Oh, no—I opened Instagram before lunch again.
All my friends’ pictures of giant sandwiches, colorful soups and chocolate chip cookies are seriously making me hungry.
I should’ve known! Food is one of the biggest topics of conversation online and offline.
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.
We’ll give you 25 ways to talk about food in English, so you can feel comfortable at restaurants, dinner parties or commenting on your friend’s latest Instagram food post.
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. What do you think?
In The Huffington Post, 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, 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.
Food can also be a topic of conversation for small talk, especially when you’ve first met somebody or you are chatting with a business colleague.
In fact, small talk is an important part of business English, and for that, the resource that we would most recommend is Creativa.
Creativa provides premium, highly produced videos for learning English and business communication skills. Creativa provides entertaining videos, useful but unexpected tips, and goes beyond just English to teach you body language, intonation and specific pronunciation tips. Creativa is a new product from the FluentU team.
Here’s a sample video from Creativa’s Mastering Business Video Calls in English course, which has tips for expressing yourself effectively:
What’s 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.
25 Words and Phrases to Add to Your Food Vocabulary
So are you ready to jump into the conversation? Even if you’re not quite ready yet, I promise you will be after you learn the food words and phrases I’ve got here for you today.
The best way to start learning these words is to hear them in authentic English contexts with FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Each video comes with interactive captions, flashcards and exercises to help you actively build your vocabulary while absorbing native English speech.
FluentU organizes the videos by difficulty and genre, so it’s easy to find something that you’re interested in and matches your English level. Check out the free trial to start devouring cooking videos, cake decorating videos and food market commercials—among many other types of videos!
How’s It Taste?
Ever notice how the word delicious is frequently used to describe food? Using this word too often can become boring. So let’s find some other ways to say delicious, shall we?
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.
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!
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.
This is a great adjective for describing food that’s full of flavor or that has a delicious quality in its taste and smell.
I love how flavorful this soup is with all the fresh herbs and vegetables in it.
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/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!
This cake is so moist! It’s just too sweet for my taste.
8. It could use a little more/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?
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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
When I’m busy with school, I usually end up eating fast food.
15. 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.
16. 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.
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.
18. 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.
19. 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?
20. 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?
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.
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?
Scrambled eggs are made by stirring and mixing them together while cooking.
I usually make scrambled eggs for breakfast because they’re so easy.
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.
25. 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!
On that sunny note, 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!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.