Cooking techniques or culinary techniques, the ways in which food and beverages are prepared, combined, heated, cooled, stored, and presented, are numerous and reflect the long historical development cooking has had alongside the growth of human culture and society.
Below offers an overview of these techniques. As each culture and society influences the ways in which we prepare our food, it is important to recognise that this is not a complete list and is also heavily Western-influenced. As well as this, cooking itself is on a spectrum between being an art as well as a science. This creates some techniques that are more guidelines or advice, whilst others must be followed carefully if the desired outcome is to be achieved.
The first steps in cooking are usually preparatory, and this stage involves a range of techniques. Basic prep often requires measuring, cutting, mixing, and seasoning. Sometimes combined ingredients must sit for a period of time, as in marinating, macerating, brining, steeping, degorging, and proofing. Coatings may be applied to pieces of food through brushing, basting, and dredging.
Heating is an important part of many types of cooking. It is what breaks down starches, fibers, and connective tissues, coagulates proteins, gelatinizes starches, and contributes flavor and color through browning and caramelization. It also kills many pathogens that cause food-borne illness.
A variety of methods are used to heat and cook foods. These can generally be divided into two types, with some exceptions: moist heat methods and dry heat methods. Moist heat cooking relies on liquid water or steam to cook the food, and it includes boiling, simmering, scalding, poaching, stewing, and blanching. Instead of moisture, dry heat cooking uses hot air or fat to cook the food; it includes baking, roasting, grilling, broiling, barbecuing, searing, toasting, smoking, and frying. Other methods that rely on a combination or neither of these two methods include braising, microwaving, thermal cooking, and sous-vide cooking.
Food is inherently highly perishable. As such, cooks have developed methods to delay this process and extend the shelf-life of foods. Storage in a cold environment, for example, can significantly delay growth of pathogens, and freezing and refrigeration have become widespread in many kitchens. At the other extreme, canning uses heat to sterilize foods before sealing them away from the external environment to prevent spoilage. Many preservation techniques have the added benefit of altering the flavor and/or texture of the food, such as in fermenting, curing, pickling, smoking, and drying.
For a complete list of techniques in the cookbook, see Category:Cooking techniques or browse below: