ESL Cooking Vocabulary: All Resources You Need for Your Lesson

Planning to do an ESL lesson about cooking? You want to give your students a practical and appealing introduction to cooking vocabulary?

Perfect! We got it all for you: lists, definitions, activities and worksheets.

Use the resources on this page to engage your students and make them learn cooking vocabulary.

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Cooking vocabulary: free lists and worksheets for ESL lessons

Why Should You Spend Time Teaching Cooking Vocabulary?

Cuisine is one of the most cultural aspects of persons every day’s life. People associate emotions and identify themselves with their home kitchen. 

If your students are ever in another country, they can easily connect with the person they are talking to, using cooking vocabulary.

How Can You Incorporate Cooking Vocabulary Into Your Lessons?

There are various ways to include these lists and exercises into your lesson. 

You can ask your students to explain the vocabulary to each other. The other person has to guess the words and rate the explanation of the classmate.

Another option is to divide your students into groups. Then they can ask each other questions about how to prepare their favorite dish. After such a lesson, you can give your students a homework to write a recipe about their favorite dish.

ESL Cooking Vocabulary List & Definitions

to bakecook something in the oven (We can bake the potatoes in the oven)
to boilheat something up in water so that it gets hot or cooked (Let us boil the spaghetti in the next step)
a bowlRound container that is open at the top and is deep enough to hold soup or fruits. (We need a bowl to serve the soup) 
to carvecut something big into small pieces (We have to carve the turkey now)
to cookto prepare food for your meal
a cookThe person in a restaurant preparing the food (The cook starts to prepare your food now)
a chefThe head cook in the kitchen of a restaurant (The chef tells the cooks, what to do.)
a cookbookA book with recipes and guides to help you cook (In the cookbook we can find the full instructions.)
a dishA type of food (My favorite dish is Thai Curry.)
a forkThe silverware you need to eat most food.
to grillto cook food directly under a hot flame (I like steak best, when it is grilled.)
herbIngredients used to spice up dishes. (You could add some herbs.)
ingredientA component of a dish. (The ingredients for spaghetti bolognese are meat, spaghetti, tomatoes, salt, pepper etc.)
a knifeThe silverware you need to cut your food. (The knife is blunt. I can’t cut the meat)
meltto turn solid food into a more liquid one (The cheese on my burger melts.)
mixto combine two or more elements and put them together (You have to mix the butter and flour.)
a panThe kitchen utensil you need for cooking. (I need a pan to cook the eggs.)
peelto cut off the skin of a fruit or vegetable (You have to peel the apple.)
preheatto heat something up before cooking it (We have to preheat the chicken in the oven.)
prepareto make the vegetables, fruits, and other food ready for cooking (Can you prepare the apples for the cake?)
recipeAn instruction that helps you to cook a dish. (Can you hand me the recipe, so I can see what else we need?)
roastto cook vegetables or meat in the pan (ideally with a brown, crispy skin). 
saltA seasoning used for most food (I need some salt for my eggs.)
serveto bring the dishes to the table (The waiter serves the food.)
stir-fryto fry something quickly in the pan (with oil for example). 
spoonThe silverware you need to eat a soup. (Do we have spoons for the soup?)
waiterThe person in the restaurant bringing the drinks and food. (We have to call a waiter.)

The 5 Best Activities to Teach Cooking Vocabulary

Food Quiz

Two students should get together and talk about their favorite dish. They should not mention the name of the food, but describe the ingredients that are used, the preparation and the taste of it.

Cooking Vocabulary Pantomime

The students should go together in small groups of persons and each explain two vocabularies. The team with more points wins.

Make a list of the above listed vocabulary. Give each student one piece of paper with a word on it. Tell them to explain the verbs and nouns with pantomime. 

Cooking Show Time

Let your students watch a video of a cook preparing a dish. They should observe the preparation, instructions and ingredients. After watching the TV, they should explain, how to do the dish.

Restaurant Conversation

Two students should get together and make a role play. One student acts as the guest, one as the waiter. 

To make it easier, let them act as if they were in a local restaurant. If necessary, give them some phrases in advance, that will help them to complete the dialogue.

Recipe Writing

Students should take pen and paper or their tablet and write an instruction on how to cook or bake a certain dish. They should list the ingredients, give tips and provide a step-by-step instruction.

Free Printable ESL Cooking Worksheets

Download, edit and print all of the following worksheets for ESL teachers – completely free!

Verbs WorksheetWord
Verbs WorksheetWord
Verbs ActivityWord
Reading ComprehensionWord
Reading ComprehensionWord
Crossword ExerciseWord
Crossword ExerciseWord

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2 thoughts on “ESL Cooking Vocabulary: All Resources You Need for Your Lesson”

  1. William P MacMonagle

    Thanks. This is very useful. However, I am teaching beginning students so a simplified but adult reading comprehension exercise or two would be great.

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