Can someone please explain what is the difference between these verbs? When should I use one or the other?

I don´t understand exactly how to distinguisch this verbs and how to use them properly in sentences. I tend to translate everything with the general verb "kochen", which for me would feel right and works in all cases. Unfortunately it is not like this. German has many subtle connotation that I don´t quite grasp, because in my language there is not such a wide variety of options to describe the action of cooking.

  • 1
    Please exlain more in depth what your problem in distinguishing these words is. That makes an answer easier for us and tailored to your problem.
    – Vogel612
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 20:27

3 Answers 3

  • Kochen: strictly speaking: boiling. More general meaning: Preparing food, not necessarily by using a stove, but usually involving a heat source. (Preparing a sandwich normaly doesn't count as "kochen".)
  • Vorkochen: cook in advance.
    Either to have a complete meal or prepared components at hand at a later time. (e.g. boiling potatoes one day to roast them the next)
  • Nachkochen: cook as you have been told/shown/read in a book; follow a recipe.
    E.g.: When famous cook makes a dish on TV, you would "nachkochen" what you've seen.

Note: "Vorkochen" unlike many "vor"+verb compounds has no meaning of "demonstrate". The TV cook would "vorführen" his recipe.

  • There's another one: Verkochen. Not to be exchanged by one of the above. (If things have been cooked to long).
    – PMF
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 20:33


  • when you have to precook ingredients (f.e. potatoes in a casserole)


  • to cook


  • when you have a recipe and you follow the instructions. comes from "nachmachen" which means "copy". you can use the syllable "nach..." in front of almost all german verbs (nachlaufen, nachsingen, nachmalen,...) always means to copy an action.

but "nachkochen" is very rarely used in german language. hope this helped!

  • "Kochen" is also "to boil" (heat a liquid until it vaporises) Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 12:51
  • @HubertSchölnast Richtig, aber in diesem Zusammenhang ist wohl eher kochen im Sinne von zubereiten gemeint.
    – Robert
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 21:53

"Nachkochen" is not the right word in this sequence. Let's have a look.


You make the time consuming task of the whole cooking during the day. At the evening when the guests come, you can simply heat up the already prepared diner.


The actual task of cooking, could be in advance (eg, vorkochen) or to serve it immediately when finished.


The act of heating up a precooked meal or some leftovers.


Cooking by following a recipe, reproduce something you have eaten at the restaurant or seen on tv.

Ich habe das Essen heute Nachmittag vorgekocht, jetzt muss ich es nur noch aufwärmen.

Ich wärme mir gerade die Reste von gestern auf.

Kannst Du das Essen, das wir letzte Woche im Restaurant hatten, nachkochen?

Ich koche gerade das Rezept aus dem Kochbuch nach.

Dieses Gericht habe ich gestern im Fernsehen gesehen, nun versuche ich es nachzukochen.

As Crissov has remarked, there is another very rarely used meaning of vorkochen. It can also mean to show how something has to be cooked.

Kannst Du mir das Gericht bitte vorkochen, damit ich genau zuschauen kann? Dann kann ich es das nächste Mal alleine kochen.

The following variant is a much more common expression.

Kannst Du mir bitte zeigen, wie man das Gericht kocht?

  • vorkóchen is as you describe, but there is also much rarer vórkochen, which is what the TV chef does.
    – Crissov
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 13:40
  • 2
    Sorry, but it's always vórkochen. (duden.de/rechtschreibung/vorkochen)
    – Stephie
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 14:46

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