Following this question, I propose to build a glossary of common (and not so common) cooking terms in english, so everybody can communicate on the same terms and resolve disagreements or misunderstandings.

I've divided words according to a set of subjects and I expect that a definition will follow each word (I'll start by adding some as time permits) and hopefully an image, if one usable exists to show what it's all about.

  • I think these should be alphabetised... Probably worthwhile making a list of abbreviations
    – Pulse
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 16:17
  • Good idea, but for now I will try to focus on content, because I know if I start focusing on orderings and presentation issues I'll never get to the actual content.
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 16:23
  • May we link to videos?
    – Pulse
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 16:30
  • I think videos won't get embedded, so they'll just be a link, but instructive videos could be... instructive :)
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 16:32
  • could we perhaps link to some other site which already has such a cooking glossary ready made for us? Certainly we are not the first to think of this..? Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 3:49
  • @Jeff: Right, I've done a bit of searching but haven't found one complete and in a single piece. Will keep searching though.
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 6:14
  • @Jeff. we could do that, but as the site has an international audience, linking to a US-centric glossary would be useless for, say, Europeans and linking to a European glossary, would not be suitable for Americans. The reason for this, as I hinted at elsewhere, boils down to the naming of common kitchen items and the units of measurement. Just my two cents.
    – Pulse
    Commented Jul 12, 2010 at 2:30
  • I guess if we stay away from naming kitchen utensils and perhaps link to a conversion site, we could just point to a quality culinary glossary...
    – Pulse
    Commented Jul 12, 2010 at 2:56
  • @Pulse: I haven't found one that is easily navigable and that touches all the words we've compiled so far. Many touch a lot more words, but not these ones, which I think will be the source of most confusion.
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Jul 13, 2010 at 21:41
  • @Jeff : the question is which pre-existing glossary to link to : stommel.tamu.edu/%7Ebaum/hyperref.html#food (even with link rot, there's still plenty to choose from)
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 14, 2010 at 20:33
  • @Joe Unfortunately, a number of what might have been useful links, are either broken or dead. Those that might have been pertinent, are either US or UK centric. One site might be useful is the "The Cook's Thesaurus" foodsubs.com There are also some possibilities for specific food stuffs, such as cheese etc.
    – Pulse
    Commented Jul 15, 2010 at 4:54
  • Wouldn't the tag wiki be a better place for this sort of thing?
    – Hannele
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 15:15

3 Answers 3


Here goes a first tentative list, edit away with confidence. I'd put a definition and if possible an image next to each word.

Taking things apart

  • Cutting: This is the generic term to separate things with a instrument such as a knife, there are a lot of forms to cut food, many of which will be described in what follows.

  • Slicing: It's a culinary cut in which the food piece is cut in long, thin stripes (slices). It is used when the food portions should be felt in the dishes, it releases less of the flavour, but retains more of the consistency. It is done in one long pulling motion starting at the top and finishing with the knife tip on the cutting board.

Sliced garlic Pic credit: Eran Finkle on flickr

  • Dicing: Is a culinary cut in which the food piece is cut in small cubes (blocks or dice). It is used to ensure even cooking or to spread the flavor uniformly in a dish. The size of the cube varies depending on the intended use and the original food item.

Diced Onion Pic credit: austinevan on flickr

  • Mincing: It's another type of cut, similar to dicing, but the food item is cut in very small pieces.

Minced Garlic Pic credit: morydd on flickr

  • Julienne: A cut where the item (vegetable) is cut in very thin stripes.

Julienne cucumbers Pic credit: little blue hen on flickr

  • Brunoise: Another type of cut producing very small cubes, first by cutting the item in julienne and then cutting each stripe many times with the knife in a 90 degrees angle with respect to the stripe. Typically used referring to vegetables like carrot and celery.

Brunoise Pic credit: kaplanbr on flickr

  • Chopping: A specific knife motion that involves pushing away from the body with the knife tip resting on the board and the food being fed to back part of the knife, typically used with the "claw" hand to protect against cuts and aid percision.

  • Puree-ing (to)

  • Crushing
  • Smashing
  • Filleting

  • Paring: (to pare) To cut food down to size, this is typically done with a paring knife and includes removing the skins from fruits and vegatables and removing non-edible bits or reshaping food for either cooking or aesthics.

  • Shred

Putting things together

  • Mixing
  • Stirring
  • Shaking
  • Blending
  • Kneading
  • Combining
  • Whisking
  • Fold; Fold in

Heating things

  • Cooking
  • Grilling
  • Roasting
  • Frying
  • Sautee-ing (to)
  • Deep frying
  • Shallow frying
  • Sweat-ing (to)
  • Braising
  • Steaming
  • Parboiling
  • Poaching
  • Baking
  • Simmering
  • Bain-Marie
  • Barbecue
  • Toasting (to)
  • Temper (to)
  • Stir-fry
  • Pan-fry
  • Blind bake

Cooling things

  • Freezing
  • Refrigerating
  • Cooling
  • Resting


  • Frosting
  • Topping
  • Sauce
  • Stock
  • Suet
  • Broth
  • Soup
  • Deglaze
  • Roux
  • Dough
  • Aioli
  • Reduce
  • Marinate

Measurement units

Teaspoons Pic credit: buddyat40 on flickr

  • Tablespoon: This is exactly 3 teaspoons or about 15 millilitres. You typically use a real tablesppon, like

Tablespoon and honey Pic credit: blentley on flickr

  • Cup
  • Pound
  • Gram
  • Milligram
  • Millilitre
  • Ounce
  • Inch
  • Centimetre
  • Pint
  • Quart
  • Gallon
  • Litre
  • Kilogram
  • Fluid ounce

Because there are so many variations, should this link to something like Cooking weights and measures

Culinary Equivalents (UK - US)

- I've put this here for now, it can be moved later.

  • aubergine - eggplant
  • beetroot - beet
  • biscuit - cookie
  • capsicum - bell pepper
  • chicory - Endive
  • clingfilm - plastic wrap
  • coriander - cilantro
  • corn flour - cornstarch
  • courgette - zucchini
  • demerara sugar - light brown cane sugar
  • greaseproof paper - waxed paper
  • icing - frosting
  • mangetout - snow/sugar peas
  • marrow - squash
  • mince - ground beef
  • muslin - cheese cloth
  • plain flour - all-purpose flour
  • powdered sugar - icing sugar
  • spring onion/green onion - Scallion
  • swede - Rutabaga
  • tinfoil - aluminum foil
  • treacle - molasses

These might be useful, too

  • slow cooker - crock pot
  • casserole - dutch oven
  • grill - broiler
  • hob - cooktop
  • nice work on this
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 5:24
  • This is a great post, but does anybody think that the different categories should be separated into different answers? This is going to be a nightmare to edit!
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 17:08
  • It would make it more manageable and modular, plus people could vote on the sections they use more. Is there a way to include a table-of-contents inside a post, which links to sub-sections?
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 21:13
  • @Ocaasi: There's no "automatic" way, but you can link to posts the same way you link to questions or external sites. Just use the "link" button at the bottom of an individual answer to get a perma-link that you could use in a TOC.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 21:05
  • Would adding [youtube, vimeo, etc] links, or embedding, be noise on a list like this, despite their ability to teach one how to 'fold in' for instance?
    – mfg
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 13:55
  • @mfg I wouldn't think so. Videos would be helpful, though embedding videos is not supported (so far.)
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 23:31

i don't mind editing this here but shouldn't most of these be linkable questions on the main site? I mean, How do you properly parboil or what is the diffrence between a chop and a dice seem like exactly the kind of questions that we are trying to put together here.


As I just posted on the main (non-meta) site in a comment to Kev's reply to my question on language differences:

If you said to make a full fledged multi-lingual thesaurus, sure, but a glossary, especially one edited by multiple people is more likely to lose the subtlety of differences in languages; when the words are homonyms, it's more obvious, but polysemous terms when in one culture the term isn't as all-encompassing as another starts getting tricky. A thesaurus would also help track relationships and a multi-lingual one could track preferred terms for different cultures.

(if it's not obvious ... I hold a degree from a library school, although it's in information management, not library science).

  • 1
    The thing is that the chance of having a single person to make such a thesaurus without the person being an expert chef who happens to be a polyglot as well is pretty slim. The chance of finding such an expert is slim as well. So I guess to start with a glossary and let the crowd fix inaccuracies and show differences in culture will be better than nothing. It may even evolve to a full fledged thesaurus, on time...
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Jul 13, 2010 at 21:16
  • I agree with Vinko, for the time being, at least, we simply need a glossary that caters for the two main dialects of English. If the site takes off, I may well be that glossary will 'evolve' into something with a much broader scope.
    – Pulse
    Commented Jul 14, 2010 at 0:34

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