The complete glossary of culinary terms – N

The complete glossary of culinary terms – N

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included? You’re not alone if you’ve ever found yourself lost in a restaurant menu or need clarification on a recipe. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say, “Huh?” The culinary world is full of unique terms, jargon, and words and techniques that can be challenging to understand and master. That’s where the complete glossary of culinary terms comes in. This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the world of cooking and help you easily navigate complex recipes. This glossary covers everything from ingredients and cooking methods to equipment and kitchen jargon. It provides all the essential knowledge you need to navigate the world of cooking. Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or just starting in the kitchen, this guide is a must-have tool for expanding your culinary skills and knowledge. So grab your apron and get ready to elevate your cooking endeavours with the Fast2eat complete glossary of culinary terms.

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Here is a glossary of culinary terms starting with the letter N


Nap is to thoroughly coat food with a light, thin, even layer of sauce or liquid, typically for added flavour or presentation.


Nappe is a thin layer of sauce or liquid spread over a dish’s top, typically to add flavour and moisture. It is the act of coating a food, such as a leg of lamb, with glaze.
Nappe also describes a sauce’s thickness consistency; this is usually observed in the ability of a liquid to coat the back of a spoon.


Neapolitan is a type of ice cream originating in Naples, Italy. It is characterized by its three layers of different flavours, typically consisting of the classic combination of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavours in ice cream.


Needling refers to the process of piercing or pricking a food item, such as a meat or vegetable, to create small holes or punctures in it. This technique is often used to improve the texture and flavour of the food, allowing for better seasoning and browning during cooking. It is the process of 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)

New York Steak is a cut of beef from the animal’s short loin section. It is considered a prime cut of meat and is prized for its marbling, which adds rich flavour and tenderness. It is often served as a premium cut in high-end restaurants. Tender in texture, the New York Strip can be grilled, broiled, sautéed, or pan-fried.


Nigiri refers to Japanese sushi consisting of a small ball of rice topped with a slice of raw or cooked fish or other ingredient, often held together with a strip of seaweed. The rice is typically seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to give it a unique flavour and texture. Nigiri is often served with a side of wasabi and pickled ginger to enhance the flavours.


Non-stick refers to the ability of a cooking surface or pan to prevent food from sticking or burning. Non-stick pans and surfaces are coated with a layer of material, such as Teflon, that reduces friction and makes food release easily, making cooking and cleaning easier.

Nonstick Cooking Spray

Nonstick cooking spray is a convenient oil-based spray applied to pans before baking (it prevents food from sticking to the pan). It 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. Nonstick cooking spray is commonly used in cooking techniques such as frying, sautéing, and baking to prevent food from sticking and make cleanup easier.


Noisette is the French word for “hazelnut”.

Noisette meat

Noisette meat is a small, round, lean and flavoursome steak cut from the rib or loin, usually of lamb or mutton. It is a small medallion made from the eye muscle of the lamb’s loin in the lumbar region, also known as the saddle.


Noodle is a long, thin strip of pasta or unleavened dough, often made from wheat flour, water, and salt. It is used in various cuisines. Noodles can be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried and are commonly used in soups, stir-fries, and salads. They can also be served as a main course or side dish.

Noodle soup

Noodle soup is a dish made with a broth or liquid base, typically meat or vegetable-based, and served with noodles, such as rice noodles, egg noodles, or udon noodles, and various ingredients like meats, vegetables, and herbs. The noodles are cooked in the broth, creating a hearty and comforting dish to serve as a main course or side dish. It is often found in Asian cuisines like Vietnamese pho or Japanese ramen.


Nougat is a sweet, chewy confection made from sugar, honey, roasted nuts (usually almonds), and sometimes egg whites. It’s commonly found in candy bars or desserts and often used as a topping for cakes, ice cream, or other desserts. Nougat has a smooth, creamy texture and a rich, caramel-like flavour. The consistency of nougat is chewy, and it is used in a variety of candy bars and chocolates.

Nouvelle cuisine

Nouvelle cuisine refers to a style of cooking that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, characterized by a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients and a rejection of traditional French techniques and methods. It emphasizes lighter, more delicate flavours and innovative dishes focusing on presentation, often using minimal sauces and bold, vibrant colours.

Nut butter

Nut butter is a spread made from ground nuts, typically peanuts, almonds, or cashews. It can be used as a base for sauces, marinades, and dressings or as a topping for bread, crackers, and fruit. Nut butters are rich in healthy fats, protein, and flavour, making them a versatile and delicious addition to many dishes.


Nutmeg is a warm, aromatic spice commonly used in baked goods like pies and cakes and in savoury dishes like stews and soups. It adds a subtle, slightly sweet flavour and can be used to enhance the flavours of other spices. Nutmeg is also a popular ingredient in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It may be bought already ground or for fresher flavour, whole.


Nutraceutical is a food or dietary supplement believed to provide health or medical benefits and nutritional value, also known as a functional food. Examples include omega-3-rich fish oil, probiotic-rich yogurt, and antioxidant-rich berries. These foods can help support overall health and wellness. They may be used in cooking and recipes to enhance their nutritional value. 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.


Nuts refer to edible seeds from trees, such as almonds, walnuts, and pecans. They are 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. They are often used as a garnish or added to dishes for flavour, texture, and nutrition. Nuts are high in healthy fats, protein, and fibre, making them popular in many recipes.
In most recipes, the nuts are selected for their particular flavour and appearance; walnuts may be generally substituted for pecans, and almonds for hazelnuts, and vice versa.
When grinding nuts, take extra care not to overgrind them, or you may end up with nut butter. If you’re using a blender or processor to grind them, add one 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 let the nuts cool after toasting and before grinding.


This is not an exhaustive list, but it covers a variety of culinary terms.
Did we leave any out? What would you add to this list of culinary terms?
If you need more terms or have any other questions, please ask in the comments, and we will update our ever-growing list.


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