Did you know that there are around 20,000 types of edible (something you can eat) plants? Before you freak out and think, how in the world am I going to master 20,000 vegetable names in English, you should know that only about 20 vegetables make up 90% of the plant-based portion of the average diet. Learning the English words for some of the most common vegetables is an essential (important) part of learning English vocabulary. I mean, you definitely want to know what you’re ordering or eating, right? In the English language, it’s a bit unclear what the difference is between a vegetable and a fruit. Don’t worry though, we’ll clear this up for you! And in the end, you’ll have learned 29 vegetable names in English.
What Makes a Vegetable a Vegetable?
A short definition of a vegetable is a plant that we eat. The label “vegetable” includes a lot of different edible plants, and also many that you might have thought were fruits. According to Healthline, vegetables are the leaves, roots and stems of the plants that we eat. The word vegetable is more of a culinary (cooking) term, though. We separate fruits and vegetables mainly because fruits are usually sweet or sour, while vegetables are often blander (not full of flavor) and are used in savory (not sweet) recipes. Because there’s an ongoing debate (argument) on whether some edible plants are really vegetables or fruits, I’ve separated the “vegetables” on this following list based on what part of the plant they’re from. Details aside, the list below includes many common vegetables that are used in kitchens across the United States and the United Kingdom.
Why You Should Learn English Vegetable Names
Before we list out some of the most common vegetable names in English, let’s take a moment to think about why it’s important to learn the English names of vegetables in the first place.
- To know what you ordered at a restaurant. You probably want to know what’s in the meal you just ordered!
- To ask for a specific type of vegetable in the grocery store. It’s more difficult to ask for something when you don’t know what it’s called.
- To follow a recipe and cook a delicious meal. Nothing will mess up a recipe quicker than mixing up your ingredients. You can save yourself a lot of frustration by learning some vegetable names.
- To have simple conversations about food. In any language, people love talking about food especially when in small talk situations!
How to Practice Vegetable Names in English
The list of 29 vegetables names in English I’m about to share with you is a great start! But, you’ll need to practice this new vocabulary in order to master it. You can do just that by using some of these resources.
This website has several vegetable quizzes, games and practice exercises. You can start by reading through their vocabulary lists. Then, practice with the flashcard option. And, once you feel ready, you can test yourself with the example sentences and quizzes that are available.
Similar to English-Learn Online, British Council has a website with a few different ways to practice, such as matching vegetables names to their pictures. British Council also gives you plenty of opportunities (chances) to practice your reading and spelling skills. By spending some time on this website, you’ll become more familiar and confident with vegetable names in English.
29 Vegetable Names in English to Quickly Grow Your Food Vocabulary
Root vegetables are edible plants that grow underground (in the dirt or soil). They’re a good source of healthy carbohydrates, and surprisingly most of the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) come from their skin. Root vegetables are also an excellent source of energy.
In the United Kingdom, beets are called beetroot. Beet juice can also be used as a natural red dye for fabric or food coloring.
Did you know that there are over 2,000 different types of potatoes that are grown in 160 countries around the world?
4. Sweet Potato
Carrots contain beta carotene, which helps keep your eyes healthy.
Make sure you brush your teeth after eating onion (and garlic)!
As the name suggests, stem vegetables are the above-ground stem or stalk of a plant. Stem vegetables are almost entirely (all) edible, so there’s a lot less food waste than with some other vegetables.
If you ever get the chance to try a slice of rhubarb pie, don’t pass it up!
Vegetables that are the leaves of plants are often called leafy greens or salad greens. There are over 1,000 known types of edible leaves. Leafy vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrients. They’re easy to grow in a garden and should be part of your daily diet.
There are over a dozen (12) different types of lettuce, including bib lettuce, curly endive, romaine and iceberg.
Kale is the king of nutrient-dense (full of nutrients) leafy greens and is considered a superfood (food that has a lot of vitamins and minerals). Kale is really delicious (tasty) in salad and soups.
Arugula is a flavorful dark leafy green that’s called by many other names, such as rocket, colewort, roquette, rucoli and rucola.
Head or Flower Vegetables
These vegetables are the edible flowers or heads of plants. Many of these vegetables are high in Vitamins C and K. They are best steamed or roasted (baked in the oven).
Artichokes are actually related to big, beautiful sunflowers!
Vegetables That Are Actually Fruits
It might come as a surprise that there are many edible plant parts that are commonly thought to be vegetables but are actually fruits. While the following five vegetables are really fruits, they made this list because most people classify them as vegetables.
If you love pizza and pasta, you probably also love tomatoes! This versatile (can be used in many different ways) vegetable is commonly used in Italian food and salads.
You’ll probably won’t meet very many people in your life who don’t love or at least like avocados! This smooth, buttery and healthy “vegetable” is the key ingredient in guacamole.
There are all different types of peppers that range from sweet to dangerously spicy. A popular type of pepper is the bell pepper, which can be found in red, orange, yellow or green.
Squash also falls into the category of fruit. However, there are several kinds of squash, so a separate category has been created for them. Squash have seeds and grow from flowers. There are at least 16 types of squash commonly used in cooking.
24. Butternut Squash
This hearty (healthy and filling) squash is delicious in soup. Pumpkins also make many people think of Halloween, the holiday when they are carved into jack-o’-lanterns (a hollowed-out pumpkin with a scary or funny face). Pumpkins are sometimes used in scary Halloween stories. These are stories that you can enjoy all year long.
When we talk about edible fungi, we’re talking about mushrooms. Edible mushrooms can grow above and below the ground. Be careful not to eat just any mushroom you find outside, though, as many of them are toxic (harmful or deadly).
27. Portobello Mushroom
Portobello mushrooms are very large and are sometimes grilled to make portobello mushroom burgers.
28. Shiitake Mushroom
29. White Button Mushroom
These simple, white mushrooms make a great addition to pasta, pizza and salads, and are also great on their own, cooked with garlic.
Learning vocabulary, including vegetable names in English is like growing a garden. With a little hard work and patience, you’ll soon have an abundance (a lot) of vocabulary that you can use to communicate in your newly learned language!