Demystifying Common Cooking Terms

Mar 5, 2018 | Cooking Tips

Cooking terms are a shorthand used in written recipes and conversation. Just like most professions cooking has its own language. The difference with cooking is that the language is not specific to professionals. You find culinary language in every recipe you will ever read. If you don’t know the language it is difficult to read and understand the recipe. So, I thought it might be helpful to do a post all about culinary terms that you will encounter on a daily basis. The following list is not definitive by any means, but may act as a kind of rosetta stone of cooking terms. Refer back to this list any time you need to, and share it with anyone you know who might benefit from it.

I’m sure that a lot of you reading this will know most if not all of these terms, but if this helps even one person, than it’s worth writing it.

Let’s start with measurements.

  • 1 Cup – maybe written as “cup” or “c”, a cup is generally considered 250 ml. It may be broken down into 1/2 c, 1/3 c, or 1/4 c
  • 1 L – a litre is 1000 ml, or 4 cups and is typically used as a liquid measurement
  • 1 pt – a pint is just under half a L
  • 1 qt – a quart is just under 1 litre and is generally an only used by Americans
  • 1 gal – a gallon is just under four litre and is also generally only used by Americans
  • 1 tbsp – a tablespoon is about 14 ml (about 16 tbsp in a cup)
  • 1 tsp – a teaspoon is about 5 ml ( about 3 in a tbsp)
  • 1 ml – milliliter is one thousandth of a litre
  • g – a gram is one thousandth of a kilogram
  • kg – (kilo) a kilogram is 1000 g. or 2.2 lbs
  • lb(s) – a pound is an imperial measurement converted to 454 g
  • oz – an ounce is an imperial measurement converted to about 28 g

Cutting Terms

  • Slice – More of an action than a type of cut but also the portion resulting from the action of slicing. Ie. Slice me off a slice of                 bread.
  • Dice – Generally considered a 2 cm x 2 cm cube.
  • Medium Dice – Generally considered a 1 cm x 1 cm cube
  • Fine Dice – Generally considered a 5 mm x 5 mm cube
  • Mince – Generally considered a 1 mm x 1 mm cube
  • Julienne – a match stick
  • Baton – a larger match stick.

Cooking terms

  • Sauté – To cook something over moderately high heat in a small amount of oil while constantly keeping it moving.
  • Sear – To brown the surface of something in a pan over moderately high heat. Generally done prior to braising.
  • Brown – To impart colour to the surface of meat, seafood, or vegetables through prolonged cooking over moderate heat.
  • Braise – To cooking something with liquid on a low temperature over a long period of time.
  • Stew – A briase done with a thickened liquid. Usually thickened with a roux (flour and butter)
  • Roast – To cook something, generally in an oven, over moderate heat.
  • Pan Fry – To cook something in oil covering at least half the items depth.
  • Deep Fry – To cook something fully submerged in oil.



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