Can You Identify the 35 Most Common Cooking Terms?

By: Ian Fortey
Estimated Completion Time
5 min
Can You Identify the 35 Most Common Cooking Terms?
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About This Quiz

Archaeological evidence suggests that humans invented cooking somewhere between 1 million and 2 million years ago. Now, odds are back then nobody was making an ooey-gooey pizza pot pie or a terribly unhealthy pulled pork poutine, and it was probably closer to a fish tossed in a fire. But cooking is cooking, and everyone has to start somewhere, right?

We've come a long way since just making a random food hot and calling it cooking was good enough. These days, you can pan fry, deep fry, broil, braise, grill, boil, parboil, sous vide, spit-roast, microwave, toast, sear, blacken, bread, poach, and confit just about anything your heart desires — or your stomach desires, for that matter. Preparing dishes involves dozens of techniques — from simple to complex — like folding, beating, whisking, stirring, mincing, chopping, bruising, dicing and about 100 other methods, depending on what you need the result to be. Now, whether you can start a fire trying to boil water or you make Gordon Ramsay look like Chef Boyardee, you have to know your cooking terms if you expect to get anything done in the kitchen. So let's take 40 of the most common cooking terms and see just how many of them you can identify.

Q1 braised lamb shanks
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A dinner calls for having braised lamb shanks. What's braising?
Gently cooking while partially submerged in liquid
Cooking under high, intense heat
Baking uncovered
Cooking submerged in flavored liquid
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Braise is a French term, and while most often you hear about meat being braised, it can be done to vegetables as well. The dish is often heated first by sautéing or searing it, and then it's finished in a braising liquid.

Q2 al dente
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What does it mean if pasta is al dente?
Over done
Cooked in a sauce
Tender and firm but not hard
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Ideally, you want your pasta to be "al dente" because it is tender and slightly firm but not hard. This is pasta that is perfectly done, as opposed to overdone — which is no longer firm — or underdone — which may still have crunch. It's Italian for "to the tooth."

Q3 a la grecque
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What does it mean if food is served "a la grecque"?
A high fat content
With cheese
In the Greek style
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Food served a la grecque is served in the Greek style, which is to say it was made with the common Greek ingredients, like lemon and olive oil, as well as specific seasonings and perhaps even vegetables common to Greek cuisine.


Q4 barding
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If a recipe calls for barding, what do you need to do?
Whip lard into a batter
Cook with moist heat
Cover meat with a layer of fat
Cook in an oven
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Barding is what you call it when you cover meat with a layer of fat. That may sound unappealing, but it's also the term used for when you thoroughly wrap something in bacon, which means barding is more popular than people realize.

Q5 Parboiled
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You can buy rice that's been parboiled. What does that indicate has happened to the rice?
It's ready to eat.
It was boiled until it was partially cooked.
It was steam heated.
The water was heated but not hot enough to boil
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Parboiling is a method of preparing not just rice but vegetables and other ingredients. The food is boiled until it is only partially cooked but not fully cooked. Afterwards it is usually finished in some other manner.

Q6 chiffonade
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Do you know what characterizes a chiffonade?
A technique for pie-making
A lemon oil
A light meringue
Finely chopped or shredded herbs or veggies
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You would use the technique known as a chiffonade for leafy vegetables and herbs, to finely slice them into long and thin strips. Though rare, you can also use this technique with something like an omelette by rolling it up and slicing it.


Q7 blanch broccoli
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If a recipe asks you to blanch the broccoli what does it need you to do?
Quickly boil it, and then immerse it in ice water.
Trim it.
Lightly fry it in oil.
Boil until it gets soft.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Blanching is almost always done to vegetables, but you can also do it to fruit in some cases. It involves a very quick dip in boiling liquid that will brighten the color and lock in flavor but then putting it quickly in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Q8 coulis
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What exactly is a coulis?
A soup
A whipped dessert
A thick type of fruit or vegetable-based sauce
A pan for frying
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A coulis is made from a puree of either fruits or vegetables and, as such, can be either sweet or savory. It can be used as a sauce for meats and vegetables, as an entree, or it can be a garnish as part of a dessert as well.

Q9 caramelised onions
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Many places offer caramelized onions on burgers, but what does it mean to caramelize something?
Mixing sugar and butter to make caramel
Cook until the natural sugars have browned
Slightly burn
Fry with a small amount of butter
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Caramelization occurs when sugars brown. You can add sugar to make this happen or, as with onions, allow the natural sugars to brown on their own by cooking at a low heat with oil. Anything with some amount of sugar can technically be caramelized.


Q10 Folding
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When you fold ingredients what are you doing?
Separating them
Combining them without stirring or changing their consistency
Mixing them to incorporate air
Mixing them to remove pockets of air
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Folding is a much more gentle mixing technique than string or beating and is used when you want to combine without stirring or changing the consistency. For instance, if you want to fold flavoring into a whipped cream, you wouldn't want to stir or beat at the risk of overworking the whipped cream.

Q11 emulsify
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What happens when you emulsify something?
You add hot and cold ingredients together
You add fat to a mixture
You merge liquid and solid
You whisk together two things that don't normally mix
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You emulsify two things when you mix ingredients that don't normally mix, most often something like oil and vinegar, like in salad dressing. The two substances will normally separate immediately so an emulsification forces a blend, even if it's only a temporary one.

Q12 devein
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Do you know what the term "devein" means?
To thin slice
Remove seeds from a fruit or vegetable
To remove the bone
To remove the vein from a shrimp
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The vein in a shrimp is actually the little creature's digestive tract, which means it's decidedly unclean and undesirable. All shrimp and prawns should be deveined before cooking and serving.


Q13 effiler
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How do you effiler a green bean?
Soak in flavored liquid
Break off the tips and remove the string
Split lengthwise
Dice unevenly
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Effiler is a very French term that refers to a specific preparation for beans. The tips are to be snapped off with your fingers and that long, string-like thread that can get stuck in your teeth is pulled away.

Q14 Flambe
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What needs to happen to properly flambé something?
Deep fry in low-temperature oil
Mash with a fat, like sour cream
Add alcohol, like cognac, to a pan hot enough to cause the alcohol to make a flame
Whip until frothy
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Flambé in most people's minds means fire, and that is essential to how it works. Most flambé happens in the pan when alcohol is added and then ignited to burn the alcohol off and leave the flavor. It can also be done table side to something like a dessert.

Q15 Knead
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When making bread, you'll have to knead your dough. What is the kneading process like?
Folding, pushing, and working dough to mix and produce gluten
Patting and warming dough to promote yeast growth
Mixing the ingredients together
Adding dry to wet ingredients in proper proportions
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Kneading dough is a much more scientific process than some people realize as the process of pushing and pulling the dough causes two proteins called glutenin and gliadin to form gluten which is essential for the texture in most breads.


Q16 concasse
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What does it mean if a recipe calls for concasse?
Finely slice
Grate it
Roughly chop
Cut into strips
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Concasse refers to a very rough chop of something that has been peeled and seeded, often a tomato. The tomato you'll find in a bruschetta is a type of concasse tomato. It can be a small or large chop, depending on your needs.

Q17 marinate
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Do you know what it means to marinate something?
Heavily spice
Cook with a sauce
Inject with flavor
Soak in a flavored liquid
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Typically meat is what you would marinate, but the process works with some vegetables as well. It involves letting the meat soak in a favored liquid for an extended period of time so that the tissue is infused with flavor.

Q18 baste
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How does one baste something?
Cook low and slow
Cook over indirect heat
Season with a heavily spiced mixture
Moisten food with some type of liquid or fat as it cooks.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Most of us knowing basting from a holiday turkey. The process involves moistening the food with its own juices or maybe a marinade of some kind as it cooks. A baster will allow you to suck up the hot liquids and squirt them back over the food.


Q19 julienne
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If you need to julienne a potato,, what do you need to do to it?
Cut into thin strips
Poach in spiced liquid
Fry at low heat
Make into a salad
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Julienne is a type of knife cut that results in long, thin strips of whatever you're cutting. To be done properly, the food should all be cut to the exact same thickness and length when it's done for a uniform appearance.

Q20 poach
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Are you aware of what it means to poach something?
Cook in hot oil
Boil eggs out of the shell
Cook quickly in liquid
Submerge food in hot but not boiling liquid to cook
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Poaching is very similar to boiling but the difference is temperature. Poaching requires hot water of around 160–180°F but not boiling. It's a more gentle way of cooking, which is why it's suitable for something like a poached egg.

Q21 Mince
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What's happening when you mince something?
Grate the food
An extremely fine, uniform cut
Mashed into a paste
Chop roughly
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A mince is finer and smaller than a chop or even a dice, and is essentially as small as you can get something when you use a knife. A food processor could also be used to mince ingredients. Any more extreme chopping could turn it into a paste.


Q22 Reduce
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If a recipe says you need to reduce a sauce what does that mean?
Dump some out.
Lower the temperature.
Cook it down until it is more concentrated.
Make it thinner with water.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Reducing is how sauces build flavor. It allows the sauce to cook down and concentrate, making it more flavorful by boiling off water and leaving more of whatever flavor compounds are present. It needs to be done carefully lest it reduce too far and become inedible.

Q23 sauté
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How do you sauté?
Cook small pieces over high heat in a small amount of oil
Cook in a wok
Cook over low heat in a lot of oil
Brown on one side and then the other
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

People will often use the words "fry" and "sauté" interchangeably. A proper sauté requires small pieces being cooked in a small amount of oil over high heat to allow for browning. The food should be moved or tossed to allow even browning, and the pan will often be deglazed to make a sauce at the end.

Q24 Sear
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A well made steak needs a good sear. What does sear mean?
Getting grill marks
Cooking the fat out
Cooking at high temperature to form a brown crust
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Searing meat involves getting a brown crust to form at high temperature. It's not caramelization because that requires sugar, A sear in meat is the result of something called the Maillard reaction that happens when amino acids and certain natural sugars reduce in heat.


Q25 Simmer
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What is the correct process to simmer food?
Cooked just below boiling
Left on low heat to stay warm
Boiled at low heat
Cooked in a sauce
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Once food boils, the directions will often tell you to reduce to a simmer. This is a temperature just below a boil that allows it to continue cooking more gently without risking the food getting too tough or breaking apart like it might at a constant boil.

Q26 roulade
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Do you know how a roulade is made?
Ingredients are whipped by hand
Flatten the ingredients
Fill and then roll pastry or meat
Gelatin is added to a sauce
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Roulades are generally prepared in one of two ways. One is a meat-based entrée, like a thin steak wrapped around a filling, and the other is a dessert made with cake wrapped around a whipped cream or jam filling like you'd find in a Swiss roll.

Q27 Jacquard
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How would you jaccard something?
Stir it quickly
Use an electric mixer
Roll it thin
Pierce it with needles
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Jaccarding is also called needling, and it's a process used to tenderize meat. There are generally two ways to tenderize meat. This is one of the mechanical ways as opposed to chemically, which is done with marinades.


Q28 macerate
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Can you properly define what it means to macerate something?
Bread and fry the food
Soften or break with a liquid
Finely dice
Shred on a mandolin
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Recipes that require you to macerate an ingredient need you to soften or break them with a liquid. Macerated cherries, for instance, are usually cherries that are coated in sugar or maybe left in an alcohol or other liquid to bring out more flavor.

Q29 Salt
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What measurement is indicated by a pinch of salt?
1/16 teaspoon
Just a dash
A spoonful
Whatever you like
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A pinch is about as vague a measurement as you can get and comes literally from the amount of salt you can pinch between two fingers. That said, it does have a corresponding measurement which is roughly 1/16 teaspoon.

Q30 Char
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Do you know what it means to char something?
Cook with grill marks
Cook over charcoal
Cook to nearly burnt
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

If sear means to brown, and burn means to thoroughly blacken, then char is in the middle. It's when food is almost burnt but hasn't quite gotten there yet. It shouldn't have a bitter taste to it, but there should be some dark color. This is ideal for a barbecue steak, for instance.


Q31 confit
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Confit is a French term that means what?
Braise with protein
Dice meat and cook it in a flavored liquid
Slow cook in oil at low temperature
Steam with herbs
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You've probably heard of duck confit, but you can confit pretty much anything. It involves cooking in oil but at a lower temperature than frying. It's a slow cooking method and should take a bit of time to do properly.

Q32 dredge
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If you need to dredge a chicken breast, what will you do to it?
Coat it in a dry mixture
Dunk it in oil
Cook it under sauce
Cook while stirring
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A dredge is a dry mixture used to coat something like chicken, other meats and even vegetables. Typically, you'll first dip the meat in something like milk or an egg mixture, then coat it in flour, seasoning, breadcrumbs or whatever else, to form a crust when it cooks.

Q33 roux
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Sometimes a dish requires you to make a roux. What exactly is that?
A red sauce
A simple cheese sauce
A spice mix
A sauce base or thickener made from flour and fat
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Any dish, like a stew or even home made mac and cheese, will require a roux which is typically a fat, like butter, and flour. The mixture will thicken, and then when something like milk is added, it becomes the base for a creamy, thick sauce. Add cheese and it's a mac and cheese sauce.


Q34 bruise
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If we asked you to bruise some lemongrass, would you know what we need?
Hit them with the blunt side of a knife
Turn into paste
Bend but don't break
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You can bruise many herbs, including lemongrass, to release their natural aroma and flavor by hitting them with the blunt side of a knife. It releases oils that make a dish more aromatic and flavorful than if the herbs weren't bruised.

Q35 acidulated
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When something needs to be acidulated what does that mean?
Acid needs to be reduced.
It's cooked not with heat but an acid, like vinegar.
Acid needs to be added.
It's too sweet.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You acidulate a dish by adding an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice — not enough to overpower the other flavors, rather as a way to sharpen the other flavors and make them pop more than they would otherwise. It can also help tenderize meats.

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