3 Cooking Methods to Master

There are three basic cooking methods that are used when cooking with heat. Understanding how the heat is used and applying the correct cooking method is good knowledge to have if you are trying to become a better cook.

For example, you probably wouldn’t want to boil a nice piece of steak. Or grill an egg for hard boiled eggs. While that may seem like an extreme example it should get the point across. Make sense?

This article will provide:

  1. A high level summary of each cooking method
  2. How each cooking method is different.
  3. Examples of common recipes to demonstrate how the methods are different and produce different results.
  4. We will also provide links to more detailed articles on each cooking method.

Let’s get started!

Dry Heat Cooking Methods

Dry Heat Cooking uses no liquid and high temperatures (usually greater than 300 degrees Fahrenheit) to brown the food. Browning is known as the Maillard Reaction or Effect.

This is a chemical reaction where the amino acids and sugars in the food cause the food to brown. This creates flavors and aromas that will make your mouth water. Think of a waiter or waitress walking through the restaurant with a sizzling platter of fajitas. Or a steak sizzling on the grill.

Dry heat cooking methods include grilling, broiling, sauteing, roasting, baking, pan frying and deep fat frying.

Dry heat methods are commonly used for meats, poultry, fruits, vegetables and baked goods like cakes and pizza. For more detailed information on dry heat cooking methods visit this detailed post Dry Heat Cooking Methods.

A steak cooking on a wire grill over an open flame. Dry Heat Cooking Methods.

Moist Heat Cooking Methods

Moist heat cooking methods use? you guessed it, liquid like broth, stock, wine, water and even steam to add flavor and moisture to the food. Because water or other liquids will not get hotter than 212 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling) moist heat cooking is done at much lower temperatures than dry heat cooking. If you want to learn more about water and water temperatures for different kinds of cooking read our post on How to Boil Water.

Moist heat methods include: poaching, simmering and boiling. Foods that are cooked using these methods are eggs, poultry, rice, oats and other grains, fruits and vegetables. Poached eggs, hard boiled eggs and even tamales are good examples of moist heat cooking. For more detailed information on using moist heat in cooking read our Moist Heat Cooking article.

Combination Cooking Methods

The final method is combination cooking. Combination cooking uses both dry and moist heat. Combination cooking methods include braising and stewing. Braising is the perfect choice for tough cuts of meat. And stewing is usually used for smaller cuts. The food is seared in hot oil until browned and then cooked in a liquid over low heat until tender and flavorful. The difference between braising and stewing is that in stewing the food is fully submerged in the liquid. Braising uses a smaller amount of liquid to infuse flavor into the food and breakdown connective tissue in tougher cuts of meat.

Examples of foods the do well with combination cooking are beef brisket,carne asada, beef stew and chili. A slow cooker that can brown or saute and then cook low and slow is a great tool to have for moist heat cooking. Click on the highlighted text to see the slow cooker we use in our kitchen.

For detailed information on combination cooking see our Mastering Combination Cooking article.

Final Thoughts on Cooking Methods

Using the right cooking method for the food you want to prepare is a key to kitchen success. Check out this great chart that shows Cooking Methods and Foods that work under each method.

While there is more to learn than we covered today, you should now have a general idea of which method works best for the recipes you want to make for your family and friends and if you want more detail on a particular cooking method or recipes to help practice the methods check out the articles linked above.

Please save this post for future reference on Pinterest and share it with your family and friends. Have a question we didn’t answer? Please leave a comment below. Your comments and questions are so important to us and help us improve our content.

Happy Cooking!

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