English food vocabulary
Learning English can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to food-related vocabulary. To help make it easier, here is a list of essential food-related vocabulary that English learners need to know. This list includes words related to food preparation, types of food, food-related activities, and more. You'll soon learn the basics and build your food-related vocabulary in English!
How to master the food vocab in English
Start by learning the names of basic foods like fruits and vegetables. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try more complicated dishes like lasagna or sushi. Once you’ve got the basics down, learn the names of different types of cuisines, like Chinese, Mexican, or Italian.
Here is a simple process to follow:
- Start by learning the names of different types of food. Examples include fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, and fish.
- Learn the names of different cooking methods. Examples include baking, frying, boiling, grilling, and steaming.
- Learn the names of different kitchen utensils. Examples include knives, spatulas, whisks, measuring cups, and mixing bowls.
- Learn the names of different ingredients. Examples include flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Learn the names of different dishes. Examples include salads, soups, stews, casseroles, and stir-fries.
Practicing food vocabulary is an ongoing process and it is perfectly normal to not know certain words. As you gain more experience in the kitchen, you will become more familiar with the delicious food words.
Let’s delve into some specifics!
List of different types of foods
- Fruit - a type of food that grows on trees or bushes and has a sweet taste; Example: I love to eat apples as a snack.
- Vegetable - a type of food that is grown in the ground and is usually eaten as part of a meal; Example: I like to add broccoli to my stir-fry.
- Dairy - a type of food that comes from animals such as cows, goats, and sheep; Example: I love to put cheese on my sandwiches.
- Grains - a type of food that comes from plants such as wheat, rice, and oats; Example: I often eat oatmeal for breakfast.
- Legumes - a type of food that comes from plants such as beans, peas, and lentils; Example: I like to make a soup with lentils and vegetables.
- Meat - a type of food that comes from animals such as cows, chickens, and pigs; Example: I enjoy eating steak for dinner.
- Fish - a type of food that comes from the sea; Example: I often eat salmon for lunch.
- Nuts - a type of food that comes from trees; Example: I like to snack on almonds.
- Eggs - a type of food that comes from chickens; Example: I like to make scrambled eggs for breakfast.
- Herbs - a type of food that comes from plants such as basil, oregano, and rosemary; Example: I like to add oregano to my pasta dishes.
- Spices - a type of food that comes from plants such as cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric; Example: I like to add cumin to my curries.
- Sweets - a type of food that is usually sugary and eaten as a treat; Example: I love to eat chocolate as a dessert.
- Soup - a type of food that is made from vegetables and stock; Example: I often eat vegetable soup for lunch.
- Salad - a type of food that is made from raw vegetables; Example: I like to make a salad with lettuce and tomatoes.
- Pasta - a type of food that is made from flour and water; Example: I often eat spaghetti for dinner.
- Dessert - a type of food that is usually sweet and eaten after a meal; Example: I love to eat ice cream for dessert.
List of cooking methods
- Bake - To cook food in an oven, usually covered with a lid or foil. Example: I like to bake a cake on the weekend.
- Boil - To heat a liquid until it reaches a temperature where it bubbles and produces steam. Example: I boiled the potatoes for 10 minutes.
- Broil - To cook food directly under a heat source, such as a grill. Example: I broiled the steak for 5 minutes on each side.
- Fry - To cook your meals in hot oil or fat. Example: I fried the onions until they were golden brown.
- Grill - To cook food over direct heat, usually on a metal grate. Example: I grilled the vegetables for a delicious side dish.
- Poach - To cook food in a liquid, usually at a low temperature. Example: I poached the salmon in a white wine sauce.
- Roast - To cook food in an oven, usually uncovered. Example: I roasted the chicken for an hour.
- Saute - To cook your meals quickly in a small amount of fat over high heat. Example: I sautéed the mushrooms in butter.
- Simmer - To cook your meals in a liquid at a low temperature, just below the boiling point. Example: I simmered the soup for an hour.
- Steam - To cook food by exposing it to steam, usually in a covered container. Example: I steamed the vegetables for a healthy side dish.
- Stew - To cook food slowly in a liquid, usually in a covered pot. Example: I stewed the beef for a few hours until it was tender.
- Stir-fry - To cook your meal in a small amount of fat at high temperature while stirring it constantly. Example: I stir-fried the vegetables with garlic and ginger.
- Poach - To cook food in a liquid, usually at a low temperature. Example: I poached the eggs in a pan of simmering water.
- Braise - To cook food in a covered pot with a small amount of liquid. Example: I braised the pork in a red wine sauce.
- Deep-fry - To cook food in hot oil or fat. Example: I deep-fried the onion rings until they were golden brown.
- Pressure-cook - To cook food quickly in a sealed pot with steam pressure. Example: I pressure-cooked the beans in minutes.
- Smoke - To cook food over indirect heat with smoke from burning wood. Example: I smoked the ribs for hours until they were tender.
- Microwave - To cook food quickly using microwaves. Example: I microwaved the leftovers for a quick meal.
- Rotisserie - To cook food by rotating it over a heat source. Example: I cooked the chicken on the rotisserie for an hour.
- Barbecue - To cook food over direct heat, usually on a metal grate. Example: I barbecued the burgers on the grill for a delicious dinner.
List of kitchen utensils
- Spoon - a utensil used for stirring, scooping, and serving food; Example: She stirred the soup with a spoon.
- Fork - a utensil with two or more prongs used for eating food; Example: She ate her salad with a fork.
- Knife - a utensil with a sharp blade used for cutting food; Example: He cut the steak with a knife.
- Plate - a flat dish used for serving food; Example: She served the cake on a plate.
- Bowl - a round container used for holding food; Example: He ate his cereal from a bowl.
- Pot - a metal container used for cooking food; Example: She boiled the potatoes in a pot.
- Pan - a shallow metal container used for cooking food; Example: She fried the eggs in a pan.
- Colander - a bowl-shaped utensil with holes used for draining food; Example: She drained the pasta in a colander.
- Skillet - a large, flat-bottomed pan used for frying food; Example: She cooked the bacon in a skillet.
- Grater - a utensil with sharp edges used for shredding food; Example: She grated the cheese with a grater.
- Peeler - a utensil with a sharp blade used for peeling vegetables; Example: She peeled the carrots with a peeler.
- Whisk - a utensil with a looped wire used for beating ingredients; Example: She whisked the eggs with a whisk.
- Ladle - a utensil with a long handle and a deep bowl used for serving soup; Example: He served the soup with a ladle.
- Spatula - a utensil with a flat blade used for turning food; Example: She flipped the pancakes with a spatula.
- Tongs - a utensil with two long handles used for picking up food; Example: He picked up the chicken with tongs.
- Measuring cup - a cup with markings used for measuring ingredients; Example: She measured the flour with a measuring cup.
- Measuring spoon - a spoon with markings used for measuring ingredients; Example: She measured the sugar with a measuring spoon.
- Rolling pin - a cylinder-shaped utensil used for rolling dough; Example: She rolled out the dough with a rolling pin.
- Sieve - a utensil with a mesh bottom used for sifting flour; Example: She sifted the flour with a sieve.
- Timer - a device used for measuring the length of time; Example: She set the timer for five minutes.
List of ingredients
- Flour - a powder made from grains, used to make bread, cakes, and other food - "I need to buy some flour to make a cake.
- Sugar - a sweet substance obtained from plants, used to sweeten food and drinks - "This recipe calls for a cup of sugar."
- Butter - a solid dairy product made from churning cream, used to add flavor and texture to food - "I spread the butter on my toast."
- Eggs - a common ingredient in baking, used to bind and leaven food - "I added two eggs to the cake batter."
- Milk - a white liquid produced by mammals, used to make food and drinks - "I poured some milk into my cereal."
- Yeast - a single-celled fungus used to make bread rise - "I added a teaspoon of yeast to the dough."
- Salt - a mineral used to add flavor to food - "I sprinkled some salt on my fries."
- Baking powder - a leavening agent used to make baked goods rise - "I added a teaspoon of baking powder to the batter."
- Baking soda - a leavening agent used to make baked goods rise - "I added a teaspoon of baking soda to the batter."
- Vanilla extract - a flavoring made from vanilla beans, used to flavor baked goods - "I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to this cake batter."
- Chocolate - a sweet food made from cocoa, used to make desserts - "I melted some chocolate for the cake frosting."
- Nuts - a dry fruit with a hard shell, used to add flavor and texture to food - "I added some chopped nuts to the cookie dough."
- Oats - a cereal grain, used to make oatmeal and other breakfast foods - "I cooked some oats for breakfast."
- Honey - a sweet liquid made by bees, used to sweeten food and drinks - "I drizzled some honey on my toast."
- Cream - a thick liquid made from milk, used to make sauces and desserts - "I added some cream to the soup."
- Vegetables - edible plants, used to make salads and other dishes - "I chopped some vegetables for the stir-fry."
- Fruits - edible plants, used to make desserts and other dishes - "I added some sliced fruit to the salad."
- Spices - dried plant parts, used to add flavor to food - "I added some spices to the soup."
- Cheese - a dairy product made from milk, used to add flavor to food - "I sprinkled some cheese on my pizza."
- Oil - a liquid fat, used to cook food - "I heated some oil in the pan."
List of dishes
- Casserole – a large, deep dish used to bake or simmer foods such as stews, casseroles, and gratins. Example sentence: My favorite casserole is the one my mom makes with potatoes, cheese, and bacon.
- Stew – a meal from meat and vegetables cooked slowly in liquid. Example sentence: I love to make a hearty beef stew on cold winter days.
- Gratin – a dish of food, usually vegetables or fish, baked or cooked under a layer of cheese or breadcrumbs. Example sentence: The gratin I made last night was delicious!
- Quiche – a savory tart with a pastry crust and a filling of eggs, cheese, and other ingredients. Example sentence: I had a spinach and mushroom quiche for breakfast this morning.
- Lasagna – a dish of layers of pasta, cheese, and sauce, usually baked. Example sentence: My family loves lasagna, so I make it at least once a month.
- Taco – a Mexican food consisting of a folded or rolled tortilla filled with a savory mixture. Example sentence: I always order tacos when I go out for Mexican.
- Chili – a spicy stew made with meat and beans. Example sentence: I like to make a big pot of chili on Sunday afternoons.
- Soup – a liquid dish made with vegetables, meat, or fish, usually served hot. Example sentence: I always start my meals with a bowl of soup.
- Risotto – an Italian dish of rice cooked in broth and flavored with other ingredients. Example sentence: I made a delicious mushroom risotto for dinner last night.
- Gumbo – a thick soup or stew, usually made with seafood or chicken, and served over rice. Example sentence: My mom's gumbo is the best I've ever tasted.
- Paella – a Spanish dish of rice, vegetables, and seafood or meat. Example sentence: I had a delicious paella at a restaurant in Barcelona.
- Curry – a dish of meat or vegetables cooked in a spicy sauce. Example sentence: I love Indian food, especially the curries.
- Fajitas – a Mexican dish of grilled or fried strips of meat or vegetables served in a tortilla. Example sentence: I love to make fajitas for my family on the weekends.
- Pizza – a flat round of dough topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and other ingredients. Example sentence: I always order a pepperoni pizza when I'm craving something cheesy.
- Hamburger – a sandwich of a patty of ground beef, usually served on a bun. Example sentence: I love to make hamburgers on the grill in the summertime.
- Sandwich – a dish consisting of two slices of bread with a filling between them. Example sentence: I usually have a turkey sandwich for lunch.
- Tart – a pastry dish with a filling of fruit, cheese, or other ingredients. Example sentence: I made a delicious apple tart for dessert last night.
Food Phrases in English
- To pig out (informal): To eat a lot of food, often in an uncontrolled way. Example: We pigged out on pizza last night.
- Comfort food: Food that is associated with a feeling of emotional well-being. Example: Chocolate cake is my favorite comfort food.
- Finger-licking good (informal): Delicious food that makes you want to lick your fingers. Example: This fried chicken is finger-licking good!
- Eat like a bird (informal): To eat very little. Example: She eats like a bird, so I'm always surprised when she orders a full meal.
- Food for thought: Something that makes you think about a topic. Example: His comments were food for thought.
- Soul food: Food that is associated with a particular culture or region. Example: Southern-style cooking is considered soul food.
- Food coma (informal): A state of extreme tiredness after eating a large meal. Example: After Thanksgiving dinner, I was in a food coma for the entire evening.
- Foodie (informal): A person who is very passionate about food. Example: My friend is a real foodie - she loves trying new restaurants and recipes.
Learning food vocabulary doesn't have to be a daunting task. By starting with the basics - like the names of different types of food, common ingredients, and the names of dishes - and then expanding to more specific words, learners can easily build up their food vocabulary. With the right approach, learning food vocabulary can be a fun and rewarding experience!