Cooking Basics & Tips

Cooking can be easier than you think! On this page, we’ll provide some basics to help you get started.

First, here are some basic definitions for common cooking terms. They’ll come in handy when you’re making a recipe.

Cooking Terms
Bake/Roast Cook food uncovered in an oven or similar appliance.
Beat Make mixture smooth with rapid, regular motion using a wire whisk, spoon, hand beater or mixer. When using a spoon, lift the mixture up and over with each stroke.
Blend Mix two or more ingredients thoroughly.
Boil Heat a liquid until bubbles break on the surface or cook in boiling water.
Braise Slowly cook meat or poultry in a small amount of liquid in a covered pot.
Broil Use direct heat to cook.
Brown Cook quickly until surface of food is brown.
Chop Cut food into small pieces.
Coat Cover entire surface with a mixture such as flour or breadcrumbs.
Core Using a sharp knife, remove the core and seeds of fruit.
Cream Stir one or more foods until they are soft.
Crisp-tender The “doneness” of vegetables when they are cooked only until tender and remain slightly crisp in texture.
Crush Use a garlic press or a blunt object to smash foods such as garlic until the fibers separate.
Cube Cut food into small, 1⁄2-inch cubes.
Dash Less than 1/8 teaspoon.
Dice Cut into small, square-shaped pieces.
Drain Put food and liquid into a strainer or colander, or pour liquid out of a pot by keeping the lid slightly away from the edge of the pan and pouring away from you.
Flute Pinch the edges of dough such as on pie crust.
Fold Mix by turning over and over.
Fork-tender The “doneness” of a food when a fork can easily penetrate the food.
Fry Pan Fry – Cook in frying pan over medium heat with small amount of oil.

Deep Fry – Cook in hot oil deep enough for food to float.

Grate Rub food on a grater, or chop in blender or food processor to produce fine, medium or coarse particles.
Grease Cover or lubricate with oil to keep food from sticking.
Knead Work dough by folding and stretching with heel of hand.
Marinate Allow food to soak in liquid to increase flavor and tenderness.
Mince Cut or chop food into small pieces.
Mix Combine ingredients using a fork or spoon.
Oil Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil on a dish or pan. Can substitute vegetable oil spray.
Peel Remove outer covering of foods by trimming away with a knife or vegetable peeler.
Preheat Heat oven to desired temperature before putting food in to bake.
Poach Cook food over low heat in a small amount of hot, simmering liquid.
Sauté Cook in a small amount of oil or water.
Scald Heat milk until bubbles appear. Bubbles should not be “breaking” on the surface.
Shred Rub foods against a grater to divide into small pieces.
Sift Remove lumps or lighten the dry ingredients by  putting them through a strainer or a sifter.
Simmer Cook at a temperature just below the boiling point. Bubbles form slowly but do not reach the surface.
Slice Cut food into thin pieces.
Steam Cook over boiling water.
Stew Cook food over low heat in a large amount of simmering liquid.
Stir-fry Quickly frying vegetables to a crisp-tender state while constantly stirring.
Stock Water in which vegetables or meat has been cooked. Should be stored in the refrigerator.
Thaw Slowly change from a frozen state to a liquid state.
Toss Mix foods lightly with a lifting motion, using forks or spoons.


Measurement Conversions

Use this handy chart for different ways to measure ingredients. For instance, sometimes, it might be more helpful to use a measuring cup instead of a measuring spoon. Take a look and see for yourself—knowing this can help make your work in the kitchen even easier! 

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
¼ cup = 4 tablespoons
1/3 cup = 5 1/3 tablespoons
½ cup = 8 tablespoons
2/3 cup = 10 2/3 tablespoons
3/4 cup = 12 tablespoons
1 cup = 16 tablespoons
1 pound = 16 ounces
1 fluid ounce = 2 tablespoons
8 fluid ounces = 1 cup
½ pint = 1 cup
1 pint = 2 cups
1 quart = 4 cups
½ gallon = 2 quarts
1 gallon = 4 quarts
16 ounces = 1 pint
32 ounces = 1 quart
34 ounces = 1 liter
68 ounces = 2 liter
128 ounces = 1 gallon