When referring to meat how do I know which to use/which is a better translation.
Both can be used interchangeably but, in my experience cocinar may mean more along the lines of "to prepare" the food.
thanks so much! im not the best with spanish so I had no clue.
Hacer: To make/to do
Cocinar: To cook
Really, the difference is between "making" food and "cooking" food. When referring to meat, I would use "cocinar" because, unless you're talking to the cow that becomes the steak, no one really makes meat.
You could also use asar when talking about meat preparation - to roast, to broil or to bbq. Carne asada is roasted or bbq'd meat (beef usually).