Coming across terms in recipes or kitchen utensil descriptions that are new to you? You’re not alone. So, I’ve put this page together to help with the jargon when cooking or just choosing things to cook with.
Some of these are common cooking terms used in other countries. With today’s technology we can access many culinary delights from overseas and sometimes we find funny cooking terms or ingredients because they’re named differently. For example, cilantro vs coriander or spring onions vs green onions vs scallions.
There are some fancy cooking terms you may not have come across also.
I’ve also included terminology used in cookware and appliance specification descriptions for your information. I hope you find some helpful tips amongst these.
A-Z of Cookery And Cooking Terms
A — B
acidulated water — water with lemon, lime, or vinegar added to stop peeled apples or other fruit or vegetables from browning.
al dente — food item that is cooked in a way that leaves a ‘bite of firmness’, e.g. in pasta and rice, rather than being soft
all-purpose flour — known as plain flour in Australia and Britain. Flour that has had no rising agents added.
aspic — a glaze or garnish or mold ingredient of clear savory jelly, which is usually made from stock and gelatin.
aubergine — British name for eggplant
au gratin — food browned in the oven after a covering of white sauce and a layer of breadcrumbs
au natural — raw, e.g. when oysters are served natural
Bakelite — First developed in 1907, Bakelite is a type of heat resistant plastic. It is used in handles for cookware among many other uses. It is a phenolic resin formed from phenol reacting with formaldehyde.
baking soda — also known as bicarbonate of soda (or bicarb soda in Australia)
baste — pouring or brushing liquid over food when roasting or grilling to moisten the food
beat — mix food or liquid ingredients quickly so as to add air to the mixture
béchamel — French sauce made of scalded mild with flour and butter
beurre blanc — French sauce made of butter, shallots, and lemon juice or vinegar that’s used for fish and seafood
bicarbonate of soda — British and Australian term for baking soda
blanch — food is scalded in boiling hot water for a small amount of time and then treated with ice-cold water. Yields a bright green color in green vegetables, along with a firm texture
blind bake — means to bake a pastry shell first without the filling. Pie weights are used in blind baking.
blend — mix ingredients to a smooth and uniform paste
bone — means to remove the bone from a piece of meat
bouillon cube — dehydrated broth or stock in a cube, known as a stock cube in Australia and Britain
bouquet garni — herbs combined in a sachet and used for flavoring soups and sauces. A traditional French cooking method that uses a piece of cheesecloth to tie whole herbs together for use in soups and sauces. It contains sprigs of parsley and thyme, and a bay leaf.
braise — a French way of cooking meat where meat is seared on a pan at high temperatures and then slowly cooked in liquid. Useful for tougher cuts of meat
broil — placing food under the grill of an oven until it browns. Also referred to as ‘grilling’
butterfly — to split a piece of meat partly in two through the center so that it has two flat sides like the wings of a butterfly joined in the middle
capsicum — Australian name for the American sweet or bell pepper and the British green or red pepper
candied fruit — Fruit preserved in sugar syrup
caramelise — to convert sugar to clear sticky syrup over heat
casserole — an ovenproof dish with a cover
clarify — to render milk solids from butterfat. This is done by melting the butter so that the solids and fat separate, and then the milk solids are skimmed off
ceramic knife — a knife made of high-grade zirconium, which is near diamond hardness and known for its sharpness
chop — to cut food, finely or coarsely, into equally sized portions, usually square in shape
choko — Australian and British name for a squash-like vegetable known as a chayote in America
clarify — a process that usually involves skimming the surface of a liquid with a spoon to remove impurities and solids
confectioners’ sugar — also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar
cornflour — Australian and British name for the starch extracted from corn, known as cornstarch in America
courgette — British name for green vegetable, known as zucchini in America and Australia
D — F
dairy sour cream — known as sour cream in Australia and soured cream in Britain
deep fry — cooking food submerged in hot oil
dice — cut food into small cubes
dollop — a dob of soft food, e.g. a small amount of yogurt, whipped cream, or mashed potatoes, that has been formed into a roundish shape
double cream — a cream for whipping, an equivalent is heavy cream in America and thickened cream in Australia
entree — a light serving of food served prior to the main course
essence — Australian and British name for extract, as in vanilla essence vs vanilla extract
farina — ground durum wheat, also known as semolina
flan — an open tart
fillets — Australian and British term for cuts of meat, chicken, or fish sliced from the bone, equivalent to tenderloin in America
frying pan — Australian and British term equivalent to skillet
G — L
green onions — Australian name for American equivalent of scallions
glacé fruit — Fruit preserved in sugar syrup; known in America as candied fruit
glaze — adding a gloss by brushing with egg and milk or sugar and water
grind — to reduce food item to small particles or powder, e.g., coffee grinds, spices
ground meat — also known as mince or minced meat
hard-boiled egg — Australian and British name for an egg cooked in its shell in boiling water, known as a hard-cooked egg in America
hard-cooked egg — American name for an egg cooked in its shell in boiling water, known as a hard-boiled egg in Australia and Britain
heavy cream — a cream for whipping which has a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent, equivalent to thickened cream in Australia and double cream in Britain
hors d’oeuvres — appetizers served at the start of a meal
hull — the outer covering of a fruit or nut. It refers to husk, shell, or covering. For example, it can refer to the leafy green part of a strawberry.
icing sugar — Australian and British name for fine soft sugar used in icing, known in America as confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar
infuse — allowing the flavor of one ingredient to soak into another, usually a liquid
julienne — a way of cutting food into short thin strips, like matchsticks, e.g. julienne carrots
knead — to work dough with the hands turning the outside into the middle as a way of giving the product structure and texture
legumes — food that comes from pods, e.g., peas and beans
lady fingers — small sweet bananas also known as sugar bananas
ladies fingers — also known as okra
light brown sugar — British term for brown sugar. The American and Australian version is brown sugar.
M — P
marinade — a mixture, usually spicy and made of oil and vinegar, used to flavor meat or fish through soaking before cooking
matcha — a type of powdered green tea. I have an article explaining how it differs to other teas.
mince/minced meat — Australian and British name for ground meat
mornay — a sauce flavored with cheese, used in fish, egg, and vegetable dishes
okra — Australian and British name for a green vegetable called ladies fingers or gumbo in America
papaya — also known as paw paw or pawpaw
pané — to coat food in breadcrumbs
parboil — to use liquid to partly cook food
pawpaw, paw paw — Australian / British name for papaya
PFAS — Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, includes the compound PFOA and many others. These include chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment as well as the human body and which accumulate over time. Evidence suggests PFAS exposure can affect human health adversely…You’ll find official information like this at EPA.
PFOA — Perfluorooctanoic acid, aka C8, is used in the process of making PFTE although several companies have now stopped using it. PFOA has been linked to potential health and environmental issues. According to the American Cancer Association, however, PFOA is “burned off during the process and is not present in significant amounts in the final products”.
pickle — a way of preserving food, traditionally involving immersing the food in a salt or vinegar mix
poaching — using water heated just below boiling point to cook food, e.g., eggs
plain flour — also known as all-purpose flour. Has no rising agents added.
PTFE — Polytetrafluoroethylene is the basis of Teflon that provides the nonstick coating on cookware. Read more about PFTE/Teflon here.
purée — food items, e.g. tomatoes, that have been processed to form a watery paste-like consistency
Q — T
ramekin — a small ceramic dish for an individual serving of baked food
rice flour — ground rice.
roux — a mix of flour and fat that is heated and then, by adding liquid, forms the thickener for sauces, gravies, soups, etc
sauté — toss food lightly in a little oil or butter to cook in a shallow pan
scallions — a variety of allium or onion, known as green onions in Australia and spring onions in Britain
score — to make shallow cuts diagonally across the surface of food, e.g. to improve flavor of food by absorbing spices or marinades or to render fat from meat and encourage crispiness
sear — cook meat quickly over high heat to brown the surface without cooking all the way through. A method used for meat intended for casseroles and stews to add flavor to the food
seedless white raisins — equivalent to sultanas in Australia and Britain
semolina — Australian and British for ground durum wheat, known as farina in America
skillet — a pan used for frying
simmer — to cook food in liquid just below boiling point
single cream — British name for dairy product equivalent to light cream in America and cream in Australia
skim — to take off the top layer from food mixtures e.g. where the fat or milk solids have liquified and form a surface layer on top of the heated food mix
spring onions — British name for American equivalent of scallions
sour/soured cream — Australian/British name for dairy sour cream
steam — using steam to cook food, e.g. steamed vegetables
stock cube — Australian and British name for dehydrated broth or stock in a cube, equivalent to bouillon cube in America
sultanas — Australian and British name for medium sized dried grapes, equivalent to seedless white raisins in America
tenderloin — fillet of meat
tepid — slightly warm. The temperature when you combine cold and boiled water in parts 2 to 1
thickened cream — a cream for whipping, equivalent to heavy cream in America and double cream in Britain
U — Z
whip — to beat food with a whisk to add air and lighten the product at the same time increasing the volume, e.g. whipped cream
whisk — mix with a whisk to add air into or to blend ingredients
zest — the outer part of citrus is called the zest. In cooking, the terms refers to using this zest by grating, peeling or cutting the outer skin.
zucchini — also known as courgette
Downes, LM. (1991) Day To Day Cookery. Brooks Waterloo.
Roessler, C. (2015) The Modern Household Manual. News Magazines PL.
Australian Women’s Weekly (2015) Handy Home Hints. Bauer Media Group Sydney.