Talking About Food in English

Food is one of the biggest topics of conversation in any language.

If you want to participate in these conversations in English, you’ll need many different descriptive English phrases and words for food and how it tastes.

That’s exactly what’s on the menu today.

I’ll give you 30 ways to talk about food in English, so you can start ordering food at restaurants, feel comfortable at dinner parties or comment on your friend’s latest Instagram food post.

Ready? Let’s get started!


How’s It Taste?

1. Tastes great!

Eating something delicious right now? Use this expression to say so.

I’m so glad I ordered this pizza—it tastes great!

2. Really good!

Here’s something else you could say instead of delicious.

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Have you tried the chocolate cake? It’s really good!

3. Wow, [this food] is amazing!

If something tastes better than you expected, you could use the word wow to express your surprise. If you say something tastes amazing, you’re saying it tastes even better than great or really good.

Wow, this pasta salad is amazing!

4. Yummy

This is an informal way of saying something tastes good. If you find something to be delicious, you could simply say “Yummy!” or you could expand it into a sentence.

This cheesecake is really yummy. I’m going for another slice.

5. Flavorful

This is a great adjective for describing food that’s full of flavor or that has a delicious quality in its taste and smell.

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I love how flavorful this soup is with all the fresh herbs and vegetables in it.

6. Mouth-watering

This is the perfect adjective to describe something that’s so delicious and flavorful, it’s actually making your mouth water.

His mom makes such mouth-watering cakes that I just can’t wait to go over to his house tonight.

There may be times when you don’t really like the taste of a certain food. But you probably can’t just shout “Yuck!” (an informal English word meaning something tastes or smells bad) without offending the cook or your hosts.

So how can you express that without sounding impolite?

7. This [food] is too [flavor] for me. / This taste is too [flavor] for my taste.

This is a polite way to explain that you don’t like the food, without blaming the cook. It’s just not right for you.

Better yet if you can throw in a compliment first!

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This cake is so moist! It’s just too sweet for my taste.

8. It could use a little more / It could use a little less…

Use this expression to say that you’d like the food better if the flavors were different.

This chicken is too spicy. It could use a little less chili sauce.

9. This tastes different. I think I prefer [something else].

If something tastes new or unfamiliar, you could politely name some other food that you’d prefer or like better.

This tiramisu tastes different. I think I prefer the chocolate cake.

What’s Your Diet?

10. Vegetarian

If you’re a vegetarian, your diet would include only vegetables, fruits and non-meat items such as tofu, nuts, etc.

I’ve been a vegetarian for a year and I don’t even miss eating meat at all.

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11. Vegan

A vegan is similar to a vegetarian, however, a vegan would not eat dairy or any product from animals, like honey.

Every week, my friend and I try a new vegan recipe.

12. Flexitarian

A flexitarian does incorporate some meat into their diet, so their diet is flexible. Meat is limited, rather than excluded entirely from their diet.

While my best friend is a flexitarian, she will always choose a vegetarian option when we eat out.

13. Trying to lose weight

If you’re trying to lose weight, it means you’re trying to become thinner.

I usually just have a salad for lunch because I’m trying to lose weight.

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14. Low-carb diet

The word carb is short for carbohydrate. A low-carb diet involves eating less carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pancakes and cookies.

That strawberry muffin looks tempting, but I’m on a low-carb diet.

15. A balanced diet

Most people simply try to keep a balanced diet, which includes eating from each of the main food groups like grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and meat.

To stay healthy, I go to the gym, cycle to work and eat a balanced diet.

What Do You Usually Eat?

This is one of the most common questions that people ask one another and it’s always interesting to hear everyone’s answers.

16. Fast food

Fast food is served very quickly over the counter at restaurants such as McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A. It’s usually a meal with hamburgers or sandwiches, French fries and soda.

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When I’m busy with school, I usually end up eating fast food.

17. Home-cooked meal

A home-cooked meal is what many of us would like to have waiting for us when we get home from school or work. This is a fresh meal that’s made and eaten at home.

Whenever I get home early from work, I make myself a nice home-cooked meal.

18. One-pot meal

A one-pot meal means exactly what it says. You cook all of your ingredients (food items) like meat and vegetables in one pot and you’re ready to eat.

If I’m too tired to cook, I just make a quick and easy one-pot meal.

19. Microwave meal

If you’re in a rush or you want an easier meal, you might decide to eat a microwave meal—this is a pre-made meal that is cooked in the microwave.

Before he learned to cook, he used to always buy microwave meals from the grocery store.

20. Dessert

Dessert is a sweet dish, like pastry or ice cream, that’s served and eaten at the end of a meal.

My grandma makes amazing cookies, cakes and pies. I always look forward to dessert when I go to her house.

21. To have a sweet tooth

Do you enjoy eating sweet food very much? Well then, you must have a sweet tooth for sure.

I’ll admit I have a sweet tooth because I can never say no to cakes, pastries and ice cream.

22. To eat healthy

Here’s an easy one. To eat healthy simply means choosing to eat food that’s good for your health.

No matter how busy I am, I try to eat healthy and exercise every day.

How Do You Like Your Chicken?

23. Fried or deep-fried

Fried chicken is made by cooking the meat in hot oil. Often the fried chicken we get at restaurants is actually deep-fried.

So what’s the difference between frying and deep-frying? Well, deep-frying uses a lot more oil than frying. Most times, people just say fried chicken when referring to deep-fried chicken because the word is shorter and easier to say.

I can’t think of anything I like better than fried chicken, can you?

24. Grilled

Grilled chicken is made by cooking the meat directly on a heated grill.

I think I’ll invite my friends over for some grilled chicken this weekend.

25. Roast

Roast chicken usually refers to chicken that is cooked (or roasted) in the oven.

After talking to my family, we decided to surprise my grandpa for Father’s Day with roast chicken as it’s his favorite meal.

26. Crunchy

If you deep-fry your chicken well, it’ll be crunchy, which means it’ll make a crunching, cracking sound when you bite and chew on it.

That fried chicken I had for lunch was so crunchy and yummy. I just can’t stop thinking about it.

How Do You Like Your Eggs?

27. Scrambled

Scrambled eggs are made by stirring and mixing them together while cooking.

I usually make scrambled eggs for breakfast because they’re so easy.

28. Poached

Poached eggs are made by partially cooking the egg in simmering water. When it’s served, the egg whites will be soft and you’ll be able to see the whole yolk.

I’ve never had a poached egg but I’d sure like to try it.

29. Sunny-side up

Sunny-side up refers to an egg that’s been fried on only one side. Its name comes from the fact that the yolk sits whole in the middle of the fried egg, making it look like the sun.

The only way my son will eat eggs is if I make them sunny-side up. He likes to see the yellow yolk!

30. Boiled

Boiled eggs are eggs that have been cooked in very hot (boiling) water.

On the weekend, I usually have a boiled egg for breakfast with toast and orange juice.

One of the best ways to start learning these words is to see them in authentic English contexts. For example, you could try watching cooking videos or you could use an immersive language learning program like FluentU.

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Why Are Food Phrases Important for English Learners?

I’ll answer that question with another question: why are people always talking about food?

The answer is easy: Food is universal. Everybody has to eat! It’s as simple as that. So people want to find tasty, healthy food, the best places to eat, etc. It’s no wonder that everybody’s talking about food.

In fact, The Daily Meal even claims that just talking about food might make you healthier.

In HuffPost, award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson talks about how food cuts across cultures. Every culture in every country has its own cuisine (style of cooking) and this is what makes travel so fascinating.

You not only get to enjoy the sights and sounds, but you also know there are always new and exciting food adventures waiting for you.

Food is, of course, a great way to meet people and make friends. When people share a meal, you can be sure the discussions about food, restaurants and recipes are going to be endless.

So what does this all mean for English learners?

Food is an important topic of conversation to master. With a healthy food vocabulary, you’ll not only have valuable conversations with native English speakers, but you’ll also explore their culture through cuisine.

For another introduction to food vocabulary and all the delicious ways to talk about food, check out this video below!


I hope you’ve learned some useful vocabulary here today that’ll boost your confidence before jumping into any discussion about food. Remember, the more you practice, the more natural you’ll sound. Happy learning and good luck!

For more food-related phrases, check out our post on essential English restaurant vocabulary next. 

And One More Thing...

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