IELTS Food Vocabulary

IELTS Food Vocabulary

The topic of food often comes up in the IELTS Speaking exam. You might be asked questions about what you like to eat, your favourite restaurants or about a popular dish in your country.

Read the following IELTS-style questions and answers below and pay attention to the phrases in bold. Use the ‘Definitions’ section at the bottom of the page to check the meaning of any phrases you don’t understand.

Part 1-style questions

Examiner: Do you like to cook?
Mandy: Not really no  … most of the time I eat ready meals and take-aways … that’s one of the reasons I love visiting my mum … you can always guarantee lovely home-cooked food 

Examiner: What time do you usually eat dinner?
Michelle: We have our main meal at around 7.00 … I’m usually starving hungry by then … in fact I often grab a bite to eat as soon as I get home from college … a sandwich perhaps … but not too much to spoil my appetite …

Examiner: Are there any types of food you don’t like?
Lionel: No not really … I’m not a fussy eater at all … actually I eat like a horse … I do a lot of sport and work up quite an appetite 

Part 2-style task

Describe a restaurant that you like to use. You should say

  • where this restaurant is
  • what kind of food it serves
  • how often you go there

and say why you like eating there so much.

Howard:  OK … this is a nice topic to talk about … there’s a restaurant just around the corner from where I live … it’s an Italian restaurant so as you’d expect you can eat various pasta dishes and pizzas and I usually go there with my family for a slap-up meal if we have anything to celebrate … it’s quite a posh restaurant … the kind of place you would take someone if you wanted to wine and dine them … we usually order a 3-course meal … a light starter then a main dish … and I have quite a sweet tooth so I always look forward to the dessert … I usually order Tiramisu … it makes my mouth water just to think about it … I’m always totally full up by the end … why do I enjoy it there … well … it’s not cheap … my parents always foot the bill and we couldn’t afford to go there regularly so it’s always a nice treat  …

Part 3-style questions

Examiner: How can we encourage people to eat more healthily?
Anna: I think the best approach is to have everything in moderation … processed food won’t kill you if you only eat it occasionally … but people should also be encouraged to eat a balanced diet… try to cook fresh ingredients at home a few times a week …

Examiner: Do you think people enjoy their food as much as they should?
Florrie: I don’t know really … I suppose it’s true that people will often eat a quick snack because they’re bored not because they’re dying of hunger … and often they just bolt it down and don’t savour it … so yes … perhaps we could take more time over our food …

Examiner: Do you think cooking is a pleasure or a chore for people who have busy lives?
Julie: Well … whether you follow a recipe or make something up as you go along … I think cooking is a very creative process … and cooking for other people is a particular pleasure … there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing people you love tucking into something you’ve cooked yourself …


  • to be full up: to eat to the point that you can no longer eat any more
  • to be starving hungry: an exaggerated way of saying you are very hungry
  • to bolt something down: to eat something very quickly
  • to be dying of hunger: an exaggerated way of saying you are hungry
  • to eat a balanced diet: to eat the correct types and amounts of food
  • to eat like a horse: to eat a lot
  • to follow a recipe: to cook a meal using instructions
  • to foot the bill: to pay the bill
  • a fussy eater: somebody who has their own very high standards about what to eat
  • to grab a bite to eat: to eat something quickly (when you’re in a rush)
  • to have a sweet tooth: to enjoy sugary food
  • home-cooked food: food cooked at home from individual ingredients
  • the main meal:  the most important meal of the day, usually eaten in the evening
  • to make your mouth water: to make you feel very hungry for something
  • to play with your food: to push food around the plate to avoid eating it
  • processed food: commercially prepared food bought for convenience
  • a quick snack: to eat a small amount of food between meals
  • a ready meal: see ‘processed food’
  • a slap up meal: a large meal
  • to spoil your appetite: to eat something that will stop you feeling hungry when it’s meal-time.
  • a take away: a cooked meal prepared in a restaurant and eaten at home
  • to tuck into: to eat something with pleasure
  • to wine and dine: to entertain someone by treating them to food and drink
  • to work up an appetite: to do physical work that leads to you becoming hungry
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