Baking vs. Cooking: What’s The Difference?

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Cooking and baking are general terms that we hear almost every day. But If someone were to ask us what exactly they mean or the difference between the two, we might not be able to find the words to answer those questions. Don’t get us wrong; we know that almost everyone is aware of cooking and baking.

But most of us don’t know what makes cooking, cooking. Or what makes baking, baking. Baking and cooking are both methods of preparing food, but certain aspects differentiate the two. These factors include ways of preparing food, the type of equipment and tools used, and emphasis on precision and improvising.

We know, many of us have been confused at least once when someone said they couldn’t bake, but they can cook or vice versa. And that’s quite common, actually; it’s normal to see world-class bakers who are moderate cooks at best. Similarly, there are chefs with excellent cooking skills but no knowledge of baking.

 So, in this article, we will differentiate between the two and answer the questions that usually come to mind when talking about cooking and baking.


Baking is often linked with freshly baked bread, crunchy cookies, and soft cakes. This link is right to some extent because baking cakes, cookies, and bread all fall under the umbrella of baking. But baking also includes many others items. 

We can define baking as a way of cooking in which electricity, wood, coal, or gas is used as a source of constant dry heat. This heat affects various aspects of food, including its taste, texture, composition, and aroma. This is seen when we bake bread, and as the heat travels through the dough, the dough becomes harder and darker. 

There is a drawback to this method, though. Baking tends to destroy some of the heat-sensitive nutrients in food. This is because of the constant heat maintained throughout the whole baking procedure. One example of this would be B vitamins, which are present in wheat germ and can easily be destroyed during baking. 

Another chemical that baking might produce is acrylamide. Research has shown a direct link between cancer with increased levels of acrylamide. But acrylamide is not formed every time you bake, but only when you bake something past its cooking time.


Cooking is the root word under which many methods such as boiling, broiling, and baking fall. Cooking can be defined as a process in which heat is used to process food, combine various chemicals, and change food composition to make it safe for consumption. The cooking method has remained the same all over the world throughout history, and that is to apply heat to raw uncooked food. 

Despite the method remaining the same, the preparation techniques have evolved with time. This includes using various spices, herbs, flavoring, and using new types of utensils. Cooking has always utilized natural edible substances such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry.

Cooking may also affect the nutritional value of food depending on the amount of heat applied and the time for which it is applied. This is a serious concern, especially in the food processing industry, where high temperatures are used for cooking and sterilizing food. So, it is very important to choose the right way of cooking, at the right temperature, for the right amount of time, if you want your food to maintain its nutritional value.

 When cooking, a food item may shrink or expand; for example, spinach shrinks when cooked and pasta increases in size. Furthermore, the food can also become harder or softer depending on the composition of the food item; for example, an egg becomes hard when boiled, and a potato becomes soft. As we have already mentioned, cooking is a broad term that includes various methods; some of them are mentioned below:

  • Broiling 
  • Boiling
  • Blanching
  • Baking
  • Steaming
  • Smoking
  • Searing
  • Frying
  • Simmering 
  • Roasting 
  • Sautéing 
  • Roasting

Baking vs. Cooking – The Basic Difference

You might have an idea now about some of the differences between cooking and baking. Certain factors set them apart, so let’s look at some of them in detail.


One major difference between cooking and baking is the kind of tools needed. Cooking is a broad term with plenty of methods, so there are plenty of tools, appliances, and utensils needed specifically for cooking. These include knives, pots, grills, stoves, pans etc. 

But you might not find all of these if you enter a baker’s kitchen. Bakers usually use measuring cups, mixers, beaters, hand mixers, baking sheets, and an oven


When you think about baking, you might find yourself thinking about cakes, bread, and pastries. But keep in mind that you can also bake potatoes, meat, lasagna, and many other items. But generally, baking revolves around products that require leaving agents and flour. On the other hand, cooking is a vast field and includes almost every food item you can think of. 

Art and Science

When we talk about cooking, we are referring to the culinary arts. Everyone can cook by following a simple recipe, but baking is more well-defined, complex, and requires precision. In addition, baking requires a lot more technique than cooking.

Another factor that solidifies cooking as an art is the constant improvising often encouraged by chefs. Baking, in contrast, is more like science; it’s a game with well-defined rules that one must adhere to. A slight change in the temperature, humidity, or ingredients can change the final results drastically.  


People did not know baking as we know it today until 6500 years ago. It is believed that the Egyptians made the first closed oven in history and started using yeast to make bread. From there, baking became popular with time and eventually reached Europe in the 16th century. On the other hand, Cooking has been known to man for at least 2 million years.

So what’s the difference between Baking and Cooking?

To sum it all up:

  • The Equipment used for Baking and cooking is different.
  • The ingredients used in Baking are different from the ones commonly used in Cooking.
  • Cooking is considered an art because of the room for improvising, while Baking is considered a science due to the abundance of strict rules one has to follow.
  • Cooking was discovered almost 2 million years ago, unlike baking which was discovered about 6500 years ago.