That sizzling paella that you ate at the restaurant last week… it was delicious, right?
You’d love to make it one day, but what were the ingredients and how do you say them in Spanish?
Knowing the names of foods and ingredients in Spanish is important for doing the weekly shopping and dining out in a restaurant.
The moment you gain confidence in this area will become the moment you feel at home in a Spanish speaking country.
So read this guide to the names of foods and ingredients in Spanish to learn your carnes from your verduras, your pescados from your carbohidratos and your productos lácteos.
Table of Contents:
How do you say “food” and “drink” in Spanish?
To say “food” in Spanish, use the word los alimentos or la comida.
Both of these words are Spanish nouns for “food”, with los alimentos being a masculine plural noun, and la comida being a feminine singular noun.
If you want to say “drink” in Spanish, use the word la bebida, which is a feminine singular noun.
How do you say “ingredients” in Spanish?
The Spanish word for “ingredients” is los ingredientes.
It is a masculine plural noun for the individual food items that make up una receta, or a ‘recipe’. Remember that when you pronounce the word, each vowel in the word must be enunciated and it sounds different from ingredients.
It’s pronounced in-greh-diehn-tess.
What are the main food groups in Spanish?
The main food groups in Spanish include frutas, verduras, proteínas, granos and productos lácteos.
These mean “fruits”, “vegetables”, “proteins”, “grains” and “dairy products” respectively.
Names of foods and ingredients in Spanish
Now let’s move on to the different names of foods and ingredients in Spanish that you’ll need to recognise if you’re living in a Spanish speaking country.
🥩 Meats in Spanish
We’ll begin with the main types of meats in Spanish that are commonly eaten in Spain and around the world.
1. La carne de vaca
Carne de vaca means beef in English. We can break the phrase down into its unique parts to fully understand it – carne means “meat” de means “of” and vaca means “cow”. So, you might remember this one by keeping in mind that vaca means “cow”.
2. El pollo
Pollo is a Spanish word that translates to English as “chicken”. You might see many different types of pollo in the supermarket, such as pechugas de pollo (chicken breasts), or alitas de pollo (chicken wings).
3. El jamón
Jamón translates to English as “ham”. When you go to the supermarket, you’ll see different types of jamón, including jamón cocido (cooked ham) or jamón serrano o curado (Serrano ham or cured ham).
4. El pato
Pato means “duck” in English. There’s a feminine singular noun similar to pato, which is la pata, which means “leg”, so keep this difference in mind. When dining, if you’re sharing a whole chicken, your family might ask you ¿quieres la pata o la pechuga? (do you want the leg or the breast).
5. El conejo
Although not commonly eaten in some English-speaking countries, conejo is eaten in Spain. It means “rabbit” and sometimes you’ll eat it with rice.
6. El cordero
Cordero is another type of meat. It means “lamb” in English.
7. La carne picada
The phrase carne picada is a noun that means “minced meat”. When we break the word down, we can see that carne means “meat” and picada is an adjective that means “minced”. You can get many different types of carne picada from the supermarket, such as pollo, carne de vaca, or cerdo.
8. El cerdo
When you hear the word cerdo, this can refer to the animal. It can also refer to the food, as it translates to English as “pork”.
9. El chorizo
This spicy Spanish sausage is simply delicious – chorizo is a well-known Spanish food that is enjoyed in many countries in the world.
10. El solomillo
Solomillo is a part of the cow known as the loin. It is a tender meat that can be expensive to buy, and can be referred to as “sirloin steaks”.
11. El filete de ternera
When we break down the name of this Spanish food, we get filete (fillet), de (of), ternera (beef).
12. La salchicha
Salchicha translates to English as “sausage”. In Spain, they contain pork meat or carne de cerdo that has been chopped and stuffed into a casing. They can be eaten either fried, cooked or roasted.
13. Las albóndigas
Tasty balls of meat that are fried in the frying pan (or sarten), albóndigas are called “meatballs” in English. Albóndigas are normally served with una salsa de tomate and are made with different ingredients such as huevos (eggs), harina (flour) and especias (spices).
🥬 Vegetables in Spanish
In the following section we will explore the important vegetables and identify the names of foods and ingredients in Spanish that are known as verduras.
1. Los espárragos
In English, espárragos is a masculine plural noun that means “asparagus”. This is a type of verdura or vegetable that can be served with other types of food, such as with pollo.
2. La berenjena
The feminine plural noun las berenjenas refers to more than one “aubergine” in British English, or “eggplants” as they are referred to in American English.
3. El aguacate
Delicious in guacamole, aguacates are a type of verdura. Aguacate translates to English as “avocado”.
4. La remolacha
La remolacha is a feminine singular sustantivo that means “beetroot” in English.
5. Las habas
Habas are broad beans. When we pronounce this word, we don’t pronounce the h. So if you need to ask where the broad beans are in the supermarket, they’re pronounced áhbas
6. El brócoli
Brócoli is a cognate sustantivo that means “broccoli” in English. Because it’s a cognate, you’ll have no trouble remembering this type of vegetable!
7. Las coles de Bruselas
They’re often served at Christmas time in English speaking countries, but what does this Spanish food mean in English? Coles de Bruselas are “Brussel sprouts”.
8. Las zanahorias
The feminine plural noun zanahorias means “carrots” in English. You’ll find this sweet vegetable in the vegetable aisle or the pasillo de verduras in the supermarket.
9. La coliflor
La coliflor is in the same family as broccoli. It translates and sounds similar to the English word “cauliflower”, so you might remember it more easily since it’s sort of a cognate.
10. El apio
Apio is a masculine singular sustantivo that in English means “celery”. It’s another type of verdura that can be served with other types of comida.
11. Los dientes de ajo
The name of type of verdura can be broken down into three parts. Dientes means “teeth”, de means “of” and ajo means “garlic”. Put altogether, and translated into English, dientes de ajo gives us “garlic cloves”.
12. El maiz
Maiz is a type of verdura. It means “corn” in English. For the word “popcorn” we refer to this as palomitas de maiz.
13. El calabacín
Calabacín means “courgette” in English. This feminine singular noun is a type of verdura - a root vegetable like the carrot or the beetroot.
14. La calabaza
Though it sounds similar to calabacín, don’t get them mixed up. Calabazas are those big, round, orange vegetables – known as pumpkins in English.
15. El pepino
Pepinos are cucumbers. There are different types of cucumbers that you might come across, such as pepinos encurtidos, also refered to as pepinillos in Spanish.
16. El hinojo
Hinojo is another type of root vegetable. It means “fennel” in English. Be careful when you pronounce this vegetable in Spanish. The letter h is not pronounced, so pronounce the word ihnojo.
17. Los pimientos
There are many different types of pimientos. You’ll find pimiento rojo, verde and amarillo in the supermarket. Pimientos are “peppers” in English
18. El puerro
Puerros are “leeks”. Remember that when you pronounce the word puerro, you should toll your r, which is indicated by the double rr.
19. La lechuga
Lechugas are green leafy vegetables or verduras – in English they’re “lettuce”.
20. Las setas
Setas, in English, means mushroom. You’ll find many different types of setas in the supermarket, such as champiñones and portobello setas.
21. La cebolla
Cebolla means “onion” in English. When you pronounce it in Spanish, or ask where the cebollas are in the supermarket, remember that the double ll should sound like a “jya” sound.
22. Los guisantes
This type of Spanish vegetable is known as the “pea” in English. Guisantes should be pronounced “gisantes”, with a hard g sound.
23. Las espinacas
This near cognate word means “spinach” in English.
24. El tomate
Another cognate that’s easy to remember – tomates are “tomatoes” in English.
🦐 Seafoods in Spanish
Below, you’ll find a variety of seafood, or marisco, that you can add to your vocabulary. Are there any that you’ve heard of? Which ones are new to you?
1. El bacalao
Bacalao means “cod” in English. You’ll find this type of fish in empanadas known as “patties” or “pies”, sometimes mixed with pasas (or raisins) in some parts of Spain.
2. El atún
Atún means “tuna fish” in English. This is another type of fish commonly found in empanadas, but they can also be bought in latas or tins.
3. El rape
This type of fish is called “monkfish” in English. Be careful when you pronounce this one, as it’s pronounced “rah-peh” and not “raype”.
4. El salmón
This cognate should be easy to remember. Salmón means “salmon” in English.
5. Los calamares
Calamares is “squid”. You can get calamares fritos in many restaurants in Spain, which are tasty fried squid rings served with patatas, patatas fritas or arroz.
6. La anchoa
Anchoas are “anchovies”. Since it sounds similar to the English word, you will find it easy to remember this one.
7. El cangrejo
Cangrejo means “crab” in English. Remember that when you pronounce cangrejo, use a soft alveolar tap to pronounce the letter r and pronounce the letter j as if it were a guttural h sound.
8. La merluza
Merluza is “hake” in English. This delicious fish is served with patatas or arros in Spain. To pronounce it, remember that the letter r is supposed to be a soft alveolar tap, and the letter z should sound like a “th” sound, giving us merlutha.
9. Los mejillones
Another tasty treat found in the north of Spain, mejillones are “mussles”. They can be served with una salsa marinera (a marinara sauce).
10. Las gambas
Gambas are “prawns”. They are often served al ajillo, meaning with a hot garlic and pepper sauce. You’ll find them in many restaurants served with bread.
11. La sardina
Sardinas are “sardines”. The Spanish sustantivo sounds similar to the English name for this fish, so this might help you remember what they’re called in Spanish. You’ll see sardinas served during San Juan, which is a summer festival similar to bonfire night in the UK.
12. La trucha
Trucha means “trout”. It’s a delicious fish that can be served with patatas.
🍞 Carbohydrates in Spanish
Here are some of the main types of carbohydrates in Spanish that you should know. Take note of the ones you’ve never heard of before and practice pronouncing them.
1. El pan
Pan is “bread”. When you buy fresh loaves of bread from the panaderia (or bakery), take note that there are many different types to choose from. You can buy una barra blanca (a white stick of bread), una bolla (bread in the shape of a circle with a hole in the middle) or una barra integral de trigo / una barra integral (wholemeal bread).
2. El arroz
This type of carbohydrate is rice in English. When you pronounce arroz, remember that the double rr should be pronounced with an alveolar trill.
3. La pasta
This cognate is quite self-explanatory. Pasta is “pasta” in English. You might have heard the word espaguetis, which means “spaghetti” and is, of course, similar to pasta.
4. Las patatas
Patatas means “potatoes” in English. Served fried, patatas are known as patatas fritas, with the word fritas meaning fried. You can also roast them to get patatas asadas, or boil them to get patatas hervidas.
5. Los fideos
Similar to espaguetis, fideos translate to “noodles” in English.
6. Las cereales
This cognate shouldn’t be too difficult to remember. It’s pronounced “ce-reh-al-es”, not “serials” and means “cereal”.
7. Las galletas
Galletas are biscuits. Don’t forget that the double ll is pronounced “yje” for this Spanish food.
🍇 Fruits in Spanish
There are many different types of fruit to choose from. Do any of these fruits seem familiar to you in Spanish and which do you need to write down?
1. El plátano
Plátanos are bananas. They are referred to as plátanos in Spain, but in Latin America they are called bananas.
2. La fresa
Fresas are strawberries. They are called fresas in Spain, but in some other Spanish speaking countries, such as Argentina and Bolivia, they are referred to as frutillas
3. Las moras
Moras in English are blackberries. You’ll hear mora in Spain, but zarzamora in other countries whose official language is Spanish.
4. Las manzanas
Manzana translates to English as “apple”. When you pronounce manzana, remember that the z sounds like an English “th” sound.
5. Las peras
This fruit sounds similar to the English equivalent, “pears” which might help you remember what this fresh fruit is called in Spanish.
6. Las naranjas
Una naranja is an orange. You might have also heard of mandarinas, or clementinas which are the smaller versions of naranjas.
7. Las uvas
Las uvas, are eaten on noche vieja or New Year’s Eve in Spain as part of a celebratory tradition for good luck. Uvas are grapes in English.
8. Los arándanos
Arándanos translates to “blueberries” in English. You can get arándanos rojos, which are known as red cranberries in English.
9. El melón
Melones are melons in English. In its singular form, un melón is a cognate of the English word “melon”, so you just have to change the pronunciation and stress the second half of the word to get it right.
10. El limón
Los limones are the citrus fruit that we call lemons in English speaking countries. It sounds similar to the English equivalent, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to remember
11. El melocotón
Melocotones are peaches. In Latin America, melocotones are referred to as duraznos.
12. La piña
The famous song Escape (The piña colada song) by Rupert Holmes is where you will have heard of this fruit. Una piña is a pineapple used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks such as piña coladas.
13. La ciruela
Una ciruela is a feminine singular sustantivo. This type of fruit is a plum in English.
🥛 Dairy products in Spanish
Finally, let’s cover a few productos lácteos to complete your knowledge of the names of foods and ingredients in Spanish. Have you heard of any of these?
1. Los yogures
Yogures are yogurts. This dairy product, or product lácteo is pronounced “yoh-guhr-res”.
2. La leche
In English, leche is milk. You can get desnatada, semidesnatada and leche entera at the supermarket, which are skimmed, semi skimmed and full-fat milk.
3. El queso
Queso is cheese. To pronounce it, remember that the qu sounds is not the same as the qu sound in English. It’s pronounced “keso”.
4. La mantequilla
Mantequilla is butter. It might seem complicated but it’s pronounced “man-te-key-ya”.
Learn the names of foods and ingredients in Spanish
Whether you’re shopping for ingredients or looking at a menu, this guide should help. All you need to do is learn all the names of foods and ingredients in Spanish listed above to expand your knowledge of food.
Refer back to this guide and try to memorise these items to become an expert in Spanish food.
Which other foods and ingredients in Spanish should be on this list?
Add them to the comments section below.