Let’s bake a cake. (Cooking words)

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by Kate Woodford

One thing we haven’t dealt with yet on this blog is cooking vocabulary. We’re now making up for it with two posts devoted to common words used for preparing food. If you’re a keen cook, read on!

Let’s start with some basic cooking verbs relating to the inside of the oven. When we cook bread and cakes in an oven, we say we bake them: freshly baked bread / I’m going to bake a cake. However, for cooking meat and vegetables inside an oven, we use the verb roast: I’m roasting a chicken. / roasted vegetables. (We also use the verb ‘roast’ for cooking food, especially meat, over a fire.)

To grill or barbecue food is to cook it over fire, usually on a metal frame: I’ll grill some chicken. To grill (UK)/ broil (US) is also to cook something under a hot surface, often in an oven: Grill/Broil the peppers till the skins are slightly burnt. If you toast bread, you make it warm and brown by putting it near a high heat: I like my bread lightly toasted.

Other ways of cooking involve the hob (UK)/stovetop (US) , which is the surface of the oven, on which pans are heated. Here, we can heat food or heat it up by making it warm: Heat the oil and add the chopped onions. We can fry food by cooking it in hot oil or fat: Fry the onions in olive oil. While we are frying food, we may want to stir it (= move the food around the pan in a circular pattern with a spoon, etc.): Stir the onions to stop them from burning.

We can boil food by putting it in water that is so hot, bubbles appear in it: Boil the potatoes. We can also poach it, which means to boil something gently, sometimes in a liquid that is not water: The fish is poached in milk. Vegetables can be steamed, which means that they are cooked in the hot gas that is produced when water boils: steamed broccoli. Finally, we can melt a solid food, such as butter or chocolate, by turning it into liquid: Melt the chocolate over a low heat.

Of course, not all cooking verbs relate to an oven or hob. In our next cooking post, we’ll look at mixing and cutting up food.

23 thoughts on “Let’s bake a cake. (Cooking words)

  1. I enjoyed reading. The mere fact that we’ve been cooking and baking for so long without actually identifying what we are doing. I bake bread and cakes all the time. However, I haven’t been properly using my kitchen vocabulary like I should. Thanks for sharing

  2. Preeti kohli

    I really like the details you have mention , this will help me to memories all the parts with I have just readed

  3. mary rios

    Thank you for helping us to learn more useful words 🙂 I don’t really like cooking but now i can practice mi english when i cook with my mother.


  4. Lita

    Hi Kate,

    I would like to know the differences among the words: saute, stir, shake, chop, mince, peel, soak and simmer.

    Many thanks.

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