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105 Food Words That Will Spice Up Your Cooking Vocabulary

Updated on April 1, 2019
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My primary purpose in this moment in time is to perplex and delight Word Weirdos with my love and delight in words.

105 Foodie Words from The Chew

Do you watch The Chew and sometimes not know what a food word means? We did, too, so we wrote this hoping we will grow more fluent in cook talk. Here are the top 105 words our editors heard on The Chew and other cooking programs whose meanings they did not know. How many do you know?

We have called this collection a Chewcabulary in tribute to the creativity displayed on the show. We looked up words each day, but found the definitions we found did not stick in our memories without practice.

Then we read about the precepts in Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Peter Brown et. al. and incorporated some suggestions from the book to improve our retention of new material. We use and recommend the following practice schedule: that you bookmark this page and come back to review the word list and retake the quiz in a few weeks; that you make flashcards for the words you haven’t remembered; and lastly that you learn to enjoy self-testing because it is more useful than repeated reading because “when the mind has to work, learning sticks better (42).

We believe there are many more foods out there to be loved if we knew about them, so we tried to focus the list on what we didn't already know. We looked for uncommon food words, so we hope you don’t know too many of these. We have also included pronunciation for the words so you can use them with confidence among your Foodie friends.


  1. Acid: ăs′ĭd refers to a substance having a sour or sharp flavor. Foods generally referred to as acidic include citrus juice, vinegar, and wine. The degree of acidity is measured on the pH scale, acids having a pH of less than 7.
  2. Aioli: ā-ō′lē, is a rich sauce of crushed garlic, egg yolks, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  3. A la King: al ah king is an American dish of diced foods, usually chicken or turkey, in a cream sauce with pimientos, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and sometimes sherry.
  4. Al dente: ăl dĕn′tē means to cook until pasta gives a slight resistance when bitten but not overcooked or undercooked. It means "tooth" in Italian.
  5. Adobo: ä-dō′bō is a Philippine national dish of braised pork, chicken, or fish. It is also seasoned Mexican sauce made with vinegar and chilies like the sauce in Chipolte peppers.
  6. Amuse-bouche: ə-myo͞oz′bo͞osh′ is a complimentary, bite-sized portion of food served before a meal or between courses in a restaurant.
  7. Antipasto: ăn′tĭ-păs′tō is an Italian term describing an assortment of appetizers.
  8. Baste: bāst is to add moisture, flavor and color to foods by brushing, drizzling or spooning pan juices or other liquids over the food during cooking.
  9. Bain Marie: băn′mə-rē’ is simply a water bath. It consists of placing a container of food in a large, shallow pan of warm water, which surrounds the food with gentle heat.
  10. Bangers and Mash: bangers and mash, pronounced just as you think it should be, is popular in England and is mashed potatoes with sausages (bangers).
  11. Bechamel: ˈbeɪ ʃəˌmɛl is a white sauce made with milk or cream and thickened with a roux. Bechamel sauce is generally used as a base for other more complex sauces but may be used alone for binding.
  12. Blini: blē′nē is a light pancake served with melted butter, sour cream, and other garnishes such as caviar.
  13. Bisque: bĭsk is a thick cream soup.
  14. Bourguignon: ˈbɜːɡɪnˌjɒn refers to French foods cooked in the style of Burgundy, including red wine, mushrooms, pearl onions, and bacon. Also Bourgogne or Bourguignonne.
  15. Braise: brāz is a cooking technique where meat is browned in oil or fat and then cooked covered very slowly in liquid. Braising enhances the flavor of the meat.
  16. Bresaola: [Italian] is salt-cured, air-dried beef fillet, served thinly sliced as an antipasto.
  17. Brine: brīn is a salt and water solution used for pickling and preserving.
  18. Brochette: brō-shĕt′ refers to food cooked on a skewer.
  19. Broil: broil is to place directly under or over a heat source while cooking.
  20. Broth: broth is liquid in which meat, poultry or vegetables have been simmered. Closely related to stock.
  21. Brulee: brûlé is a finishing method applied to dishes such as cream custards finished with caramelized sugar glaze.
  22. Caper: kā′pər is pickled hyssop buds which is used in sauces and as condiments for smoked fish and nicoise salad
  23. Caramelize: kăr′ə-mə-līz′ is to gently brown natural sugars and other compounds in food over low heat to produce a more intense flavor.
  24. Casserole: kăs′ə-rōl′ refers to both to a a baking dish and the ingredients it contains. Casserole cookery is popular because the ingredients are cooked and served in the same dish.
  25. Cassoulet: kăs′o͝o-lā′ is a classic stew from southwest France consisting of white beans and a variety of meats.
  26. Chateaubriand: shă-tō′brē-äN′ is a double steak cut from the center of the beef fillet, served tableside.
  27. Chutney: chŭt′nē is the name for a large range of sauces, jams or relishes used in East Indian cooking. Fresh chutneys have a bright, clean flavor and are usually thin, smooth sauces.
  28. Comfit: kŭm′fĭt a confection that consists of a piece of fruit, a seed, or a nut coated with sugar.
  29. Comida: [Spanish] food; main meal of the day.
  30. Confit: kōn-fē′ is to slowly cook pieces of meat in their own gently rendered fat.
  31. Conserva: [Spanish] conserve; preserves made from fruit and usually includes nuts.
  32. Consomme: kŏn′sə-mā′ is a clarified broth used as a base for sauces and soups.
  33. Crudites: kro͞o′dĭ-tā′ is an assortment of raw vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, served as an hors d'oeuvre often accompanied by a dip.
  34. Daikon: dī′kŏn′ is a Japanese root vegetable that looks like a white carrot, used in salads and a wide variety of cooked dishes, including stir-fry.
  35. Egg wash: is a mixture of 1 whole egg, egg yolk, or egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water or milk and then brushed on the unbaked surface of breads, pastries, or other baked goods just before baking to provide a rich color or gloss to the crust.
  36. Falafel: fə-lä′fəl is a Middle Eastern dish consisting of a paste made from ground dried chickpeas and herbs shaped into balls and deep-fried.
  37. Fool: noun [fool] is a dish made of fruit, scalded or stewed, crushed and mixed with cream or the like: gooseberry fool.
  38. Gustation: gŭ-stā′shən is the faculty of distinguishing sweet, sour, bitter, and salty properties in the mouth.
  39. Gremolata: grĕm′ə-lä′tə is a mixture of chopped parsley, lemon rind, and garlic, used as a garnish for osso buco and other dishes.
  40. Jus: dʒʌs is a rich, lightly reduced stock used as a sauce for roasted meats.
  41. Mandoline: măn′də-lĭn′ is the original food processor, slices vegetables very thin.
  42. Marinade, To Marinate: măr′ə-nād′ is a liquid seasoning blend or dry spice rub for foods, used for flavor enhancement and tenderizing. Liquid marinades are usually acid-based with wine, vinegar, yogurt or lemon juice with added spices.
  43. Marinara: măr′ə-năr′ə means "sailor-style" in Italian. This sauce can be made either red or white, but always contains garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, and vinegar and/or wine.
  44. Marzipan: marʦiˈpaːn is a mixture of almond paste, sugar and egg whites used to cover dessert cakes or to mold and shape for decorations on pastries.
  45. Migajon: [Spanish] soft inside of bread.
  46. Mignon: min ‘yon is a term used to describe coarsely ground pepper used for au poivre preparations and bouquet garnish. It can also describe small round pieces of meat or poultry.
  47. Mille-feuilles: mil foy (see video) are small rectangular pastries made of crisp layers of puff pastry and pastry cream. The word mille-feuille means a thousand leaves.
  48. Mirepoix: mere poy [French] is a mixture of chopped onion, carrot, and celery used to flavor stocks and soups. Ham or bacon are sometimes added to a mirepoix.
  49. Mise en place: mizzen plas [French] mise (to put) en (in) place (place). Known to any professional cook, it means "putting in place," and refers to the many prepped ingredients that must be on hand in order to be ready for meal service.
  50. Miso, light or dark (red): mē′sō is fermented soybean paste used as a basic ingredient in many Japanese dishes.
  51. Mojo: mō′jō′ is a Cuban seasoning mix made of garlic, olive oil, and sour oranges It is used as a dip, marinade, or sauce for vegetables and meats.
  52. Mole: mō′lā′ is a Mexican specialty, mole is a dark, reddish-brown sauce, often served with chicken or turkey. Mole is made from a variety of ingredients, including ground seeds, chile peppers, onion, garlic, and chocolate.
  53. Mont blanc: [French] is a rich dessert of chestnut puree and whipped cream.
  54. Monter au beurre: [French] is to whisk cold butter into a hot liquid to give the liquid a silky consistency and depth of flavor.
  55. Mortadella: môr′tə-dĕl′ə is a smoked sausage from Bologna, Italy, the city that brought us "bologna" sausage. Made from finely ground beef, pork, cubes of pork fat, and seasonings.
  56. Mousse: mo͞os is a sweet or savory dish, usually made with egg whites or whipped cream to give the light, airy texture. In French, the word means "froth" or "foam."
  57. Mullet: mŭl′ĭt is used to describe several families of important food fish. In general, they are saltwater fish with a moderate to high fat content and flesh that is tender, white, and firm textured.
  58. Osso buco: ō′sō bo͞o′kō is an Italian dish consisting of braised veal shanks in white wine.
  59. Paella: pä-ĕl′ə is a Spanish dish consisting of rice, saffron, a variety of meat and shellfish, garlic, onions, peas, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Paella is named for the wide, shallow pan it's cooked in.
  60. Pancetta: păn-chĕt′ə is cured pork belly that is rolled and tied, but unlike American bacon is not smoked.
  61. Panna cotta: păn′ə kŏt′ə is a chilled dessert made with cream and often milk simmered with sugar and flavorings and set with gelatin, often served with a caramel or fruit sauce.
  62. Pickle: pĭk′əl is to preserve food in a vinegar mixture or seasoned brine.
  63. Pierogi: pĭ-rō′gē is a semicircular dumpling with any of various fillings, such as finely chopped meat or vegetables.
  64. Porridge: pôr′ĭj is hot, cooked (usually oatmeal) cereal.
  65. Posole, Pozole: pə-zō′lā is hominy stew made with dried lime-treated corn and combined with pork and seasonings.
  66. Pot Liquor, or Pot Likker: pronounced pot liquor, is the liquid left after cooking greens, vegetables, or other food. It's traditionally served with cornbread in the South.
  67. Pot Sticker Wrappers: are very thin sheets of dough made from flour, eggs and salt. Wrappers are used for small meat and vegetable filled dumplings known as pot stickers, as well as for won ton and egg rolls.
  68. Puree: pyo͝o-rā′ is a food that has been mashed or sieved until smooth.
  69. Ragout: ră-go͞o′ is derived from the French verb ragouter, which means "to stimulate the appetite." A ragout is seasoned stew, usually made with meat, poultry, fish, and often vegetables.
  70. Ragu: ră-go͞o′ is a meaty, slow-cooked tomato sauce, ideal with lasagne, raviloi, and other fresh pasta.
  71. Ramekin: răm′ĭ-kĭn is an Individual ovenproof baking dishe made of ceramic, porcelain or glass and used in the preparation of custards and other miniature sweet or savory dishes.
  72. Ras el hanout also ras al hanout: räs′ əl hə-no͞ot′ is an aromatic Maghrebi spice blend containing a variety of ingredients, including dried rose petals and often cardamom or turmeric.
  73. Ratatouille: rat tah two ee [French] a vegetable stew consisting of onions, eggplant, sweet peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes flavored with garlic, herbs, and olive oil.
  74. Sabayon: sä′bä-yôN′ is a frothy custard of egg yolk, sugar, and wine that is made by whisking the ingredients over simmering water. Served warm as a dessert or sauce.
  75. Sabayon: sä′bä-yôN′ is also known as zabaglione. A delicious dessert containing egg yolks, wine, cream, and sugar. Can be eaten by itself or served as a sauce for other desserts.
  76. Salmagundi: săl′mə-gŭn′dē is a mixture of many foods cut into pieces: meat, chicken, seafood, cheese, vegetables, combined with or without a sauce, served cold. Yum!
  77. Satay: sä′tā is a dish in which small pieces of meat (chicken, beef or lamb) are barbecued on a skewer and served with a spicy peanut sauce.
  78. Saute: sō-tā′ is to cook quickly in a pan on top of the stove until the food is browned. You can saute in oil, wine, broth or even water.
  79. Scampi: skăm′pē is another word for langoustine, or shrimp. Used in the US as a description of shrimp broiled with butter, lemon, and garlic.
  80. Seviche: sə-vē′chā is a dish of raw fish, scallops, or shrimp marinated in citrus juices until the flesh becomes "cooked". Onions, peppers, and chiles are then added to finish the dish.
  81. Shirred eggs: shûr are eggs broken into shallow ramekins containing cream or crumbs, then baked or broiled until set.
  82. Simmer: sĭm′ər is to cook in a liquid just below the boiling point, at temperatures of 185 to 2100F (85 to 990C).
  83. Smitane: is wine sauce with sour cream and onions added.
  84. Smorgasbord: [Swedish] s’more ga s board is a Swedish buffet of many dishes served as hors d oeuvres or a full meal. Similar buffets are served throughout Scandinavia, as well as the Soviet Union. Common elements of a smorgasbord are pickled herring, marinated vegetables, smoked and cured salmon and sturgeon, and a selection of canapes.
  85. Sofrito: [Spanish] soˈfɾito is a famous seasoning mix which includes cured ham, lard or canola oil, oregano, onion, green pepper, sweet chile peppers, fresh coriander leaves and garlic.
  86. Soft Peaks: is a term used to describe beaten egg whites or cream. When the beaters are removed, soft peaks curl over and droop rather than stand straight up.
  87. Sorbetto: sor-BAY-toh is a fruit-based gelato that contains no dairy products. You may know it better as sorbet.
  88. Souffle: so͞o-flā′ is from the French for "breath," a fluffy, airy dish that can be sweet or savory. Souffles rise as they bake, forming a top hat-like shape and most should be served immediately.
  89. Souse: sous is to cover food, particularly fish, in wine vinegar and spices and cook slowly. The food is cooled in the same liquid. This gives food a pickled flavor.
  90. Sous vide: so͞o vēd′ is low-temperature cooking carried out by vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag placed in a water bath or combi steamer with precisely controlled temperature for a long time.
  91. Spaetzle: shpĕts′lə is a coarse noodle from Alsace and Germany made of flour, eggs, oil, and water.
  92. Spaghetti squash: spə-gĕt′ē squash is a squash whose flesh resembles a mass of spaghetti-like strands. Cut it in half and scrape out the strands, toss with sauce or butter and seasonings, or make into pancakes as you would grated zucchini.
  93. Spatchcock: spăch′kŏk is a technique whereby poultry shears or a sharp knife is used to split chicken along backbone, leaving breastbone intact, often served with vinaigrette sauce.
  94. Spice: spīs is made from the seeds and skin of plants (berries, bark, fruits, unopened flowers) used to flavor foods. Unlike herbs, spices are almost always dried.
  95. Spotted pup: Chuckwagon name for raisin pudding. The pudding without raisins is called "pup."
  96. Spring roll: thin sheets of dough which are filled with meat, seafood, or vegetables and rolled into logs. Spring rolls are most often deep fried, though they may also be steamed.
  97. Springform Pan: a round cake pan a little deeper than a standard cake pan. Springform pans have a clamp on the side which releases the sides from the bottom, leaving the cake intact. It's commonly used for cheesecake.
  98. Sriracha: sĭ-rä′chə is a hot sauce made from sun-ripened chiles which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic. You may use it in soups, sauces, pastas, pizzas, hot dogs, hamburgers, or chow mein.
  99. Sunchokes: are also called Jerusalem artichokes. Sunchokes are the knobby roots of a perennial sunflower resembling ginger in appearance and having a subtle, delicious flavor.
  100. Syllabub: sĭl′ə-bŭb′ is an English dessert comprised mainly of whipped cream sweetened with sugar and flavored with sherry, brandy, or Cointreau. Lemon zest, fruit preserves or puree may also be swirled into the cream.
  101. Tartare: [French} tar tar is very lean beef, minced and served raw, but we have seen Tuna Tartare on Top Chef.
  102. Veloute: və-lo͞o-tā′ is an extremely smooth creamy sauce of various stock bases thickened with a roux. This is used as a base for other more complex sauces, though it may be used alone.
  103. Vichyssoise: vĭsh′ē-swäz′ is a cold potato and leek soup thickened with cream and garnished with chives. The term is now applied to many other tuber-based soups.
  104. Vinaigrette: vĭn′ĭ-grĕt′ is an oil and vinegar sauce usually used on salad greens or other vegetables. Vinaigrette may contain other seasonings, shallots, onions, mustard.
  105. Virgin Olive Oil: a first-press oil, with an acidity level between 1 percent and 3 percent, just slightly higher than extra-virgin olive oil.
  106. Xanthan gum: ˈzæn θən gum is used as a thickener and emulsifier in dairy products, salad dressings, and other foods and is made from corn sugar.

We Love Our Food!

We don't even need to be told that to wrap our pork loin in bacon is barding. We just did it it!
We don't even need to be told that to wrap our pork loin in bacon is barding. We just did it it! | Source

We Should Admit

That we took a lot of snack breaks during the writing of this article.


Pronounce Mille-feuilles

Food porn?
Food porn? | Source

Shoot Your Azimuth Whenever You Can

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Which list would you find most helpful in the kitchen?

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Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.

— Guy Fieri

Thinking Assignment

We watch The Great British Baking Show, too. We based this Thinking Assignment on the structure of the show, so first make your best recipe in the category of Do a couple of recipes arranged in the sequence they use on British Baking show1. your specialty in that category 2. technical challenge recipe 3. showstopper of your own choosing.

Flashcards! Ugh

That's right, our old friend the flashcard is back with a bullet. We like to use note cards for our recipes because we are messy and frequently damage beautiful cookbooks by opening them to the recipe we intend to cook and promptly slopping food on them.

Word Groups

Cooking Process
Sous Vide
Bain Marie

Works Cited 2006. website. 7 December 2017. n.d. Website. 8 December 2017. n.d. website. 7 December 2017. n.d. website. 7 December 2017.


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