US to UK culinary translations

I like to Google a recipe for dinner as much as the next person. But I always find myself having to go back and hit the internets again a few minutes later to find the real names for half of the ingredients.

Because a lot of recipes I seem to want to make are written in the US, they contain a lot of ingredients and cooking terms that I’ve never heard of. There are a few I’m used to by now, and then the odd one that still catches me out. So here is a handy translation list in case you’ve ever been foxed, either.
The easy ones
~ Eggplant = aubergine
~ Zucchini = courgette
~ Cilantro = coriander

~ Cookie = biscuit

~ Pudding = specifically a custardy type dessert, somewhere between a baked custard and Angel Delight (here, it’s applied indiscriminately to any type of dessert)

The intermediate level….
~ Scallions = spring onions
~ Heavy cream = double cream (sort of)

~ Half and half = single cream (sort of)

~ Baking soda  =  bicarbonate of soda (NOT BAKING POWDER)

~ Noodles = pasta

~ Biscuit = scone-type thing but savoury

The advanced aka Recently Googled
~ Club soda = soda water
~ Garbanzo beans = chickpeas
~ All the meat cuts. Shank = shin/leg, round = silverside/topside, plate = brisket (sort of), sirloin is completely different and we don’t even have a tenderloin. And that’s just beef!
And finally the tools and techniques…
~ Broil = grill
~ Crockpot = slow cooker

~ Dutch oven = casserole dish with lid/Le Creuset

~ Measuring in cups = what the hell. Who can measure a cup of cold butter?! A cleverer cook than me, clearly. Just use a scale, I beg you!
~ Oven temperatures in Fahrenheit = I swear I always have one browser page on my phone that is permanently googling “375F in C” and I still haven’t memorised it yet [note to self: ITS 190. 190!!].
Are there any ingredients or techniques which you find yourself having to look up?


  1. 13th May 2015 / 16:56

    ok but please help me with corn starch / corn flour / corn meal. i am 99% they mean different things in the US than they do at home, lol. I just want to know which one to use to make pavlova! haha. although without the heavy cream (seriously WHY?!) it’s pointless 😉

    • 13th May 2015 / 17:26

      Well corn starch .. has well starch in it so the cooking compound is different and when you cook with it it everything comes out thicker. We use it for Mac n cheese and soups to thicken them. For Pavlova I would use cornstarch. The gluten in flour kind of reduces the thickness. Does this make sense? Cornmeal is only really used with recipes like cornbread and biscuits. I hope this helps.

    • 16th May 2015 / 15:49

      So I always thought it was to do with how finely the corn was ground. So corn starch is more finely ground than eg corn meal? I don’t know, I’d be hitting Google for that one as well to be honest! Good luck with your baking, there’s nothing quite like a good pav!

  2. 13th May 2015 / 17:27

    I loved this. We are moving abroad soon so we are loving learning all the different terminology. When we travel it’s our favorite things to pick up on and my husband always brings the new words home with us and all our friends look at him like he’s insane.

    • 16th May 2015 / 15:50

      Ha! Travel via the medium of food is one of my favourite things to do. I always love looking around foreign supermarkets…. Is that weird?! Where are you moving to?

  3. 24th July 2015 / 13:28

    Love this! English is spoken in Singapore, but many words are not the same. They follow British English more. Meat is the hardest to sort out for me. I just want to find a nice chuck roast, but that doesn’t seem to translate here. And a ham hock is a cheap cut we throw in a pot of beans back home, but because pork knuckle is an expensive ingredient here it’s not economical for me to put one in my beans. I do say “pasta” for Italian dishes and “noodle” for Asian dishes, but maybe that’s just me.

    • 27th July 2015 / 17:21

      I know, I’m still confused by meat cuts. It’s interesting what is a cheap commodity and what’s hard to come by in different regions! I also say pasta and noodle for Italian and Asian respectively, but here they’re very different things so I get confused when people refer to noodle and mean pasta!

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