Top Cooking Methods That Chefs Should Master

One of the most important qualities of a professional chef is the mastery of different cooking techniques. The specific way a chef prepares a protein or vegetable can have a dramatic impact on the flavor, appearance, and texture of the food. For example, searing a tuna steak will give it a delicious brown crust and rare center, while grilling the same fish will cook it through and produce a flaky texture. Learning and mastering a variety of cooking methods is key to a successful kitchen career. Here are the top cooking methods you can expect to learn at a National Culinary & Baking School.


This method involves cooking with the steam that rises from hot liquid. To steam, fill a pot with a few inches of water and fit the pot with a steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil; add your seafood or vegetables to the basket, and cover the pot. Steaming is considered a healthy option for cooking since it keeps many of the food’s nutrients in tact.


Blanching involves quickly submerging vegetables in boiling water and then immediately transferring the cooked food to an ice water bath. This last step is referred to as “shocking,” and it’s used to stop any further cooking from residual heat. Blanching is often used to maintain the color, flavor, and texture of a food.


This method uses nearly simmering water (160F to 180F) to cook delicate ingredients, like eggs, poultry, vegetables, and fruit. Poaching can also be used to infuse a particular food with flavor, depending on the liquid and aromatics used. Like steaming, poaching is considered a healthy cooking technique since it uses liquid, not fat, as a heat conduit.


Searing uses high heat to cook food and keep juices in tact through formation of a delicious golden crust. To achieve the perfect sear, the pan must be very hot, but not smoking. The food must also be patted dry, as adding moisture to the pan will create steam. Add just enough oil to coat the surface of the pan, and allow the food to cook uninterrupted for a few minutes on each side, until the crust has formed.


Like searing, sautéing involves cooking food quickly with a small amount of fat over medium to high heat. Sautéing allows for caramelization of the food to occur, developing complex flavors and aromas. With sautéing, you want to flip the items in the pan constantly – sauté means “jump” in French. Moving the food while it cooks helps maintain a consistent temperature in the pan so the surface of the food browns evenly.


Braising is a unique cooking method because it uses both dry and wet cooking techniques. First, the food is sautéed or seared over high heat to brown the surface and enhance the flavor. Then, a small amount of liquid is added to the pan, where cooking continues at a lower temperature. With braising, the food is typically covered two-thirds with liquid and allowed to simmer until very tender.


Roasting involves cooking food in an uncovered pan in the oven. It’s considered a dry technique, as opposed to braising, as no liquid is involved. When roasting protein or vegetables, hot air surrounds the food to cook it evenly on all sides. The heat creates a caramelization process that browns the surface of the food, enhancing the flavor and texture.
Apply these cooking techniques at culinary school in San Diego

Remember how exciting it was the first time you prepared a delicious home cooked meal? That was just the beginning. Attending culinary school in San Diego will give you the confidence and experience you need to build a successful career in the kitchen. At National Culinary & Baking School, our students are passionate about the craft of cooking and go on to work at some of the most esteemed restaurants in Southern California. Ready to join them?

Contact us today at (619) 249-5180 to learn more about our culinary arts program and pastry arts program in San Diego.