Cooking Vocabulary

Updated: 6/19/18 Do you know the differences between the cooking techniques below?  “Mincing” and “grating” describe different techniques as does “boiling” and “poaching”. Have no fear, understanding these differences can make following healthy recipes easier with this helpful guide. Bon appetite!

Preparation refers to any step prior to cooking, which can mean anything from gathering your ingredients and tools to trimming meats or cleaning produce. Common methods can include:

  1. Chopping: cutting food into smaller chunks or pieces of no particular size or shape
  2. Dicing: cutting food into uniform cubed pieces
  3. Grating: rubbing food against a serrated surface to create fine shreds
  4. Mincing: cutting food into very small pieces
  5. Slicing: cutting into slices that are usually uniform in size


Dry Heat cooking methods use hot air or heat from surfaces. Common methods can include:

  1. Baking: cooking food surrounded by hot air, usually in an oven
  2. Barbecuing/Grilling: cooking of food over a charcoal or wood fire
  3. Broiling: cooking with the heat source above the food
  4. Roasting: cooking food surrounded by hot air uncovered, usually in the oven
  5. Sautéing: cooking food quickly in a small amount of fat


Moist Heat cooking methods use liquids like broths or water to cook food. Common methods can include:

  1. Boiling: cooking food in a rapid boil
  2. Poaching: cooking delicate foods such as eggs in liquid that is hot but not boiling
  3. Simmering: cooking food in hot liquid that is bubbling gently, but not boiling
  4. Steaming: cooking food in steam created by boiling liquid in a covered pot, suspended over the liquid