Abstract In this study, the emission characteristics of various pollutants (e.g., reduced sulfur compounds (RSCs), aldehydes, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and organic acids) were investigated in relation to 3 food types (including cabbage, clam, and coffee seeds) and 2 cooking methods (between mild and harsh treatments). The results indicated the strongest emissions from the roasted coffee seeds out of all 6 sample types. Among the pollutant types, the maximum emissions generally came from RSCs followed by aldehydes and acids. Among VOCs, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone were emitted most prominently. As most of these pollutants also represent key odorants, their concentrations are compared through a conversion into odor intensity (OI); the results showed the RSC group as the key odorants along with aldehydes and organic acid compounds. If the sum of odor intensity (SOI) is derived for each sample, they were in the descending order: roasting coffee seeds (6.50), frying cabbage (4.52), brewing coffee (4.14), grilling clam (3.91), boiling clam (3.89), and steaming cabbage (3.21). Their concentration data were also evaluated against regulation guidelines for indoor air quality (IAQ). Comparison of these pollutant data confirms that some cooking approaches can contribute significantly to the build up of nuisance and hazardous pollution concurrently.