Planning & Prep
Types of Cooking: How to Choose The Right Cooking Method For Your Next Meal
Are you struggling with what to use to cook your next meal? From cultural backgrounds to environments, there are many elements that factor into what cooking method you use.
What is the best cooking method for me to use?
There are many factors in deciding what cooking method to use. The numerous cooking techniques largely depend on the time available and on-hand equipment. Some take longer than others or require more extensive equipment. Your taste preference and dietary needs will also largely influence how you cook your next meal choice.
Different types of cooking methods
Here’s a variety of cooking methods to help you produce your next great meal.
1. Air frying
A new tool in cooking is air frying food. This versatile tool is a small oven that circulates a high rate of air. Cooking times are reduced by up to half compared to normal baking. This tool is also a choice for reheating foods, such as pizza or chicken wings.
Baking is one of the most common cooking methods. Dry heat is applied to a contained area, typically an oven, which brings the food up to temperature. Bread and flour-based foods are popular baked items.
Blanching is the process of boiling or steaming food for a brief time. Vegetables are the most common food type that benefit from the blanching process. This process can both sanitize and enhance the colors of the vegetables. Blanching also stunts enzyme loss, extending the life of the food significantly.
In braising, foods are typically seared and then cooked in a liquid. Searing seals in flavors by browning the meat or vegetables on all sides in a hot pan.
After searing the food on each side, place it into a well-seasoned flavorful liquid. Whether it is a stock, wine, or the natural juices made, the liquid you use in braising will amply the flavors in the dish.
Broiling is very similar to grilling, but instead of a dedicated appliance used to cook the food, your oven does the job. The broiler often is located at the top of the oven. An electric oven uses a coil, whereas a gas oven uses a flame to heat the food.
6. Deep frying
Deep frying food is a method for quickly cooking foods. Ingredients are immersed into hot oil to cook. A few items to cook are fish, potatoes, and other battered foods. The most common vessel for deep frying is a deep pan at home. There are also dedicated fryers available for purchase.
Dehydrating preserves food by removing moisture, thus inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Herbs, fruits, and vegetables are a few common things to dehydrate.
Traditionally, Swiss or Gruyere cheese is melted in a communal pot to create a fondue. Pieces of bread, vegetables, and other small food items can be skewered with long forks to coat in the melted cheese.
Grilling is the process of placing food onto a grate or rack over a heat source. Outdoor grilling is one of the more popular methods. Propane or charcoal grills can be used as heat sources to cook on outdoor grills. Both direct and indirect heat is applied, causing the food to achieve the desired temperature.
Dedicated indoor grilling equipment is also becoming popular. While many people cook meat and vegetables, you can also grill some fruits to help amplify their natural sugars.
10. Infrared cooking
A relatively new cooking technique, infrared cooktops use electric or gas elements to heat a surface. Infrared waves emit onto food, resulting in a quicker cooking time. This cooking process also helps the food retain moisture.
Microwaves are one of the most common dedicated appliances in a kitchen. It is a quick and easy way to heat liquids and foods alike. The device emits electromagnetic waves, then reflected by metal tubes in the oven, resulting in the water molecules vibrating to produce heat.
12. Pan frying
While deep frying submerges the food, pan-frying uses high smoke point oil to coat the bottom of the food. High and direct heat is applied, resulting in steam on the pan’s surface, making a flavorful and caramelized product. To evenly cook, pan-fried food needs to be flipped often. Chicken and fish are amongst the most popular foods to pan fry.
Poaching involves submerging foods in a liquid, usually water or stock, until reaching the desired temperature. This method is different from boiling because temperatures are lower. This results in a more desirable texture and flavor in eggs, poultry, and fish.
14. Pressure cooking
Pressure cooking is a high pressured steam cooking technique. Heat is applied to an enclosed pot, creating steam and raising the boiling temperature of the liquid. This results in a quicker cook time. Manual heating pressure cookers are no longer as popular, as now there are dedicated electronic devices.
Also known as spit-roasting, rotisserie cooking is the process of skewering meat on a rod and rotating it over a heat source. The spinning evenly distributes heat and is best for large portions of meat, such as chicken or pork.
16. Slow cooking
A slow cooker is a dedicated kitchen appliance that allows foods to be cooked over an extended period. An electronic element evenly distributes a preset amount of heat. Slow cookers are ideal for cooks who have a short meal prep time, as most ingredients can be combined all at once.
Smoking is the process of cooking food, most often meat, over a fire. Burning wood or wood chips over flames or an electronic element allows the food to immerse in smoke, which adds flavor to the food.
18. Sous vide
Sous vide, or immersion circulation devices, allow water to be set to an exact temperature. After water comes up to temperature, food is then sealed into a food-safe bag, submerged, and cooked for the desired time. Foods like steak benefit from cooking to an exact temperature.
Steaming gently cooks food without the introduction of oils and fats. The ingredients are placed above water, and steam surrounds the food and gently cooks to perfect doneness. Steamed food also retains its nutrients and natural juices.
A technique with Chinese origins, stir-frying is the process of cooking proteins and vegetables in a wok pan over high heat. Using a small amount of oil, the wok allows the cook to focus the ingredients that need heat towards the middle while pushing the ones that do not require a higher temperature to the steep sides.
Try out some new cooking techniques
Having a foundational knowledge of the cooking methods above will open opportunities to try different recipes. You can even combine a few of the methods above to make some flavorful results! With a better understanding of available cooking methods, you’ll have more confidence to approach your next cooking adventure. Ready to master your next cooking skill? Put our grams to cups calculator to the test to save even more time baking.
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