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What is Parboiling?

Parboiling is the secret to making some of your favorite dishes, and you probably never knew it! We’ll let you in on the secrets to this cooking technique and how best to use it, too.

What is the Definition of Parboiling?

Do you know how to parboil? Parboiling is a method of partially cooking an ingredient before finishing it using a completely different method of preparation.

Quite literally, it refers to cooking the ingredients for a time by simmering them in hot water.

Immediately after the required cooking time to get the desired partially-cooked temperature or texture, the ingredient is submerged in a cold water bath or ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Roasted Tahini Maple Sweet Potatoes Photo

Parboiling allows for a cook to add diverse ingredients to a single dish and know that the finished product will have ingredients that aren’t over- or undercooked, no matter how different their individual cooking times might be.

File 3 - Black Beans and Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

Parboiling also has the ability to change the structure of certain ingredients — for example, the starches in a potato — so that when the secondary cooking technique is applied, the resulting texture is even more pleasing.

Think of the fluffiest, crispiest French fries you’ve ever had. It’s entirely possible that the cook got that texture by parboiling potatoes first.

Jicama Fries Picture

There are many vegetables and grains that benefit from parboiling before being finished off with another technique. On Food Fanatic, we’ve covered how to parboil carrots and even how to parboil rice, as some of the most popular ingredients a reader might want to apply this cooking technique to.

Parboiled broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers and green beans can benefit from parboiling to then be finished off via flash frying, sauteing or roasting.

Why Parboil?

Many people will parboil vegetables to add them into recipes like Chicken Pot Pie, because raw carrots take much longer to cook than peas, for example — two ingredients found in most popular Chicken Pot Pie recipes.

You might not immediately think to parboil meats. After all, when people think of this cooking term (if they do at all), it’s almost always applied to starchy vegetables and grains like parboiled rice.

Toaster Oven Roasted Broccoli Picture

But parboiling meat can lock in flavor and juices that would be completely lost to the ashes of your charcoal grill or frying oil instead, and that is a loss indeed.

It’s more common than you think to parboil chicken, chicken wings, ribs, sausage or even brats before grilling, roasting or frying to taste.

Parboiling just about any ingredient before finishing it off with another method of cooking is an excellent way to ensure your dish is not only picture perfect, but it finishes just right too.

We are such fans of parboiling that we even have an entire how to parboil guide. It’s a cooking techinque every home cook should have in their kitchen arsenal.