Mexican Food Terms You Must Know

mexico mexican food terms

Enjoy Mexican food? We’re not talking about Taco Bell or Tex-Mex (although they are both quite delicious in their own rights). We’re referring to authentic Mexican food. If so, the Mexican food terms below must be a part of your culinary vocabulary.

Mexico is a Latin American country that borders the United States of America to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the south. Mexicans have a rich Spanish and Native American heritage as Spaniards ruled Mexico for nearly 300 years into the early 19th century. The primary language spoken in Mexico is Spanish.

Mexican cuisine

Mexican cuisine is characterized by its depth of flavors created by regional spices and seasonings. Some of the most used ingredients in Mexican food includes corn, chilies, beans, rice, avocados and limes.

Much of what is considered Mexican food is actually Mexican-American food. When non-Mexicans think of Mexican food, crispy yellow tacos and giant burritos often come to mind. In reality, hard-shelled tacos and massive burritos originated in the United States. Authentic Mexican tacos are made with small corn tortillas and meats and/or vegetables while authentic Mexican burritos are relatively small and only contain meat with rice, beans, cheese and/or chilies.

Mexican food terms (Spanish)

Expand your international dining vocabulary with these basic food-related words translated from English to Spanish.

meat – carne

  • pork – cerdo
  • beef – carne de vaca (literal translation “meat of cow”)

poultry – aves de corral

  • turkey – pavo
  • duck – pato
  • chicken – pollo

seafood – mariscos

  • fish – pescado
  • shrimp – camarónes
  • oyster – ostra
  • shellfish – mariscos

meatless/no meat – sin carne

  • vegetables – vegetales
  • fruits – frutas
  • eggs – huevos
  • tofu – tofu
  • nuts – nueces
  • vegetarian – vegetariano (male) / vegetariana (female)
  • vegan – vegano (male) / vegana (female)

drinks – bebidas

  • water – agua
  • alcohol – alcohol
  • beer – cerveza
  • wine – vino

other eating/dining-related terms

  • yes –
  • no – no
  • good – bueno
  • yummy – sabroso
  • eat – comer (literally “to eat”)
  • cook – cocinar
  • I’m hungry – tengo hambre
  • I’m full – estoy lleno
  • more – más
  • less – menos
  • only – solo
  • please – por favor
  • thank you – gracias
  • baked – horneado
  • fried – frito
  • grilled – a la parilla
  • roasted – asado
  • steamed – cocer al vapor
  • hot – caliente
  • warm – caliente
  • cold – frío
  • bitter – amargo
  • salty – salado
  • spicy – picante
  • sweet – dulce
  • allergic – alérgico
  • bathroom – el baño

Watch this video to hear how letters and words sound in Spanish.

Mexican food to try

Interested in learning about other cuisines around the world? Discover food terms from other countries here.

Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.