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
Habanero (or Habañero)
An extremely hot chilli pepper from Mexico and the Caribean. It is light green (unripe), orange or red, but white, brown, yellow, and pink are also seen, and it’s also available as a dried habanero powder! Typically, ripe habanero chilli is long. Caution, it is extremely hot, rated 100,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale.
A mixture of equal parts cream and milk. It has about 12 % (10% to 18%) milk fat and cannot be whipped.
Hard ball stage occurs at 121-131°C (250-270°F). This stage can be determined by dropping a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of cold water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. This stage is required for nougat.
At this stage syrup dropped into ice water separates into hard, brittle threads that break when bent. The temperature will be 148-154 °C (300-310°F) and this stage is used for most candies such as lollipops and brittles.
A game animal belonging to the family of rabbit, but larger and possessing a dark flesh. Mountain varieties have a more delicate flavour than that of the plains hare.
French for “tiny and slender green string beans”, these beans are particularly thin and tender. Green beans, also known as string beans, or snap beans in the northeastern and western United States, are the unripe fruit and protective pods of various cultivars of the common bean.
A Maghrebian aromatic hot chilli pepper sauce or paste made from a variety of roasted red peppers, Baklouti pepper, serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, or caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil for preservation, often used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking.
A dish of finely chopped meats & vegetables (usually leftovers are used) combined with seasonings and sautéed until golden brown.
Haute Cuisine (or Grande cuisine)
A French term (literally “high cooking”) used to describe fine cuisine, gourmet cooking, food that is presented in an elegant or elaborate manner, perfectly prepared, or of the highest quality. The cuisine of “high level” establishments, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels. Haute cuisine is characterized by meticulous preparation and careful presentation of food, at a high price level, accompanied by expensive wines.
Also called heavy whipping cream. Heavy cream contains 35-46% milk fat and is the richest cream available. It can be whipped to twice its volume.
A young cow between eight and twenty months of age. Resulting from the improvements in raising dairy cattle and overcapacity thereof, an increasing number of heifers are being slaughtered for beef rather than being kept for milk. Equal to veal in most respects, the meat and offal are of good quality.
Any of a variety of aromatic plants very used in cookery, not only the season hot dishes but also used in salads or as a vegetable by themselves. In previous times, the term “herbs” once included all plants and vegetables that grew above ground, those growing below ground were considered “roots”. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs refer to the leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while a “spice” is a product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits.
Some example of herbs, spices and seasonings are:
- Beau Monde® Seasoning Salt
- Cayenne Pepper
- Cilantro (or Fresh Coriander or Chinese parsley)
- Coriander (or Cilantro or Chinese parsley)
- Curry Powder
- Fine Herbes
- Five Spice Chinese Powder
- Herbes de Provence
- Juniper Berries
- Lemon balm
- Mei Yen Seasoning
- Pine Nuts
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Savoury (or savory)
- Sesame Seeds
- Soy Sauce
- Star anise
- Watercress (or Cress)
- Worcestershire Sauce
Herbes de Provence
Is a mixture of dried herbs typical of Provence, used to flavour grilled foods, as well as stews. Typically it contains savoury, fennel, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and other herbs.
A small cut of meat from the lower portion of an animal’s leg, the area just above the foot. In relation to the ankle of a human.
Hog Jowl (or Pork jowl or Jowl bacon or Guanciale)
Pork jowl (alternately called jowl bacon or, especially in the Southern United States, hog jowl) is cured and smoked cheeks of pork (hog), usually only found in the south. It is similar in most respects to bacon and used to flavour stews, baked beans and the like. Hog jowl is a staple of soul food, but is also used outside the United States; the Italian variant is called guanciale.
The stomach of a pig, commonly stuffed with a forcemeat mixture or used in soups or stews. More specifically, it is the exterior muscular wall of the stomach organ (with the interior, lining mucosa removed) which contains no fat if cleaned properly. It can be found in soul food, Chinese, Pennsylvania Dutch, Mexican, Portuguese and Italian dishes. In addition, it can be prepared in various ways including stewed, fried, baked, and broiled.
HP Sauce is a brown sauce originally produced by HP Foods in the United Kingdom. It is named for the Houses of Parliament. HP Sauce has a malt vinegar base, blended with tomato, dates, tamarind extract, sweetener and spices. It usually is used as a condiment with hot or cold food, or as an ingredient in soups or stews.
The French word for “oil”, usually referring to cooking oil.
A sauce popular in Asian cooking that contributes a multitude of sweet and spicy flavours. Although regional variants exist, hoisin sauce usually includes fermented soybeans, red chillies, molasses, mustard, sesame seeds, and garlic. Vinegar, Chinese five spice and sugar are also commonly added. Look for hoisin sauce alongside the soy sauce in most supermarkets or in Asian markets. Hoisin sauce is a thick, pungent sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir-fries, or as a dipping sauce. It is darkly coloured in appearance and sweet and salty in taste. The word hoisin is from the Chinese word for seafood, but the sauce does not contain any seafood ingredients.
Dried maize (white or yellow corn) kernels that have been soaked in lime or lye to remove the hull and germ, a process called nixtamalization, in which the grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled. The term can also refer to the removal via an alkali process of the pericarp from other grains such as sorghum. It is available canned or dried. Ground hominy is used to make grits.
To create an emulsion by reducing all the particles to the same size. The fat globules are broken down mechanically until they are evenly distributed throughout the liquid. Homogenized milk and some commercial salad dressings are two examples of homogenized foods.
Hondashi® is a Bonito fish-based seasoning for those who like to make the preparations even tastier, also stimulating a balanced and flavourful diet. Hondashi® guarantees the authentic taste of fish to the preparations and can be used in the most varied recipes with fish, seafood, oriental recipes, and fish-based broths, giving a delicious and full-bodied flavour!
A thick, sticky sweetener that’s produced by bees from floral nectar. Honey is available in more than 300 varieties. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to, as it is the type of honey collected by most beekeepers and consumed by people. Honey is also produced by bumblebees, stingless bees, and other hymenopteran insects such as honey wasps, though the quantity is generally lower and they have slightly different properties compared to honey from the genus Apis. Honey bees convert nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. They store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Its flavour depends on the flowers from which the honey is derived; most honey is made from clover, but other sources include lavender, thyme, orange blossom, apple, cherry, buckwheat, and tupelo. Generally, the lighter the colour, the milder the flavour. Store honey at room temperature in a dark place. If it crystallizes (becomes solid), reliquefy it by warming the honey jar slightly in the microwave oven or in a pan of very hot tap water. If the honey smells or tastes strange, toss it out. Note that honey should not be given to children who are younger than 1 year old because it can contain trace amounts of botulism spores. These spores could trigger a potentially fatal reaction in children with undeveloped immune systems.
Hors d’oeuvre (or Appetizer, or Starter)
French term for a small, hot or cold portion of savoury food served before a meal as an appetizer. Hors d’oeuvres may be served at the dinner table as a part of the meal or they may be served before seating. Formerly, hors d’oeuvres were also served between courses.
Pungent-hot-tasting root, a member of the mustard family. It is a root vegetable used as a spice sold fresh and whole or already grated and bottled as a prepared sauce. Now available in dehydrated form.
Huevos rancheros (“rancher’s eggs”) is a popular breakfast dish comprising eggs served in the style of the traditional large mid-morning fare on rural Mexican farms. Served in several ways, but generally is a fried egg on a corn tortilla and topped with a special green chile sauce with onions and tomatoes. Sometimes served with red or green enchilada sauce and garnished with lettuce and cheese.
Refers to the husk, shell or external covering of a fruit. More specifically, it is the leafy green part of a strawberry.
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