Kitchen and Cooking Vocabulary You Should Know

Kitchen verbs

Do you like to spend time in the kitchen? Do you enjoy discovering new recipes and preparing them? However, you are reading a new recipe in which something needs to be done with food, and you are not sure what, because you do not understand all those verbs? So we decided to help you, and to compile a list of “kitchen” verbs, after which the food preparation will be a piece of cake!

to peel

To peel

The first verb is to peel. As you know, certain fruits (like apples) or vegetables (like potatoes) have skin (outer covering) that needs to be removed before food can be prepared. We will remove this skin by peeling it. We can peel with a knife, or we can use a peeler (a small kitchen tool with a special blade, made to remove the skin), for extra precision and safety.

to chop

to chop

After you peel your fruits and vegetables, you need to chop them. But what does that mean? This means that you need to cut something into small pieces. You know when you watch the cooks on TV, and then they make those very quick knife movements while cutting something, and they don’t even look down, but at the camera? That’s chopping! Of course, we recommend that you still look at what you are chopping, to avoid potential injuries. Just as there is a peeler, there is also a chopper – a machine that can chop everything you need faster and safer for you!

to be soaked

to be soaked

Sometimes the recipe will say that something needs to be soaked. Don’t worry, it’s nothing complicated. It just means you need to leave something in the water. This is mainly done to soften the texture and speed up the cooking process.

to drain

to drain

And sometimes the recipe will say that you need to drain something. This verb has the opposite meaning from the previous one and means that you need to remove water from something. The two best examples of this are when we drain the water from boiled pasta or potatoes. Although you can do this by leaving the lid slightly open, it is better to use a colander (a kitchen utensil that is perforated for that purpose), because you will avoid the possibility of burning yourself with hot water, but also accidentally spilling some of the food with water!

to marinate

to marinate

If you decide to prepare a dish that is for more experienced cooks, it may be necessary to marinate certain foods, such as meat and fish. This actually means that you should soak meat, fish, or other food in a marinade. A marinade is a mixture of oil, wine, spices, or similar ingredients. The food is soaked in a marinade before cooking in order to flavor or soften it.

to slice

to slice

Sometimes you will need to slice food. This means that you need to cut the food into thin, flat pieces. In that way, we can cut bread, meat or cake and we will get pieces that we call – slices!

to stir

to stir

During cooking, you need to stir certain foods. This means that you need to mix the ingredients (usually in a circular pattern) using a spoon, spatula, or other such utensils.

to beat

to beat

And what if the recipe says you should beat the food? Don’t worry, it just means you need to mix or stir ingredients rapidly until they are blended and the mixture becomes smooth and light. We usually beat egg yolks and egg whites when making cakes, sometimes together, and sometimes separately.

to clean

to clean

Did you clean your food before preparation? If you say that you washed it with water, and we tell you that it isn’t what we meant, will you be confused? You will now learn that the verb “clean” can have another meaning, and that is to remove the internal organs of a fish (or other animals) to prepare it for cooking.

to dice

to dice

Now you know what it means to slice, but do you know what dice is (as a verb)? Yes, dice are what we use for various board games, but when we talk about cooking, it means that we should cut meat, vegetables, or something else into small cubes.

to knead

to knead

Have you decided to make bread (or anything else that requires dough)? Then you will surely come across the verb knead in the recipe. You will need strong hands for this activity because you need to press the dough with your hands repeatedly until you get a uniform mixture ready for cooking.

to roll out

to roll out

Speaking of dough, let’s move on to pastries. When preparing pastries, you will surely come across the verb to roll out. This actually means that you need to make something flatter and thinner. You can use a rolling pin for this – a cylindrical food preparation utensil used to shape and flatten everything from pie and pastry doughs to cookie and pasta doughs.

to grate

to grate

Another simple verb you may come across that can confuse you is to grate. Do you know that kitchen device that is made of metal, and there are holes of different sizes on each side, which are sharp, so that you can cut food (usually cheese) into small pieces through them? Well, that’s a grater. If we know what a grater is, now we also know what the verb to grate means.

to whip

to whip

For the very end, we left the verb to whip. Don’t worry, we don’t need a real whip, just a whisk. Whisk (also called a cooking whip) is a cooking utensil that has a narrow handle on one hand and wire loops joined together at the other. They can be used to either add air into a mixture or thoroughly blend ingredients together. So we will use a whisk to whip, ie. to stir food such as cream or egg very quickly in order to make it stiff.

We hope that this article was useful to you, and that cooking with the help of recipes in English will now be much easier for you. Bon appétit!

See also:

By Bradford Jones

Hi, I'm Brad. I've spent the last seven years teaching English and creating websites for English learners and teachers. I recently moved from Costa Rica to Orlando, Florida, where I teach intensive English classes at a state college. If you'd like to contact me, I can be reached via email at bradfordcjones@gmail.com.