Cooking Time Guidelines: How long should you cook food?

In every culture, food is a central part of life. It not only nourishes the body but also plays an important role in traditions and celebrations. One of the most important aspects of cooking is time. Depending on the dish, the cooking time can be short or long, simple or complex. Here is a general guide on how long it should take to cook your food, depending on the cooking method.

Assume all foods are prepared from scratch. These do not apply to pre-made/canned foods.

Cooking time For boiling & Stewing

Slow-boiling water has the same temperature as fast-boiling water, and both do the same amount of work. So, conserve electricity or gas.

In general, stewing is the most economical way to cook cheaper and tougher cuts of meat and poultry. Using this method, food is cooked for a long time in sufficient water to cover it — slightly below boiling point.

Boiling & Stewing FoodsQuantityApproximate Time
Cornmeal3 hours
Hominy — fine1 hour
Oatmeal — rolled30 min.
Oatmeal coarse — steamed3 hours
Rice — steamed45 – 60 min.
Rice — boiled15 – 20 min.
Wheat Granules20 – 30 min.
Eggs — soft boiled3 – 6 min.
Eggs — hard-boiled15 – 20 min.
Fish, long — wholeper lb.6 – 10 min.
Fish — cubicalper lb.15 min.
Clams,
Oysters
3 – 5 min.
Beef — both corned and à la mode3 – 5 hours
Soup stock3 – 6 hours
Veal, Mutton2 – 3 hours
Ham5 hours
Sweetbreads20 – 30 min.
Sweet corn5 – 8 min.
Asparagus,
Tomatoes,
Peas
15 – 20 min.
Macaroni,
Potatoes,
Spinach,
Squash,
Celery,
Cauliflower,
Greens
20 – 30 min.
Cabbage,
Beets — young
30 – 45 min.
Parsnips,
Turnips
30 – 45 min.
Carrots,
Onions,
Salsify
30 – 60 min.
Beans — String and Shelled1 – 2 hours

Cooking time For baking meat(s)

Baking is not only a delicious way to cook, but it can also be a healthy cooking method. Baked goods are typically lower in fat than their fried or grilled counterparts, and they can be just as tasty. When baking, you can also control the amount of salt and sugar that goes into your food, making it a great option for those watching their intake of these ingredients.

Baking MeatDonenessQuantityApproximate Time
Beef, sirloin rareper lb.8 – 10 min.
Beef, sirloinwell doneper lb.12 – 15 min.
Beef, rolled rib or rumpper lb.12 – 15 min.
Beef, long or short fillet120 – 30 min.
Muttonrareper lb.10 min.
Muttonwell doneper lb.15 min.
Lambwell doneper lb.15 min.
Vealwell doneper lb.20 min.
Porkwell doneper lb.30 min.
Turkey10 lbs.3 hours
Chickens3 – 4 lbs. 1 – 1½ hours
Goose8 lbs.2 hours
Tame duck140 – 60 min.
Game duck130 – 40 min.
Grouse, Pigeons130 min.
Small birds115 – 20 min.
Venisonper lb.15 min.
Fish — long, thin fish6 – 8 lbs.1 hour
Fish — thick Halibut4 – 6 lbs.1 hour
Fish — small120 – 30 min.
Braised meat3 – 4 hours
Scalloped dishes15 – 20 min.

Cooking time for baking grains & vegetables

For baking grains & vegetablesApproximate Time
Rice and Tapioca1 hour
Potatoes30 – 45 min.
Baked beans6 – 8 hours

Cooking time for baking bread, cakes & more

Baking baked goods are commonly thought of as unhealthy because it involves using excessive butter and sugar. However, you can adjust and create healthier versions of cakes and bread. For example, you can make a healthy version of banana bread by using whole wheat flour and adding nuts for extra protein. Or, you can make a cake using Greek yogurt instead of buttercream frosting.

For baking bread, cakes & moreApproximate Time
Loaf bread40 – 60 min.
Rolls,
Biscuit
10 – 20 min.
Gingerbread20 – 30 min.
Sponge-cake45 – 60 min.
Plain cake30 – 40 min.
Cookies10 – 15 min.
Bread pudding1 hour
Steamed brown-bread3 hours
Steamed puddings1 – 3 hours
Pie-crustabout 30 min.

Cooking time For broiling & Grilling

It is important in broiling and grilling to sear the surface quickly to retain the rich juices, then turn the food constantly until it is richly browned. When pan-broiling, you cook the food in an oiled, hissing-hot cast-iron skillet, turning frequently and draining fat as it dries.

Pan-broiling is virtually the same as sautéing, except the fat remains in the skillet. Food is browned on one side and then turned and browned on the other side in a small amount of fat.

FoodsQuantityApproximate Time
Steak1 inch thick4 min.
Steak1 and a half-inch thick6 min.
FishSmall & thin5 – 8 min.
FishThick12 – 15 min.
Chops broiled in paper8 – 10 min.
Chickens20 min.
Liver,
Tripe,
Bacon
3 – 8 min.

Cooking time for frying

Frying can sometimes be used to describe sautéing, but usually refers to cooking in deep, hot fat or oil. It certainly isn’t the healthiest means of cooking and the best you can do is to wipe off the grease and limit the use of oil/fat. It is best to keep meats or fish in a warm room for a short time before frying, then wipe them dry. Once the food has finished frying, do not let the food soak in the grease. It should be carefully removed from the fat and drained on brown paper or paper towels.

For fryingApproximate Time
Bacon,
Small Fish,
Potatoes
2 – 5 min.
Breaded Chops,
Fish
5 – 8 min.
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