Essential Spanish FOOD VOCABULARY (You’ll NEED This Every Day)
What did you have for breakfast/lunch/dinner today? Can you tell me in Spanish? If not, then you are in the right place!
In this article you will learn the vocabulary and expressions that you can use to feel at ease reading Spanish menus, buying food in a supermarket, or just talking about my favorite subject of all times: FOOD!!
Let's start with el desayuno (breakfast). Keep in mind that Latin America is an immense region: even within countries you'll come across great variations of what people have for breakfast. —Spanish has a verb for “having breakfast”: desayunar.
So, we have a huge array of possibilities for breakfast, but we also have a lot in common with other parts of the world:
- huevos (eggs)
- huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs)
- huevos estrellados or huevos fritos (fried eggs) — I love estrellados 🍳, because it means both smashed and star studded… How poetic is that?!
- huevos con _____ (eggs with _______) — This one is among my favorites because it means scrambled eggs mixed with something else.
- jamón (ham)
- tocino (bacon) 🥓
- salchicha (sausage or hot dog)
For breakfast, you could also have:
- pan (bread)
- pan tostado (toast)
- cereal (cereal)
- fruta (fruit)
- hot cakes —in Mexico, pancakes are called hotcakes 😱
- pan dulce (pastry)
These are the most common drinks when having breakfast:
- café (coffee)
- leche (milk)
- café con leche (milk and coffee)
- jugo de naranja (orange juice)
- licuado or batido (milk shake)
Now let´s jump to el almuerzo or la comida (lunch)!
We can start a meal with sopa (soup) or un caldo (a clear broth-based soup). You can have:
- caldo de pollo (chicken soup)
- caldo de res (beef soup)
- caldo de pescado (fish soup)
- caldo de verduras (vegetable soup)
Whatever your main meal is, you could have a side of arroz (rice), una ensalada (a salad), or frijoles (beans) if you are in Mexico!
Most likely you would have some animal protein, like: res (beef), puerco or cerdo (pork), or pollo (chicken), and vegetales (vegetables), like:
- tomates (tomatoes)
- cebolla (onion)
- zanahoria (carrot)
- papas (potatoes)
- calabacitas (zucchini)
Who doesn't like vino blanco (white wine), vino tinto (red wine), or cerveza (beer)?
Keep this in mind: En español we have a specific word for the glass in which tomamos vino (we drink wine). So, we make a difference between un vaso (a glass or a cup) and una copa (a glass).
You might want to drink un vaso de agua (a glass of water), un vaso de leche (a glass of mil) or una copa de vino (a glass of wine).
DISHES COMMON TO MANY COUNTRIES IN LATAM
If there is a particular restaurant you want to visit in Latin America, and if you want to learn how to order and how to go through a Spanish written menu, check out my video about Restaurants.
Now, some of my favorite Latin American dishes include:
- arroz con frijoles (rice with beans)
- empanadas — corn or wheat flour pastries, with all kinds of fillings, like a Latin pie
- picadillo — meat-based stew, with either ground or shredded beef
- ceviche — a type of salad made with fish or seafood “cooked” in lime juice, mixed with fresh vegetables
- asado (carne asada in Mexico) — a barbeque
For dinner, I usually have a craving for things I'm familiar with, like una pizza, una hamburguesa or una pasta.
A vegetarian pizza would have all or either of the following:
- pimiento (bell pepper)
- champiñones (mushrooms)
- alcachofa (artichoke)
- tofu — well, tofu is tofu 😅
- espinaca (spinach)
- piña (ananas or pineapple) — I know, pineapple on pizza is controversial, but you know what? ¡A mí me gusta! (I like it!)
- cebolla morada (literally, purple onion, but we mean red onion)
- aceitunas (olives) — The olive par excellence is the green one, but you can also find aceitunas negras (black olives).
Towards the beginning of this text I told you that Spanish has a specific word for “having breakfast”. Well, there are also specific verbs for having lunch and dinner:
- desayunar (to have breakfast)
- comer or almorzar (to have lunch)
- cenar (to have dinner)
The following are questions you may ask if you enjoy talking about food:
- ¿Qué desayunaste? (What did you have for breakfast?)
- ¿Qué comiste? OR ¿Qué almorzaste? (What did you have for lunch?)
- ¿Qué cenaste? (What did you have for dinner?)
FREE Spanish Training
¡Muy bien! Now you know all the words about food in Spanish. The next time you prepare a meal, order something at a restaurant, or buy groceries in a market or supermarket, try to remember the Spanish words.
By the way, we have a whole series of Spanish beginner videos, so feel free to check them all out on our YouTube channel!
Now, if you're ready to go beyond talking about food in Spanish and get serious about learning Spanish, we have a free Spanish training on our website where you'll discover the method we use in our Spring Spanish Academy to teach students to speak fluent Spanish. You also get some free sample Spanish lessons there that come straight from our Academy!