5 Basic Cooking Techniques for Students

Students don’t have to live on cold pizza and peanut butter sandwiches. Learn a few basic cooking techniques to cook for yourself while in school.

1. Roast

Roasting is a simple technique of cooking foods uncovered in the oven at a high temperature. This can make meats tender and vegetables soft and caramelized. Roasting works best with firm vegetables such as squash or sweet potatoes, as well as larger cuts of meat like whole chickens or a roast. To roast, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place vegetables in a large roasting pan and put meat on top. Season with salt and pepper and bake approximately 45 minutes.

2. Boil

Boiling is bringing water up to a high temperature, thus its boiling point. Most often, pasta is boiled. To boil pasta, fill a pot about two-thirds full of water and add about 1-2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil on high heat, then add the desired pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes.

3. Grill

Grilling is a popular technique used to cook just about anything. While traditionalists require a charcoal grill, a gas grill or even a cast iron grill pan for the stove top can do the job. The grilling surface should be cleaned, then preheated before placing food items on it. Be sure to coat the grill or the food with oil prior to placing on the hot grill to keep it from sticking. For a comprehensive look at how to grill different foods, check out How to Grill Almost Anything.

4. Saute

Sauteeing is a way to cook something in a small amount of liquid, most commonly boneless chicken breasts or thin-cut pork chops. To saute, heat a small amount of oil in a saute pan or skillet on medium heat. Next, add meat and allow to cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. (Note: a good indication of when the meat is ready to be turned is when it no longer sticks to the pan.)

5. Fry

Frying is a technique of cooking items quickly in hot oil. To fry, begin with a large skillet or pan. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan by about half an inch. Heat oil to medium heat and coat the items you plan to fry with flour. To test if the oil is hot enough, toss in a pinch of flour; if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Slowly and carefully drop in the items to be cooked, ensuring that there is enough room for them to float in a single layer. When they begin to brown, turn them to cook evenly. When finished, remove the pieces and allow to cool for a few minutes on a paper towel before serving.

Louise Baker is a freelance blogger who usually writes about online degrees for Zen College Life. Her most recent article ranked the best online schools.