14 basic cooking terms everyone should know

June 28, 2019 •

2 min reading

14 basic cooking terms everyone should know

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Did you know that cooking has its own language? Think about it. If you’ve ever heard a chef at work in the kitchen--either in a restaurant or on television you have probably heard some of this language.

While it would take years to learn every cooking term that exists, understanding the basics is something everyone should do. We’ve put together 14 cooking terms that we feel everyone should know.

The most important basic cooking terms

How many could you have already defined?

  1. Al Dente - Pasta that is cooked until it has a slight resistance to a bite--often considered the perfect consistency
  2. Bake - Cooking in an oven with a dry heat
  3. Beat - Mixing rapidly while incorporating some amount of air into the substance
  4. Boil - Heating a liquid until it bubbles
  5. Clarify - To separate and remove solids from a liquid and make it clear
  6. Cream - To soften a fat by beating it--usually at room temperature
  7. Fillet - To remove the bones from meat or fish
  8. Fry - To cook in hot fat or oil
  9. Grill - Cooking on a grill over a high heat
  10. Lukewarm - Neither hot or cold--usually around room temperature
  11. Marinade - To soak a piece of meat or vegetables in a flavorful substance to soften it and give it flavor
  12. Pickle - To preserve fruits, vegetables or meats in a brine
  13. Saute - Quickly cook meats or vegetables in a small amount of fat just until they turn brown
  14. Steam - To cook in a boiler or pressure cooker with a tight-fitting lid where the steam indirectly cooks the food.

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You never stop learning in the culinary arts

Now, these are just 14 of the most basic cooking terms. If you really want to learn more, there are tons of great primers out there.

What will you learn when following a Culinary Arts curriculum?
Discover the world of restaurant management.

Wolfgang Puck once said: “Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”

So, take your time to read up on cooking and learn everything you can--you may be surprised by how much information really is out there.

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Lecturer Cuisine Practice at EHL Campus Passugg