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Cooking Dictionary

cooking dictionary

This handy food and cooking dictionary will tell you the meaning of all of those cooking terms you find in your recipe books.

Refer to it over and over as you need and you will soon become familiar with a wide variety of cooking terms.

These are our cooking terms from J to Z. If you want the first part of our cooking dictionary with cooking terms from A to I, click here.

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To cut meat, vegetables or fruit into long, very thin strips.


To manipulate dough in order to develop the gluten. This is done using a pressing motion with folding and stretching

For yeast breads: Fold the dough toward you, then push the dough away using the heel of your hand. Rotate the ball of dough 1/4 turn and repeat the action. Continue this motion for several minutes until the dough becomes more elastic or as long as your recipe states. Kneading biscuit dough is done more gently and for less time.

Knock Down or Punch Down

To punch or knead the air out of risen dough so that is resumes the volume it had before rising.


To let food stand in seasonings that include at least one wet ingredient to tenderize and increase the flavor.


To cut or chop food into very small pieces.


To combine ingredients until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Pan Broil

To cook uncovered on a hot surface, removing any fat as it accumulates.


To cook food in a boiling liquid just until partially done. Cooking may be completed using another method or at another time.


To remove the outer peel or skin of a fruit or vegetable with a knife.


To pull away, strip or cut off the outer covering of a fruit or vegetable.


To cook slowly in a liquid such as water, seasoned water, broth or milk, at a temperature just below the boiling point.


To let dough or yeast mixture rise before baking.


To put food through a sieve, blender or food processor in order to produce a thick pulp.


To boil down the volume of a liquid in order to concentrate the flavor.


To meld solid fat (eg from beef or pork) slowly in the oven.


To cook meat or vegetables in an uncovered pan in an oven using dry heat.


To brown or cook meat, fish, vegetables or fruit in a small amount of fat (also see Fry).


To heat milk until just below the boiling point, when you will see tiny bubbles appearing around the edges of the pan. Also, to dip food briefly into boiling water (also see Blanch).


To make shallow slits into the food, usually in a rectangular or diamond pattern.


To cook meat quickly at high heat to seal the surface of the meat and produce a brown color.


To cut into long thin strips with a knife or shredder.


To cook in liquid that is just below the boiling point. Bubbles will form slowly and burst before reaching the surface.


To cut into long thin pieces with a knife. Often used with almonds or pimentos.

Soft Ball

The term used to describe when sugar syrup has been boiled to the point that it is thick enough to form soft balls when dropped into cold water and rubbed between fingers and thumb.


To cook in a covered container over boiling water. The container should have small holes in it to allow the steam from the water to rise.


To let a food stand for a few minutes in just boiled water to increase flavor and color.


To simmer slowly in enough liquid to cover.


To mix ingredients in a circular motion with a spoon or fork until well blended.

Stir Fry

To cook in a frying pan or wok over high heat in a small amount of fat, stirring constantly.


To cook gently, usually in butter, a bit of oil, or the foods own juices to soften but not brown the food.


To brown with dry heat in an oven or toaster.


To beat rapidly with a wire whisk, beater or electric mixer to incorporate air, lighten and increase volume.


To grate the outer, colored portion of the skin of a citrus fruit, avoiding the white pith. The thin parings that result are also called the zest.

Part 1 of our cooking dictionary with cooking terms from A to I, is here.

Look here for French cooking terms, part 1.

French cooking terms part 2.

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