Cooking And Baking: What Is The Difference?

Last Updated on April 1, 2022

Cooking and baking are terms that we are all familiar with. However, many people are unfamiliar with the differences between cooking and baking. Though some people use the terms interchangeably, they do have different meanings.

Both baking and cooking are ways to prepare food, but they emphasize different things. There are some key components that can help you understand the meaning of each word. Knowing the difference between the two can help you get a better understanding in the kitchen.

Cooking Vs Baking

Cooking and baking are the two most common words used to describe food preparation. They are broad terms that categorize how foods are prepared and made.

Cooking is much older than baking. People began cooking as long ago as 1.8 million and 400,000 years ago. Baking, on the other hand, began around 6,500 years ago, making it a relatively new invention.

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What is cooking?

Cooking is a broad term that describes the process of mixing, preparing, and heating foods to make them palatable to eat. The process of cooking changes the chemical composition of food, improving the flavor and making it safe to eat.

There are many different types of cooking that are each specific ways you can prepare food. Some of the most common cooking methods include baking, grilling, sauteing, frying, roasting, broiling, steaming, and smoking, among others.

When people talk about cooking, they are mainly focusing on savory foods. However, cooking is not just limited to preparing savory foods. There are three main ways heat is transferred to food while cooking: radiation, convection, and conduction.

Generally, those who cook are called cooks and those who bake are called bakers. Chef is a term that can describe professionals in the culinary world, in primarily cooking, but also baking.

What is baking?

Baking falls under the broad term of cooking. It is a method of food preparation that uses dry heat in an enclosed space to prepare food. The most common way to bake food is by using an oven.

Baking is most commonly associated with preparing and making desserts. When people hear of baking, they commonly associate it with making bread, cakes, cookies, brownies, pastries, and muffins. However, baking can refer to other dishes too including vegetables, meats, and seafood.

There are a lot of baked goods that go through a leavening process. This can be from yeast, baking powder, or baking soda in the dough or batter.

when was cooking and baking equipment be cleaned


Main Differences

There are some differences that can help you understand what set baking apart from cooking. In both processes, food will undergo changes that include appearance, texture, flavor, and chemical composition. However, there are some aspects that set the two apart.


Though many of the same ingredients can be used for baking and cooking, there are some ingredients you will primarily only find in baking. Leavening agents tend to be specific to only baking, as the heat from the oven helps doughs and batters to rise.


When it comes to a culinary kitchen, you will find lots of different equipment, appliances and tools. In a chef’s kitchen, you will likely find pots, pans, skillets, spatulas, knives, tongs and more. In a baker’s kitchen, you will likely find mixers, measuring bowls, baking sheets, baking pans, measuring cups, scale, whisks and of course an oven.

Though there is equipment specific to baking and to cooking, there are also a lot that can be used for both. Each form of food preparation tends to require a lot of equipment.

Art vs science

Oftentimes, cooking is referred to as an art, and baking is referred to as a science. This is because cooking often allows from for improvising whereas baking requires precision.

In baking, especially desserts, ingredients must be carefully measured out to ensure the baked good will have the right texture, consistency, and flavor. Cooking gives you more freedom to play around with your ingredients, as things don’t have to be as precise to get delicious results.

Popularity across the world

Depending on where you go, cooking or baking may be more popular than the other. Regions throughout the world have their own distinct cuisines and methods for preparing foods.

Since cooking is much older than baking, it is more popular throughout the world. Baking gained popularity in Europe first before spreading to America and then Asia, then later throughout the rest of the world. In some countries, particularly in hot, humid environments, ovens are not as nearly common as they are in North America or Europe.

Understanding The Differences Between Cooking And Baking

Baking and cooking are the two most common terms people use for talking about food preparation. Cooking is the general process of preparing, mixing, and heating foods to improve their flavor and make them safe. Baking focuses on using dry heat in an enclosed space, like an oven, to heat food.

Do you have any questions regarding cooking and baking? If so, please ask your culinary questions in the comment section below.


What is the Difference Between Cooking and Baking?

Cooking is a broad term that describes preparing, mixing and heating food to enhance flavor and make it safe for consumption. Baking focuses on preparing food by using dry heat in an enclosed space, such as an oven. Baking is often associated specifically with bread and desserts.

Which is Easier Cooking or Baking?

Many people find cooking to be easier as it is not as precise as baking. However, it depends on the specific recipe as if to baking or cooking is easier.

When Should Cooking and Baking Equipment be Cleaned?

You should always clean your baking and cooking equipment after using. You do not want to risk cross-contamination from meats or other raw ingredients.

What Are the Names of Some Tools We use in the Kitchen for Baking and Cooking?

Some of the most common kitchen tools for cooking include pots, pans, tongs, spatulas, skillets and knives. Some of the most common tools for baking include mixers, measuring spoons, measuring cups, mixing bowls, baking sheets and baking pans.

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