Food Vocabulary for English Learners

Food vocabulary
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Eating and enjoying a meal together provides the opportunity to speak English and enjoy yourself. The relaxing atmosphere of sharing a meal together helps the conversation flow. Cooking and shopping for the food to prepare the meal is English is almost as much fun. There are many words you need to learn in order to speak about food, purchase food, cook food, and more. This guide to food vocabulary will help you express not only different types of food, but also how you prepare and cook them, and what sort of food containers there are when you go shopping.

A good way to learn food vocabulary is to create a vocabulary tree or vocabulary chart. Start at the center or the top of a page with a category such as "types of food" and link to different categories of food. Under these categories, write down the individual types of food. Once you understand the different types of food, increase your vocabulary moving on to related subjects. Here are some suggestions:

  • Types of food
  • Adjectives for describing food
  • Verbs for cooking
  • Vocabulary for supermarket

In order to help you begin, food vocabulary lists have been provided below. These lists are just the beginning. Copy the words onto a sheet of paper and continue to add to the list. Give yourself lots of room so you can continue to add to the food vocabulary lists as you learn new words. Soon you'll be able to speak about food and join in the conversation about cooking, eating and shopping with ease.

Teachers can also feel free to take these charts and print them out for use in class as a food vocabulary exercise to help students begin conversations about food.

Combine these with exercises and activities such as restaurant role-plays, recipe writing activities, etc.

Types of Food

Beverages / Drinkssodacoffeewaterteawinebeerjuice
Dairymilkcheesebuttercreamyogurtquarkhalf and half
Grains / Starcheswheatryecerealtoastbreadrollpotato
Meat / Fishbeefchickenporksalmontroutlambbuffalo
Vegetablesbeanslettucecarrotsbroccolicauliflowerpeasegg plan

Adjectives used to Describe Food

  • acidic
  • bland
  • creamy
  • fatty
  • fruity
  • healthy
  • nutty
  • oily
  • raw
  • salty
  • sharp
  • sour
  • spicy
  • sweet
  • tender
  • tough

Cooking Food

Vocabulary for the Supermarket

Preparing FoodCooking FoodUtensils
peelfryfrying pan
dairystock clerkaislepush a cart
producemanagercounterreach for something
dairybutchercartcompare products
frozen foodfishmongerdisplayscan items

Containers for Food


Suggestions for Exercises

Once you have written out your vocabulary lists, start practicing using the vocabulary in conversation and writing. Here are some suggestions on how to practice food vocabulary:

  • Make a shopping list and compare products
  • Write a recipe in English, be sure to include ingredients, measurements, containers and instructions
  • Describe a delicious meal you've had in writing
  • Discuss your food likes and dislikes with a partner

Practicing your food vocabulary will help you become fluent in the one subject that everyone loves to discuss: food and eating. No matter which culture or country, food is a safe subject that will help lead to conversations about other topics.

Try asking someone about their favorite meal and you'll find that you are in a discussion about cooking your favorite foods. Recommend a restaurant and tell someone about a special meal you've had, and the conversation will flow.