CookingNook.com’s dictionary of cooking terms is provided to help you with cooking related terms you may not be familiar with.
For newer cooks, this food dictionary is the perfect place to begin to understand those strange cooking terms you find in the recipes you look through.
More experienced cooks will find it valuable as well, when you come across a term and you’re not quite sure it means what you think it means.
To cook using dry heat, either covered or uncovered, in an oven or oven-type appliance.
To bake a pie crust or shell while empty. To prevent pastry from puffing up, the shell is usually lined with baking paper and filled with “blind beans”. (See below)
To tie bacon or pork fat over a joint of meat or poultry before it is roasted to prevent it from drying out during cooking.
To moisten meat or other foods to prevent it drying out while cooking and to add flavor. You can baste using pan drippings or another moist flavoring such as a marinade.
To make a mixture smooth by adding air. Use a brisk over and over stirring motion with a spoon, or a rotary motion using a manual beater or electric mixer.
To heat for a short time in boiling water or steam. Used in preparing food for canning, freezing or drying. It helps loosen the skins of fruits, vegetables or nuts.
To combine two or more ingredients together thoroughly.
Dried beans, peas, rice, pasta or specially made beads used to fill pastry shells during baking and later removed.
To heat a liquid to the point that bubbles break continuously on the surface.
To cook slowly in a covered pan using a small amount of liquid.
To coat with flour, then dip into beaten egg or milk, then coat with crumbs from crushed stale bread, cereal or crackers.
To cook by direct heat, under a broiler or over hot coals.
To melt sugar, or foods containing or mixed with sugar, slowly over low heat without burning, until the sugars melt and become brown in color.
To cut food into small pieces with a knife.
To make a liquid (either butter, stock or broth) clear by skimming away or filtering out fat and impurities.
To cover food on all sides with flour, crumbs or batter.
To cook food (especially eggs) slowly in water just below the boiling point.
To let hot food stand at room temperature until it is no longer hot.
To make a fat, like butter or margarine, soft and smooth by beating it with a spoon or mixing with a mixer. Also, to combine a fat like butter with sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
To cut a solid food into squares of about 1/2″ in size or larger.
To mix a solid fat (eg butter, shortening or lard) evenly into dry ingredients by chopping with two knives or a pastry blender.
To cut into small squares of 1/8″ to 1/4″.
To cover or coat food with flour or a similar dry ingredient.
To sprinkle lightly with flour, sugar or another powdery ingredient.
A piece of meat, poultry or fish with all bones removed. To fillet is to remove the bones.
To break food into small pieces, usually using a fork.
To make decorative indentations around the edge of pastries, vegetables or fruit.
To combine two ingredients using a specific movement with a spoon. To fold: Go down through the mixture on the far side of the bowl with a spoon or spatula. Bring the spoon across the bottom of the bowl and up the near side. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat. Keep doing this until the mixture is well blended.
To cook in hot fat; to pan fry in a small amount of fat or deep fry in a large amount of fat that covers the food.
To coat with a smooth mixture to give food a glossy look.
To rub food against an appliance that cuts it into fine shreds or forms small particles. Often used with cheeses and rinds of citrus fruits.
To cook on a rack over hot coals or other direct heat source that simulates coals.
To reduce a food to fine particles using a mortar and pestle, blender or food processor.
To steep or heat gently to extract flavor. For example to put a vanilla pod into sugar infuses the sugar with vanilla flavor.