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Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health.

Confused about which cooking oil is the healthiest? Join the club.

You’ve probably heard a lot of back and forth about heart health, trans fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, PUFAs (Polyunsaturated fatty acids), MUFAs (Monounsaturated fatty acids) and smoke points when it comes to cooking oils. It can all be a bit confusing, so this article is here to clear it up.

You may be surprised to find that some of the worst cooking oils & fats are ones that you may have been told are “healthy”. If you care about your health, make sure you’re not using any of these worst cooking oils & fats.

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation


Shortening was once made from animal fat (lard). It has a long history of use in American kitchens that dates back to the early 1900s.

Vegetable shortening was developed in the early 1900s as a more economical and nutritional alternative to animal fat. It also provided a vegetable-based fat that vegetarians and people with religious dietary restrictions could use in cooking and baking.

Shortening is so called because it gives a “short” texture (as in shortbread). Shortening is a type of fat used in cooking and baking. The term “shortening” technically refers to any type of semisolid fat that is mostly solid at room temperature. This includes butter, margarine and lard.

The market term now almost always refers to shortening made from vegetable oils like soybean, cottonseed or refined palm oil, which are naturally liquid at room temperature. However, Vegetable shortening is made through a process called hydrogenation, which transforms liquid vegetable oil into solid vegetable fat by bombarding the oil with hydrogen atoms. This changes the chemical structure of the oil from mostly unsaturated to mostly saturated.

This causes the oils to become more solid, creating a thick texture that makes shortening good to use for specific types of cooking and baking. It also allows shortening to be very shelf-stable and stored at room temperature.

Until recently, shortening was almost always made of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Partially hydrogenated oil contains trans-fats, which have been implicated in causing heart disease. Newer products avoid trans-fats by using a mixture of unhydrogenated oil and fully hydrogenated oil.

When oils are fully hydrogenated, they are completely changed from unsaturated fats to saturated fats, so no trans fats are produced. Yet full hydrogenation results in a very hard fat, which no longer has a soft, spreadable texture. Therefore, fully hydrogenated oils are commonly blended with liquid oil in a process called interesterification, which results in a spreadable texture.

When an oil is only partially hydrogenated, it is still somewhat soft and has a creamy, spreadable texture. For this reason, the superior texture of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils makes them the ideal shortening. Unfortunately, partial hydrogenation also creates artificial trans fats, which have serious negative health effects. Trans fats raise your risk of heart disease, death from heart disease, heart attack and stroke. They also raise your “bad” cholesterol levels, lower your “good” cholesterol and cause inflammation and the hardening of your arteries. Trans fats can also make it hard for your cells to communicate, impairing the functions of your nervous system and affecting the brain and psychological health.

For these reasons, since 2006 the FDA has required all food labels to list the trans-fat content. Consequently, most food companies have reformulated their products to remove all or most trans fats. Most shortenings are now advertised as being trans-fat-free.

Still, check the label. If hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is listed first, the product may contain more trans fats than you want. To find out if your shortening contains trans fats, read the ingredients list. If it contains “partially” hydrogenated vegetable oil, then it contains trans fats too.

Most of the new shortenings are free of trans fats, and they are made with a combination of fully hydrogenated palm oil and soybean oil. The lack of trans fats in newer recipes means that these shortenings do not carry the same health risks as traditional shortening that does contain trans fats. However, the health effects of interesterified fats are still largely unknown. There simply has not been enough research yet to know how these fats affect the heart and metabolic health in the long term. A few studies in rats have found that high levels of interesterified fats have negative effects on blood lipids. However, these effects have not been seen when these fats are eaten in more normal amounts.

While shortening does supply the essential vitamin E and vitamin K, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats, it doesn’t supply anything in the way of other essential nutrients such as protein, fibre, iron or vitamin C. Just 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening can be a significant amount over the limit of saturated fat. Even more dangerous is the trans fat it contains. Aim to completely eliminate trans fats from your diet because they raise bad cholesterol levels, lower good cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.

Shortening has a higher smoke point than butter and margarine (it is less flammable), leading to its use in deep-fat frying and as a pan coating to prevent baked goods from sticking and is 100 % fat (compared to butter and margarine that contain milk solids). The fat content of vegetable shortening makes it useful for frying and for recipes that require pure fat. Therefore, it is very high in calories, offers no nutritional benefits, and contains neither carbs nor protein.

It is more economical than butter or lard; as it can be stored at room temperature it does not require refrigeration (it may last up to one year in an airtight container), and can extend the shelf life of some foods and baked goods.

Some vegetable shortening contains tiny bubbles filled with nitrogen. These bubbles are useful in recipes that require leavening. These vegetable shortenings may also contain emulsifiers that help stabilize the gas-filled bubbles and disperse the fat.

Because of shortening’s unique characteristics, it’s often used in baking. Vegetable shortening adds a flaky texture to foods such as pie crust and pastry shells. Nevertheless, some people prefer butter because it has a richer flavour and produces a chewier, crispier product. Therefore, which fat is superior for baking really depends on the texture and taste you prefer.

Firm fats produce flaky pastry; oils yield more compact pastry. The proportion of shortening in doughs and batters varies according to the product, with bread and rolls containing about 1–2%, cakes containing 10–20%, and piecrusts containing over 30%. Increasing shortening proportions increases tenderness, but very high proportions may cause cakes to fall. When vegetable shortening is used in cookies instead of butter, the cookies may have a fluffy texture but lack flavour. If half butter and half vegetable shortening are used, both texture and flavour may improve. If butter must be excluded for religious or dietary reasons, butter flavouring or ground nuts could be added to the batter for their rich flavour and for the granular texture of nuts.

In addition to limiting your intake of foods that contain shortening, you can also replace shortening with other alternatives in recipes.

  • Butter is probably the most popular alternative to shortening. Many people actually prefer butter because of the rich flavour it adds. Some people are hesitant to use butter because it is naturally high in saturated fat, containing about twice as much as shortening. In the past, health experts have claimed that eating saturated fat is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Therefore, butter is a suitable alternative to shortening in most recipes. Just be aware that the water in butter may create a slightly different texture than shortening would. Clarified butter, which contains very little water, is also a good alternative.
  • Palm or Coconut Oil Shortenings – Coconut and unrefined palm oil are naturally high in saturated fat, which makes them solid at room temperature. This solid, spreadable texture means they are easy replacements for shortening. Many brands now sell alternative shortenings made from pure palm or coconut oil, which can replace shortening at a 1:1 ratio. But these options are not without drawbacks. Coconut oil may give foods a nutty or coconut flavour. And palm oil has come under fire because harvesting it has negative effects on the environment.
  • Other Plant Oils – Most plant oils are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which causes them to be liquid at room temperature. So they are only a good choice for recipes that call for melted shortening. Some evidence shows that replacing saturated fat in the diet with unsaturated fat can reduce your risk of heart disease. However, some types of plant oils are also rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which most people already consume far too much of. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the cooking temperature does not exceed the smoke point of the oil you use. Some plant oils are good choices for cooking, while others are not. Check out “Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely” for more information on which oils are the best for cooking.

Made from: Shortening can be made from either animal fat or vegetable oil, but shortening made from partially or fully hydrogenated vegetable oil is more common nowadays.

Best for: Shortening is traditionally used in pastries such as cookies, pie crusts, cakes or frosting.

Not recommended for: It’s a good idea to limit your intake of shortening and use healthier alternatives when possible. Shortening can be replaced with alternatives like butter, coconut oil, palm oil or other healthy plant oils.

Pros: Shortening is used in baking to give pastries a tender texture. Many people use shortening because it’s cheaper, higher in fat and more stable than other types of fat.

Cons: Unlike some other types of fat, shortening contains 100% fat. Therefore, it is very high in calories and low in nutrients. Shortening is still highly processed and is typically only used to make fried foods or pastries that are high in added fat and sugar. Shortening was traditionally made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Partial hydrogenation creates a smooth, spreadable texture, but also produces harmful trans fats.

Note: Most types of shortening have been reformulated to be trans-fat-free. However, shortening is still highly processed and the health effects of the new methods are still unknown. Therefore, while it’s okay to enjoy the occasional treat, it is a good idea to limit your use of shortening overall.

Smoke point: (hydrogenated) 165°C (329°F)

2.2% MUFA


91% saturated

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Margarine is an emulsion containing about 80% fat, from either animal or vegetable sources, plus water, salt, emulsifiers, and sometimes milk solids. They are white to yellow in colour, with neutral or butterlike flavour and solid consistency.

Margarine has a high melting point, produces tender products, and is especially popular for use in puff pastes. Margarine is used for spreads and in cooking. Nutritionally, margarine is primarily a source of calories. None of the major brands has any dietary cholesterol since almost all is made from vegetable oils.

When shopping for margarine or spread, there are some pointers on how to choose one with “better” ingredients.

Most margarine products have labels telling how much saturated and polyunsaturated fat they contain. Look for a product with at least twice as much polyunsaturated as saturated fat. If a brand doesn’t give you a breakdown of fats, be suspicious. Although all the oils commonly used in margarine are high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat, they vary substantially.

Be wary of sodium content, which tends to be relatively high.

Some margarine, are mostly a mix of canola and soybean oils. Soybean oil is too high in omega-6 fatty acids which can lead to inflammation and other diseases. Canola oil is highly processed and treated with chemical deodorizers and solvents. On top of that, some brands also include safflower, sunflower, corn oil which are also notoriously high in omega-6 fatty acids.

Vegetable fats can contain anything from 7% to 86% saturated fatty acids. Liquid oils (canola oil, sunflower oil) tend to be on the low end, while tropical oils (coconut oil, palm oil) and fully hardened (hydrogenated) oils are at the high end of the scale. A margarine blend is a mixture of both types of components. Generally, firmer margarine contains more saturated fat.

There are two types of unsaturated oils: mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, both of which are recognized as beneficial to health in contrast to saturated fats. As in butter, 100 % of margarine’s calories come from fat, but the fat is largely polyunsaturated. Some widely grown vegetable oils, such as rapeseed (and its variant canola), sunflower, safflower, and olive oils contain high amounts of unsaturated fats.

Typical soft tub margarine contains 10% to 20% of saturated fat. Regular butterfat contains 52 to 65% saturated fats. It is recommended saturated fat intake to be as low as possible.

Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly obtained from oily fish caught in high-latitude waters. They are comparatively uncommon in vegetable sources, including margarine. However, one type of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can be found in some vegetable oils. Flaxseed oil contains 30-50% of ALA, and is becoming a popular dietary supplement to rival fish oils; both are often added to premium margarine. An ancient oil plant, Camelina sativa, has recently gained popularity because of its high omega-3 content (30-45%), and it has been added to some kinds of margarine. Hemp oil contains about 20% ALA. Small amounts of ALA are found in vegetable oils such as soybean oil (7%), rapeseed oil (7%) and wheat germ oil (5%).

Omega-6 fatty acids are also important for health. They include the essential fatty acid linoleic acid (LA), which is abundant in vegetable oils grown in temperate climates. Some, such as hemp (60%) and the common margarine oils corn (60%), cottonseed (50%) and sunflower (50%), have large amounts, but most temperate oilseeds have over 10% LA. Margarine is very high in omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is typically 5:1 to 10:1. Large amounts of omega-6 decrease the effect of omega-3. Therefore, it is recommended that the ratio in the diet should be less than 4:1, although the optimal ratio may be closer to 1:1.

During the manufacture of margarine, makers may convert some unsaturated fat into hydrogenated fats or trans fats to give them a higher melting point so they stay solid at room temperatures. Unlike essential fatty acids, trans fatty acids are not essential and provide no known benefit to human health besides providing calories. Several large studies have indicated a link between consumption of high amounts of trans fat and coronary heart disease, and possibly some other diseases, prompting a number of government health agencies across the world to recommend that the intake of trans fats be minimized.

For a long time, margarine was a danger because it was high in trans fat which contributes to heart disease. However, nowadays people are wise to the dangers of trans fats, so most margarine does not contain trans fats because they are associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke, but it’s still not a good choice for consumption. Still, check the label. If a hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is listed first, the product may contain more trans fats than you want.

Replacing saturated and trans unsaturated fats with unhydrogenated monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is more effective in preventing coronary heart disease than reducing overall fat intake.

Margarine is rich in vitamin E. Unless fortified with micronutrients during manufacturing, there are no other nutrients in significant content. Vitamin A and vitamin D may be added for fortification.

The roles of butter and traditional margarine (80% fat) are similar with respect to their energy content, but low-fat margarine and spreads are also widely available.

  • Vegetable-oil spreads contain less than the 80 % fat by weight required in margarine, but this does not necessarily add up to them being more healthful than regular margarine.
  • Diet or reduced-calorie margarine though all of its calories still come from fat (about 45 % fat by weight), it is diluted with water, so it has half the fat and calories of regular margarine per tablespoon. It is not, however, suitable for cooking.
  • Butter-margarine blends are anywhere from 15 to 40 % butter. Thus they contain some of the butter’s saturated fat, as well as its taste.
  • Cholesterol-lowering spreads are brands of margarine that can actually lower total blood cholesterol by an average of 10 % when eaten in sufficient quantities daily. They are stated to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels without adversely affecting HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. These cholesterol-lowering spreads are intended to be taken in daily doses (each of them is slightly different) in order to have a beneficial effect.

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Lard is made from hogs fat, has solid consistency, white colour, about 98% fat content, and mild, pleasing flavour and odour considered desirable in bread, crackers, cookies (sweet biscuits), and pie-crusts.

Nutritionally speaking, lard has nearly one-fourth the saturated fat and more than twice the monounsaturated fat as butter. It is also low in omega-6 fatty acids, known to promote inflammation; according to lard enthusiasts free-range pigs that eat greens, not grains, have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Because lard contains more saturated fat than veggie oils, it doesn’t go rancid as quickly.

Lard is lower in saturated fat than other animal fats, it contains about 40% saturated fat as opposed to butter’s 60%, and higher in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—the type that gives olive oil its health halo. Lard is made up of 45% monounsaturated fat — compare that to only 32% in butter and 6% in coconut oil. Plus, in its natural form, lard has none of the trans fats that we know are bad for you. Making lard one of the best of the well-known solid fats.

With all these benefits, are there any cons to consuming lard? Some experts still believe it’s important to watch your saturated fat intake, as dairy and meat, even from pasture-raised animals, contain cholesterol. Getting more than 7% of your calories from saturated fat increases the risk for high cholesterol and heart disease, even though more recent research suggests this is not the case.

Experts go back and forth on lard. Health-wise, it’s no olive oil, but when you cook with lard, you get the bonus of adding extra Vitamin D to your diet, which no other fat except butter can claim (and it contains a lot more Vitamin D than butter). A tablespoon of lard from a pasture-raised pig has about 1,000 IU of vitamin D. By comparison, 1 tablespoon of butter has 9 IU of vitamin D, while the same amount of olive oil has none. In fact, lard is one of the highest dietary sources of vitamin D.

Lard does not last quite as long as shortening does. Refrigeration will help. Refrigeration is a good idea anyway because the pastry-like foods commonly made with lard will turn out best if everything (ingredients, rolling pin, work surface, bowls, etc.) is kept cold until baking.

Lard also just makes things taste better—there’s a reason your grandma used it in everything from pies to scrambled eggs. Just don’t fill up your deep fryer. Lard has a low smoke point. It’s a higher smoke point than olive oil or butter, but lower than veggie or safflower oil. But it can handle a 400-degree oven, and you can toss it in a sauté pan instead of butter to fry eggs or sauté veggies. And it’s tastyreally tasty. Its smoky, unctuous flavour is the secret ingredient in some of the best pie crusts and baked goods, and it can be used to baste chickens at the end of cooking to get a crackly skin, and confit chickens or ducks. It also has the reputation of producing ultra-flaky pastry crust. Lard is sometimes used in biscuits and pie dough, as it is very rich and makes an extremely tender, flaky crust. Lard is particularly important for traditional pie crusts, such as the one for apple pie. Substitution is not advised. Lard also can be used in roast potatoes. There’s no comparison in cooking beans with lard and cooking them with oil.

Larding is the process by which lardons (bits of lard) are injected into meat. This is sometimes done before cooking a tough piece of meat.

Types of lard that you can get at high-end specialty markets or online include:

  • Fatback lard is created by grinding and heating the skin and subcutaneous fat from, primary the back and sides of a hog. A process known as rendering.
  • Leaf lard is rendered from fat taken from abdomen and kidney region. Leaf lard is used especially in baking. Leaf lard is the firmest, least flavourful, and least aromatic of any rendered hog fats. The best lard considered to be minimally processed.
  • A product simply called “lard” is any fat rendered from a hog.

Cans of lard are available in grocery stores, but most of these products have been hydrogenated so they’ll last longer and are probably not what you want.

Bacon grease is lard. Same goes for fatty bacon, pork shoulders, and pork butts. Store-bought lard from the grocery store can’t compete with high-quality lard from a butcher.

That aside, if you’re ready to add lard to your diet, there’s an important caveat to its health benefits: Lard that’s sold solid at room temperature and doesn’t need to be refrigerated does contain trans-fat and likely less of the good-for-you vitamin D. Plus, it’s not nearly as good for cooking, commercial lard is “like poison”. Instead, consider making your own lard, which is very easy to make. Ask your butcher for back fat or leaf lard or getting a pasture-raised, organic cut of pork like bacon or pork belly and rendering it at home, which is as simple as slicing off the fat, cutting it up, and cooking it low and slow on the stove or in your oven. If you’ve been slow-cooking a pork shoulder (preferably with some cuts in the fat tissue to let the lard drain out) for a while or sizzling away bacon, the fat that has rendered in the bottom of the pan is lard. If the drippings are allowed to sit in a tall glass container, lard will float to the top. One tip: pour that fat through a very fine strainer to remove any burned, black flecks. Those burned bits can turn your lard. Be sure to allow enough time for the non-lard content to settle out; reheating may be required. Once settled, the lard must be refrigerated. Store in tightly sealed container in the fridge or freezer, and it can keep for months. Home-made lard can have a bit of a roast pork flavour, which is very good for making beans.

Made from: any part of the pig where there is a high proportion of adipose tissue.

Best for: can be used in everything from pies to scrambled eggs. You can toss it in a sauté pan to fry eggs or sauté veggies. It can be used to baste chickens at the end of cooking to get a crackly skin, and confit chickens or ducks. Lard is also used in biscuits and pie dough, as it is very rich and makes an extremely tender, ultra-flaky pastry crust. Lard also can be used in roast potatoes, and in cooking beans with it.

Not recommended for: Don’t fill up your deep fryer. Lard has a low smoke point.

Pros: Lard one of the best of the well-known solid fats. It is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and it boasts a punch of Vitamin D.

Cons: Lard is high in Saturated Fats.

Note: The best way to use it, as is true of most fats, is to use it in moderation!

How to store: Lard does not last quite as long as shortening does. Refrigeration will help.

Smoke point: 190°C (374°F)

45% MUFA

11% PUFA

40% saturated

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Ghee also known as Ghrita, is a class of clarified butter that originated in India. It is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, cuisine of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asian cuisine, traditional medicine, and religious rituals.

Ghee is made by slowly melting regular butter. The butter separates into liquid fats and milk solids. Once separated, the milk solids are removed, which means that ghee has less lactose than butter. The resulting ghee has a rich, nutty flavour, almost like popcorn butter.

Butter is made up of three components: fat, water, and milk solids, which house the proteins. Ghee is the butter without the milk solids. It’s simply the fat and water. It’s more concentrated in fat than butter because its water and milk solids have been removed.

Butter = yellow, milk solids = white. If you were to make clarified butter, you’d simply skim/strain off the white milk solids from the top. For ghee, keep heating the butter until the milk solids brown and sink to the bottom. Once they’ve sunk, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth. The remaining golden liquid is your ghee. It keeps much longer than butter, has a high smoke point, and you can cook pretty much anything with it (like searing meats or sauteing veggies). Ghee and clarified butter are similar cook-wise, but ghee adds a rich, nutty flavour. This makes your pancakes char-free and exceptionally tasty.

Because ghee and butter both derive from cow’s milk, their nutritional profiles and fat content are very similar. However, because ghee does not contain the same levels of dairy proteins as butter, it may be better for people who do not tolerate dairy products well. One of the best ghee benefits is that it’s free of lactose and casein protein. Some individuals have a milk allergy, which may stem from a heightened sensitivity to casein, and others may be hypersensitive to lactose. For individuals with a casein allergy, the reaction may include swelling of lips, mouth, tongue, face or throat; hives; or congestion.

Those with lactose intolerance have a difficult time digesting the milk sugar lactose, but symptoms are generally much less dangerous than a casein allergy. Symptoms of lactose intolerance may include bloating, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, gurgling and cramps. The majority of people who have sensitivities to either casein or lactose don’t have an issue with ghee, as these elements have been removed through skimming and straining. Often, those with dairy sensitivities can tolerate ghee (consult a doctor if you have a severe allergy).

Various research studies have looked at the possible benefits and risks of heart disease of including ghee in a person’s diet.

According to researches, ghee contains more than 60% saturated fat, which has led to concerns that ghee might increase the risk of coronary artery disease(CAD) in India.

However, other studies in north India suggests that the fat and cholesterol in the blood was healthier in the people who ate more ghee and less mustard oil as sources of fat in their diets. Results included lower LDL or bad cholesterol levels and higher HDL or good cholesterol levels. This study only compared results between ghee and mustard oil and not butter. Some forms of mustard oil are banned for consumption in the United States, Canada, and Europe because they contain erucic acid.

Ghee is full of fat-soluble vitamins and healthy fatty acids, and ghee benefits can range from building stronger bones to enhancing weight loss.

Ghee is rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 which can help balance hormones. It is also rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) — the essential fatty acid found almost exclusively in grass-fed animals which is now believed to protect against cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes. Others have found that it supports digestion, has shown promising results as potential food for decreasing risk of cardiovascular disease and can help with weight management. Vitamin K is essential to many aspects of health, such as blood clotting, heart health and brain function. It’s also incredibly important when it comes to keeping your bones healthy and strong. This is because vitamin K is directly involved in bone metabolism and increases the amount of a specific protein that is required to maintain the calcium in your bones. Ghee supplies a small amount of vitamin K but can make a big difference when combined with an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. Adding a few servings of ghee into your day is an excellent way to squeeze in some extra fat-soluble vitamins. Ghee can help boost your intake of vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K, all important nutrients that play a role in everything from maintaining healthy vision to keeping your skin glowing. Ghee is jam-packed with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid associated with a long list of health benefits. Some studies have found that CLA may be effective in reducing body fat, preventing cancer formation, alleviating inflammation and even lowering blood pressure.) Keep in mind that grass-fed dairy provides a higher concentration of this important fatty acid. Opt for grass-fed ghee whenever possible, or be sure to use grass-fed butter if you’re making ghee at home.

Ghee contains a fatty acid called Butyrate, or butyrate acid, which plays an essential role in digestive health. Some studies have suggested that it may help support healthy insulin levels, and provide relief for individuals suffering from conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It may also have anti-inflammatory effects like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and even certain types of cancer. However, this important fatty acid is also made by the gut flora when you eat fibre, a person does not need to consume saturated fat to obtain this. Additionally, some studies have suggested that butyrate may provide relief from constipation. A review out of Poland, for example, noted that butyric acid has been shown to reduce pain during defecation and improve peristalsis, or the contraction of muscles in the intestines, to help propel food through the digestive tract.

All in all, while you shouldn’t go chugging the stuff, it could be a good thing to incorporate into your diet, especially to replace butter or other cooking oils.

The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil begins to burn and smoke. Not only does heating a cooking fat above its smoke point put it at a greater risk of hitting its flash point and causing a fire, but it also breaks down important phytonutrients and causes the fat to oxidize and form harmful free radicals.

Ghee is an excellent choice for cooking because of its high smoke point and beneficial effects on health. The smoke point of ghee is 251°C (485°F), which is much higher than the smoke point of butter at 176°C (350°F). This means that you can easily use ghee for baking, sautéing, frying and roasting without the risk of destroying the important nutrients that it contains that provide all these wonderful ghee benefits.

It has a Strong, Buttery Flavour – By removing the milk solids and water from butter, ghee is left with a stronger, more intense flavour than regular butter. Its taste is also often described as nuttier, richer and deeper than butter. When you’re cooking with ghee, you may find that you’ll need even less to get that same satisfying, buttery flavour.

Ghee is generally used in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking for curries, dals, sautéing and for flavouring desserts. Treat ghee like any other cooking oil. Roast meat with it, stir-frying, saute vegetables, melt it over steamed vegetables, cook pancakes. Ghee can be used as a substitute for butter, and many people think that ghee might be a more healthful alternative for using in cooking. Use ghee for any cooking in a skillet like stir-fries, scrambled eggs, sauteed veggies, etc. Really just use it to cook however you like – you won’t have to worry about burntness – or add it onto bread, toast, crackers, muffins, waffles, popcorn, sandwiches, or other baked goods to replace butter. The possibilities are endless.

You can also make your own ghee from butter. A person can make ghee at home using regular unsalted butter. Melt the butter slowly and skim off the solids that gather on the surface. Continue to cook the butter until all the milk solids have sunk to the bottom and the liquid is clear — this is clarified butter. Continue to cook for a few more minutes until the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn brown. The cooked milk solids give the ghee its flavour and colour. Sieve the liquid into a jar or bottle and let it cool and solidify.

Studies have found that ghee may improve some heart health markers. However, make sure to choose dairy ghee and not vegetable ghee.

Ghee is made from butter and is not vegan. If you’re following a vegan diet, it’s best to stick to other healthy dairy-free fats.

In moderation, ghee can be an incredibly healthy dietary addition. However, it is possible to overdo it, and eating too much can actually have a negative impact on your health. Like any type of fat, if eaten in excess, ghee disadvantages can range from diarrhoea to indigestion. Long-term, an extremely high-fat diet may also result in issues like weight gain and heart disease.

Additionally, some studies have found that the cholesterol in ghee may oxidize when exposed to high heat. The oxidation of cholesterol is linked to several adverse health effects, including heart disease and even cancer.

However, if enjoyed in moderate amounts, most research indicates that ghee can make a nutritious addition to the diet. For best results, pair it with a balanced diet and other heart-healthy fats, like olive oil.

Potential adverse effects of ghee include an increase in LDL cholesterol levels and the formation of oxidized cholesterol during its production.

Since the milk solids have been removed, ghee is shelf-stable at room temperature (after all, there wasn’t refrigeration for most of our history). You can keep ghee in the pantry and it should stay good for months, unless you introduce extra moisture or ingredients – for example, spreading jam on your gluten-free toast and then dipping the same knife into the ghee, or swallowing a spoonful and then going back for more with the same spoon. If you use ghee sparingly and won’t get through it in a few months to a year, or don’t want to worry about ‘double-dipping’, you can store your ghee in the fridge. It will firm up in cooler temperatures but will soften if you take it out of the fridge a half an hour or so before you want to enjoy it.

It provides certain cooking advantages over butter and is definitely preferable if you have a dairy allergy or intolerance. However, at this point, there isn’t any evidence suggesting that it’s healthier than butter overall. Both can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

Made from: Ghee is made by heating butter to remove the milk solids and water. However, it is heated longer than clarified butter to bring out the butter’s inherent nutty flavour. LIke regular butter, it is usually made from cow’s milk.

Best for: Incredibly versatile and easy to use, ghee can replace other fats in your diet and can be used for roasting, sautéing or baking a variety of dishes.

Not recommended for: Ghee may be better for high-temperature cooking, but butter has a sweeter, creamier taste that may be more suitable for baking and cooking at lower temperatures.

Pros: It has a high smoke point, is free of lactose and casein, and is high in beneficial compounds like CLA and butyrate. It also contains several fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, E and K. Ghee benefits include improving digestion, reducing inflammation, promoting weight loss and strengthening the bones. Compared to butter, it has a higher smoke point, more intense flavour, and a greater amount of short- and medium-chain fatty acids — not to mention a host of ghee benefits.

Cons: Eating too much can have a negative impact on your health, like weight gain, diarrhoea, indigestion and heart disease. Additionally, some studies have found that the cholesterol in ghee may oxidize when exposed to high heat. The oxidation of cholesterol is linked to several adverse health effects, including heart disease and even cancer.

Note: While ghee should be limited, a person can occasionally include it in a varied and balanced diet.

Other uses: Use ghee in natural beauty care recipes. Ghee is still used in Ayurvedic massage and as a base for herbal ointments to treat burns and rashes.

How to store: Because its milk solids have been removed, it does not require refrigeration and can be kept at room temperature for several weeks. In fact, like coconut oil, it may become solid when kept at cold temperatures.

Where to buy: ghee is widely available at most grocery stores and health shops and can typically be found in the ethnic food section or next to other oils, such as coconut oil. You can also easily purchase ghee online from many major retailers or even try your hand at making ghee at home. Be sure to look for grass-fed, organic ghee whenever possible. You can buy ghee, just as you can buy clarified butter, but if you’ve got some butter on hand and about ten minutes of free time, there’s really no need to.

Smoke point: (depending on purity) 218- 251°C (425-485°F)

28.7% MUFA

3.7% PUFA

61.9% saturated

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Made by churning cream until it reaches a solid state, butter comes in sweet (unsalted) and lightly salted varieties as well as whipped and reduced-calorie versions.

Whipped butter, which is packed in tubs and comes sweet and lightly salted, has had air or nitrogen gas beaten into it, making it soft and easy to spread at refrigeration temperatures.

Reduced-calorie butter, with about half the calories of regular butter, has—in addition to cream—water, fat-free milk, and gelatin.

Butter has long been used as a spread and as a cooking fat. It is an important edible fat in northern Europe, North America, and other places where cattle are the primary dairy animals. In all, about a third of the world’s milk production is devoted to making butter.

It is solid but soft at room temperature and melts easily. Its colour is generally pale yellow but can vary from deep yellow to nearly white depending largely on what type of food the animals were eating. (Butter is typically paler in the winter, for example, when dairy cattle feed on stored hay rather than fresh grass). In the United States, vegetable colour can be added to commercial butter in order to improve yellowness.

Real butter does not contain any trans fats. However, it does contain high levels of saturated fat, which can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels and heart disease if not eaten in moderation. However, fats are essential for a healthful diet, a person should limit their intake of saturated fats and increase their intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are healthful fats. It is recommended that a person should get no more than 5 to 6% of their total daily calories from saturated fat, which is about 13 grams per day. Good sources of healthful fats include fish, nuts, seeds, and olives.

Butter contains more than just saturated fat. People are often surprised to learn that about a third of the fat in butter is actually monounsaturated—the same sort of heart-healthy fat that’s in olive oil and avocado. The same or similar is true of most animal foods, by the way. Although we tend to think of meat, eggs, and dairy products as containing mostly or only saturated fat, this is not the case. Up to half of the fat in beef is monounsaturated. Two-thirds of the fat in an egg is unsaturated. Ironically, the only foods I can think of that contain virtually all saturated fat is plant-based: coconut and palm oil.

It is recommended that anyone who is aiming to lower their LDL cholesterol should get no more than 5–6% of their total calorie intake from saturated fat. On a 2,000 calorie diet, this equates to 11–13 g of saturated fat per day. Therefore, two tablespoons of butter provide more saturated fat than most people should be consuming daily. Eating lots of saturated fats can increase a person’s LDL cholesterol level. As butter contains a lot of saturated fat, people with high cholesterol should be mindful of how much they consume each day. It is suggested replacing it with healthy fat alternatives such as avocados and olive oil.

Butter is a high-energy food, containing approximately 715 calories per 100 grams. It has a high content of butterfat, or milk fat (at least 80%), but is low in protein.

There are a lot of fat soluble vitamins in butter. This includes vitamins A, E and K2 and minor amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. If you’re eating a healthy diet that includes animals and plants then you are probably getting enough of vitamins A and E already—you’ll get more of both of these nutrients from olive oil. But vitamin K2 is fairly rare in the modern diet and many people don’t know about. Vitamin K2 can have powerful effects on health. It is intimately involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has been associated with many serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. Butter is one of the relatively few dietary sources for vitamin K2, a nutrient that is important for strong bones. Although, if it’s K2 you’re after, there are better sources, such as natto (a fermented soybean preparation common in Japan) and other fermented foods. Grass-fed butter may even reduce heart attack risk due to the high Vitamin K2 content. Make sure you get grass-fed butter to get the maximum health benefits. Organic raw grass-fed butter is the best option.

The colour of butter is caused by carotene and other fat-soluble pigments in the fat. Butter is full of beneficial short and medium chain fatty acids and CLA. All of which help support your immune system, protect your brain and keep you healthy.

Butter is an excellent source of the 4-carbon fatty acid butyrate, which can have various health benefits such as anti-inflammatory, and powerful protective effects on the digestive system such as anti-cancer effects, especially in the gut. The 4-carbon fatty acid butyrate is created by bacteria in the colon when they are exposed to dietary fibre. This may be the main reason fibre has health benefits for humans. So, one way to get more butyrate in your gut is to eat more fibre, which promotes the health of those bacteria. Another way is to eat foods that contain a good dietary source of butyrate, including butter, which is about 3-4% butyrate.

Grass-fed butter contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which has been shown to improve body composition in several studies. This fatty acid has powerful effects on metabolism and is actually sold commercially as a weight loss supplement. CLA has been shown to have anti-cancer properties as well as lowering body fat percentage in humans. However, some studies on CLA show no effect on body composition.

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are found in butter and other full-fat dairy products but also coconut and palm oil. Although you’ll see a lot about the health benefits of CLA and MCTs online, the research to support these claims has been rather underwhelming, so far.

Choline is an essential nutrient that has many important functions in the body, including synthesizing neurotransmitters and protecting neurons. The average intake for this nutrient is only about half of what’s considered to be adequate. Although butter does contain small amounts of choline, whole eggs, meat, fish, and cruciferous vegetables are much better sources.

Where your butter comes from (and how the animals were treated) do affect the quality of the product (including vitamin content). Regular or non-grass-fed butter contains significantly less, if any, of these nutrients. When looking for good quality butter, raw and cultured is best. This might be hard to find, however. Organic butter is your next best thing, with store-bought CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) butter being at the bottom. But even if you can’t afford (or find) quality butter, commercial butter still outshines the butter “alternatives” any day.

Butter should be used in low-temperature cooking since the smoke point is 150-190°C (302-375°F).

Butter is one of those foods that can turn bland meals into masterpieces. It is used as a condiment and for cooking in much the same ways as vegetable oils or lard.

Butter, with yellow colour, solid consistency, and about 80% fat content, is valued for its sweet flavour, pleasant aroma, and ability to contribute great tenderness to baked products. It is popular for speciality bread, cookies, and pastries and is rolled into doughs from which flaky and tender pastries, such as Danish pastry and puff-paste products, are made. Because of its high cost, it is used, alone or in shortening mixtures, mainly in higher priced baked goods.

It is fairly perishable, requiring storage at low temperature, and is not easily creamed (blended with sugar), producing cakes with lower volume and coarser grain than those made with more easily creamed shortenings.

Oils that are high in unsaturated fat but low in saturated and trans fats are heart-healthy substitutes for butter. These include avocado, olive, and sunflower oils. Some people use margarine in place of butter, but there is conflicting evidence regarding this replacement. Margarine uses vegetable oil, so it often contains less saturated fat than butter, which contains animal-based fat. However, hard margarine can also contain saturated and trans fats, so it is best to check the nutrition labels. It is possible to quickly compare the nutritional profiles of different butter alternatives. Looking at the nutritional information on food packaging can also help people make healthful choices. The aim should be to limit the intake of saturated and trans fats as much as possible.

Butter is high in calories and fat, so people should eat it in moderation or replace it with healthy unsaturated fats. Eating a lot of butter may contribute to weight gain and could play a part in raising levels of LDL cholesterol. A person can continue to enjoy butter in moderation as part of a healthy diet unless their doctor tells them otherwise.

While using small amounts of butter occasionally shouldn’t be a problem for most people, there are far healthier fats to be choosing. The clear, unequivocal evidence remains that it is better for our hearts to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats. Other sources of healthy unsaturated fats include nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado and plant oils, such as cold-pressed olive, avocado or canola oil. Consider avocado, hummus and nut or seed butter as good options for a less-processed, more whole food approach, or use no spread at all. Rather than focusing on specific foods (such as butter) or nutrients, it’s important for us to focus on the bigger picture – which is our overall dietary pattern. A heart-healthy eating pattern is based largely on minimally-processed foods with plenty of vegetables and fruit. It includes some whole grains in the place of refined grains. It also includes legumes, nuts, seeds, and other sources of healthy fats such as oily fish. It may also contain non-processed lean meats or poultry and/or dairy.

It’s true that some intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids is important to our health (take Omega-3 fatty acids for example), but excessive intake is actually linked to chronic disease. It’s really about balance. In fact, excessive consumption of these oils is actually linked to cancer, heart disease, damage to bodily organs, impaired growth and obesity.

Made from: by churning the cream from cows’ milk until it reaches a solid state

Best for: It is used as a condiment and for cooking. It is popular for speciality bread, cookies, and pastries and is rolled into doughs from which flaky and tender pastries, such as Danish pastry and puff-paste products, are made.

Not recommended for: Butter should NOT be used in High-temperature cooking since the smoke point is 150-190°C (302-375°F). Butter in small amounts is fine, but it may cause problems if you eat way too much (for example, by adding a few tablespoons to your morning coffee). Plus, it is not as healthy as extra virgin olive oil, which is the world’s healthiest fat.

Pros: Butter has substantial amounts of vitamins A, E and K2 and minor amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. It also contains carotene, short and medium chain fatty acids, butyrate and CLA. All of which help support your immune system, protect your brain and keep you healthy.

Cons: Real butter does not contain any trans fats. However, it does contain high levels of saturated fat, which can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels and heart disease if not eaten in moderation. Butter is a high-energy food, containing approximately 715 calories per 100 grams but is low in protein.

Note1: For a product to be called butter, it must be derived exclusively from milk and ingredients that are obtained from milk, including at least 80% milk fat. It may also contain water, salt, lactic acid producing microorganisms and flavour-producing microorganisms. When you see products in the grocery store that are packaged up like butter, or use words such as “butter-flavoured” without specifically stating the product is butter, it’s likely they have been altered in such a way that it no longer meets the content requirements above.

Note2: Make sure you get grass-fed butter to get the maximum health benefits. Organic raw grass-fed butter is the best option.

How to store: It is fairly perishable, requiring storage at low temperature.

Smoke point:

  • 150-190°C (302-375°F)
  • Clarified – 250°C (482°F)

21% MUFA


51% saturated

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Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

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Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



To drizzle or spread baked goods to decorate with a thin frosting.


The technique of making shallow incisions into meats or fish with a sharp knife for the purpose of either tenderisation or to insert herbs/spices into the flesh.

Indirect Grilling

Indirect grilling is a barbecue slowly cooking technique in which the food is placed to the side of the heat source instead of directly over the flame as is more common. This can be achieved by igniting only some burners on a gas barbecue or by piling coals to one side of a charcoal pit. A drip tray is placed below the food to prevent fat from the food igniting and generating a direct flame. Indirect grilling is designed to cook larger (e.g. pork shoulders, whole chicken) or tougher foods (e.g. brisket, ribs) that would burn if cooked using a direct flame. This method of cooking generates a more moderate temperature (about 135- 175°C/275-350°F) and allows for an easier introduction of wood smoke for flavouring.

Infuse (or Infusion)

To allow the flavour of an ingredient to soak into a liquid until the liquid takes on the flavour of the ingredient. Teas are infusions. Milk or cream can also be infused with flavour before being used in custards or sauces.


The technique of inserting thin strips of pork fat called “lardons” into lean cuts of meat using a larding needle. Similar to larding, with interlarding, the fat is left protruding from the surface of the meat whereas larding is achieved by submersing the fat wholly in the flesh.


Food such as meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables, wrapped around a filling such as cheese, cured meats, or nuts.


The process of exposing food to radiation, designed to eliminate disease-causing germs from foods.

Isinglass (or Fish glue)

A pure, transparent form of gelatin, obtained from the air bladders of certain fish, used in the production of glue and jellies. It is a form of collagen used mainly for the clarification or fining of beer. It can also be cooked into a paste for specialized glueing purposes.


A term used in cooking to describe either the inedible parts of an animal such as hair or skin.

Did we leave any out? What would you add to this list of culinary terms? Comment below!
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go to top

Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



A burrowing mammal closely related to the hare. Rabbit meat is very lean but since it is skinned before cooking, it absorbs more of the fat used to cook it.


A portion of the rib section of an animal usually containing eight ribs. The rack is either cut into chops or served whole as with a crown roast.


An Italian variety of chicory related to Belgian endive, sometimes known as Italian chicory, and is a perennial. It is grown as a leaf vegetable which usually has white-veined red leaves. The most common variety has a spherical head, reddish-purple leaves with creamy white ribs, and a mildly bitter flavour and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted. Served raw in salads, or cooked, usually by grilling.


In classic French terminology (French ragoût), it was used to describe anything which stimulated the appetite. The modern term refers to either a main-dish stew or sauce made from meat, poultry, fish, game, or vegetables cut into evenly sized pieces and cooked in a thick sauce, generally well-seasoned. There are two types of ragout; blonde and brown.


In Italian cuisine, a ragù (known as Raguletto in Oceania, Finland and South Korea) is a red meat-based sauce, which is commonly served with pasta.

Ramekin (or Ramequin)

A small ovenproof dish used for individual portions of baked or chilled foods. Ramekins resemble soufflé dishes and are usually ceramic or porcelain, between 7 and 8 cm in internal diameter and about 2/3 cup volume, used for individual servings. It’s also a casserole of baked cheese prepared in an individual baking pan.

Ras-el-hanout (or Rass el hanout)

A spice blend from North Africa, also known as “couscous spice”, which is a combination of up to 50 ingredients. It is used in many savoury dishes, sometimes rubbed on meat or fish, or stirred into couscous or rice. “Ras-el-hanout” means “head of the shop” (similar to the English expression “top-shelf”), because shop owners create their own unique blend and implies a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer, sometimes also including aphrodisiacs, but most commonly cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, anise, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, dried flowers, mace, and turmeric. It plays a similar role in North African cuisine as garam masala does in Indian cuisine. The mix is generally associated with Morocco, although neighbouring North African countries use it as well.


A thin slice of bacon or a serving of meats portion such as bacon or ham.


A popular stewed vegetable dish from the French region of Province, originating in Nice, ratatouille is popular among the entire Mediterranean coast as an easy summer dish. It is typically prepared as a stew with each vegetable, such as tomatoes, eggplant, onions, peppers and zucchini, being sautéed separately with olive oil, herbs and garlic before being layered into a baking dish and baked.


To bring a concentrated or condensed food, such as frozen fruit juice or dried food, to its original consistency, strength or texture by adding or letting it soak in warm water.


To decrease the volume of a liquid, usually a stock or a sauce, by simmering or boiling it rapidly to cause evaporation. As the liquid evaporates, it thickens and intensifies in flavour. The resulting richly flavoured liquid called a reduction, which can be used as a sauce or the base of a sauce. When reducing liquids, use the pan size specified in the recipe, as the surface area of the pan affects how quickly the liquid will evaporate.


To run cold water over food that has been parboiled, to stop the cooking process quickly, usually that of vegetables after being blanched, by plunging them into ice cold water.


To bring prepared food back to the correct temperature suitable for eating after it has already been cooked and cooled down.


A stock made from bones that have already been used once to make a stock. The stock is weaker than the first stock and is sometimes called “second stock”. It is sometimes used for water in making another stock or is reduced to make a glace.


To slowly cook, using a low heat, solid fatty meat or poultry, such as bacon or goose, by melting it over low heat to obtain drippings. This rendered fat can then be used to cook with.


A natural enzyme obtained from the stomach of calves or lamb. It is used to coagulate or curdle milk when making cheese.


To let meats set before serving so that the muscle fibres relax and allow the juices to be retained. Also used in baking to indicate placing dough or batter to one side in a cool place as part of its preparation.


A cut of meat taken from the rib section, between the short loin and the chuck.


A term used to describe the texture of an egg-and-sugar mixture, that has been beaten until pale and thick. When the whisk or beater is held up over the bowl, the batter falls slowly onto the batter, in a ribbon-like pattern, that disappears after a few seconds.

Ribbon Stage

The mixture is thick enough to leave a letter ‘O’ drawn on the surface for 10 secs when the whisk is lifted.


To force food that has been cooked through a perforated utensil known as a ricer, giving the food a rice-like shape.

Rice Noodles (or Rice Sticks or Rice vermicelli or Bee hoon)

Thin noodles, popular in Asian cooking, that are made from finely ground rice (rice flour) and water. However, sometimes other ingredients such as tapioca or corn starch are also added in order to improve the transparency or increase the gelatinous and chewy texture of the noodles. Resembling long, translucent white hairs, that can be cooked in a variety of ways. When fried, they puff into light, crisp strands. They can also be soaked to use in stir-fries and soups. Thicker varieties are called rice sticks. Find in Asian markets; substitute vermicelli or capellini for thin rice noodles, and linguine or fettuccine for thicker rice sticks. They should not be confused with cellophane noodles, which is an Asian type of vermicelli made from mung bean starch rather than rice.

Rice Papers

These round, flat, strong thin edible papers, made from the pith of a rice paper plant and water, are used for wrapping spring rolls.

Rice Vinegar

A mild-flavour vinegar made from fermented rice and comes in several varieties, each differing in intensity and tartness. In general, they are all fairly mild compared to European and American-style vinegar. Rice vinegar is interchangeable with rice wine vinegar, which is made from fermented rice wine. Seasoned rice vinegar, with added sugar and salt, can be used in recipes calling for rice vinegar, though you may wish to adjust the seasonings. If you can’t find rice vinegar, substitute white vinegar or white wine vinegar. Used in both Japanese and Chinese cooking. They can be used in dressings, marinades, as dipping sauces and condiments.

Rimmed Baking Sheet

Metal baking pan rimmed on all four sides. Used for roasting vegetables or baking chicken or cookies. A heavy one won’t warp and a light-colour metal will prevent foods from baking dark.


The thick skin or outer coating on some varieties of fruit cheese and meat.


The French word for “sweetbreads”.


A French term for foods that are fried until crispy and golden brown. Also, a small roll or croquette of minced meat or fish coated in egg and breadcrumbs, enclosed in a thin pastry and usually baked or deep fried. It is filled with sweet or savoury ingredients and is served as an entrée, main course, dessert or side dish.


A Spanish term for foods that are stung up on rope or twine, used mainly for drying chilli pepper pods or for decoration purposes. Ristras historically served as a functional system of drying chile for later consumption. Today, ristras are commonly used as a trademark of decorative design in the state of New Mexico, however, many households still use ristras as a means to dry and procure red chile.

Roast (or Roasting)

To cook a large piece of meat, fish, game or poultry uncovered with dry heat in an open flame, over a grill, or the radiant heat of an oven (by roasting), where the hot air envelopes the food to cook it evenly on all sides with temperatures of at least 150 °C (~300 °F). Roasting can enhance flavour through caramelization and Maillard browning on the surface of the food. Roasting uses indirect, diffused heat (as in an oven), and is suitable for slower cooking of meat in a larger, whole piece. Meats and most root and bulb vegetables can be roasted. Any piece of meat, especially red meat, that has been cooked in this fashion is called a roast. Tender pieces of meat work best for roasting. A roast joint of meat can take one, two, even three hours to cook—the resulting meat is tender. Also, meats and vegetables prepared in this way are described as “roasted”, e.g., roasted chicken or roasted squash.


A small deer common to German and East European forests. The flesh of young roebuck is delicate and dark red with no need for marinating.

Rolling Pin

A long cylindrical kitchen utensil of wood or other material mostly used to roll paste or shape and flatten dough. It can be used also to crush bread crumbs and flatten other foods. Two styles of rolling pins are found; roller and rods. Roller types consist of a thick cylindrical roller with small handles at each end; rod type rolling pins are usually thinly tapered batons. Rolling pins of different styles and materials offer advantages over another, as they are used for different tasks in cooking and baking.

Roll, Roll Out

To form a food into a shape. Dough, for instance, can be rolled (spread out and flatten) into ropes or balls. The phrase “roll out” refers to mechanically flattening a food, usually a dough or pastry, with a rolling pin.


A wide, shallow pan with straight sides and two loop handles and a lid, often used for braising, stewing, searing, oven roasting and poaching, usually only found in restaurants.

Romaine lettuce

A popular variety of lettuce with elongated, pale-green leaves characterized by their crisp texture and slightly pungent flavour that grows in a tall head of sturdy leaves with firm ribs down their centres. Unlike most lettuces, it is tolerant of heat.

Romano cheese

An American and Canadian term for a class of cheeses. In spite of the name, it should not be confused with genuine Pecorino Romano which is a typical Italian product recognized and protected by the laws of the European Community, a hard, salty cheese, suitable primarily for grating, from which the name is derived. Traditionally made from sheep’s milk, now made from goat and cow’s milk as well. Sold either fresh or aged. Similar but tangier than Parmesan.


A woody, perennial evergreen shrub of the mint family with fragrant, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, which grows in Mediterranean regions. Use with partridge, duck, poultry, lamb, veal, seafood and vegetables. A strong, aromatic flavour.


A style of roasting where meat is skewered on a spit. A small grill with a rotating spit – a long solid rod used to hold food while it is being cooked over a fire in a fireplace or over a campfire, or roasted in an oven – for cooking meats and poultry. It also refers to a shop or restaurant that specializes in broiled and barbecued meats where spit-roasted meats are prepared and sold, a restaurant or store that specializes in roasting chicken by turning it around slowly near a flame or rotisserie grill. This method is generally used for cooking large joints of meat or entire animals, such as pigs or turkeys. The rotation cooks the meat evenly in its own juices and allows easy access for continuous self-basting.


A round, thick slice of veal cut across the leg commonly used in roasting or braising, this cut is used to make Osso Bucco.


A roulade is a dish of filled rolled meat or pastry. Traditionally found in various European cuisines, the term roulade originates from the French word “rouler”, meaning “to roll”. However, the term may be used in its generic sense to describe any filled rolled dish, such as those found in maki sushi.


A French term that refers to a mixture of flour and a fat cooked to a golden- or rich-brown colour and used for thickening gravy, other sauces, soups, stews, and gumbos. The cooking time varies depending the on the type of the required. The three types of roux are blonde, brown, and black. The roux is used in three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: béchamel sauce, velouté sauce, and espagnole sauce. Clarified butter, vegetable oils, bacon drippings or lard are commonly used fats. It is typically made from equal parts of flour and fat by weight.

Rub in

To integrate hard fat into flour by rubbing the two together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Royal icing

Royal icing is a hard white icing, made from softly beaten egg whites, icing sugar (powdered sugar), and sometimes lemon or lime juice. It is used on Christmas cakes, wedding cakes, gingerbread houses and many other cakes and cookies, either as a smooth covering or in sharp peaks. Glycerine is often added to prevent the icing from setting too hard. When placing icing on cakes, Marzipan is usually used under the royal icing in order to prevent discolouration of the icing.

Did we leave any out? What would you add to this list of culinary terms? Comment below!
Add them to the comments below and we will update our ever-growing list, and be one of the first to see our updated list when you subscribe to Fast2eat !

Hungry for more?

Not registered yet? Register Now

Get personalized meal plans with recipes and shopping list in minutes.

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go to top

Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



See Zabaglione


A cut of meat consisting of the two loins from the rib section to the haunch or tail, most commonly from hare, rabbit, lamb, or venison.


Orange yellow in colour, aromatic, pungent, this spice is used to flavour or colour foods. Use in soup, chicken, rice and fancy bread. Saffron, long among the world’s most costly spices by weight, is native to Greece or Southwest Asia and was first cultivated in Greece.


Pungent herb used either fresh or dried that goes particularly well with fresh or cured pork, lamb, veal, poultry or vegetables.


A sauce usually made from finely chopped tomatoes, onions, chillies, and cilantro. It is often used in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine.


An ancient process of preserving meats, mainly pork and fish.


A hot or cold seasoned or flavoured liquid, cream, or semi-solid food either served with or used in the cooking process of a dish, designed to accompany food and to enhance or bring out its flavour. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavour, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsa, meaning salted.


The French term for a small sausage. Seasoned minced meat which is stuffed into a tubular casing and formed into links.

Saucisson (or Saucisson sec)

The French term for a large, thick, dry smoke-cured sausage that originates in France. Typically made of pork, or a mixture of pork and other meats, saucisson is a type of charcuterie similar to salami or summer sausage.


Finely chopped cabbage which has been salted and allowed to ferment until sour. It has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavour, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.


See Fry

Savoury (or savory)

The dried brownish-green extremely small aromatic leaves of a plant of the mint family; has an aromatic piquant flavour. Blends well with other herbs. May be used alone or in combination with other herbs in stuffing for meat, fish or poultry; egg dishes; sauces; soups; meatloaf and hamburgers; stews; beans; cabbage; peas; and tomato juice. Also, in cooking terminology, it describes foods that are not sweet, but piquant and full flavoured.


To pour over or immerse in boiling water for a short time in order to cook only the outer layer. Also, to heat a liquid, often milk, to a temperature just below the boiling point when tiny bubbles just begin to appear around the edge of the liquid or to sterilise kitchen equipment with boiling water.


To remove the scales from the skin of a fish using a dull knife or a special kitchen tool called a fish scaler. Also means weighing out all ingredients in a recipe.

Scallop (or Scalloped)

A term that refers to baking food, usually in a casserole, in (usually) a cream sauce or other liquid (for example, scalloped potatoes). Crumbs often are sprinkled over.

Scaloppine (or Scaloppini or Scallopini)

This refers to an Italian dish consisting of thin small boneless slices of meat, usually veal, although chicken may also be used, that is dredged in wheat flour, sautéed, then heated and served with a tomato-, or wine-sauce; or piccata, which denotes a caper and lemon sauce. These cuts of meat can also be called scallops, for example, veal scallops, or cutlets.


To cut narrow grooves or gashes or slits, often in a diamond pattern, partway through the outer surface of meat and vegetables to decorate it, tenderize it, help it absorb flavour, encouraging crispiness and flavour absorption or allow fat to drain as it cooks.

Scotch bonnet (or Scotty bons or Bonney peppers or Caribbean red peppers)

A variety of chilli pepper. Most Scotch bonnets have a heat rating of 100,000–350,000 Scoville units. For comparison, most jalapeño peppers have a heat rating of 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale. However, there are completely sweet varieties of Scotch bonnet grown on some of the Caribbean islands, called cachucha peppers. Found mainly in the Caribbean islands, it is also in Guyana (where it is called the ball-of-fire pepper), the Maldives Islands (where it is called mirus) and West Africa. Also called ‘Ata rodo’ by Yoruba natives of Nigeria.


To use a sharp or blunt instrument to rub the outer coating from food, such as carrots.

Sear (or Searing or Brown)

A technique used in grilling, baking, or sautéing in which the surface of meat quickly on all sides using high heat until caramelization crust forms on the surface. This helps seal in the meat’s juices and may be done in the oven, under the broiler, or on top of the range. This method increases shrinkage but develops flavour and improves appearance. This is often done before braising the food, to give it added flavour and is not usually intended to cook the food all the way through. It creates a thin layer at the bottom of the pan, which is deglazed and used for making sauces.

Sea Salt (or Bay salt or Solar salt)

This variety of salt is derived from the evaporation of sea water. Some cooks prefer it over table salt for its clean, salty flavour. However, there is little or no health benefit to using sea salt over other forms of sodium chloride salts.


To add an ingredient to foods before, during, or after cooking to enhance its flavour, but not taking away from the natural flavour of the food. The term also refers to coating the cooking surface of a new pan or grill with oil and then heating in a 175°C (350°F) oven for about an hour, this smooths out the surface of new pots and pans, particularly cast-iron, to prevent foods from sticking.


To separate and remove the membrane of segments of citrus fruits. To section oranges, use a paring knife to remove the peel and white pith. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, cut between one orange section and the membrane, slicing to the centre of the fruit. Turn the knife and slide it up the other side of the section along the membrane, cutting outward. Repeat with remaining sections.


To remove the seeds from fruits and vegetables.

Sesame Seeds

Versatile annual with sweet, nutty flavour used in appetizers, bread, meats and vegetables. Black and white sesame seeds are used whole as a garnish in a variety of Asian cuisines, ground into a paste, or pressed for their rich oil. To bring out their flavour, toast them briefly in a dry skillet.


A small member of the onion family which produces an edible bulb, with brown skin, white-to-purple flesh, and a flavour resembling a cross between sweet onion and garlic.


A cut of meat taken from the front leg of the carcass, though highly flavourful, extended cooking is required to break down the tough connective tissues.

Sharpening Steel (or Honing steel or Sharpening stick or Sharpening rod or Butcher’s steel or Chef’s steel)

A long, thin, grooved rod made of extremely hard, high carbon steel, diamond steel, or ceramic, used to keep a fine edge on a blade. They are flat, oval, or round in cross-section and up to one foot long (30 cm). The steel and ceramic honing steels may have longitudinal ridges, whereas the diamond coated steels are smooth but will be embedded with abrasive diamond particles.

Sheet Cake Pan

Often the term used to describe a 13 x 9 x 2-in. baking pan.

Short Loin

The most tender section of beef, it lies in the middle of the cattle’s back between the ribs and sirloin. It contains part of the spine and includes the top loin and the tenderloin. This cut yields types of steak including porterhouse, strip steak (Kansas City Strip, New York Strip), and T-bone (a cut also containing partial meat from the tenderloin). The T-bone is a cut that contains less of the tenderloin than does the porterhouse. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “a portion of the hindquarter of beef immediately behind the ribs that is usually cut into steaks.”

Short Rib

The large or top section of the rib cage that is cut into portions usually 2-3 inches long.


A cut of meat referring to the part of the carcass to which the front legs are attached.

Shred (or Finely Shred)

To push food across a shredding surface to make small, long, narrow strips. Finely shred means to make long, thin strips. A food processor or a grater may be used. Lettuce and cabbage may be shredded by thinly slicing them with a knife. Cooked meat can be shredded by pulling it apart with two forks.


A fortified wine that ranges from dry to sweet and light (pale amber) to dark (brown) in tint. Sherry can be enjoyed as a pre-dinner or after-dinner drink, and it is also used in cooking. Originally from Jerez in Spain.


Vegetable oil that has been processed into solid form. Shortening commonly is used for baking to make crumbly pastry and other food products or frying. Shortening is used in pastries that should not be elastic, such as cake. Plain and butter-flavour types can be used interchangeably. Although butter is solid at room temperature and is frequently used in making pastry, the term “shortening” seldom refers to butter but is more closely related to margarine. Store in a cool, dry place. Once opened, use within 6 months. Discard if it has an odour or appears discoloured.

Shrimp Paste (or Shrimp sauce)

A pungent seasoning made from dried, salted shrimp that’s been pounded into a paste. Shrimp paste gives Southeast Asian dishes an authentic, rich flavour. The salty shrimp taste mellows during cooking. In a pinch, substitute anchovy paste, though it’s not as boldly flavoured.


To remove the shells from seafood, such as oysters and clams, or the husks from corn.


To separate liquids from solids, to strain liquids or particles of food through a sieve or strainer. Press the solids, using a ladle or wooden spoon, into the strainer to remove as much liquid and flavour as possible. A sieve or sifter is used to separate and break up clumps in dry ingredients such as flour, as well as to aerate and combine them. A strainer is a form of sieve used to separate solids from the liquid.


To put one or more dry ingredients, especially flour, cocoa or powdered sugar, through a sifter; sprinkle, scatter, disperse or sieve to break up the larger parts, remove lumps or unevenly sized particles. The process also incorporates air to make ingredients like flour, lighter. Synonymous with aerating.

Silver Dragees

Tiny, ball-shaped silver-coloured candies.

Silver Skin

A tough connective membrane found on cuts of meat where they attach to certain bones and joints. The silver skin must be removed before cooking.


To cook food slowly in a sauce or other liquid over gentle heat that is kept just below the boiling point, but higher than poaching temperature; a liquid is simmering when a few bubbles form slowly and burst just before reaching the surface (bubbles form but do not burst on the surface of the liquid). It’s cooked slowly in liquid over low heat at a temperature of about 82-94°C (180-200°F). The surface of the liquid should be barely moving, broken from time to time by slowly rising bubbles.


The process of rotating poultry over a flame in order to burn off any feathers that remain after plucking.


The prime cut of beef taken from the upper loin between the short loin and the round, the section is divided into three cuts, the top sirloin contains part of the top loin muscle of the short loin, the tenderloin which is also a continuation of the short loin, and the bottom sirloin which has a portion of the sirloin tip from the round.


A long, narrow metal or wooden stick that can be inserted through pieces of meat or vegetables for grilling. If using bamboo or wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes before you thread them to prevent burning.


To remove impurities, whether scum or top layer of fat or foam, that has developed on the surface from a liquid (soups, stocks or sauces) when it is boiled, thereby resulting in a clear, cleaner-tasting final produce. The top layer of the liquid, such as the cream from milk or the foam and fat from stock, soups or sauces, can be removed using a spoon, ladle or skimmer. Soups, stews or sauces can be chilled so that the fat coagulates on the surface and may be easily removed before reheating.


To remove the skin from food before or after cooking. Poultry, fish and game are often skinned for reasons of appearance, taste and diet. Check out our cutlery section for scissors and skinning knives.

Slow Cooker (or Crock-Pot)

A countertop electrical cooking appliance that is used for simmering (cooks food with low, steady, moist heat), which requires maintaining a relatively low temperature (compared to other cooking methods such as baking, boiling, and frying), allowing unattended cooking for many hours of pot roast, stews, soups, “boiled” dinners and other suitable dishes, including dips, desserts and beverages. It consists of a lidded round or oval cooking pot made of glazed ceramic or porcelain, surrounded by a housing, usually metal, containing a thermostatically controlled electric heating element. This appliance uses up to 80% less energy than a regular stove. The slow cooker is also known as a Crock-Pot (a trademark often used generically).


To mix a powder, such as corn flour, with a little liquid to form a paste in order for it then to be mixed into a larger amount of liquid without forming lumps.


A flat, usually thin piece of food cut from a larger piece. Also the process of cutting flat, thin pieces.


A term referring to a mixture of flour and water, which is stirred into soups and sauces as a thickener.


To expose foods to smoke from a wood fire, using select woods, for a prolonged period of time. Traditionally used for preservation purposes, smoking is used as a means of adding natural flavours to food. Smoking tends to dry the food, kills bacteria, deepens the colour and gives food a smoky flavour. The duration of smoking varies from 20 minutes to several days. The most commonly used woods are beech, oak and chestnut to which aromatic essences are often added. Small home smokers are now available.


To cut food, often fresh herbs or dried fruit, with kitchen shears or scissors into very small, uniform pieces using short, quick strokes.

Soba Noodles

Made from wheat and buckwheat flours, soba noodles are a favourite Japanese fast food. In a pinch, substitute a narrow whole wheat ribbon pasta, such as linguine. In Japan can refer to any thin noodle (unlike thick wheat noodles, known as udon). Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup. Soba that is made with newly harvested buckwheat is called “shin-soba”. It is sweeter and more flavorful than regular soba.

Soft Ball

A term in sugarcraft and confectionary. A small amount of syrup is dropped into cold water and forms a soft, flexible ball, but flattens like a pancake after a few moments in your hand. The temperature on a thermometer would be 118-120°C (244-248°F). This stage is used for fudge mostly.

Soft Crack

When the sugar temperature reaches 132-144°C (270-291°F), the syrup will form hard threads that are still pliable and will bend before they break. Mostly used for butterscotches and taffy.

Soft Peaks

A term used to describe when egg whites or cream are beaten until thick and hold some shape but the peaks flop over softly when the whisk is removed. When the beaters are removed, soft peaks curl over and droop rather than stand straight up.

Somen Noodles

Made from wheat flour, these delicate dried Japanese noodles are very fine and most often white. In a pinch, substitute angel hair pasta. They are often served cold or in soups.


Any combination of meats, fish, and/or vegetables and spices cooked by simmering in stock, juice, water, or another liquid that produces a thick, smooth, or chunky consistency. Soup is primarily liquid food, generally served warm (but may be cool or cold). Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavours are extracted, forming a broth.

Sour Cream

A commercial dairy product made from pasteurized sweet cream, used as enrichment in a wide range of savoury and sweet recipes. The taste of sour cream is only mildly sour. Its extra acidity can boost the leavening action of baking soda in a quick bread.


A plant milk made of the liquid pressed from ground soybeans, soymilk can be a good substitute for cow’s milk for people who do not consume dairy products. Plain, unfortified soymilk offers high-quality proteins and B vitamins. Substituting soymilk for regular milk is possible in some cases, though the flavour may be affected. Experiment to see what is acceptable to you.

Soy sauce (or Soya sauce)

Asian seasoning and condiment usually made from a fermented paste of boiled soybeans, roasted grain (barley or wheat or other grain), brine (salt and water) and Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds. Chinese brands tend to be saltier than Japanese. Soy sauce is one of the world’s oldest condiments. There are critical differences between brewed and non-brewed soy sauces. Brewed soy sauce has a mellow, salty-sweet flavour, a subtle aroma and a delicate, transparent colour – qualities that enhance other ingredients. The harsh, salty flavour of non-brewed soy sauce is one-dimensional, masking and overpowering other ingredients. Soy sauce can be used in entrees, pasta, pizza, soups, salads, sandwiches and more. Soy Sauce can balance and intensify the salty, sweet and tart flavours of other ingredients, acting as a natural flavour enhancer.

Spare Rib (or Side ribs or Spareribs)

A variety of pork ribs or beef ribs, cooked and eaten in various cuisines around the world. They are the most inexpensive cut of pork and beef ribs. They are a long cut from the lower portion of the pig or cattle, specifically the belly and breastbone, behind the shoulder, and include 11 to 13 long bones. There is a covering of meat on top of the bones as well as between them.


A pointed rod on which a portion of meat or a whole animal is speared for roasting over or in an open flame.

Springform Pan

A round pan with high sides and a removable bottom. The base is removed by releasing a clamp (spring) that holds the sides tight around it. This makes it easy to remove food from the pan.

Steak au poivre (or Pepper steak)

A French dish that consists of a steak, traditionally a filet mignon, coated with coarsely cracked peppercorns and then cooked. The peppercorns form a crust on the steak when cooked and provide a pungent but complementary counterpoint to the rich flavour of the high-quality beef. Pepper steak (also called green pepper steak) is also a stir-fried Chinese American dish consisting of sliced beef steak (often flank, sirloin, or round) cooked with sliced green and/or red bell peppers and other seasonings such as soy sauce and ginger, and usually thickened with cornstarch. Sliced onions and bean sprouts are also frequent additions to the recipe.

Star anise (or Star anise seed or Chinese star anise or Badiam)

A spice that closely resembles anise in flavour is obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of the fruit of Illicium velum which is harvested just before ripening. Star anise oil is a highly fragrant oil used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpaste, mouthwashes, and skin creams.

Staling (or Going stale)

A chemical and physical process in which foods such as bread that reduces their palatability and become hard, musty, dry or leathery.


To cook a food in the vapour, on a rack or in a steamer, given off by boiling or simmering water in a covered pan. To cook in steam in a pressure cooker, deep well cooker, double boiler, or a steamer made by fitting a rack in a kettle with a tight cover. A small amount of boiling water is used, more water being added during the steaming process, if necessary. Steaming retains flavour, shape, texture, and nutrients better than boiling or poaching.


To allow dried food, such as coffee, tea, or spices, to soak in water (or other liquid) that is just below the boiling point in order to extract flavour and/or colour, or other qualities from a substance. Similar to infuse.


To destroy micro-organisms by boiling, dry heat, or steam.


A method of cooking by which meat and/or vegetables are barely covered by a liquid and allowed to cook for a substantial period of time, usually in a covered pot. The term also refers to a mixture prepared this way and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, onions, beans, peppers and tomatoes), meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used. While water can be used as the stew-cooking liquid, wine, stock, and beer are also common. Seasoning and flavourings may also be added. Stews are typically cooked at a relatively low temperature (simmered, not boiled), allowing flavours.

Stiff Peaks

A term describing the consistency when egg whites or cream are beaten until they form physical stiff peaks that hold their point after the whisk is removed. When the beaters are removed from the mixture, the stiff peaks will stand up straight.


To mix ingredients with a circular motion using a spoon or other utensil to combine them (until well blended or of uniform consistency), to prevent ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan during cooking, or to cool them after cooking.


(see Fry)


The strained clear flavourful liquid which meat, poultry, fish or vegetables has been slowly simmered with herbs and aromatic vegetables. Used as the primary cooking liquid or moistening and flavouring agent in many recipes. It is similar to the broth but is richer and more concentrated. Stock and broth can be used interchangeably; reconstituted bouillon can also be substituted for stock.


A fruit bread containing dried fruit and often covered with powdered sugar or icing sugar. The bread is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices. Stollen is a traditional German bread usually eaten during the Christmas season, when it is called Weihnachtsstollen (after “Weihnachten”) or Christstollen (after Christ) as well as Winterbrot (winter bread) when eaten during Jewish festivities, as it foreshadows the coming of winter.


To pour a mixture of liquid and solids into a strainer, colander, sieve, or cheesecloth in order to remove the solid particles. Sometimes the solids are pushed through the strainer with the back of a spoon or spatula and the resulting purée is mixed with the strained liquid and becomes part of the dish.

Strainer (or Sieve or Sifter)

A kitchen utensil with a perforated bottom used to strain liquids or semi-liquids or to sift dry ingredients such as flour or icing sugar or filter for removing impurities or foreign objects from liquids or to separate and break up clumps in dry ingredients such as flour, as well as to aerate and combine them. A strainer is a form of sieve used to separate solids from the liquid.


To fill the interior of foods with another preparation before or after cooking, often chopped or minced.


The white fatty casing that surrounds the kidneys and the loins in beef, sheep, and other animals. Suet has a higher melting point than butter and when it does melt it leaves small holes in the dough, giving it a loose soft texture.


A sweetener that’s primarily made from sugar beets or sugarcane. Sugar comes in a variety of forms:

Brown sugarA mix of granulated sugar and molasses. Dark brown sugar has more molasses, and hence, more molasses flavour than light brown sugar (also known as golden brown sugar). In general, either can be used in recipes that call for brown sugar, unless one or the other is specified.

Tip: To help keep brown sugar soft, store it in a heavy plastic bag or a rustproof, airtight container and seal well. If the sugar becomes hard, you can resoften it by emptying the hardened sugar into a rustproof container and placing a piece of soft bread in the container; the bread will absorb the moisture and soften the sugar in a day or two. After the sugar has softened, remove the bread and keep the container tightly closed.

Coarse sugarOften used for decorating baked goods, coarse sugar (sometimes called pearl sugar) has much larger grains than regular granulated sugar; look for it where cake-decorating supplies are sold.

Granulated sugarThis white, granular, crystalline sugar is what to use when a recipe calls for sugar without specifying a particular type. White sugar is most commonly available in a fine granulation, though superfine (also called ultrafine or castor sugar), a finer grind, is also available. Because superfine sugar dissolves readily, it’s ideal for frostings, meringues, and drinks.

Powdered sugar (or confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar) – The finest version of sugar which is powered form. This is granulated sugar that has been milled to a fine powder, then mixed with cornstarch to prevent lumping. Sift powdered sugar before using.

Raw sugarIn most of the countries, true raw sugar is not sold to consumers. Products labelled and sold as raw sugar, such as Demerara sugar and turbinado sugar, have been refined in some way. Cleaned through a steaming process, turbinado sugar is a coarse sugar with a subtle molasses flavour. It is available in many health food stores.

Vanilla sugarInfused with flavour from a dried vanilla bean, vanilla sugar tastes great stirred into coffee drinks or sprinkled over baked goods. To make vanilla sugar, fill a 1-quart jar with 4 cups sugar. Cut a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and insert both halves into sugar. Secure lid and store in a cool, dry place for several weeks before using. It will keep indefinitely.


Dark purple-red berries with a pleasantly fruity, astringent taste (similar to a lemon). They are very much present in Middle-Eastern cuisine, complementing everything from fish to meat to vegetables. Sumac is an essential component of the Fattouche salad. It is sold ground or in its dried-berry form.


To remove the flesh sections of citrus fruit from the membranes. Using a sharp knife, cut away all of the skin and pith from the outside of the fruit. Place the knife between the membrane and the flesh of one section and slice down. Turn the knife catching the middle of the fruit. Slice up, removing each section sans membrane.


Gently heating vegetables in a little butter or oil, with frequent stirring and turning to ensure emitted liquid will evaporate to aid the cooking process. They become soft but not brown, and their juices are concentrated in the cooking fat. Usually results in tender, or in some cases such as onions’, translucent pieces. If the pan is covered during cooking, the ingredients will keep a certain amount of their natural moisture. If the pan is not covered, the ingredients will remain relatively dry.

Sweetbreads (or Ris)

Pancreas (also called heart, stomach, or belly sweetbread) or thymus (also called throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) glands of calf (ris de veau), lamb (ris d’agneau), and less commonly, of beef and pork, located in the throat and near the heart that is prepared and served as food. The “heart” sweetbreads are more spherical in shape and surrounded symmetrically by the “throat” sweetbreads, which are more cylindrical in shape.

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Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



A Japanese dish of small pieces of marinated boneless chicken placed on skewers and grilled.


A leavening agent (used in bread and beer). It’s a tiny, single-cell organism that feeds on the sugar in the dough, creating carbon dioxide gas that makes the dough rise.

Three common forms of yeast are:

Active dry yeast – This is the most popular form; these tiny, dehydrated granules are mixed with flour or dissolved in warm water before they’re used.

Bread-machine yeast – This highly active yeast was developed especially for use in doughs processed in bread machines.

Quick-rising active dry yeast (sometimes called fast-rising, rapid rise or instant yeast) – This is a more active strain of yeast than active dry yeast, and it substantially cuts down on the time it takes for the dough to rise. This yeast is usually mixed with the dry ingredients before the warm liquids are added.

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Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



To completely coat food with a light, thin, even layer of sauce.


The ability of a liquid to coat the back of a spoon or the act of coating a food, such as a leg of lamb, with glaze.


Injecting fat or flavours into an ingredient to enhance its flavour.

New York Steak (or Strip steak or Sirloin or Strip loin or Contre-filet)

Beefsteak cut from sirloin; prized for its tenderness and flavour. The top section of a Porterhouse steak, which is a crosscut beefsteak containing part of the tenderloin and part of the top loin. The Porterhouse contains a “T” shaped bone that separates the New York Strip from the tenderloin. Unlike the tenderloin, the longissimus is a sizable muscle, allowing it to be cut into larger portions. Thicker in depth, the New York Strip is the larger section of the Porterhouse steak. Tender in texture, New York Strip can be grilled, broiled, sautéed, or pan-fried. According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the steak is marketed in the United States under various names, including Ambassador Steak, Boneless Club Steak, Hotel-Style Steak, Kansas City Steak, New York Steak, Top Loin, and Veiny Steak.

Nonstick Cooking Spray

This convenient oil-based spray that is applied to pans before baking (prevents food from sticking to the pan) reduces the mess associated with greasing pans. It can also help cut down on fat in cooking. Use the spray only on unheated baking pans or skillets because it can burn or smoke if sprayed onto a hot surface. For safety, hold pans over a sink or garbage can when spraying to avoid making the floor or counter slippery.


The French word for “hazelnut”, also a small round lean steak, usually of lamb or mutton, the cut from the rib or loin.


A family of chewy confections made with sugar or honey, roasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts are common), whipped egg whites, and sometimes chopped candied fruit. The consistency of nougat is chewy, and it is used in a variety of candy bars and chocolates.


Popular baking spice that is the hard aromatic pit of the fruit of the nutmeg tree. May be bought already ground or for fresher flavour, whole.


Used to describe food or dietary supplement that is believed to provide health or medical benefits as well as nutritional value, also known as a functional food. The term is applied to products that range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and herbal products, specific diets and processed foods such as cereals, soups, and beverages.


Dried seeds or fruits with edible kernels surrounded by a hard shell or rind. Nuts are available in many forms, such as chopped, slivered, and halved. Use the form called for in the recipe. In most recipes, the nuts are selected for their particular flavour and appearance; however, in general, walnuts may be substituted for pecans, and almonds for hazelnuts, and vice versa. When grinding nuts, take extra care not to over grind them, or you may end up with nut butter. If you’re using a blender or processor to grind them, add 1 tablespoon of the sugar or flour from the recipe for each cup of nuts to help absorb some of the oil. Use a quick start-and-stop motion for better control over the fineness. For best results, grind the nuts in small batches, and be sure to let the nuts cool after toasting and before grinding.

Did we leave any out? What would you add to this list of culinary terms? Comment below!
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go to top

Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



A Polish dish of de-boned stuffed meat, most commonly poultry or fish, that is poached in gelatin stock, pressed, coated with aspic, and served cold with aspic or its own jelly. Galantines are often stuffed with forcemeat and pressed into a cylindrical shape. Since deboning poultry is thought of as difficult and time-consuming, this is a rather elaborate dish, which is often lavishly decorated, hence its name, connoting a presentation at the table that is gallant, or urbane and sophisticated.


Flat, round cakes of pastry, often topped with fruit, or food prepared in, such as “a galette of potatoes”. Galette is a term used in French cuisine to designate various types of flat round or freeform crusty cakes, or, in the case of a Breton galette, a pancake made with buckwheat flour usually with a savoury filling. Of the cake type of galette, one notable variety is the galette des Rois (King cake) eaten on the day of Epiphany. In French Canada, the term galette is usually applied to pastries best described as large cookies. This terminology is also used in Brittany, context-providing differentiation with the Breton galette.


Any wild animal or bird that is hunted for the purpose of human consumption.


A rich cake or chocolate filling made by melting chocolate in heavy cream. The mixture is stirred or blended until smooth, with liqueurs or extracts added if desired. Butter is traditionally added to give the ganache a shiny appearance and smooth texture. When the mixture is completely cold it can be whipped to lighten it, then pouring it over chopped chocolate of any kind. Ganache (from the French word for “jowl”) is a glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream.


A strongly scented, pungent smelling bulb of a plant related to the onion used in cooking and medicine. Garlic clove is one of the several small segments that make up a garlic bulb. Elephant garlic is larger, milder, and more closely related to the leek. Store firm, fresh, plump garlic bulbs in a cool, dry, dark place; leave bulbs whole because individual cloves dry out quickly. This robust flavouring is available as garlic powder, garlic salt, garlic chips, garlic seasoning powder, and garlic juice, in a huge variety of dishes. In case using the convenient substitutes, such as a powder or bottled minced; for each clove called for in a recipe, use 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic.

Garlic press (also known as a garlic crusher in Australia and New Zealand)

A kitchen utensil used to crush a garlic clove efficiently by forcing them through a grid of small holes, usually with some type of piston, extracting both pulp and juice. Cloves do not need to be peeled, but the press must be cleaned right after using it, before any garlic fragments left in the tool dry. Some press models contain teeth that push any remaining fragments back out through the holes, making cleaning much easier.


To add visual appeal to a finished dish. To decorate a dish both with complementary attractive food, to enhance its appearance and to provide a flavourful foil. Parsley, lemon slices, raw vegetables, chopped chives, and other fresh herbs are all forms of garnishes.

Gazpacho (or gazpacho in Portugal)

A Spanish (originating in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia) dish of cold, uncooked vegetable soup made of raw vegetables, usually with a tomato juice base or meat broth, which typically contains cucumbers, onions, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Gazpacho is widely eaten in Spain and Portugal (spelling gaspacho), particularly during the hot summers, as it is refreshing and cool.

Gelatin (or gelatine)

A dry, translucent, colourless, brittle (when dry), flavourless ingredient derived from collagen made from natural animal protein (made of boiled animal bones and ligaments) used as a gelling agent that can thicken or set a liquid. Gelatin for recipe use comes in the form of sheets, granules, or powder. Instant types can be added to the food as they are; others need to be soaked in water beforehand. Gelatin is available in unflavoured and flavoured forms. When using, make sure the gelatin powder is completely dissolved.

Unflavoured commercial gelatin gives delicate body to mousses and desserts. Sold in envelopes holding about one tablespoon each of which is sufficient to gel about two cups. To dissolve one envelope of unflavoured gelatin: Place gelatin in a small saucepan and stir in at least 1/4 cup water, broth, or fruit juice. Let it stand 5 minutes to soften, and then stir it over low heat until the gelatin is dissolved.

Do not mix gelatin with figs, fresh pineapple (canned pineapple is OK), fresh ginger, guava, kiwifruit, and papaya, as these foods contain an enzyme that prevents gelatin from setting.

Some recipes call for gelatin at various stages of gelling. “Partially set” means the mixture looks like unbeaten egg whites. At this point, solid ingredients may be added. “Almost firm” describes gelatin that is sticky to the touch. It can be layered at this stage. “Firm” gelatin holds a cut edge and is ready to be served.


The edible trimmings from internal organs of poultry, or fowl, including the liver, heart, gizzard, and other visceral organs. Although sometimes packaged with the giblets, the neck is not part of the giblets. Giblets are sometimes used to make gravy.

Ginger (or gingerroot)

The fresh, pungent root of a semitropical plant that adds a spicy-sweet flavour to recipes. It may be found fresh, dried, crystallized or candied, ground or as a syrup. Ginger should be peeled before using. To peel, cut off one end of the root and use a vegetable peeler to remove the brown outer layer in strips. To grate ginger, use the fine holes of a grater. To mince ginger, slice peeled ginger with the grain (lengthwise) into thin sticks. Stack the sticks in a bundle and cut them finely. Ginger stays fresh two to three weeks in the refrigerator when wrapped loosely in a paper towel. For longer storage, place unpeeled ginger in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Ginger will keep indefinitely when frozen, and you can grate or slice the ginger while it’s frozen. In a pinch, ground ginger can be used for grated fresh ginger. For 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, use 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

Ginger, Crystallized

A confection made from pieces of ginger (gingerroot) cooked in a sugar syrup, then coated with sugar. Also known as candied ginger. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.


A muscular digestive pouch found in the lower stomach of poultry used to grind the fowls food with the aid of small stones swallowed for this purpose.


The French term for “glazed” or “frozen.” In the United States, it describes a candied food.


It is applied to a precooked or cooked surface to make it shine or to help it colour when cooked, such as an egg wash for uncooked pastry and an apricot glaze for fruit tarts. Used as an essence added to sauces to fortify their flavour. Savoury glazes are made with reduced sauces or gelatin; sweet glazes can be made with a thin sugar syrup, melted jelly or chocolate.


The technique of applying a glossy surface to food. This can be done by basting the food with a sauce while it is cooking or by putting a glaze on it and placing briefly under the broiler. To glaze cold foods, apply a coat of aspic, gelatin, or dissolved arrowroot.

Gorgonzola Cheese

A veined Italian creamy blue cheese. , made from unskimmed cow’s milk. It can be buttery or firm, crumbly and quite salty, with a “bite” from its blue veining. Other creamy blue cheeses may be substituted.

Grand Marnier

A popular commercial brand of orange-flavoured liqueur distinguished by its pure cognac base. It is made from a blend of Cognac brandy, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar. Aside from Cordon Rouge, the Grand Marnier line includes other liqueurs, most of which can be consumed “neat” as a cordial or a digestif and can be used in mixed drinks and desserts. In France, this kind of use is the most popular, especially with Crêpes Suzette and “crêpes au Grand Marnier”.


To rub food, such as hard cheeses, vegetables, or whole nutmeg or ginger, across a rough, serrated grating surface, usually on a grater, to make shredded very fine pieces. A food processor, fitted with the appropriate blades, can also be used for grating. Foods may also be grated in rotating graters or mills. The food that is being grated should be firm. Cheese that needs to be grated can be refrigerated first for easier grating. (See also Shred.)

Grater (or shredder)

A kitchen utensil with round, sharp-edged holes used to grate foods into fine pieces.


From the French word for “crust.” A term used to describe any oven-baked dish on which a golden brown crust of bread crumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter, or creamy sauce is formed. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish.


To coat a utensil, such as a baking pan, a cooking dish or pan or skillet, with a thin layer of fat or shortening, oil, or butter to prevent food from sticking to it. A pastry brush works well to grease pans. Also refers to fat released from meat and poultry during cooking.


Pomegranate-flavoured non-alcoholic bar syrup used as flavouring and sauce. Characterized by a flavour that is both tart and sweet, and by a deep red colour. It is popular as an ingredient in cocktails, both for its flavour and to give a reddish/pink tint to mixed drinks.


A special flat pan or cooktop designed to cook foods like pancakes and hamburgers. Some have long handles or two handles, non-stick, aluminium or cast iron. Consisting of a broad flat surface that may be heated using a variety of means and has both residential and commercial applications. In industrialized countries, a griddle is most commonly a flat metal plate, but in non-industrialized countries or more traditional cultures, it may be made of a brick slab or tablet. Often confused with grilling.


A device composed of parallel metal bars or wires on which meat is roasted; meat cooked on a grill; restaurant serving grilled foods.

Grilling (or Broiling)

To cook food on a grill or a rack under or over a radiant direct intense dry heat, such as gas, electricity, charcoal, or wood, as on a barbecue or in a broiler. The intense heat produced seals in the juices by forming a crust on the surface of the food. The grill or grate itself must be heated before the food is laid on it and must be constantly cleaned and seasoned with oil so that food does not adhere and the distinctive grill marks may show predominantly for presentation. The food can also be basted and seasoned.


To process by hand or mechanically to cut solid food into smaller tiny pieces, usually using a food grinder or food processor, for example, coffee beans or whole spices. Food can be ground to different degrees, from fine to coarse. A mortar and pestle is prefered by many Chefs and Pharmacists alike.


Coarsely ground hominy (corn with the hull and germ removed which has been boiled and then fried). It is commonly made by boiling ground maize (also known as corn) and served with other flavourings for breakfast or as a dinner side dish, usually savoury. It is popular in the Southern United States.

Gruyère cheese (or German: Greyerzer)

Variety of Swiss cheese with a firm, yellow smooth texture, containing numerous cells, small holes and a strong, tangy flavour. French Gruyère style cheeses include Comté and Beaufort. It is also known in the United States as Schweitzerkase.


The word gumbo is from an African word meaning “okra”. This creole stew consists primarily of a strongly-flavoured stock, meat or shellfish, such as shrimp, chicken, or sausage, a thickener, and the Cajun holy trinity of vegetables, namely okra, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers, and onions. It is thickened with a roux.


A Greek specialty consisting of meat and spices cooked on a vertical rotisserie, normally beef, veal, mutton, chicken or pork, or other alternatives such as feta or halloumi cheese, and usually is sliced and served in a pita or sandwich, with tomato, onion, and tzatziki (cucumber) sauce

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Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



To make crisscross lines on the surface of grilled or broiled food, as part of food presentation. The scorings are produced by contact with very hot single grill bars, which brown the surface of the food. Very hot skewers may also be used to mark the surface.


A French term for a cut of veal taken from the rump.


Literally meaning “four spices”, used mainly in the French cuisine, but is also found in some Middle Eastern kitchens. A finely ground mixture of generally ground pepper(white, black, or both), nutmeg, ginger, or cloves, used to season vegetables, soups, and stews. Some variations of the mix use allspice instead of pepper or cinnamon in place of ginger.


A poached dumpling (oval) made with a forcemeat of pork, beef, veal, chicken or fish bound together with fat and eggs, sometimes combined with breadcrumbs. The term is also used to describe the oval, three-sided shape commonly produced. Formerly, quenelles were often used as a garnish in haute cuisine. Today, they are more commonly served as a dish in their own right.


To quickly place a heated object in cold water. This is usually done to either stop the cooking process or to separate the skin of an object from the meat. This process is sometimes referred to as “shocking”.


A savoury main dish pie, open-faced pastry crust with a filling of savoury custard with cheese, meat, seafood, and/or vegetables. Quiche can be served hot or cold. It is part of French cuisine but is also popular in other countries, particularly as party food. Quiche lorraine is one variant.

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Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Watercress (or Cress)

A plant of the mustard family. The leaves have a moderately pungent taste and are used in cooking (especially in soups and salads).

Wax Paper (or Waxed Paper)

Translucent paper coated on both sides with a thin layer of wax to make it waterproof. It is used for lining baking pans and covering food in the microwave.


When liquid separates out of solid food, such as jellies, custards, and meringues.


To beat a food lightly and rapidly using a wire whisk, rotary beater, or electric mixer to produce expansion and incorporate air into the food and increase its volume. Often used to create whipped cream, egg whites, salad dressings, or sauces.


A mixing tool designed so its many strands of looped wire make it effective for beating allowing you to whisk an ingredient, this form of mixing incorporates a lot of air in a process such as whipping. The wires are usually metal, but some are plastic for use with non-stick cookware. Whisks are also made from bamboo. It’s also to beat ingredients (such as heavy or whipping cream, eggs, salad dressings, or sauces) with a fork or whisk to incorporate air or until smooth, well mixed and blended. A whisk or whisking action would be used in a recipe such as meringue where you would change raw liquid egg whites into a light, foamy and stable mixture.


A bowl-shaped and Chinese cooking pan used in Asian cooking for stir-frying, boiling and frying. Nowadays flat-bottom woks are easily available for use on an electric or gas range. It is one of the most common cooking utensils in China and also found in parts of East, South and Southeast Asia, as well as becoming popular niche cookware in all the world.

Wonton (or Wonton Wrappers)

A stuffed savoury Asian pastry. A type of dumpling commonly found in a number of Chinese cuisines. The wrappers, paper-thin skins used to make wontons, can be found in the produce aisle or in Asian markets. Wonton wrappers are usually sold refrigerated, so look for them alongside other refrigerated foods. Wonton wrappers are similar to but smaller than, egg roll skins.

Worcestershire sauce (or Worcester sauce)

A traditional English spicy sauce, seasoning or condiment composed savoury and aromatic fermented blend of many ingredients, including mainly water, barley malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, molasses, corn syrup or sugar, salt, anchovies, soy sauce, garlic, onion, tamarind extract, spices and flavourings. Popular as a marinade ingredient or table sauce for foods, especially red meats. It also helps flavour some sauces but should be used sparingly, as it has a very strong flavour. It is often an ingredient in Welsh rarebit, Caesar salad, Oysters Kirkpatrick, and sometimes added to chilli con carne, beef stew, hamburgers, and other beef dishes. Worcestershire sauce is also used to flavour cocktails such as a Bloody Mary or Caesar. Known as salsa Inglesa (English sauce) in Spanish, it is also an ingredient in michelada, the Mexican beer cocktail.

Did we leave any out? What would you add to this list of culinary terms? Comment below!
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Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Tabasco sauce

A brand of spicy sauce made exclusively from tabasco red peppers vinegar and salt. It is hot, so use judiciously; a few drops go a long way.

Tagine (or Tajine)

Refers to a Moroccan shallow earthenware cooking pot, and also a traditional Moroccan stew of meat or poultry mixed with fruits that are named after the earthenware pot in which it is very slowly cooked.

Tahini (or Tahina)

An oily thick and smooth paste made of toasted ground hulled sesame seeds, used in the Middle Eastern cuisine to flavour dishes such as Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and halva. A sweetened dark variety also exists. It can be found in health food stores and the ethnic section of most grocery stores.


Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root. It is native to the North Region of Brazil but spread throughout the South American continent. It is now cultivated worldwide. It’s the finely ground flakes of the tropical manioc plant’s dried, starchy root. Used as a thickener in pies, tarts, puddings and other foods. Check my delicious gluten-free recipes using it.


Fragrant, distinctively sweet herb used fresh or dried as a seasoning for vegetables, salads, chicken, light meats, seafood and eggs.

T-bone steak

A tender, flavourful cut of beef from the centre of the short loin (called the sirloin in Commonwealth countries) containing a short t-shaped bone and a small piece of tenderloin on each side. Porterhouse steaks are cut from the rear end of the short loin and thus include more tenderloin steak, along with (on the other side of the bone) a large strip steak. T-bone steaks are cut closer to the front and contain a smaller section of tenderloin.


The process of adding a small quantity of a hot liquid to a cold liquid in order to warm the cold liquid slightly. This is often done before adding delicate ingredients to a hot mixture, where their format may be affected. An example of this would be adding eggs to a hot mixture – in order to prevent them curdling or scrambling you would add a little of the hot mix to the eggs and incorporate before adding the eggs into the heated mixture. Another example would be adding a corn flour slurry to a hot mixture; a little of the hot mixture is added to the slurry to temper the temperature before adding the mix back to the main mixture. This process is used most in making pastry cream and the like. It’s also the process that takes chocolate through a temperature curve, which aligns the chocolate’s crystals to make it smooth, silky and creates a satisfying snap, shine and no streaks when you bite into it. Commercially available chocolate is already tempered but this condition changes when it is melted. Tempering is often done when the chocolate will be used for candy making or decorations. Chocolate must be tempered because it contains cocoa butter, a fat that forms crystals after the chocolate is melted and cooled. Dull grey streaks form and are called bloom. The classic tempering method is to melt chocolate until it is totally without lumps (semisweet chocolate melts at a temperature of 40°C (104°F) One third of the chocolate is then poured onto a marble slab then spread and worked back and forth with a metal spatula until it becomes thick and reaches a temperature of about 26°C (80°F). The thickened chocolate is then added back to the remaining 2/3 melted chocolate and stirred. The process is repeated until the entire mixture reaches 31-33°C (88-92°F) for semisweet chocolate, 29-33°C (84-88°F) for milk or white chocolate. This whole process can also be done in a simple double boiler or a stainless steel mixing bowl over a pot of hot water.


To make meat tender by pounding with a mallet, or applying a special enzyme substance (also tenderise), or marinating for varying periods of time, or storing at lower temperatures. Fat may also be placed into a piece of meat to make it tender during cooking.


Japanese style of grilling in which food is broiled or grilled, seasoned and basted with a marinade usually based on mirin (sweet rice wine), soy sauce, and sugar to form a rich, shining glaze.


Food substances used to give a thicker consistency to sauces, gravies, puddings, and soups. Common thickeners include:

Flour and cornstarch – All-purpose flour and cornstarch are starches commonly used to thicken saucy mixtures. Cornstarch produces a more translucent mixture than flour and has twice the thickening power. Before adding flour or cornstarch to a hot mixture, stir cold water into a small amount. You can also combine either flour or cornstarch with cold water in a screw-top jar and shake until thoroughly blended. It is critical that the starch-water mixture be free of lumps to prevent lumps in your sauce or gravy.

Quick-cooking tapioca – This is a good choice for foods that are going to be frozen because, unlike flour and cornstarch-thickened mixtures, frozen tapioca mixtures retain their thickness when reheated.

Tip: When using tapioca as a thickener for crockery cooking and freezer-bound foods, you can avoid its characteristic lumpy texture by grinding the tapioca with a mortar and pestle before adding to the recipe.


Fragrant, clean-tasting, small leafed herb, popular fresh or dried as a seasoning for poultry, light meats, seafood or vegetables.


A small round cut of beef taken from the end portion of beef tenderloin, often cooked with bacon or lard and is no more than 2½ cm thick and 5-6½ cm in diameter.


To cut ingredients, usually a vegetable such as carrots or potatoes into a barrel-like shape that forms six or seven sides on the length of the item being cut, using a Tourner knife, or a paring knife or a birds beak knife


To remove the parts of food that are not needed for preparation.


A type of edible lining from the stomachs of various farm animals used in cooking.


The hoof or foot of an animal that is used in cooking.


To tie meat, game or poultry, such as turkey with a string, pins or skewers, woven through the bird parts by using a needle, for the purpose of holding the legs and sometimes the wings in place during cooking and to create a more compact shape before cooking.


The process of browning, crisping, or drying a food by exposing it to heat. Toasting coconut, nuts, and seeds help develop their flavour. Also the result of exposing a slice of bread to radiant heat so it becomes browner, crisper, and drier, altering the flavour of the bread as well as making it firmer so that it is easier to spread toppings on it. Toasting is a common method of making stale bread more palatable. Bread is often toasted using a toaster, an electrical appliance with heating elements. Toaster ovens are also used for toasting bread.

Tomatoes, Dried

Sometimes referred to as sun-dried tomatoes, these shrivelled-looking tomato pieces boast an intense flavour and chewy texture. They’re available packed in olive oil or dry. For rehydrating store bought dry tomatoes cover with boiling water, let stand about 10 minutes or until pliable, then drain well and pat dry. Snip pieces with scissors if necessary. Generally, dry and oil-packed tomatoes can be used interchangeably, though the dry tomatoes will need to be rehydrated, and the oil-packed will need to be drained and rinsed. Make your own dried tomatoes following my recipes.

Tomato sauce

Refers to any of a very large number of sauces made primarily from tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish (rather than as a condiment). Tomato sauces are common for meat and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes.

Tortell (or Gâteau des Rois)

A Catalan and Occitan pastry typically O-shaped, usually stuffed with marzipan or whipped cream, that on some special occasions is topped with glazed fruit. It is traditionally eaten on January 6 (Epiphany), at the conclusion of the Twelve Days of Christmas. This is also known as the day of the Three Wise Men according to the Catholic liturgical calendar.


Small, thin, flatbread made from cornmeal or wheat flour. Popular in Mexican cooking, tortillas are usually wrapped around a filling. To warm and soft flour tortillas, wrap a stack of 8 to 10 in foil and heat in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 10 minutes. A flour tortilla (or wheat tortilla to differentiate it from other uses of the word tortilla, which in Spanish means “small torta”, or “small cake”) is a type of soft, thin flatbread made from finely ground wheat flour. Originally derived from the corn tortilla, a bread of maize which predates the arrival of Europeans to the Americas, the wheat flour tortilla was an innovation by exiled Spanish Jews who did not consider cornmeal to be kosher, using wheat brought from Europe, while this region was the colony of New Spain. It is made with unleavened, water-based dough, pressed and cooked like corn tortillas. In Spanish, the word “tortilla”, without qualification, has different meanings in different regions. In Spain it is a Spanish omelette of eggs and potatoes (and an omelette without potatoes is a “tortilla francesa”, French tortilla); in Mexico and Central America it is a corn tortilla, and in many other places a flour tortilla.


To mix ingredients lightly by lifting, gently turning over and dropping them using two utensils until blended.


Species of fungus that grows below the ground that are edible; used as a garnish. Some of the truffle species are highly prized as food called truffles “the diamond of the kitchen”. Edible truffles are held in high esteem in French, Georgian, Greek, Italian, Croatian, Middle Eastern and Spanish cooking, as well as in international. It’s also a very rich chocolate candy.


To bind the legs and wings of a bird to its body for roasting with string or skewers so it will hold its even shape so that none of the extremities dries out during cooking.


A rhizome that is often dried and ground belonging to the ginger family. It is often used to spice and colour dishes (bright yellow). It is used in several ways (in a seasoning such as curry, a yellow dye, and as a medicine) mainly in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking. Turmeric is somewhat medicinal in aroma and should be used with restraint. Used primarily in pickling.


A Greek sauce served with grilled meats or as a dip. Tzatziki is made of strained yoghurt (usually from sheep or goat milk) mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sometimes dill. American versions may include lemon juice, mint, or parsley.

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