A Comprehensive Glossary of Culinary Terms – O

A Comprehensive Glossary of Culinary Terms – O

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



The French term for egg.

Oignon Brule

Literally meaning “burnt onion,” a culinary term for a half-peeled onion seared on a skillet.


Primarily refers to the byproducts of meat and poultry plants. Also called variety meats or organ meats, they are the edible internal parts, entrails and some extremities of a carcass. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, which varies by culture and region, but includes most internal organs excluding muscle and bone. Offal is divided into two categories, white and red. Red – Kidneys, heart, liver, tongue, liver, and spleen; White – Bone marrow, testicles, sweetbreads, stomach, mesentery, and the head. Some cultures shy away from offal as food, while others use it as everyday food, or in delicacies. Certain offal dishes—including foie gras, pâté and sweetbread are considered gourmet food in international cuisine. Others remain part of traditional regional cuisine and may be consumed especially in connection with holidays. This includes Scottish haggis, Jewish chopped liver, Southern U.S. chitterlings, Mexican menudo as well as many other dishes. Intestines are traditionally used as casing for sausages.


Cooking oil is a plant, animal, or synthetic fat used in frying, baking, and other types of cooking. It is also used in food preparation and flavouring not involving heat, such as salad dressings and bread dips, and in this sense might be more accurately termed edible oil. Oil can be flavoured with aromatic foodstuffs such as herbs, chillies or garlic. While certain oils provide a health boost, others should be used with caution. Choose oils wisely. Peanut oil, cashew oil and other nut-based oils may present a hazard to persons with a nut allergy. See the guide to the different types of oils available, their health benefits, and what they are best used for.

Olive Paste

A spread made with pureed olives and olive oil. Prepared olive paste, imported from Italy, France or Greece, is available at gourmet and specialty stores. The homemade version is made by finely chopping, crushing or blending good quality pitted olives (e.g. Kalamata), then adding olive oil until the mixture becomes a paste. Whether homemade or commercial, the olive paste will keep for a couple of months in the refrigerator.

Open Face/Faced Sandwich (or Open sandwich or Bread baser or Tartine)

A sandwich prepared with just one piece of bread which is topped with a wide variety of meats, vegetables, cheeses and heated or not.


Aromatic, pungent and spicy Mediterranean herb from the mint family used for seasoning in cooking. Use fresh or dried for all types of savoury dishes. Especially popular with tomatoes and other vegetables.


A scrap or morsel of food left over after a meal.


A Milanese speciality of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. It is often garnished with gremolata and traditionally served with risotto alla milanese.


A strong anise-flavoured, strong, colourless alcoholic drink from Greece.

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