This A to Z list of cooking terms and definitions will help you understand and become more familiar with the language of general & plant based cooking. From “acidify” to “zest”, we’ve got you covered!
Do you ever feel like you’re speaking a different language when you’re cooking? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. All sorts of cooking terms can be confusing until you learn the culinary language. 🧑🍳
In this post, we’ll share some of the most common cooking terms, meanings, and definitions worded for veg heads and plant-based cooking. So whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or a seasoned pro, read on to broaden your culinary vocabulary!
Cooking Terms + Definitions From A-Z
Acidify: To add something acidic, such as vinegar or lemon juice, to a mixture to change its acidity level. It can be used to tenderize, add flavor, or create a sour or somewhat acidic flavor. An example would be to make vegan buttermilk by adding lemon or ACV to plant-based milk and letting it rest a few minutes, creating a sour flavor.
Al dente: Italian for, “to the tooth”, describes food that is cooked to a firmness that retains some bite. The term often refers to pasta but can also refer to vegetables.
Air fry: To cook food in a quick-cooking convection oven that circulates hot air around it. Air frying is not actually frying and usually requires little-to-no oil for cooking.
Assemble: To put food components or garnishes together to complete a dish.
Bake: To cook food in an oven, typically at moderate temperatures. The most common bake temperature is 350 degrees but can range anywhere from 300 – 400 degrees.
Baking sheet: A flat metal sheet such as a cookie sheet, sheet pan, or jelly roll pan. Some are totally flat and some have rims. Rimmed baking sheets are the most versatile and can bake cookies or roast vegetables.
Barbecue/Barbeque: To slow-cook food over low direct heat from coals or wood smoke, either in a covered grill or open pit.
Baste: A cooking technique used to keep food moist and flavorful during the cooking process. It involves brushing or spooning liquid, such as melted butter, broth, or marinade, over the surface of foods at regular intervals while it cooks. This helps to prevent food from drying out and infuses it with additional flavor.
Batter: A wet mixture that is thin enough to pour or spoon prior to baking. Examples include batter for pancakes, muffins, and quick breads.
Beat: To quickly mix ingredients to incorporate air and increase volume.
Bechamel: A sauce made from a roux (cooked flour and butter/oil paste) that is thickened with milk. Alternatively, a bechamel can also be made with cashews, without the need for flour or milk (this is a non-traditional method and perfect for those who prefer an oil-free version).
Bind/Binder: A substance that helps ingredients stick together, such as starches, eggs replacers, heavy cream (for soups), flour (soups and gravies), cornstarch, hummus or tahini (chickpea sandwich fillers), nut butters, etc.
Bite-Sized: Food that has been cut into small pieces that are easy to eat in one or two bites.
Blacken: To cook in a very hot skillet to give a dark, crispy crust.
Blanch: To immerse food in boiling water briefly before plunging the item into ice water to stop the cooking process. It’s also used to maintain color. The term is often used for vegetables, nuts, and fruits when the final product should be crisp rather than soft.
Blender, high-speed: A countertop blender with a powerful motor and pitcher made of sturdy, shatterproof plastic. A high-speed blender can smoothly puree foods that regular blenders can not.
Boil: To cook food immersed in a rapidly bubbling liquid. A full rolling boil cannot be stopped when stirring.
Braise: To cook food by browning it first and then simmering it slowly immersed in liquid over low heat with a tightly covered pan. It can also be used without a lid.
Bread: To coat food with a dry ingredient such as flour, cornmeal, cracker, or bread crumbs before sauteing or frying.
Brine: A potent mixture of water, salt, and vinegar that can be used as a preservative, flavor enhancer, and tenderizer. Herbs, spices, and sweeteners can also be used in this mixture.
Broil: To cook food directly under the heat source with possible direct flame contact (usually broiling). When broiling, the food is usually 5” or less from the heat source.
Broth: In plant-based cooking, broth is a flavorful liquid made from simmering vegetables such as onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms, etc. Depending on the cuisine, spices may also be added. Other broths can be made by adding bones to the mix. Stock and broth are often used interchangeably.
Brown: To cook food over high heat until it becomes brown, but not burned. Usually, this is done on the stovetop. Browning adds color and seals in juices.
Brush: To coat the surface of foods with butter, margarine, oil, or other liquid using a pastry brush.
Can: To place food in glass jars for preservation. When canning, be sure to follow the recommended safe canning procedures.
Caramelize: To cook sugar until it liquefies and turns deep brown, with a slightly burned flavor. Or to cook food (such as onions) over low heat until they become soft, sweet, and golden brown.
Chafe: To keep food warm with a heat source underneath (candle or alcohol burner) using a container such as a casserole or chafing dish.
Chiffonade: To finely shred leafy foods, such as herbs or lettuce or herbs with a knife. Usually used as a garnish.
Chill: To refrigerate food until completely cooled throughout, but not frozen. Proper chilling of food is usually accomplished within a temperature range of 33°F to 42°F.
Chef’s knife: An multi-purpose knife, typically with a blade that’s 6 – 10 inches long.
Chop: To cut food into small, slightly irregular pieces.
Chunk: To cut food into large pieces, they may be larger than a cube and sometimes irregular.
Clarify: The process of discarding impurities from a liquid to make it clear.
Coats a Spoon: To test for doneness or readiness using a metal spoon. Mixture will leave a thin layer on the spoon when dipped into the mixture, such as making custard or cream.
Coddle: To heat food in water kept just below the boiling point.
Colander: A metal or plastic bowl with perforations and handles used for draining foods cooked in liquid, such as pasta or beans. Also, can be used for rinsing vegetables and fruits.
Combine: To mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon, fork, whisk, or beat with a mixer on low speed, until mixed together.
Convection oven: A special type of oven that works by using a fan (convection) to circulate hot air, ensuring an even temperature throughout the entire appliance. Oftentimes it results in faster cooking.
Cookie scoop: A dome-shaped metal tool with a trigger that’s used to portion cookie dough, as well as other scoopable foods. It looks very much like an ice cream scoop and comes in different sizes, depending on the cookies you are making.
Cooling rack: A sturdy wire rack used to set hot baked goods on so they cool evenly after baking.
Core: To remove the center of a vegetable or fruit, which often contain seeds, with a knife or corer (such as an apple corer, pineapple corer, etc.).
Cream: The process of beating together two or more ingredients until the mixture is soft, smooth, and creamy in texture. This is often done with butter and sugar.
Crimp or Flute: To press on the edge of pie crust creating a decorative edge using fingers, a fork, or another utensil. Can also be used to seal two layers of crust.
Cross-contaminate: The action of spreading dangerous bacteria from one food to another by using unwashed surfaces and cooking tools for preparing the same foods.
Crumble: To break up into small pieces.
Crush: To reduce to small pieces, crumbs, or powder.
Cube: To cut into small even cubes for cooking purposes. This technique works especially well for large vegetables like potatoes and onions.
Curdle: To overcook a mixture, causing the mixture to separate and appear lumpy. Also, when acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, is added to milk and will then thicken and become lumpy – like when making vegan buttermilk.
Cut in: A technique used to incorporate solid fat into flour or other dry ingredients by using two knives, forks, or a pastry blender to cut through the mixture until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs.
Dash: Refers to adding a tiny amount of an ingredient. A dash is generally less than half of 1/8 teaspoon.
Deep Fry: To cook food by immersing it in hot oil.
Defrost: To thaw food. Defrosting can be done overnight in the refrigerator or for a shorter time on the counter.
Deglaze: To add a liquid, such as wine or broth, to dissolve and loosen browned bits of food that are stuck to the bottom of a pan after searing or sautéing. These browned bits are known as fond, and they are full of flavorful compounds that can add depth and richness to sauces and gravies.
Dice: To cut food evenly into small pieces or cubes. Fine dice is 1/4 inch, medium dice is 1/2 inch, and large dice is 3/4 – 1 inch.
Dilute: To add liquid to reduce the strength of a mixture.
Dip: To lower food into a melted mixture, such as chocolate.
Dissolve: To melt or liquefy, or the process of making a solution such as sugar in water.
Divided: When a recipe calls for an ingredient that is divided – it will be “divided” or used in two or more places when preparing the recipe.
Dough: An unbaked mixture of flour, a leavening agent, and a small amount of liquids combined into a pliable mass that is too stiff to pour and thicker than a batter.
Drain: The process of pouring liquid or fat from food, such as after cooking pasta. Sometimes a stainer or colander is used, and other times the pan is tilted with the lid askew to let the liquids flow out. Draining pasta is an example.
Dredge: To coat food with a dry mixture before cooking. The dry mixture is usually a combination of flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, or other similar ingredients, and it helps to create a crispy and flavorful crust on the food when cooked.
Dress: To coat food, as in to apply salad dressing to a salad before serving.
Drizzle: To pour a liquid over the surface of food in a fine, thread-like stream, such as a cookie, quick bread, or salad.
Drop: To place cookie dough by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Also, it can mean adding a small amount of liquid, such as food coloring.
Dry heat: A way of cooking that does not use water or water-based liquid, such as baking, broiling, roasting, sauteing, grilling, and stir-frying. Deep frying is also considered dry heat.
Dry ingredients: Recipe ingredients that do not have moisture – such as flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cocoa powder, dried spices, herbs, etc.
Dust: To sprinkle or coat lightly with an ingredient, such as flour or powdered sugar.
Dutch oven: A large cast-iron or enameled metal pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Effiler: To remove the string and ends from green beans.
Emulsion: A uniform mixture of two or more immiscible liquids, such as oil and water, that are combined and stabilized using an emulsifying agent. An emulsion is a uniform suspension of tiny droplets of one liquid in the other. Mayonnaise, hollandaise, and ganache are all emulsions. If not properly made, an emulsion can ‘break’ and separate back into two distinct liquids.
Emulsify: The process of forcing ingredients, such as oil and a liquid, that would not normally mix into a creamy mixture by whisking or beating. Mayonnaise and salad dressing are two examples.
Firmly Packed: To press an ingredient tightly into a measuring cup, such as brown sugar or dates.
Flake: To gently break food into small, flat pieces. As in flaking chickpeas when making no-tuna chickpea salad. In general culinary terms, this technique is used to break apart delicate foods and to test fish for doneness.
See how to make Chickpea of the Sea No-Tuna Salad
Flambe: The action of pouring liquor over a warm food and igniting, usually this is done on the stove-top.
Flip: To turn over to finish cooking on the other side, such as pancakes or grilled cheese sandwiches.
Floret: To break or cut into small clusters, such as fresh broccoli or cauliflower.
Flour: The action of coating food with a dry ingredient, such as white flour or a mixture of dry ingredients.
Fluff: To use a fork or spoon to mix (‘fluff’) cooked rice, quinoa, couscous, or grains before serving. In baking, you can fluff up flour with a fork or spoon.
Fold/Fold In: The process of gently combining a light, airy mixture with a heavier one without knocking any air out. To fold in, you cut vertically through the mixture, sliding it across the bottom of the bowl and up the other side. Generally used to mix fruit into a batter such as pancake or muffin batter.
Food processor: An appliance for pureeing, grating, slicing, and chopping food.
Frost: To cover with frosting or icing, such as frosting a cake or cookie.
Froth: A technique that involves creating a layer of small air bubbles in a liquid, typically milk, to create a frothy texture.
Fry: Cooking food in hot oil over medium to high heat until brown and crisp.
Ganache: A mixture of melted chocolate and/or butter that is smooth and can be used as a sauce or glaze. Once hardened, ganache can be rolled into truffles or whipped into a dessert filling.
Garnish: To decorate or top a finished food. Common garnishes include herbs, fruit, vegetables, or shredded ingredients.
Glaze: To coat food with a thin mixture and often sticky substance that will result in a smooth and glossy coating.
Golden Brown: A way to test for doneness visually. When cookies and cakes are of a light to medium brown color they are done.
Grate: The process of cutting food into shreds using a grater.
Gratin: A gratin is a topping, often breadcrumbs or grated cheese, that forms a brown crust when placed under a hot grill.
Grease: The action of lightly coating the surface of a baking pan or muffin tin with butter or oil to prevent the food from sticking.
Grease and Flour: To coat a baking pan with shortening before lightly dusting with flour in order to prevent food from sticking. Commonly used when baking cakes.
Griddle: A large, flat, surface that is heated and used for cooking.
Grill: The method of cooking food on a grate or rack over a heat source, such as a gas grill or hot coals.
Grind: To reduce food to small particles by crushing with a mechanical grinder, mortar and pestal, food processor, or blender.
Hull: To remove green leaves and stem from a strawberry. Can also refer to removing the outer covering of some nuts and seeds.
Husk: To remove the outer covering or leaves of a vegetable, such as fresh corn. Also, to remove the outer husk of some nuts.
Ice/Icing: To cover a cake, cookie, or donut with a mixture, such as frosting.
Immersion blender: A stick-like appliance with a blender at the end used to puree ingredients directly in the pot they are cooked in.
Infuse (steep): To allow the flavor of an ingredient to soak into a liquid, either hot or cold, so it can add flavor to the liquid.
Julienne: A french cutting technique in which foods, such as carrots, are cut finely into matchsticks. The strips are generally 1/8-inch equal-sided strips. Most vegetables and fruits can be julienned.
Shop 4+ stars julienne tools on Amazon
Knead: The process of working dough with your hands (or with a dough hook of an electric mixer) into a smooth ball so it can rest and develop the gluten, or structure, of the dough. The hand technique using the heels of your hand to press the center of the dough, fold it in half, and turn the dough a quarter turn after each press and fold.
Kitchen shears: Strong, sharp scissors with multiple uses in kitchen prep. One edge of the blade may have a serrated edge. This handy tool can crack nuts and snip herbs too.
Killing the onion (aka deflame): A Turkish technique for taming onions is described as “killing” the onion – soaking it in salted water for at least 15 minutes to soften and tame its flavor. Often used when serving onion raw.
Liquid ingredients: These include ingredients in a recipe that contains moisture, such as milk, pure maple syrup, molasses, broth, etc.
Marinate: To brush or soak food with a seasoned liquid in order for the flavors to penetrate, adding tenderness, moisture, and flavor.
Macerate: To soak an ingredient, usually fruit, in a liquid so that it takes on the flavor of the liquid. This can also be used to soften dried fruit.
Matchstick: To cut food into thin strips that are about 1 inch long and 1/8 inch thick, such as carrots, cucumber, apple, and other fruits and vegetables.
Measuring cup, dry: A cup with a handle, which can be metal or plastic, that is used for measuring ingredients that don’t contain moisture, such as flour, sugar, quinoa, rice, or beans.
Measuring cup, liquid: A cup with a spout, usually glass or plastic, to be used to measure pourable ingredients such as water, milk, oil, or pure maple syrup.
Melt: To change a solid substance into a liquid form by heating it. The substance can be a fat such as butter, cheese, chocolate, or any other solid ingredient that has a low melting point. When melted, the substance becomes a liquid that can be used as an ingredient in various recipes.
Melting can be done on a stovetop, in a microwave or using a double boiler.
Mince: To cut as finely as possible into very small pieces, such as garlic, ginger, and herbs.
Mix: Combining two or more ingredients with a spoon or beaters until mixture is well integrated and uniform in texture.
Moist Heat: A way of cooking that uses a lid to keep moisture in, such as stewing, braising, or pot roasting.
Muddle: The action of crushing or mashing with a spoon or tool called a muddler. Often used with mint leaves and sugar.
Offset spatula: A kitchen tool used for spreading, smoothing, and lifting food items, particularly those that are delicate or require precision. It is a long, narrow spatula with a flat, rectangular or slightly curved blade that is set at an angle to the handle. This design allows the user to easily reach into tight spaces and angles without their hands getting in the way.
Shop 4+ star Offset Spatulas on Amazon.
Pan fry: To cook foods uncovered, over high heat in a small amount of fat.
Parchment paper: A silicone-based paper that comes in sheets or a roll used to line baking pans and sheets in order to keep food from sticking. You can also use parchment packets for steaming foods.
Pan Broil: The method of cooking food quickly in a preheated pan with very little or no oil or butter.
Pan Sear: To cook tofu (or meats) in oil (or butter) over high heat in a skillet, creating a golden brown crust.
Par Boil: To add foods to boiling waters, cooking until they are softened, then removing before they are fully cooked, usually to partially cook an item which will then be cooked another way.
Pare: To remove the outermost layer, skin or rind, from a vegetable or fruit, apple or potato, using a vegetable peeler or paring knife.
Paring knife: A small, short-bladed knife (3 – 4 inches long), used for intricate cutting, peeling, mincing, and dicing.
Partially Set: A term commonly used when making gelatin to test for doneness, such as firmness.
Pat: To touch a surface gently to flatten using the underside of your hand. Usually refers to pad dry or patting on a coating.
Pea-Sized Crumbs: To visually describe the size of the pieces you obtain when working with a mixture of flour and butter (or hardened coconut oil).
Peel: The action of removing the outer skin or rind from a vegetable or fruit.
Pinch: To add a tiny amount of a dry ingredient such as salt, usually just enough to fit between the forefinger and thumb.
Pipe: To use a pastry bag or tube to decorate food with a thick mixture, such as frosting or whipped cream.
Pit: To remove the seed from a piece of fruit, such as cherries, peaches, apricot, and peaches. Sometimes it’s referred to as the stone.
Plump: The action of soaking dried vegetables and fruits in liquid until they soften and swell.
Poach: To cook foods gently by immersing them in water that is just below the boiling point.
Pound: To flatten or tenderize a piece of protein.
Press: To put pressure to release liquids, generally referring to tofu (aka tofu press).
Pressure Cook: A special cooking pot that is made to cook food under high pressure using wet heat. The locking lid and a valve system regulate the internal pressure. This method of cooking helps the food cook 50% faster and retains its nutritional value.
Process: To mix ingredients using a food processor. Also, refers to cooking, following safe recommended canning procedures, and sealing the filled canning jars.
Pulse: The ‘on and off’ action is used when using a food processor or blender. Pulsing involves turning the start button on and off rapidly a few times until the desired consistency is achieved. Some food processors have a ‘pulse’ button, so you will simply press it several times or until processed enough.
Pulverize: To reduce to dust or powder.
Puree: To blend into a smooth, lump-free consistency, such as a soup or baby puree.
Quart: A U.S. system measurement of volume consisting of 32 fluid ounces, equal to 4 cups.
Quarter: To divide or cut into four equal parts.
Quick Bread: Bread made with baking powder and/or baking soda and does not require kneading or rising time is deemed ‘quick’ to make.
Reconstitute: To restore dehydrated, condensed, or concentrated foods to their original strength with the addition of liquid, usually water. It can be soaking dried mushrooms or adding water to orange concentrate.
Reduce: To boil down a sauce or liquid rapidly until the sauce thickens, yielding an intensified flavor.
Reheat: To warm food again after being cooked.
Rehydration: To restore rehydrated foods by soaking them in water or a liquid mixture, such as rehydrating dried mushrooms or dried beans.
Rice: To force a soft food, such as cooked potatoes, through a potato ricer. Ricing adds air, making it fluffier and lighter. It also makes mashed potatoes ultra-smooth.
Rind: The outer skin of citrus fruits.
Roast: A cooking method that involves cooking food in an oven (400 degrees or higher) or over an open flame. During roasting, the food is exposed to dry heat, which causes it to brown and caramelize on the outside while retaining its juices and flavors on the inside.
Roasting pan: A large pan with deep sides (usually 2 – 3 inches) and handles on each end. It’s good for holding large portions of protein but can be used for roasting vegan seitan roast and/or vegetables as well.
Roll Up Jelly-Roll Fashion: The process of rolling dough and filling at the same time, starting with one end and rolling into a log shape. Once rolled, the ends with be sealed.
Rolling Boil: A liquid that cooks or boils rapidly and cannot be stopped by stirring. An example is when cooking pasta. The water should maintain a constant rolling boil.
Roux: A paste of flour and fat (butter or oil) cooked together and is used to help thicken sauces, soups, and stews. A roux should be simmered for a period of time to thicken properly. In Creole and Cajun cuisine, a roux may be cooked until the flour browns for added flavor.
Rub: To apply a seasoned mixture that is either dry or a paste onto the surface of protein, providing additional flavor.
Santoku knife: Originating from Japan, a santoku knife is an all-purpose knife, similar to a chef’s knife, with a 5 – 8 inch blade and straight edge. It also has a sheepsfoot blade that curves down an angle approaching 60 degrees at the point. They are great for chopping, slicing, and dicing vegetables.
Saucepan: A deep pan with a long handle on one side.
Sauté: To quickly cook food over high heat in a small amount of fat (oil or butter). Alternatively, this method can also be done with water or broth, known as ‘water saute’ for those limiting their oil intake.
Scald: To gently heat a liquid to just below the boiling point (around 180-190°F (82-88°C)) until tiny bubbles form around the edge.
Score: To make shallow cuts or slashes along the surface. Examples include scoring the peel of cucumbers or the top of bread before baking for decorative purposes. Also, protein may be scored to help tenderize it.
Scramble: To gently stir with a fork or spoon while cooking, as in making a tofu scramble.
Sear: To char or brown food over high heat with a dry heat cooking method such as sautéing, grilling, or using a broiler. Searing can be accomplished with or without oil or butter.
Season: To add a flavor ingredient, such as to ‘season with salt and pepper’. Also, this can apply to seasoning cast iron pans with oil or solid shortening and heated in the oven. Properly seasoned cast iron cookware helps prevent rust and food from sticking.
Seed: To remove the inner seeds from a vegetable or fruit.
Separate: To divide into parts.
Set: To describe a state of firmness. For example – Chia pudding or gelatin is done when the surface is firm to the touch. Another term used is ‘until set’.
Shave: The process of slicing very thin layers, such as solid vegan parmesan or chocolate shavings, to use as garnish. We almost always use a vegetable peeler to make shavings.
Shell: The removal of the outer covering of foods, such as nuts or fresh peas.
Shock: To quickly stop hot food from cooking by immersing in an ice water bath. This method is often used after vegetables are blanched, so they don’t overcook.
Shred: To cut foods into narrow strips using a knife, grater, or food processor. Can also mean to shred by pulling apart with two forks, such as jackfruit or protein.
Sieve: A tool used for straining dry or wet ingredients. For example, removing seeds from raspberry jam. We also recommend using a sieve when rinsing quinoa, as its fine mesh will not allow the tiny seeds to escape.
Sift: To pass ingredients through a wire mesh strainer (sieve) or sifter in order to blend and aerate. One might sift flour and baking powder together to incorporate more evenly into batter or sift powdered sugar to remove lumps.
Silicone baking mat: A non-stick, reusable mat used in place of parchment paper to keep foods from sticking to baking sheets. We also use them to cover casseroles in the oven to replace foil. They are flexible and come in various sizes.
Silicone spatula: A kitchen utensil with a flexible, heat-proof head used to fold ingredients and scrape against surfaces to remove foods without damaging the bowls and pans. and fold ingredients.
Simmer: A cooking technique in which food is cooked gently and slowly over low to medium-low heat. It involves maintaining a temperature just below boiling point, where small bubbles are visible on the surface of the liquid.
Skillet: A large, flat-bottomed, shallow pan with sloping sides flaring outward. Typically they are made of metal and include one long handle and no lid.
Skewer: To thread ingredients such as tofu (protein), vegetables, or fruit onto long, pointed, thin metal rods or bamboo sticks for grilling or serving.
Skim: A cooking technique used to remove impurities, fats, or foam from the surface of liquids such as soups, stews, and stocks using a spoon or skimmer.
Slice: A fundamental cooking technique used to cut food into thin, uniform pieces with a knife.
Sliver: To sliver in cooking means to cut food into long, thin pieces, typically no more than 1/8 inch in thickness.
Slow cook: Slow cooking is a cooking method that involves cooking food over low heat for an extended period of time in a slow cooking appliance, such as a crock pot.
Smoke: To infuse food with the smoke of burning wood or other materials using either hot smoke, which cooks the food, or cold smoke, which does not. The smoke infuses the food with a unique flavor and aroma, creating a distinct taste that cannot be achieved through other cooking methods.
Snip: To cut ingredients, typically herbs or greens, into small pieces using a pair of kitchen scissors. Snipping is an easy and efficient way to chop herbs and greens without bruising or crushing them, which can affect their flavor and texture.
Soak: To cover beans, nuts, or seeds with 1 to 2 inches of water for a period of time to soften them before using. Soaking also helps to break down the enzymes and phytic acid in these ingredients, making them easier to digest.
Sous vide: A method of cooking in which food is added to a vacuum-sealed bag and cooked in a precisely controlled water bath at a low temperature over an extended period of time. The term “sous vide” comes from French and means “under vacuum.”
Spread: To cover evenly, often in a thin layer or in multiple directions.
Sprinkle: To scatter lightly.
Steam: To cook food by placing it in a container with a small amount of water or other liquid and heating it until the water evaporates and turns into steam. The steam then cooks the food by surrounding it with hot, moist air.
Steep: To soak something in liquid, typically water, for a length of time in order to extract flavor, color, or other properties from it. This is often done with tea leaves, herbs, or spices, but can also be done with other foods such as grains or dried fruits.
Stew: To cook food slowly, typically in a covered pot or casserole dish, using just enough liquid that barely covers the ingredients.
Stiff Peaks: A stage during the beating or whipping process where the mixture holds its shape and forms pointed peaks when the beater or whisk is lifted out of it.
Stir: To mix ingredients with a spoon, whisk, or other utensil in a circular motion. Stirring is a basic cooking technique that combines ingredients, distributes heat evenly, prevents sticking, and incorporates air into mixtures such as batter or dough. Stirring can also refer to the act of moving food around in a pan or pot while cooking to prevent it from sticking or burning.
Stir Constantly: To stir the entire duration the mixture is cooking.
Stir-fry: A cooking technique that involves quickly cooking small pieces of food, such as vegetables and/or protein, over high heat in a wok or large frying with a small amount of oil while continuously stirring or tossing the ingredients to ensure they cook evenly. The high heat and constant movement of the food in the wok or pan ensure that the ingredients are cooked quickly and evenly while retaining their crisp texture and fresh flavors.
Strain: To separate solid particles from a liquid by passing the mixture through a strainer, sieve, or cheesecloth. The purpose of straining is to remove any unwanted components such as seeds, skins, or solid particles from the liquid, resulting in a clear, smooth texture. Straining is often used in recipes for sauces, soups, stocks, and custards.
Stock: A flavorful liquid that is made by simmering protein and/or vegetables, along with aromatics such as onions, carrots, celery, and herbs, in water for an extended period of time. Often it is referred to as “broth”. The resulting liquid is then strained, resulting in a clear and richly flavored broth that can be used as a base for sauces, soups, stews, and other dishes.
Stockpot: A large, deep pot with a flat bottom and straight sides, designed for making stocks, soups, stews, or boiling pasta. Stockpots typically have a capacity of at least 8 quarts (7.6 liters), although they can be much larger and are often made of stainless steel, aluminum, or other metals that conduct heat well.
Stuff: To fill a cavity, such as a bell pepper, squash, tomato, or pasta shells with a mixture prior to baking.
Sweat: The process of cooking vegetables or other ingredients over low heat in a covered pan or pot with a small amount of fat, such as oil or butter, until they release their moisture and become softened, but not browned or caramelized.
Thaw: To defrost frozen food allowing it to naturally come to a temperature that allows it to be cooked or consumed safely.
Thermometer, candy: A heatproof thermometer used to measure the temperature of candy syrups, caramel, fudge, and other sweet treats as they cook on the stove. Some are made of glass with marking on the side specific to candy making and others have a long, narrow metal probe with a temperature gauge that ranges from 100°F to 400°F (37°C to 204°C). Both can be attached to the side of a pot with a clip or a loop.
Thermometer, instant-read: A thermometer used to quickly measure the internal temperature of food in just a few seconds. Unlike traditional thermometers that are left in the food throughout the cooking process, instant-read thermometers are designed to provide a quick and accurate temperature reading at any point during cooking.
Thin: To dilute a mixture by adding more liquid.
Thread: To place chunks of vegetables, protein or fruit on a skewer.
Toast: To brown food by exposing it to heat, typically in a toaster or under the broiler. Toasting bread enhances its flavor, texture, and aroma by caramelizing its natural sugars and creating a crispy exterior. Also, other foods can also be toasted, such as marshmallows for s’mores, nuts for garnishing, or cheese for a crispy topping on a casserole or soup.
Toss: A technique of mixing or coating ingredients by quickly and gently shaking or flipping them in a bowl or pan. Tossing is typically done with a flick of the wrist, and is often used to combine ingredients in a salad, stir-fry, or pasta dish.
Trim: To remove leaves and stems on fruits or vegetables.
Wedge: A type of food that has been cut into a triangular or wedge-shaped piece. Wedges are often used as a serving or presentation style for foods such as fruits, vegetables, cheeses, or cakes.
Wet heat: To cook food in liquid, such as water, broth, or stock to help transfer heat evenly and gently, resulting in tender and moist dishes. Wet heat cooking methods include boiling, simmering, poaching, sous vide, steaming, pressure cooking, and braising.
Whisk: The technique of mixing ingredients quickly and vigorously using a whisk, which is a kitchen tool with wire loops attached to a handle. Whisking is typically done to combine ingredients, create a smooth and creamy texture, or to incorporate air into a mixture.
Whip: To rapidly beat a mixture of ingredients with a whisk, electric mixer, or other tool, to incorporate air and create a light and fluffy texture. Whipping is typically used to create whipped cream, meringues, mousses, and other desserts, but can also be used for savory dishes, such as whipped mashed potatoes.
Wilt: To heat greens or other vegetables until they become slightly limp and tender. Wilting can be achieved by heating them in a pan or pot with a small amount of oil or butter, or by tossing them in a salad with a warm dressing.
Zest: The process of removing the most outer layer of citrus fruit, using a zester or paring knife.
So there you have it!
I hope this list of cooking definitions and terms helps you in your cooking adventures!