A-Z of Cooking: Basic Cooking Terms & Names

My work is reader-supported; if you buy through my links, I may earn affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here.

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.

common cooking terms, fancy cooking terms, basic cooking terms, jargon used with kitchen ware in specification description.
+ the jargon used with kitchen ware in specification descriptions

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.

See also: My Cooking Conversion Chart – download and print for free

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 | C | D–F | G–L | M–P | Q–T| U–Z

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’ in some countries.

brown — using a small amount of cooking oil at high heat (or none if using a nonstick pan) to cook the meat until the surface becomes brown

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

C

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

cast iron — iron with a small quantity of carbon that is cast in molds for toughened products like cast iron skillets and griddles

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

ceramic nonstick — describes cookware with a ceramic cooking surface over a metal base. The ceramic coating is made from silica (sand) that is applied using a sol-gel process. — read more here.

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

back to top

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

dry heat — a cooking method that does not use moisture in the way of steam, water, or broth, in the cooking process. It relies on direct heating using oil, fat or grease, direct contact, or circulating hot air (e.g. an air fryer) — See my article giving example of dry heat cooking methods.

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

back to top

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

grilling — method of cooking that involves dry heat. It is done over a heat source on a grill or gridiron or similar. In countries, such as Australia, this style of cooking is known as a barbecue and the word grill or grilling refers to a cooking method with an overhead heat source that is known in the US as broiling.

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.

back to top

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

pan frying — pan frying uses little to no oil or fat especially if using nonstick cookware. The food is flipped so that each side is contacts the heat and the food cooks through. Compare this to deep frying, which involves the food being immersed in oil.

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

pie weights — also known as baking beads or baking beans, used in blind baking to keep the crust from bubbling up. See article on using ceramic baking beads.

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

back to top

Q — T

ramekin — a small ceramic dish for an individual serving of baked food

rice flour — ground rice

roasting — a dry heat method of cooking food. Hot air transfers the heat to cook the food through. An oven is used to roast food, which is placed on a rack or in a roasting pan

rotisserie — a dry heat method of cooking food using hot air to transfer the heat and cook the food through while it rotates on a long rod secured in place. It’s used for large cuts of meat and poultry. The food is cooked in it’s own juices and the fat drips off it as it cooks. It’s a form of roasting and another word for rotisserie is spit-roasting.

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

shallow frying — a dry heat cooking method similar to pan frying and involving the use of oil of fat to transfer the heat to cook the food. How I define a difference with pan frying is where using nonstick cookware means using no fat or oil in the cooking.

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

sweating — a dry heat method of cooking food over low direct heat with a small amount of oil or fat. Foods you might cook this way include onions and celery. It’s used to soften and draw out the flavor of foods cooked this way. For example, cooking onions this ways makes them translucent and extracts the flavorsome juices for sauces, gravies, or a stew.

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

back to top

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

back to top

Sources

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.

Share on: