One of the best things about cooking is that the opportunities are almost endless. You can follow a recipe line by line or get creative with it and create your own masterpiece. Whether you’re a recipe follower or like to do your own thing, learning the different types of cooking methods can only help you.
There are hundreds of ways to prepare food, some that can be used regularly and for almost any dish and others that only work for one or two dishes. Learning about the different cooking methods will allow you to improve your cooking skills and make you an even better cook.
You’ll open more doors for yourself and your cooking abilities as you learn about the different cooking methods. Here are some of the most common and important types of cooking methods you should know about.
Steaming is a popular cooking technique, especially in Asian culture, that helps you lock in moisture in food. It’s one of the most gentle ways to cook something because even though you’re using a lot of heat, it’s not direct heat like tossing the food into the oven or boiling water.
To steam veggies or another food, you’ll need to use the heat from boiling water. This method requires a steaming pot to be done correctly. Most people use this method for vegetables, but you can also use it for fish, some desserts, tamales, and dumplings.
Ideally you would use a steamer, but you can steam without a steamer.
Some people don’t consider baking one of the more popular types of cookery method since it really surrounds baked goods or pastries. While it’s true that you tend to think of sweets when you think of baking, it’s a cooking method. Most people bake cookies, bread, cake, or other pastries.
Baking requires an oven where you’ll expose the food to radiating heat. This helps the dish cook evenly on all sides. When baking, you’ll usually use a temperature of 93-204°C (200-400°F). You’ll notice that most recipes require a temperature towards the hotter end of that scale.
There are three ways of baking in and oven, you can bake with:
Roasting and baking are essentially the same cooking method applied to different kinds of food. Why we have two separate names for almost the same cooking method isn’t known, but it’s good to know that they are two different methods. You’ll typically use roasting for vegetables, fish, and other meat dishes.
More often than not, you’ll use a temperature closer to 176°C (350°F) for roasting, but it does depend on what you’re making.
Arguably one of the most simple types of cooking is boiling. To boil what you’re cooking, you’ll let a pot of water heat up on the stove. Once the water is bubbling, you can place your food into the water and let the heat cook it. When you think of boiling, you probably think of pasta. While we do cook most pasta dishes by boiling the water, there’s plenty of other things to make using this method.
There are two kinds of boiling: a slow boil or a rolling boil. If you’re using the slow boil method, you’ll start cooking your food when the water is just starting to bubble. A rolling boil is when the bubbles are moving quickly and more aggressively.
Some people believe that adding salt to your water will help it boil faster. It’s thought that this idea came from when people used to use salt water to boil food. While adding salt to water can make it boil faster, you’ll need to add a lot of it to really see a difference.
Don’t make the mistake of using non-stick when boiling water! There’s no need to put wear on this cookware. Instead using a stainless steel stock pot. These last forever, may well be healthier than non-stick, and you don’t really need to worry about sticking when boiling!
Have you ever eaten a piece of chicken or something with dark lines? It was most likely grilled. Grilling is all about cooking your food with radiant heat. The most popular way people grill is on a legitimate grill with an open flame. You can even use a grill pan if you don’t have a grill.
When you’re grilling your food, using moderate heat will cook it thoroughly without burning it. You may need to practice so that you don’t dry out the food on accident. Grilling is one of the best ways to cook meats, seafood, and even fruit.
Blanching is the combination of two cooking methods. The first part is when you boil or steam your vegetables or other food before placing it in cold water to stop the cooking process. Most people opt for a bowl of ice water but running cold water from the faucet over the food works too.
One of the most popular reasons people use blanching is for boiled eggs. Another great way to use blanching is to preserve the nutritional value of veggies. Blanching helps remove microbes and pesticides, and it’s beneficial if you’re planning on freezing food.
Braising isn’t a common technique, but a great one to know about. To braise something, you’ll start by searing the meat, fruit, or veggies in a pan. After you’ve got a nice sear on each side of the food, you’ll let it finish cooking in some type of liquid. Something to keep in mind is that searing needs to be quick to keep the food’s moisture.
Stewing and braising are very similar. Both cooking techniques require searing the food in a pan before finishing the cooking process in a liquid. The main differences are that with stewing, we usually use smaller chunks of food, whether it’s meat or veggies, and we serve the broth or liquid with the meal. Serving the meal with broth allows for plenty of moisture and flavor.
To fry something, you’ll cook it at a high temperature in oil or fat. This high temperature and oil lock moisture inside the food while giving it a crispy exterior. Using a heavy pan is ideal for this since it can stand up to the high heat needed to fry something. The key to frying something is to partially submerge the food in the liquid.
Simmering is similar to boiling but at a lower temperature, so the water starts to bubble. It’s good for most of the same foods as poaching, including eggs and vegetables. Simmering also works well for pasta.
If you’re unsure whether to simmer, boil, or poach your ingredients, referring to the packaging or doing, some online research can help with that decision.
Broiling is another popular technique, and no, it’s not just a mistake spelling boiling. Broiling is done in the oven, like baking or roasting. Instead of the heat cooking the food all around, it places the food closer to the heat.
Doing this helps cook the top. Broiling usually starts at 204°C (400°F). Most people use broiling for thinner meat and seafood.
Make sure your cookware can take the heat when broiling. I am especially careful with non-stick cookware which can emit toxic fumes if overheated. Dedicated high-temperature cookware is ideal.
Searing is one of the most popular cooking techniques for steak. You’ll heat oil or another fat in a pan to a very high temperature before placing your steak or other meat down. You’ll need to sear the food until it has a nice thin crust. Then you’ll repeat this step on all four sides.
Poaching is when you cook something in hot water, but it’s not hot enough to be simmering or boiling. It’s one of the best methods to use for foods that easily go bad in too high of temperatures, like eggs.
Learning how to poach an egg properly means you can impress anyone with a delicious eggs benedict. Poaching helps the food maintain its natural flavor instead of when you cook it in oil or butter.
A dedicated egg poacher pan can really help you poach a great egg.
Sautéing is the technique many people confuse with frying. This is a simple technique where you cook food in a small amount of oil in a pan. It works well for most meats and vegetables, though it often requires flipping the food regularly to ensure it cooks evenly.
Most skillets sauté well. A sauté pan has slightly higher sides than a typical fry pan.
If you prefer almost instant gratification or a quick-cooking process, slow cooking might not be your favorite. As the name suggests, this cooking technique is slow and can take a few hours before your food is ready to eat. Slow cooking is the process of cooking something on low heat in a covered pot for anywhere from two to eight hours, depending on the dish.
Most people use a crockpot for slow cooker recipes, and it’s a great technique when you’re at work all day but want a warm dinner to come home to. One of the best things about slow cooking is that it locks in as much moisture as possible.
Stir-frying involves cooking veggies and meats at a high temperature in oil with spices. This cooking method is perfect for cooking vegetables and meats with different cooking times because it cooks everything thoroughly and fast.
Traditionally, stir-frying requires a wok, ideally a carbon steel one. A wok is a large pan that helps you rotate the food easily. If you don’t have a wok, a large frying pan will do the trick.
These are some of the most common cooking styles in the world. They’re beginner-friendly but can be used as you hone your skills. Every great chef knows how to execute these methods well, and once you do, you’ll be able to impress everyone you cook for.
Even if you don’t plan on grilling, slow cooking, or poaching your recipes all the time, it’s great to have these skills in your tool belt. Who knows, you might even find a new favorite!