In this visual vocabulary lesson, you can learn words and phrases to talk about food and cooking.
You’ll learn English vocabulary to talk about the stages of preparing, cooking and serving different kinds of food.
QUIZ: Preparing, Cooking and Serving Food
Test your knowledge of the vocabulary of food and cooking.
There are 20 questions in this quiz. In each one, you will see a picture from the lesson or one that is similar. Choose or write the correct word for the process or item shown. In some cases, you can press ‘Hint’ for a clue.
When you have finished, click ‘Finish Quiz’ to get your score. If you want to do the quiz again, just reload the page. To see all the correct answers, click ‘View Questions’.
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Question 1 of 20
What is the verb for heating something in water, such as eggs (pictured), vegetables, or dumplings (as seen in the lesson)?
We use a different form of this verb to describe very hot weather – the opposite of ‘freezing’.
Question 2 of 20
Which verb means to cook something in oil?
Question 3 of 20
Which verb is pictured, meaning to hold a jug or bottle at an angle so that a liquid falls from it onto the food in a dish or into another container?
In the lesson, you can see this process as chocolate icing is added to the top of a dessert.
Question 4 of 20
Which method of cooking is shown? It involves placing the food on a metal frame which is close to a source of heat, either above or below it.
The noun for the metal frame is the same word as the verb for the cooking method.
Question 5 of 20
If you cook food in the oven, you might ‘roast’ it or ‘bake’ it. The process is the same, but the choice of verb depends on what is in the oven.
Which of the following can you roast?
The picture shows a roast chicken – ‘roast’ is the word to use with meat, plus one other option from the list.
Question 6 of 20
“Add some salad dressing and __________ the ingredients together, using two spoons.”
Which two verbs can complete this instruction?
One of the correct answers was not used in the lesson – it means to move something by throwing it over another thing. If you have watched the whole lesson, you can answer this question by eliminating the two incorrect answers.
Question 7 of 20
To prepare a pepper, you’d normally cut it in half and then remove the seeds. What is the verb for this process?
The three incorrect words do not exist.
Question 8 of 20
Which verb means to use your fingers to throw small particles of something – such as parmesan cheese, seeds, ground chocolate or salt – onto a dish?
Question 9 of 20
Which word means to cut something like a pepper or onion into very small pieces, first in one direction and then another?
You may know this word as the cube with six sides used in games to choose a number between 1 and 6.
Question 10 of 20
Which word means a small amount of soft food, such as cream, placed on top of something, like on this piece of apple pie? It is normally served using a spoon – so its meaning is similar to ‘spoonful’.
In the lesson, this word is used for sour cream that is added to a bowl of soup.
Question 11 of 20
Write one noun to complete the description of this dish.
They served the steak with green beans and corn on the .
The missing word has four letters.
Question 12 of 20
‘Blend’ means to make something smooth and remove any solid chunks. You might do this when making soup.
What is the seven-letter word for the device used to blend food? It might be a standalone machine, as shown in the picture, or a hand-held version.
The noun is formed in a very common way, by adding the suffix for a person or thing that does something, e.g. speak > speaker.
Question 13 of 20
Add the adjective to the instruction, indicating that a lot of oil is needed.
fry the chips until they are golden.
We also use the opposite word – ‘shallow fry’ – to mean use only a little oil.
Question 14 of 20
‘Chop’ means to cut something into pieces using a sharp knife.
Add an adverb to the instruction so that it means the pieces should be very small.
Chop the herbs as as possible.
The adverb has six letters, starting with F.
Question 15 of 20
If ‘halve’ means to cut something into two equally sized pieces, what verb means to cut something into four pieces?
The same word is used much more frequently as a noun.
Question 16 of 20
Complete the instruction with a verb meaning to mix ingredients together using a spoon.
the couscous into the vegetables and continue to fry for one minute.
The word has four letters, starting with S. It also appears in the name of the dish: ‘_____ fry’.
Question 17 of 20
Complete the instruction with a plural noun meaning ‘thin pieces’.
Cut the radish into .
You can use the same noun for pieces of pie or cake, and the word is also a verb for the action shown.
Question 18 of 20
Write one word to complete the instruction, meaning to remove the outer layer of a vegetable or piece of fruit.
First, and chop all the vegetables.
The missing word has four letters, including the same vowel twice.
Question 19 of 20
Write one word to complete the instruction, meaning to leave something cooking in a pan on a low heat.
When all the ingredients have been added, turn the heat down and for thirty minutes.
The word has six letters, starting with S.
Question 20 of 20
If you add leaves to the side of a plate or the top of a glass, as shown, it is usually intended as decoration more than consumption.
Add the verb to this instruction for serving lemonade.
Add a slice of lemon and with a mint leaf.
The word has seven letters, the first of which is G.
‘Peel’ means to take the skin off some fruit or vegetables. Some foods are easy to peel, like bananas. With other ingredients, you might need to use a knife or a peeler.
Cut the tomatoes into quarters.
When talking about preparing food, the combination ‘cut…into…’ is common. For example, you might hear: ‘Cut the chicken into six pieces’, or ‘Cut the aubergine into small cubes.’
There’s one common exception to this pattern; you cut something *in* half, not ‘into’. For example: ‘Cut the lemon in half,’ not ‘into half’.
Cut the radish into thin slices.
Slice the radish thinly.
Many words connected with cooking can be both verbs and nouns. ‘Slice’ is a common example. You can cut something into slices, or just use slice as a verb: ‘Slice the cucumber’, ‘slice the carrots’, and so on. Learn more about verbs and nouns in this Oxford Online English lesson on Parts of Speech.
Halve and deseed the peppers.
‘Halve’ is the verb from ‘half’. It’s an efficient way to say ‘cut something into two pieces’. You can also use ‘quarter’ as a verb. For example: ‘Quarter the tomato’ and ‘Cut the tomato into four pieces’ have the same meaning.
‘Deseed’ means you remove the seeds. With peppers, you also need to remove the pith – the white flesh on the inside.
Chop the onion as finely as possible.
Usually, ‘chop’ means to cut something into medium-sized pieces, perhaps not in a precise way. However, if you chop something finely, you cut it into the smallest pieces possible.
Dice the red pepper.
‘Dice’ means to cut into small pieces. More specifically, ‘dice’ means that you cut something in two directions. If you dice a pepper, you first cut it into strips, and then cut the strips into small pieces.
Mix the ingredients together.
Stir the ingredients to mix them.
Here, ‘mix’ and ‘stir’ have the same meaning. In general, ‘stir’ is more specific, because it means to use some kind of implement – like a spoon – to mix whatever you’re mixing. You can mix something with your hands, or by putting it in a container and shaking it, or in other ways.
Next in preparing, cooking and serving food in English we will talk about cooking.
Stir fry the veggies on a high heat.
Turn the heat up to high and fry the vegetables, stirring continuously.
Often, you can say the same thing in fewer words by using a more specific verb. Both these sentences are fine and both have the same meaning, but in the first sentence you save words by using a more specific verb: ‘stir fry’.
Bring the water to the boil and then add the dumplings.
In cookbooks and recipes, you’ll often see the phrase ‘bring the water to the boil’. This means that you boil the water, and when it starts boiling, you’ll add something or do something else with it.
Turn the heat down to low and simmer the soup for twenty minutes.
If you need to simmer something, you turn the heat down until it is *just* boiling. There are a few bubbles, but it isn’t boiling vigorously.
Fry the meatballs until browned on both sides.
Deep fry the potatoes and leave to dry.
If you use the verb ‘fry’ in English, it generally means shallow-frying: when you fry something in a little bit of oil or butter. Use the verb ‘deep fry’ if you want to talk about cooking something in boiling oil, like fried potatoes.
‘Brown’ is another useful verb. When cooking meat, you often fry the meat first to brown it – you cook it until it is brown on the outside, but probably not cooked in the middle.
Pre-heat the oven to 180, then roast the chicken for around one hour.
Here’s a question for you: ‘roast’ and ‘bake’ both mean to cook something in the oven, but what’s the difference?
There are different answers to this. Technically, ‘roast’ means to cook something uncovered, until it turns brown. However, in everyday language, ‘roast’ is generally used for meat and vegetables, and ‘bake’ is generally used for bread, cakes, and fish.
We grilled the shrimp kebabs over a charcoal fire.
For example, you can grill food, or cook food on the grill. You can roast food, or cook food in the oven. It doesn’t matter which you use.
The verb ‘grill’ is often used when you cook something on a barbecue, but your cooker in your kitchen might have a grill, and you can also buy electric grills to use in your kitchen.
Blend the soup until fairly smooth.
I used a hand blender to puree the sauce.
You can blend something with a hand blender, like you saw here, or with a regular blender.
If you blend something for a longer time, it will come out smooth. The opposite of smooth here is ‘chunky’ – meaning you blend it for a short time, and there are still some solid pieces.
Now we’re at the final portion of preparing, cooking and serving food in English: Vocabulary for serving food.
Add a dollop of sour cream to the soup and mix it in.
Add a spoonful of sour cream to the soup.
A ‘dollop’ means a small amount. It’s not specific, but it generally used to mean around one spoonful. You can use ‘dollop’ for things which are between solid and liquid, like yoghurt, thick cream, sour cream, or other thick sauces.
Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese before serving.
You can might *sprinkle* something on your food before you serve it, like cheese. Another example: you might sprinkle pepper, paprika or oregano on top of a dish once it’s ready.
They served the steak with green beans and corn on the side.
You can use ‘on the side’ for vegetables or other things which accompany the main dish.
Garnish with a mint leaf and serve.
A garnish is something you add mainly for decoration, to make the food look more attractive. Some garnishes are chosen for their flavour, but you might garnish a dish with something that isn’t intended to be eaten. You can also garnish a drink; cocktails often have a garnish.
Pour the chocolate icing generously over the top.
The verb ‘pour’ is mostly used with liquids. You can also use the verb ‘drizzle’ to mean that you pour a small amount of something. For example: ‘Drizzle some olive oil over the salad.’
‘Generous’ is more often used to describe people, but you can also use it to talk about food.
For example, you can have a generous portion or a generous serving. Here, ‘generous’ has the meaning of large, but in a positive way – not too large.