked over fire.
GrindTo reduce something to a paste or powder by crushing it.
Halal foodFood that is permissable according to Islamic law.
HullHull means the outer covering of a fruit or a seed. To hull peas is to remove the peas from the pods or shell.
Hull also means the persistent calyx that subtends some fruits. To hull strawberries is to remove the green calyx of the fruit.
InfuseTo steep an ingredient in a liquid to extract the flavours from it.
JacquardingIt is a method of tenderising meat by using a jaccard which is an equipment containing needles that pierce the meat making it tender.
JardiniereA garnish of fresh vegetables, cooked, diced, and served around a dish of meat.
JulienneTo cut food esp vegetables to very thin strips, like match sticks.
Jus lieA sauce thickened with corn starch or other thickening agents.
KneadTo work dough, clay etc by pulling and pushing with hand to make it soft and pliable. Essentially dough is kneaded to form gluten which gives structure to baked goods.
Kosher foodFoods that conform to the Jewish dietary regulations of Kashrut (dietary law).
Kosher foods are divided into 3 categories - meat, dairy and pareve.
LardingTo dress meat, esp lean meat for cooking by inserting it with strips of fat usually with a larding needle.
LatteShortened form of the Italian Caffelatte which means "milk coffee".
Latte is a type of espresso coffee served with foamy steamed milk, usually in a tall glass or mug.
LiaisonA binding or thickening agent used in cooking, usually a mixture of egg yolks and cream.
LozengeA culinary cut in which the food is cut into diamond shapes.
MacerateTo soften foods, esp fruits by steeping in liquid thereby disintegrating them.
MacedoineA hot or cold mixture of diced vegetables, like in a salad.
MarinateTo soak food esp meat and fish in a seasoned liquid or paste for some amount of time prior to cooking.This helps to flavour and tenderise food.
MashTo reduce food to a pulpy soft mass by crushing it sometimes with a liquid.
MinceTo cut up food esp meat into very small pieces usually with the help of a mincer.
Mirepoix A French culinary term for a sautéed mixture of diced vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and onions), herbs, and sometimes ham or bacon used especially as a basis for soups, stews, and sauces.
Mise en placeA French culinary phrase which means "everything in place".It refers to the organising and arranging of ingredients prior to cooking.
MochaMocha is a high quality type of coffee, made from a specific coffee bean.
Also used to refer a flavoured drink which combines coffee and chocolate.
NappeA French culinary term referring to the consistency of a sauce to coat the back of a spoon. It can also mean the act of coating food.
Noisette1)A small round piece of boneless meat.
2)A chocolate flavoured or made with hazel nuts.
OrtA scrap, fragment or remains of food from a meal.
Usually used as a plural as 'orts'
PanadeA paste made by mixing a starch (like bread, flour or potato) with a liquid (milk, buttermilk, water or stock).Sometimes butter is also added.
It acts as a binder, thickener and even to keep ground meat tender.
Paner à l'anglaiseAlso simply called paner, is the process of dipping food esp meat in flour first, then eggs and then fine breadcrumbs prior to frying it.
PapilloteA heavy, greased or oiled paper in which food, esp. meat or fish, is wrapped, cooked, and served.
Can also be used to denote a frilled paper cover used to decorate the bone end of a cooked chop or cutlet.
PareTo cut away the outer layer from something especially a fruit or a vegetable.
PareveAs per Jewish law, pareve are foods that are neutral, which means they are neither meat nor dairy.
Pareve foods can be eaten with meat or dairy, whereas meat and dairy cannot be had together.
ParisienneIt is a small ice cream scoop like equipment called the parisienne scoop used to scoop out small balls of vegetables.
PateA French culinary term meaning a savoury spread made of ground meat, fish or vegetables and spices and is eaten cold.
PaupietteA piece of meat, beaten thin, and rolled with a stuffing of vegetables, fruits or sweetmeats.
PaysanneA French culinary term which which means to cut vegetables very thin and in the form of the vegetable being cut.
PicklingTo immerse plant or animal food, in vinegar or salt water to preserve it from spoiling.
PintA measure for liquid equal to about half a litre. There are 8 pints in a gallon.
In the UK a pint measures 0.568 litre and in the US it measures 0.473 litre
PoachTo cook food esp fish, or an egg with its shell removed, by putting it in gently boiling water or other liquid.
Proofing/ProvingThe final rise of the bread dough before baking.
To proof yeast means to let it sit in warm water mixed with a bit of sugar, to verify if it is active.
PureeTo make a smooth thick sauce of vegetables or fruits by crushing or blending them usually through a machine.
QuartIt is quarter of a gallon or two pints, equal to approximately 1.13 litres in the UK and 0.94 litre in the US.
QuenelleA dumpling of finely chopped fish or meat that is poached in water or stock and usually served with a sauce.
It can also refer to carefully shaped small amount of soft food like ice cream or mashed potato.
RéchaufféA dish of warmed-up food left over from a previous meal.
ReduceTo boil or simmer a liquid mixture so as to thicken it and intensify its flavour.
RenderTo cook the fat out of something. Generally used with reference to cooking fatty animal tissues to bring out the oil which is used for cooking.
RepereA French culinary term meaning, flour mixed with water or egg white, used to seal pans while cooking.
Rillette1)A French culinary term for an appetizer usually made of pork or goose meat that is sliced, seasoned, cooked in seasoned fat, mashed to a paste and preserved in the fat for use as a spread.
RoastTo cook food, esp meat by prolonged exposure to heat in an oven or over a fire.
RondelleCutting into thin circular discs
RouxA cooked mixture of an equal quantity of flour and fat used to thicken soups, sauces, gravies etc.
SaltingA method of preserving food by just using dry edible salt, like salting fish.
SauteTo cook food in a little oil or fat over high heat, usually till it browns.
ScaldTo heat liquid (esp used in reference to milk) to just under a boil around 180 F,when bubbles just start to appear around the edges.
ScoreTo make cuts on the surface of foods such as bread, fish etc.
To score bread is to slash the dough with a sharp knife to allow it to expand while cooking.This prevents cracking.
To score fish, meat etc is to make shallow cuts on the surface to aid in marination.
ScrapeTo remove food particles stuck to the bowl , pan etc using a spatula.
SearTo burn or scorch the surface of foods, esp meat with sudden intense heat.
SeasonTo add salt, herbs or other spices to food to enhance the flavour.
ShredTo cut food like vegetables into thin slices or tear meat into strips with fork.
ShuckTo remove the shell or natural covering from foods that are eaten, like removing skin of fruits and vegetables or shells from oysters.
SieveA utensil consisting of a wire or plastic mesh, held in a frame used for straining food substances.
SiftTo put food substances usually flour, through a sieve to remove lumps or large particles.
SimmerTo cook food in hot liquids, below or just at boiling point.
SkimTo remove substances that normally float from the surface of a liquid with a spoon or ladle.
SlakeTo mix cornflour or a similar ingredient with a cold liquid to make a thin paste before adding a hot liquid to cook the starch.
SmashTo render something into a mush or a pulp by throwing, or crushing using hands, motor & pestle or rolling pin.
SmokingIt is the process of flavoring, browning, cooking, or preserving food by exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering material, most often wood.
SprigA small stem with leaves on it which has been picked from a plant or a bush.
A sprig of something usually refers to a small stem of a plant or herb, about 4 inches in length.
SteepTo soak dry ingredients like tea, spices in a liquid to extract flavours , soften or to cleanse it.
StrainTo pour a liquid substance through a porous or perforated device or material to separate out any solid matter.
SupremeTo cut fillets out of flesh.To supreme oranges means to remove the skin, pith and membranes and make it into segments.
SweatTo cook vegetables like onions with little fat over low heat so that the mositure evaporates, but without browning. This often results in a tender, translucent and flavourful pieces.
TemperTo add a small amount of the hot liquid into the cold one to stabilize it and prevent extreme reactions. Tempering hot liquid into eggs, prevents curdling and tempering chocolate is to melt and cool chocolate so that it becomes smooth and glossy when set.
Temper(spices)A process in which spices, are fried in a little oil and poured over as a whole over the food , to enhance flavour. Usually mustard, cumin, split urad, fenugreek, red chillies, curry leaves are used separately or in combination for tempering. It is mostly at the beginning or end of cooking and is
widely practised in the Indian subcontinent.
TenderizeTo make meat tender by marinating, pounding or applying a tenderizer.
Terrine1)An earthenware container for cooking and serving food.
2)Also, refers to a dish made of small pieces of cooked meat, fish, or vegetables pressed into a rectangular shape.
ToastTo brown food, esp bread slice, on both sides by exposure to radiant either on a grill or over fire.
TossTo shake or turn food in a liquid to coat it lightly. Also means to flip food like pancakes, omelettes from the pan into the air so that they land into the pan on their opposite side.
TourneeA culinary term referring to cutting root vegetables(esp) to an oblong football or barrel like shape.
TrussTo tie, bind, fasten or thread the wings or legs of a fowl in preparation for cooking.

VandykeA culinary term that refers to cutting zigzags in the edges of fruit and vegetables halves to be used as a garnish.
WhetstoneA stone for sharpening cutlery or tools by friction.
WhipTo mix food like cream, eggs etc vigorously to incorporate air into it thus making it very light and fluffy as well as increase in volume.
WhiskAn equipment either handheld or attached to a machine, containing a series of thin wired loops, used to whip food.
ZestIt is the scraped outer skin of unwaxed citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, usually used to add flavour to food.


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6 Responses

  1. Magesh says:

    Extra ordinary effort in compiling this… splendid work👍🏽👍🏽

  2. Farhana says:

    Wow !!!Hema. That’s a lot of effort and hard work. Keep it up . And let us benefit from it.

  3. Shanthi says:

    Splendid work n very very informative blog Ms.Hema Magesh. Best Wishes and looking forward for more intersting topics…

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