Hunger can make you do crazy things.
It can make you hangrily yell at your friends.
It can make you eat foods that you know are digestively dangerous.
It can even make you purposefully speed in front of a cop for the sole purpose of getting pulled over in order to sneak bites of donut from him when he’s not looking.
But when you’re hungry and need to communicate what food you want in Russian, things could get even more dicey.
Without proper preparation, ordering food in Russian could be riskier than eating half a dozen bean burritos with nary a Gas-X in sight.
Russian greetings may help you get through social interactions, but a friendly привет (hi) can only get you so far when your stomach is growling louder than an angry Siberian tiger.
So learn the 70 common food vocabulary words below and prepare to say “приятного аппетита” (“bon appetit”).
But first, we’re going to look at a few useful ways to practice your Russian food vocab.
How to Practice Russian Food Vocabulary
Read restaurant menus.
Reading restaurant menus is one of the most fun ways to improve your Russian. You can casually peruse the menus of restaurants in cities you hope to one day visit. You can read the food descriptions, consider what you might like to eat and even imagine how it might taste. But reading restaurant menus is more than just fun: It’s also a great way to learn useful Russian phrases, like those used to describe food.
A simple Google search can help you find restaurant menus in pretty much any major Russian-speaking city. You can even search in English and find some amazing-looking restaurants with websites in Russian.
For instance, if you want to fantasize about eating out in Moscow, you might look at the menu for Ресторан Обломов (Restaurant Oblomov). For beginners, it’s a strong choice, because the menu is also available in English. You can have the English and Russian versions of the menu open in separate browser tabs to switch seamlessly between the two if you need to cross-reference word meanings.
Северяне (Northerners) is another Moscow-based restaurant with an online menu you may want to browse. It also offers PDF menus in both Russian and English. Северяне offers a broader but less descriptive menu than Ресторан Обломов, so is great for learning basic food vocabulary.
Read food magazines.
Russian food magazines can help reinforce the food vocabulary you’ve already learned and even teach you some new terms you never knew you needed.
Российский продовольственный рынок (Russian Food Market) is a great online magazine for Russian learners. Articles are available in both English and Russian (the English versions still show Russian-language graphics, but the text itself is in English). The vocabulary used is more advanced, but since this food magazine focuses largely on the food industry in Russia, you’ll get some valuable insight into food trends and how they affect the overall market.
Read Russian recipes.
Reading recipes in Russian is a quick, easy way to reinforce your Russian food vocabulary. While there tend to be fewer complete sentences in recipes, you’ll find plenty of ingredient lists you can peruse whenever you have just a couple minutes.
Еда (Food) is a Russian website with lots of great recipes. You can even filter by the type of dish. Recipes frequently feature a video, a brief description of the dish, a recipe list and preparation instructions. For instance, the recipe for тонкие блины на молоке (thin pancakes on milk) can help you practice some basic food words and teach you to make a crepe-like treat.
Study Russian-language food videos on FluentU.
Great taste is important for food, but a meal’s visual presentation can be just as significant. If you want to see Russian cuisine as it’s made or prepared, while also learning Russian, then check out FluentU.
Plus, the videos are all naturally entertaining since they come from the shows, movies and channels that native Russian-speakers enjoy on the regular. You can watch documentary footage, television show clips, funny commericals and more all while learning the Russian language!
Take a quick look at what FluentU has on offer for yourself:
Didn't catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? FluentU makes native Russian videos approachable through interactive captions. Tap or click on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab. Easily review words and phrases with audio under Vocab.
Don’t stop there, though! Use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're on.
And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses that information to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending videos and examples.
Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store.
To begin learning food vocab, check out the “Health and Lifestyle” and “Culture” categories for videos like “Mushrooms That Russians Eat,” “Russian Cottage Cheese Pancakes” and “Holiday Food the Russian Way.”
Приятного Аппетита! 70 Tasty Russian Food Vocabulary Words
Fruits & Vegetables
Фрукт — fruit
Овощ — vegetable
Яблоко — apple
Апельсин — orange
Банан — banana
Виноград — grape(s)
Виноград is a trickster. It’s used to refer to a singular grape or multiple grapes, sort of like the English word “deer.” You can also use виноградина if you want to clarify that you’re just talking about one grape. If you want to make it super clear you’re talking about a bunch of grapes, you can use гроздь винограда.
Груша — pear
Клубника — strawberry
Малина — raspberry
Вишня / Черешня — cherry
Вишня and черешня are two different types of cherry. Вишня refers to a sour or tart cherry. Черешня refers to a sweet cherry. You’re much more likely to encounter черешня, so this is the more important word to remember.
Картошка / Картофель — potato(es)
Potatoes are a big deal in Russia, so it should come as no surprise that they go by a variety of names. Two common words are картошка and картофель, both of which can be used to refer to just one potato or multiple potatoes. No need to pluralize here!
Помидор — tomato
Лук — onion
Чеснок — garlic
Перец — pepper
Капуста — cabbage
Морковь — carrot
Брокколи — broccoli
Цветная капуста — cauliflower
Note that the phrase for “cauliflower” builds off the word капуста, which means cabbage, a close relative of the cauliflower. In fact, цветная капуста literally means “colored cabbage.”
Огурец — cucumber
Баклажан — eggplant
Свекла — beet
Салат — lettuce
If you like your greens, салат is a super useful word. It can mean “lettuce” or “salad.”
Гриб — mushroom
Крупа — grain
Мука — flour
Хлеб — bread
Рис — rice
Каша — kasha
While kasha might not be as well-known in the English-speaking world, it’s very popular in Eastern Europe. In the United States, the word usually refers to buckwheat. However, in Russia, it can refer to a variety of different grain-based porridges that may be savory or sweet.
Сыр — cheese
Масло — butter
Мороженое — ice cream
Яйцо — egg
Мясо — meat
Говядина — beef
Курица — chicken
Свинина — pork
Бекон — bacon
Колбаса — sausage
Рыба — fish
Морепродукты — seafood
Краб — crab
Креветка — shrimp
Икра — caviar
Десерт — dessert
Кекс — cake
Торт — pie/tart
Конфета — candy
Конфета can refer to all sorts of different candy. Want to get more specific? Chocolate fans can ask for шоколад.
Блин — pancake
Блин is the Russian word for “pancake.” However, pancakes in Russia are usually distinctly different from American pancakes. They’re thin and may be eaten with either sweet or savory fillings, sort of like a crepe. The plural, блины, is also widely used and may sound more familiar to native English speakers, since this term is often used in the United States, too.
Пицца — pizza
Сэндвич / Сандвич / Бутерброд — sandwich
Сэндвич and сандвич are both used, though сэндвич is more common. You might also see бутерброд, though this usually refers to an open-faced sandwich.
Гамбургер — hamburger
Суп — soup
There are a lot of popular soups in Russia. You may encounter щи (“shchi,” a cabbage-based soup), борщ (“borscht,” a beetroot soup) and countless other variations on the beloved dish.
Напиток — beverage
Вода — water
Молоко — milk
Кофе — coffee
Чай — tea
Сок — juice
Вино — wine
Пиво — beer
Водка — vodka
Соль — salt
Сахар — sugar
Черный перец — black pepper
You’ll notice this reuses a word that appeared earlier in the list, перец. However, in this context, it refers to the common seasoning rather than the vegetable.
Орех — nut
Арахис — peanut
Грецкий орех — walnut
Лесной орех — hazelnut
Миндаль — almond
Don’t succumb to hanger.
Study these 70 Russian food vocabulary words and satisfy your appetite for learning.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.