Cooking Techniques: Did you realize there are only eight?

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frying_panBy Lynn M. Miller

Did you realize that there are really only five categories of cooking techniques? Once you learn them, you can apply them to various foods. Master these and you can cook anything! The difference within the categories has to do with different types of levels of heat and/or different amounts or types of liquids.

Shorter cooking times are for tender cuts of meats. Longer cooking times are for tougher cuts of meat that need more time to break down fibers and tenderize. That’s all there is to it!


-Sauté: Use a small amount of oil in a hot frying pan. Cook quickly over high heat.

-Stir Fry: Use a small amount of oil in a high sided frying pan. Stir and cook small pieces quickly over high heat.

-Deep Fry: Immerse relatively small pieces of (normally) breaded items in hot oil.


-Grilling: Brush with oil and cook over direct heat on the lower side of a horizontal grill.

-Broiling: Brush with oil and cook using direct heat on the upper side of an oven or broiler.


-Shallow Poaching: Cooking in a small amount of liquid between 140 and 185 degrees F.

-Deep Poaching: Cooking in a lot of liquid between 140 and 185 degrees F.

-Boiling: cooking in lots of boiling liquid at 212 degrees F and above.

-Steaming: Cooking in a covered basket, over liquid that creates moist steam.


-Long, slow cooking in a moderate amount of  liquid, generally between 190 and 205 degrees F.


-Roasting: Cooking in a pan with a small amount of oil or liquid in indirect heat (e.g. an oven).

-Baking: Put product inside a hot oven. Indirect heat , without added liquid.

-Poêlé: Roast the product in a hot oven.  Indirect heat, with product half immersed in butter.

-BBQ: Place the product in a grill and close it. Indirect heat (because heat is off to the sides.)

-Smoking: Roasting in a smoker or stovetop covered pan, using indirect heat and smoke generated from wood chips. (Can also be in a closed oven or grill.) Cold smoking is under 200 degrees F and hot smoking is about 200 degrees F.

Now that you’ve got your terms down, get out in the kitchen and start cooking! You can do it!

About Lynn M. Miller

Lynn M. Miller is Executive Chef for MexAmerica Foods. She is also the author of the FLAVOR SECRETS: BACK TO THE BASICS cookbook and host of the Flavor Secrets television show. She teaches private cooking classes and is an active member of the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and the American Culinary Federation. Her web-site is: