There are many, many different ways to prepare food, most of which have been used since thousands of years ago. The ingredients are usually made out of living organisms such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, herbs, spices, meat, etc. Below are the 58 types of cooking method that are used all over the world today.
- Dry Roasting
- Hot Salt Frying
- Hot Sand Frying
- Grill Baking
- Oven Roasting
- Pan Grilling
- Flattop Grilling
- Stone Grilling
- Double Boiling
- Slow Cooking
- Sous Vide
- Double Steaming
- Pan Frying
- Stir Frying
- Deep Frying
- Shallow Frying
- Gentle Frying
- Grill Braising
- Indirect Grilling
- Plank Grilling
- Claypot Cooking
- Earth Oven
- Masonry Oven
- Pressure Cooking
- Pressure Frying
- Haybox Cooking
- Vacuum Flask
Application of heat to dry foodstuffs without the use of oil and water. Dry roasting is a method usually used with nuts and seeds. They are usually stirred to ensure even heating. Examples include peanut butter, made from dry roasted peanuts, tea, made from dry roasted tea leaves, coffee, made from roasted coffee beans, and chocolate, made from roasted cocoa beans.
A cooking technique often used by street vendors in China and India where dry food items such as unshelled eggs, shelled peanuts, and popcorn are fried using coarse sea salt that has been heated to a high temperature.
Also found in the streets of India, China, and in the city of Penang, Malaysia where chestnuts and peanuts are buried in very hot black sand.
A method of cooking where a brown-black crust is formed as a result of the combination of browned milk solids from butter and charred spices. Most popular food that is used is fish.
A technique very often used to partially cook the surface of meat to remove excess fat and give the meat a brown crust through the Maillard reaction. Done using a skillet or frying pan, it is first heated to a medium-high temperature to avoid sticking. To achieve even browning, the meat is usually patted with a paper towel to remove surface moisture.
Searing is a technique where the surface of the food is cooked at high temperatures so that a caramelized crust forms. Meat surface temperatures are required to exceed 150°C/300°F to obtain the desired crust. Searing will produce 3 main outcomes. Browning creates desirable flavours through the Maillard reaction, a well formed crust looks more desirable, and a contrast between the crust and juicy interiors makes the food more appealing to the palate.
Almost always associated with bread, baking is simply defined as cooking food in the oven, although one can also bake in hot ashes and hot stones. The gradual transfer of heat from the surface to the center transforms batter and dough into baked goods with a firm dry crust and a softer center.
A cooking technique in which a bread or dough product is partially baked to about 80% before it is rapidly cooled. This sets the internal structure of the dough while killing the yeast in the mixture, essentially cooking the insides without generating external desirable qualities like the crust which is hard to preserve once cooked. Ingredients can also be added to the dough before finishing the baking process with the remaining 20% of the time required.
By placing a baking sheet pan above the grill surface, you are combining grilling and baking. First, bake the food on the sheet pan before placing it directly on the grilling surface for char marks, effectively cooking it twice. This method is especially made for meat stuffed or coated with batter.
One of the latest technology in modern cooking, a flashbake oven utilizes a combination of intense visible light and infrared energy to cook food rapidly. The visible light penetrates the food to provide heating while the infrared energy cooks the food surface to achieve the desired browning. The pros in flashbaking lies in faster cooking times and less energy used. Most suited to cook flat, thin foods like pizza and quesadillas.
Hot air circulates around the meat, cooking all sides evenly. Slow roasting is best for retaining moisture and making the meat more tender. On the other hand, high temperature roasting browns the outside of the meat while leaving the center much less done, giving it a better variety of flavour. A combination of slow roasting and high heat roasting will yield a crust while maintaining more moisture than if the meat was only cooked at high temperature.
Meat is skewered on a spit and is cooked over a heat source such as a fireplace, campfire or oven. The horizontal rotisserie method is most suitable for large joints of meat as the rotation cooks the meat evenly in its own juices and allows easy access for continuous self-basting. On the other hand, vertical rotisseries reduces fat and grease by letting it drain out the bottom. Although it is less flavourful, verical rotisseries still cook evenly and are much healthier.
Smoking is a method use to flavour, cook and preserve food by exposing it to a smouldering material like wood. I kid you not but in Iceland, fish is smoked with sheep dung! Cold smoking(25°C/77°F) enhances the flavour of the food without cooking it while hot smoking (65°C/150°F) cooks the food while keeping it moist and flavourful at the same time.
Grilling is application of dry heat to the surface of food, usually from below. Grilling involves direct heat and is done quickly. Temperatures often exceed 260°C/500°F. The distinctive aroma and flavour from the Malliard reaction is always achieved.
Usually done indoors, pan grilling is a process done on a pan surface with raised edges to emulate the function of a gridiron.
The flat griddle or pan may be prepared with oil and the food is cooked quickly over a high heat, suited for relatively greasy foods such as sausages. However, a flattop grill is as versatile as it gets, allowing other cooking techniques to be carried out on it such as sauteing, toasting, steaming, stir frying, etc. You can even put pots and pans on it for even more cooking flexibility.
Stones can store temperatures up to 450°C/842°F and is a healthy grilling method as no fat or oil is involved.
Usually used on bread, toasting is a common method used to make stale bread taste better. Browning of the bread is a consequence of the Maillard reaction.
A safe and simple method of cooking food in boiling liquid such as water, milk, or stock. It makes meat more digestible and produces deliciously flavoured stock. Carrots and zucchini, are two vegetables most suited to be boiled as the process makes beta carotene 4 times more available for absorption.
Also known as a bain marie, double boiling is a method used to gradually heat materials to a certain temperature or keep it warm over a period of time. In principle, it’s a smaller pot sitting in boiling water of a bigger pot. Really useful to avoid caking and splitting when melting chocolate, baking cheesecake to prevent top side cracking, and heating of frozen breast milk for feeding among others.
Blanching is a two step process that includes plunging vegetables into boiling water for about 1 minute and then placing it in cold water to stop the cooking process. Food is blanched to soften it, partly or fully cook it, or to remove a strong taste. This is the method usually applied to cook asparagus so as to prevent it becoming soggy.
A technique similar to blanching but takes a bit longer. Parboiled food is actually partially cooked and is most useful to combine foods that take different amount of time to cook. For example, you may parboil broccoli first before stir frying it with a fast cooking food like shrimp.
Defined as the soaking of solids in liquid to extract flavour or soften it. Steeping is a procedure most commonly used for harvesting corn kernels, making tea, and beer.
The best method for extracting medicinal properties from plant material such as stems, roots, barks, and rhizomes. It is first mashed before boiling in water for about 10 to 20 minutes to extract oils, volatile organic compounds and other chemical substances.
Infusion is a process almost similar to decoction except that the plant material is left to cool in hot water, oil or alcohol over 10 to 20 minutes. The most common example for infusion is tea.
Coddling is a method of cooking where food is immersed in water kept just below the boiling point. A technique most commonly used on eggs.
Simmering is a technique of cooking that keeps hot liquid at a temperature just below the boiling point. The pot is usually brought to a boil before reducing the heat to a point where bubbles are cut down to a bare minimum. As simmering is gentler than boiling, it prevents food from toughening or breaking up.
Almost similar to simmering and boiling with the only difference between the 3 being the temperature. Poaching is between 70-80°C/158-176°F, simmering is between 80-95°C/176-203°F and boiling is above 100°C/212°F. Most suitable for delicate food, such as eggs, poultry, fish, and fruit, which might easily fall apart or dry out using other cooking methods.
To cream is to slowly simmer or poach food in milk or cream. Typical dishes include creamed corn and cream of mushroom soup.
Slow cooking is cooking of food in slow cookers or crock pots, where it allows you to maintain a relatively low temperature for long periods of time, that allows for unattended cooking of pot roast, stews, soups, etc. The biggest advantage of slow cooking over any other method is convenience. Simply cut up the ingredients in fairly large chunks, add seasoning, add liquid, set the temperature range, go to work, return before dinner and you will have fully cooked, piping hot food ready to go. A must have in every modern kitchen!
Smothering is a cooking technique where meat is browned with a little oil before simmering it in a small amount of water to make a brown gravy. Usually, a vegetable mixture and seasoning is added. The meat is then slow cooked until tender. Heavy duty cast iron or aluminum pots are most suited for use as either allows heat to spread around to prevent food from sticking and getting burnt.
Fancy as it sounds, sous vide is a simple method of cooking food in airtight plastic bags for long periods, sometimes for days, between 55-60°C/131-140°F. When done correctly, food, especially meat and seafood, is perfectly evenly cooked, a result impossible to achieve by any other means. The defining feature of this masterful cooking method is not the vacuum sealing; it is exact temperature control.
Stewing is a long, slow method of cooking where food is cut into pieces and cooked in the minimum amount of liquid, water, stock or sauce. Usually a stew is cooked at around 180°C/350°F in a heavy based saucepan with a suitable lid or a casserole. It is a great method of cooking for a number of reasons, but the best ones are that it retains almost all the nutrients of the ingredients and it is also quite cost effective to make as less expensive meat cuts can be used.
One of the healthiest way to cook, steaming is simply cooking of food by the heat of steam. The food is kept separate from the boiling water but has direct contact with steam, resulting in the food becoming more moist. When steaming, less oil is used and more nutrition is retained. Interestingly, in the western world, steaming is used more for vegetables while in China, steaming is used more for meat.
A technique that efficiently locks in moisture, double steaming is a Chinese cooking technique used to prepare delicate and expensive food like bird’s nest, ginseng, frog ovaries, and the famous Cantonese winter melon urn. In double steaming, the pot containing the food does not touch the boiling water of the outer pot, hence relying solely on the heat of the steam for cooking.
A method of frying where little oil is used to fry small pieces of food in a very hot pan. In french, saute means “to jump”, referring to the way the pieces of food appear to jump in the pan as the moisture is forced out by the high heat of the pan and oil. A proper saute takes no more than 2 or 3 minutes, depending on size.
The main difference between sauteing and pan frying is the temperature and cooking time. As the usual foods that get pan fried are chicken breasts, steak, pork chops, and fish fillets, they are not cut into pieces before cooking. The lower temperature of pan frying ensures that the outer layer of the meat does not overcook while waiting for the insides to cook.
Stir frying is almost identical to sauteing. The difference lies in the ideal type of pan and the amount of oil. More oil is used in stir frying and the wok is most suitable as it allows you to move food through a depth of oil, without leaving it there for a few minutes.
Deep frying is completely submerging food in hot oil, eliminating the necessity for flipping. Due to the high temperature involved(175–190°C/347–374°F) and the high heat conduction of oil, it cooks food extremely quickly. The type of oil used should have a higher smoke point than your intended cooking temperature like refined avocado, safflower, soybean, corn, or peanut oil.
A method of cooking where the food sits in hot oil that comes about halfway up the sides of the food. You will have to flip the food occasionally to make sure that all sides are evenly cooked. Shallow fried foods are often battered.
Gentle frying is simply frying with a relatively low temperature. Most suitable for delicate and starchy foods like egg dishes, fish, batters, or vegetables.
In culinary terms, the word sweat means to cook food over low heat in a small amount of fat, usually in a pan or pot. It is a necessary preliminary step to build flavour. Sweating out aromatics such as garlic, onion, shallots, carrots, and celery, soften cell walls and draw out moisture, giving them a head start in cooking and drawing out flavours.
Also known as BBQ and Bar-B-Que, barbecueing is the utlization of indirect heat parted by the smoke of a wood fueled fire over a long period, sometimes over several hours. Grilling is done hot and fast over direct heat(260°C/500°F) while barbecueing is done low and slow over indirect heat(115–145°C/240–280°F).
Braised meats are often seared first in oil or butter. Then, aromatics, spices, vegetables and some cooking liquid like wine, broth, and water are often added. The pot can either stay on the stove top or go into the oven. Leaner meats like pork chops and chicken breasts usually braise for less time on the stove top. Fattier, more flavorful cuts go into the oven and cook longer. The same goes for braised vegetables. Any type is braisable but leafy greens are a better choice.
To braise on a grill, put a pot on top of the grill, cover it, and let it simmer for a few hours. Carefully grilled meat will develop that dark chargrilled crust, adding a smokey taste to the braise.
Most often seen in expensive restaurants, flambeing is a cooking technique where alcohol is introduced onto a hot pan to create a burst of flames. Flambe is french for “flaming”. This technique is often used to burn off raw alcohol from a dish as well as creating an impressive dramatic flair. Best types of liquors are those with about 40% of alcohol. Anything above 60% is too dangerous and anything below 20% will not ignite.
A griddle is just basically a very flat and large frying pan without sides. The idea of a griddle is to cook many different things at once without dirtying a bunch of pans.
A method of cooking used to cook food more evenly. It requires the fire to be built to the side of where the cooking will take place. It’s like having only half the grill on fire. A drip pan is usually placed at the bottom of the grill to divert rising heat and catch food drippings to keep your grill clean. This method of grilling is only possible if you can enclose the food with the heat in some way.
Grilling on a plank is a lot like using a pan, except the plank has the ability to produce smoke. The surface of the food touching the wood picks up some of the plank’s natural flavors. Cedar and alder is suitable for fish, maple and pecan for chicken and pork, and oak and hickory for beef. It’s recommended to use indirect fire when plank cooking as direct fire may kill the plank beyond reuse.
As natural clay is porous, heat and moisture circulate through the pot during cooking. Another unique property of clay is that it’s alkaline. It interacts with the acidity in the food, neutralizing the pH balance. Something that is naturally very acidic, like tomato sauce, will take on some natural sweetness when cooked in a clay pot. All these unique properties are completely canceled out if the pot has been glazed. Seasoning a claypot is necessary as it helps bring the clay molecules together and prepare it for use as a cooking utensil.
Also known as a cooking pit, an earth oven is simply a pit in the ground used to trap heat and cook food. Best for cooking large quantities of food where no equipment is available.
An oven that consists of a baking chamber made of fireproof brick, concrete, stone, clay, or cob. Generally, a properly built Roman-plan oven is roughly egg-shaped, with the ceiling of the oven constructed as an arch over the baking surface. One of the benefits of using a masonry oven is the higher cooking temperature. The baking heat can reach over 315°C/600°F. At such high temperatures, the radiant heat from the fire and the heat bouncing off the inside walls of the oven crisps the outside of any dough like food, especially a pizza, very quickly. Any moisture in the dough is thus sealed off. This prevents the base of the dough from becoming soggy and results in a flavorful crust that is puffy, yet soft and chewy.
The tandoor oven, a cylindrical oven made out of clay, is very popular in Southen, Central, and East Asia. A fire is normally built at the bottom where it heats the air and walls up to a staggering 480°C/900°F. The temperature is controlled by the amount of oxygen allowed through a small window at the bottom of the oven. The biggest advantage of a tandoor oven is its ability to maintain a consistent high temperature once heated. Meat and vegetables are normally cooked on long skewers inserted directly in the oven while flatbread like naan is slapped against the sides.
The microwave was discovered by accident by a man who had a chocolate bar in his pocket while working on a radar transmitter. The frequency of the transmitter happened to be the frequency needed to heat foods, and the radar transmitter happened to have high enough power to affect the food. The radio waves excite the water and fat molecules in the food, causing friction. As a result the food heats up. Cooking with a microwave is much faster, easier and safer than a conventional oven.
A pressure cooker works on a simple principle : steam pressure. A sealed pot, with a lot of steam inside, builds up high pressure, which helps food cook faster. Moisture is forced into the food and foods like tough meat get very tender easily. Pressure cooking is healthy as it is virtually fat free and intensifies the natural flavour of the cooked food, so you can use less salt and still get great taste. Faster cooking times equals lower energy requirements equals more savings.
A variation of pressure cooking where oil is used instead of water. The concept is still the same; raising oil temperatures to fry faster. This method of cooking is most used in commercial fried chicken restaurants. A word of caution; a pressure cooker is not the same as a pressure fryer. Used properly, today’s modern pressure cookers are very safe, but even small amounts of hot oil under pressure will splatter and damage the gasket.
Haybox or retained heat cooking is simply cooking a liquid based food like a soup or stew in it’s own heat in an insulated box. Since the insulated box prevents most of the heat in the food from escaping into the environment, no additional energy is needed to complete the cooking process. The hayboxed food normally cooks within 2-3 times the normal stovetop cooking time. It can be left in the haybox until ready to serve, and stays hot for hours.
Also known as a Dewar’s flask and thermos flask. A vacuum flask is a bottle made of metal, glass, foam or plastic with hollow walls; the narrow region between the inner and outer wall is evacuated of air. It can also be considered to be two thin-walled bottles nested one inside the other and sealed together at their necks. Vacuum as an insulator avoids heat transfer by conduction or convection. Most commercial vacuum flasks are used for keeping beverages cool or warm.