Appendix D – Glossary of Cooking Terms


Aerate – To pass dry ingredients through a fine-mesh sifter so large pieces can be removed. The process also incorporates air to make ingredients like flour, lighter. Sifting dry ingredients aerates them while distributing small amounts of chemical leaveners or dry seasoning evenly through the mixture. Use sifters, sieves or tamis to both aerate and sift.

Al dente – Italian for “to the tooth.” It describes pasta that is cooked until it offers a slight resistance when bitten into, rather than cooked until soft.



Bake – To cook food, covered or uncovered, using the direct, dry heat of an oven. The term is usually used to describe the cooking of cakes, other desserts, casseroles, and breads.

Bard – To tie fat around lean meats or fowl to keep them from drying out during roasting. The fat bastes the meat while it cooks, keeping it moist and adding flavor. The fat is removed a few minutes before the meat is finished, allowing the meat to brown. Barding is necessary only when there is no natural fat present.

Baste – To brush or spoon food as it cooks with melted fat or the cooking juices from the dish. Basting prevents foods from drying out and adds color and flavor. That’s because basting tools, such as brushes and bulb basters, could be sources of bacteria if contaminated when dipped into uncooked or undercooked meat and poultry juices, then allowed to sit at room temperature and used later for basting.

Batter – An uncooked, wet mixture that can be spooned or poured, as with cakes, pancakes, and muffins. Batters usually contain flour, eggs, and milk as their base. Some thin batters are used to coat foods before deep frying.

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

Bias-slice – To slice a food crosswise at a 45-degree angle.

Blackened – A popular Cajun cooking method in which seasoned fish or other foods are cooked over high heat in a super-heated heavy skillet until charred, resulting in a crisp, spicy crust. At home, this is best done outdoors because of the large amount of smoke produced.

Blanch – To cook raw ingredients in boiling water briefly. Blanched vegetables are generally “shocked” i.e. plunged immediately and briefly into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process and preserve color and crunch.

Blend – To combine two or more ingredients together with a spoon, beater or blender.

Broil – To heat a liquid to its boiling point, until bubbles break the surface. “Boil” also means to cook food in a boiling liquid.

Bone – To remove the bones from meat, fish or fowl. Use a sharp boning knife and angle the blade toward the bone to avoid tearing or nicking the flesh.

Braise – To cook food, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid at low heat for a long period of time. Sometimes, the food is first browned in fat. The long, slow cooking tenderizes meats by gently breaking down their fibers. The braising liquid keeps meats moist and can be used as a basis for sauce. Use wine, stocks or water as components in braising liquid.

Brine – Heavily salted water used to pickle or cure vegetables, meats, fish, and seafood.

Broil – To cook food a measured distance below direct, dry heat. When broiling, position the broiler pan and its rack so that the surface of the food (not the rack) is the specified distance from the heat source. Use a ruler to measure this distance.

Broth – The strained clear liquid in which meat, poultry, or fish has been simmered with vegetables and herbs. It is similar to stock and can be used interchangeably with it. Reconstituted bouillon can also be used when broth is specified.

Brown – To cook a food in a skillet, broiler, or oven to add flavor and aroma and develop a rich, desirable color on the outside and moistness on the inside.

Brush – To apply a liquid, like a glaze, to the surface of food using a pastry brush.

Butterfly – To split food (meat, fish, fowl) down the center, cutting almost, but not completely through. The two halves are then opened flat to resemble a butterfly.



Canel – To create small V-shaped grooves over the surface of fruits or vegetables for decorative purposes using a canelle knife. The fruit or vegetable is then sliced, creating a decorative border on the slices.

Caramelize – To heat sugar until it liquefies and become a clear caramel syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown. Fruits and vegetables with natural sugars can be caramelized by sautéing, roasting or grilling, giving them a sweet flavor and golden glaze.

Carve – To cut or slice cooked meat, poultry, fish, or game into serving-size pieces.

Chiffonade – To slice into very thin strips or shreds. Literally translated from French, the term means “made of rags”. Often used on fresh herbs or lettuce.

Chill – To cool food to below room temperature in the refrigerator or over ice. When recipes call for chilling foods, it should be done in the refrigerator.

Chop – To cut food into bite-size pieces using a knife. A food processor may also be used to chop food. Chopped food is more coarsely cut than minced food.

Clarify – To remove sediment from a cloudy liquid, thereby making it clear. To clarify liquids, such as stock, egg whites and/or eggshells are commonly added and simmered for approximately 15 minutes. The egg whites attract and trap particles from the liquid. After cooling, strain the mixture through a cloth-lined sieve to remove residue. To clarify rendered fat, add hot water and boil for about 15 minutes. The mixture should then be strained through several layers of cheesecloth and chilled. The resulting layer of fat should be completely clear of residue. Clarified butter is butter that has been heated slowly so that its milk solids separate and sink, and can be discarded. The resulting clear liquid can be used at a higher cooking temperature and will not go rancid as quickly as unclarified butter.

Cream – To beat a fat, such as butter or shortening either alone or with sugar, to a light, fluffy consistency. May be done by hand with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer. This process incorporates air into the fat so baked products have a lighter texture and a better volume.

Crimp – To pinch or press pastry or dough together using your fingers, a fork, or another utensil. Usually done for a piecrust edge.

Crisp-tender – A term that describes the state of vegetables that have been cooked until just tender but still somewhat crunchy. At this stage, a fork can be inserted with a little pressure.

Curdle – To cause semisolid pieces of coagulated protein to develop in a dairy product. This can occur when foods such as milk or sour cream are heated to too high a temperature or are combined with an acidic food, such as lemon juice or tomatoes.

Cure – To treat food by one of several methods for preservation purposes. Examples are smoking, pickling – in an acid base, corning – with acid and salt, and salt curing – which removes water.

Cut-in – To work a solid fat, such as shortening, butter, or margarine, into dry ingredients. This is usually done with a pastry blender, two knives in a crisscross fashion, your fingertips, or a food processor.



Dash – Refers to a small amount of seasoning that is added to food. It is generally between 1/16 and 1/8 teaspoon. The term is often used for liquid ingredients, such as bottled hot pepper sauce.

Deep-fry – To cook food in hot fat or oil deep enough so that it is completely covered. The temperature of the fat is extremely important and can make the difference between success and failure. When the fat is not hot enough, the food absorbs fat and becomes greasy. When the fat is too hot, the food burns on the exterior before it has cooked through. Fat at the correct temperature will produce food with a crisp, dry exterior and moist interior. An average fat temperature for deep-frying is 375 degrees, but the temperature varies according to the food being fried. Use a deep fryer, an electric fry pan or a heavy pot and a good kitchen thermometer for deep-frying.

Deglaze – To remove browned bits of food from the bottom of a pan after sautéing, usually meat. After the food and excess fat have been removed from the pan, a small amount of liquid is heated with the cooking juices in the pan and stirred to remove browned bits of food from the bottom. The resulting mixture often becomes the base for a sauce.

Devein – To remove the blackish-gray vein from the back of a shrimp. The vein can be removed with a special utensil called a deveiner or with the tip of a sharp knife. Small and medium shrimp need deveining for aesthetic purposes only. However, because the veins in large shrimp contain grit, they should always be removed.

Dice – To cut food into tiny cubes (about 1/8- to 1/4-inch).

Double Broiler – A two-pan arrangement where one pan nests partway inside the other. The lower pot holds simmering water that gently cooks heat-sensitive food in the upper pot.

Drain – To pour off fat or liquid from food, often using a colander.

Dredge – To lightly coat food that is going to be fried with flour, breadcrumbs or cornmeal. The coating helps to brown the food and provides a crunchy surface. Dredged foods need to be cooked immediately, while breaded foods, those dredged in flour, dipped in egg then dredged again in breading, can be prepared and held before cooking.

Drizzle – To randomly pour a liquid, such as powdered sugar icing, in a thin stream over food.



Emulsify – To bind together two liquid ingredients that normally do not combine smoothly, such as water and fat. Slowly add one ingredient to the other while mixing rapidly. This action disperses tiny droplets of one liquid in the other. Mayonnaise and vinaigrettes are emulsions. Use a good whisk for steady, even emulsification.

Extracts, Oils – Products based on the aromatic essential oils of plant materials that are distilled by various means. In extracts, the highly concentrated oils are usually suspended in alcohol to make them easier to combine with other foods in cooking and baking. Almond, anise, lemon, mint, orange, peppermint, and vanilla are some commonly available extracts.

Some undiluted oils are also available, usually at pharmacies. These include oil of anise, oil of cinnamon, oil of cloves, oil of peppermint, and oil of wintergreen. Do not try to substitute oils for ground spices in recipes. Oils are so concentrated that they’re measured in drops, not teaspoons. Oil of cinnamon, for example, is 50 times stronger than ground cinnamon. You can, however, substitute 1 or 2 drops of an oil for 1/2 teaspoon extract in frosting or candy recipes.



Fillet – verb – To create a fillet of fish or meat by cutting away the bones. Fish and boning knives help produce clean fillets.

Noun – A piece of meat or fish that has no bones.

Flake – To gently break food into small, flat pieces

Flour (verb) – To coat or dust a food or utensil with flour. Food may be floured before cooking to add texture and improve browning. Baking utensils sometimes are floured to prevent sticking.

Flute – To make a decorative impression in food, usually a piecrust.

Fold – To combine a light mixture like beaten egg whites with a much heavier mixture like whipped cream. In a large bowl, place the lighter mixture on top of the heavier one. Starting at the back of the bowl, using the edge of a  rubber spatula, cut down through the middle of both mixtures, across the bottom of the bowl and up the near side. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. This process gently combines the two mixtures.

Fry – To cook food (non-submerged) in hot fat or oil over moderate to high heat. There is very little difference between frying and sautéing although sautéing is often thought of as being faster and using less fat.



Grate – To reduce a large piece of food to coarse or fine threads by rubbing it against a rough, serrated surface, usually on a grater. A food processor, fitted with the appropriate blades, can also be used for grating. The food that is being grated should be firm. Cheese that needs to be grated can be refrigerated first for easier grating.

Grease – To coat a utensil, such as a baking pan or skillet, with a thin layer of fat or oil. A pastry brush works well to grease pans. Also refers to fat released from meat and poultry during cooking.

Grill – To cook food on a grill over hot coals or other heat source. The intense heat creates a crust on the surface of the food which seals in the juices. The grill should be clean and must be heated before the food is laid on it. The food can also be basted and seasoned.

Grind – To reduce food to small pieces by running it through a grinder. Food can be ground to different degrees, from fine to coarse.



Homogenize – To create an emulsion by reducing all the particles to the same size. The fat globules are broken down mechanically until they are evenly distributed throughout the liquid. Homogenized milk and some commercial salad dressings are two examples of homogenized foods.



Infuse – To steep an aromatic ingredient in hot liquid until the flavor has been extracted and absorbed by the liquid. Teas are infusions. Milk or cream can also be infused with flavor before being used in custards or sauces.



Joint – To cut meat and poultry into large pieces at the joints using a very sharp knife.

Julienne – To cut food into thin sticks. Food is cut with a knife or mandoline into even slices, then into strips.



Knead – To mix and work dough into a smooth, elastic mass. Kneading can be done either manually or by machine. By hand, kneading is done with a pressing-folding-turning action. First the dough is pressed with the heels of both hands and pushed away from the body so the dough stretches out. The dough is then folded in half, given a quarter turn, and the process is repeated. Depending on the dough, the kneading time can range anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. During kneading, the gluten strands stretch and expand, enabling dough to hold in gas bubbles formed by a leavener, which allows it to rise.



Lard – To insert strips of fat (lardons) or bacon into a dry cut of meat using a utensil called a larding needle. Larding makes the cooked meat more succulent and tender.

Line – To cover the bottom and sides of a cassoulet, mold or terrine with a thin layer of bacon, pork fat, flavorings or pastry. Cake pans are frequently lined with parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan after baking.



Macerate – To soak foods, usually fruit, in liquid so they absorb the liquid’s flavor. The macerating liquid is usually alcohol, liqueur, wine, brandy or sugar syrup. Macerate is also frequently applied to fruits sprinkled with sugar, which intensifies natural flavor of the fruit by drawing out its juices.

Marble – To gently swirl one food into another. Marbling is usually done with light and dark batters for cakes or cookies.

Marinate – To soak food in a seasoned liquid mixture for a certain length of time. The purpose of marinating is to add flavor and/or tenderize the food. Due to the acidic ingredients in many marinades, foods should be marinated in glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers. Foods should also be covered and refrigerated while they are marinating. When fruits are soaked in this same manner, the process is called macerating.

Mash – To crush a food into smooth and evenly textured state. For potatoes or other root vegetables, use a ricer, masher or food mill. While food processors provide a smooth texture more like a puree or a paste, they should not be used for potatoes.

Mince – To cut food into very tiny pieces. Minced food is cut into smaller, finer pieces than diced food.

Mirepoix –  A seasoning composed of finely diced sautéed vegetables and herbs and sometimes diced ham, bacon, or salt pork.

Mix – To stir or beat two or more foods together until they are thoroughly combined. May be done with an electric mixer, a rotary beater, or by hand with a wooden spoon.

Moisten – To add enough liquid to a dry ingredient or mixture to make it damp but not runny.

Mount – To whisk cold butter, piece by piece, into a warm sauce for smooth texture, flavor and sheen. Each piece of butter must be thoroughly incorporated before a new piece is added so that the sauce does not break (or separate into liquid and fat).

Mull – To slowly heat a beverage, such as cider, with spices and sugar.



Nap – To completely coat food with a light, thin, even layer of sauce.



Open Faced – A sandwich prepared with just one piece of bread which is topped with a wide variety of meats, vegetables, cheeses and heated or not.



Pan-broil- To cook a food, especially meat, in a skillet without added fat, removing any fat as it accumulates.

Parboil – To boil food briefly in water, cooking it only partially. Parboiling is used for dense food like carrots and potatoes. After being parboiled, these foods can be added at the last minute to quicker-cooking ingredients. Parboiling ensures that all ingredients will finish cooking at the same time. Since foods will continue to cook once they have been removed from the boiling water, they should be shocked in ice water briefly to preserve color and texture. Cooking can then be completed by sautéing or the parboiled vegetable can be added to simmering soups or stews.

Pare – To remove the thin outer layer of foods using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler.

Peel – To remove the rind or skin from a fruit or vegetable using a knife or vegetable peeler.

Pinch – A small amount of a dry ingredient (the amount that can be pinched between a finger and the thumb).

Poach – To cook food by gently simmering in liquid at or just below the boiling point. The amount of the liquid and poaching temperature depends on the food being poached.

Pot Roast – To cook meat slowly by moist heat in a covered pot. The meat is first browned, then braised either on top of the stove or in the oven. Pot roasting is good for tougher cuts of meat which require longer cooking times to break down connective tissue.

Pound – Pounding thinner cuts of meat tenderizes it by breaking down muscle. Kitchen mallets are generally used for pounding, but it can be done using a small frying pan as well. First place the piece of meat between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper.

Preheat – To heat an oven or a utensil to a specific temperature before using it.

Process – To preserve food at home by canning, or to prepare food in a food processor.

Purée – To grind or mash food until completely smooth. This can be done using a food processor or blender or by pressing the food through a sieve.



Quadriller – To mark the surface of grilled or broiled food with a crisscross pattern of lines. The scorings are produced by contact with very hot single grill bars which brown the surface of the food. Very hot skewers may also be used to mark the surface.

Quench – To quickly place a heated object in cold water.  This is usually done to either stop the cooking process or to separate the skin of an object from the meat. This process is sometimes referred to as “shocking.”



Reconstitute – To bring a concentrated or condensed food, such as frozen fruit juice, to its original strength by adding water.

Reduce – To decrease the volume of a liquid by boiling it rapidly to cause evaporation. As the liquid evaporates, it thickens and intensifies in flavor. The resulting richly flavored liquid, called a reduction, can be used as a sauce or as the base of a sauce. When reducing liquids, use the pan size specified in the recipe, as the surface area of the pan affects how quickly the liquid will evaporate.

Rice – To push cooked food through a perforated kitchen tool called a ricer. The resulting food looks like rice.

Roast – To oven-cook food in an uncovered pan. The food is exposed to high heat which produces a well-browned surface and seals in the juices. Reasonably tender pieces of meat or poultry should be used for roasting. Food that is going to be roasted for a long time may be barded to prevent drying out.

Roux (roo)- A French term that refers to a mixture of flour and a fat cooked to a golden- or rich-brown color and used for a thickening in sauces, soups, and gumbos.



Sauté To cook food quickly in a small amount of fat or oil, until brown, in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat. The sauté pan and fat must be hot before the food is added, otherwise the food will absorb oil and become soggy.

Scald – To dip fruits or vegetables in boiling water in order to loosen their skins and simplify peeling. The produce should be left in the water for only 30 seconds to prohibit cooking, and should be shocked in an ice water bath before the skin is removed

Scale – To remove the scales from the skin of a fish using a dull knife or a special kitchen tool called a fish scaler.

Score – To cut narrow slits, often in a diamond pattern, through the outer surface of a food to decorate it, tenderize it, help it absorb flavor, or allow fat to drain as it cooks.

Sear – To brown meat or fish quickly over very high heat either in a fry pan, under a broiler or in a hot oven. Searing seals in the food’s juices and provides a crisp tasty exterior. Seared food can then be eaten rare or roasted or braised to desired degree of doneness.

Season – To add flavor to foods. To coat the cooking surface of a new pot or pan with vegetable oil then heat in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. This smoothes out the surface of new pots and pans, particularly cast-iron, and prevents foods from sticking.

Section – To separate and remove the membrane of segments of citrus fruits. To section oranges, use a paring knife to remove the peel and white rind. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, cut between one orange section and the membrane, slicing to the center of the fruit. Turn the knife and slide it up the other side of the section along the membrane, cutting outward. Repeat with remaining sections.

Seed – To remove the seeds from fruits and vegetables.

Shred – To cut food into thin strips. This can be done by hand or by using a grater or food processor. Cooked meat can be shredded by pulling it apart with two forks.

Shuck – To remove the shells from seafood, such as oysters and clams, or the husks from corn.

Sieve – To strain liquids or particles of food through a sieve or strainer. Press the solids, using a ladle or wooden spoon, into the strainer to remove as much liquid and flavor as possible.

Sift – To pass dry ingredients through a fine mesh sifter so large pieces can be removed. The process also incorporates air to make ingredients like flour, lighter. Synonymous with AERATE.

Simmer – To cook food in liquid over gentle heat, just below the boiling point, low enough so that tiny bubbles just begin to break the surface.

Skewer – To spear small pieces of food on long, thin, pointed rods called skewers.

Skim – To remove the scum that rises to the surface from a liquid when it is boiled. The top layer of the liquid, such as the cream from milk or the foam and fat from stock, soups or sauces, can be removed using a spoon, ladle or skimmer. Soups, stews or sauces can be chilled so that the fat coagulates on the surface and may be easily removed before reheating.

Skin – To remove the skin from food before or after cooking. Poultry, fish and game are often skinned for reasons of appearance, taste and diet.

Slice – A flat, usually thin, piece of food cut from a larger piece. Also the process of cutting flat, thin pieces

Snip – To cut food, often fresh herbs or dried fruit, with kitchen shears or scissors into very small, uniform pieces using short, quick strokes.

Smoke – To expose fresh food to smoke from a wood fire for a prolonged period of time. Traditionally used for preservation purposes, smoking is now a means of giving flavor to food. Smoking tends to dry the food, kills bacteria, deepens color and gives food a smoky flavor. The duration of smoking varies from 20 minutes to several days. The most commonly used woods are beech, oak and chestnut to which aromatic essences are often added. Small home smokers are now available.

Springform Pan – A round pan with high sides and a removable bottom. The bottom is removed by releasing a spring that holds the sides tight around it. This makes it easy to remove food from the pan.

Steam – Steaming retains flavor, shape, texture, and nutrients better than boiling or poaching.

Steep – To allow a food, such as tea, to stand in water that is just below the boiling point in order to extract flavor or color.

Stew – To cook food in liquid for a long time until tender, usually in a covered pot. The term also refers to a mixture prepared this way.

Stir – To mix ingredients with a spoon or other utensil to combine them, to prevent ingredients from sticking during cooking, or to cool them after cooking.

Stir-fry – A method of quickly cooking small pieces of food in a little hot oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat while stirring constantly.

Stock – The strained clear liquid in which meat, poultry, or fish has been simmered with vegetables or herbs. It is similar to broth but is richer and more concentrated. Stock and broth can be used interchangeably; reconstituted bouillon can also be substituted for stock.

Supreme – To remove the flesh sections of citrus fruit from the membranes. Using a sharp knife, cut away all of the skin and pith from the outside of the fruit. Place the knife between the membrane and the flesh of one section and slice down. Turn the knife catching the middle of the fruit. Slice up, removing each section sans membrane.

Sweat – To cook vegetables in fat over gentle heat so they become soft but not brown, and their juices are concentrated in the cooking fat. If the pan is covered during cooking, the ingredients will keep a certain amount of their natural moisture. If the pan is not covered, the ingredients will remain relatively dry.



Temper – 1. To slowly bring up the temperature of a cold or room temperature ingredient by adding small amounts of a hot or boiling liquid. Adding the hot liquid gradually prevents the cool ingredient, such as eggs, from cooking or setting. The tempered mixture can then be added back to hot liquid for further cooking. This process is used most in making pastry cream and the like. 2. To bring chocolate to a state in which it has snap, shine and no streaks. Commercially available chocolate is already tempered but this condition changes when it is melted. Tempering is often done when the chocolate will be used for candy making or decorations. Chocolate must be tempered because it contains cocoa butter, a fat that forms crystals after chocolate is melted and cooled. Dull grey streaks form and are called bloom. The classic tempering method is to melt chocolate until it is totally without lumps (semisweet chocolate melts at a temperature of 104 degrees F.) One third of the chocolate is then poured onto a marble slab then spread and worked back and forth with a metal spatula until it becomes thick and reaches a temperature of about 80 degrees F. The thickened chocolate is then added back to the remaining 2/3 melted chocolate and stirred. The process is repeated until the entire mixture reaches 88-92 degrees for semisweet chocolate, 84-87 degrees for milk or white chocolate.

Tenderize – To make meat more tender by pounding with a mallet, marinating for varying periods of time, or storing at lower temperatures. Fat may also be placed into a piece of meat to make it more tender during cooking.

Toast – The process of browning, crisping, or drying a food by exposing it to heat. Toasting coconut, nuts, and seeds helps develop their flavor. Also the process of exposing bread to heat so it becomes browner, crisper, and drier.

Toss – To mix ingredients lightly by lifting and dropping them using two utensils.

Truss – To secure food, usually poultry or game, with string, pins or skewers so that it maintains a compact shape during cooking. Trussing allows for easier basting during cooking.



Unleavened – Any baked good that has no leavener, such as yeast, baking powder or baking soda.



Vandyke – To cut zigzags in edges of fruit and vegetables halves, usually oranges, tomatoes or lemons. The food is usually used as a garnish to decorate a dish.



Weeping – When liquid separates out of a solid food, such as jellies, custards, and meringues.

Whip – To beat ingredients such as egg whites or cream until light and fluffy. Air is incorporated into the ingredients as they are whipped, increasing their volume until they are light and fluffy.

Whisk – To beat ingredients together until smooth, using a kitchen tool called a whisk.



XXX, XXXX, 10X An indicator on a box of confectioners’ sugar of how many times it has been ground. The higher the number of X’s the finer the grind.



Yakitori – A Japanese term meaning “grilled.”



Zest – To remove the outermost skin layers of citrus fruit using a knife, peeler or zester. When zesting, be careful not to remove the pith, the white layer between the zest and the flesh, which is bitter.



  1. Better Homes and Gardens Glossary of Cooking Terms, 2009.


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