The US & UK: Divided by a common culinary language

One of my most memorable Chowhound threads was the one with this title, started in 2009 by Caitlin McGrath. It ran to 572 posts discussing the linguistic differences between our two countries

What follows are the words/phrases that we came up with then (plus a hadnful more that came to mind). I don’t vouch for the absolute accuracy of translations but I didnt want to lose the info when CH goes. I couldnt find the thread, so thanks to my longterm CH and HO pal, LindaWhit, who could.

Please feel free to add words we might have missed all those years back. Or, indeed, any differences from other Anglophone countries.


All purpose flour… Plain flour
Almond flour… - Ground almond
Appetizer… Starter/First course
Arugula… Rocket
Bacon… Steaky bacon
Baked potato… Jacket potato
Baking sheet… Baking tray
Beet… Beetroot
Bell pepper… Pepper
Blood pudding… Black pudding
Bread roll… Bap/Barm/Barmcake/Cob (regional + others)
Broccolini… Tenderstem broccoli
Broiler… Grill
Burner… Ring
Can… Tin
Canadian bacon… back bacon
Candied apple… Toffee apple
Candied cherry… Glace cherry
Candy… Sweets
Canola oil… Rapeseed oil
Casserole… Baking dish (?)
Chili… Chilli
Chips… Crisps
Cider… Apple juice
Cilantro… Coriander (leaf)
Coffee with cream… White coffee (with milk)
Cone cabbage… Hispi cabbage
Cookie sheet… Baking sheet
Cookie… Biscuit
Cooktop… Hob
Cordial (fruit)… Squash
Cotton candy… Candy floss
Cream, heavy… Cream, double
Cremini mushroom… Chestnut mushroom
Crepe… Pancake
Cup cakes… Fairy cakes (traditional)
Cutting board… Chopping board
Dark brown sugar… Dark muscovado sugar
Dessert… Pudding/Sweet
Dinner… Dinner, tea, supper (region/social class)
Dish towel… Tea towel
Donut… Doughnut
Double lamb chop… Barnsley chop
Dutch oven… Casserole
Egg salad … Egg mayo (sandwich)
Eggplant… Aubergine
English muffin… Muffin
Entrée… Main course
Faucet… Tap
Fava bean… Broad bean
Filet… Fillet
Fish sticks… Fish fingers
Flavor… Flavour
French fries… Chips (or fries if they are the thin ones like McD’s)
French press… Cafetiere
Frosting (cake)… Icing
Garbanzos… Chickpeas
Golden raisins… Sultanas
Graham cracker… Digestive biscuit (similar not identical)
Grill pan… Griddle pan
Grill… Barbeque
Ground (meat)… Minced
Hard candy… Boiled sweet
Hard cider… Cider
Head cheese… Brawn
Herb… Herb (with the “H” pronounced)
Home fries… Chips/Fat chips
Jello… Jelly
Lasagna… Lasagne
Light brown sugar… Light soft brown sugar
Lima bean… Butter bean
Lunch… Lunch or dinner (region/social class)
Over (e.g. rice)… With
Pancake… American/Buttermilk pancake
Pantry… Store cupboard (pantry if it’s a separate room)
Paper towels… Kitchen paper
Parchment paper… Baking paper (non stick)
Pat of butter… Knob of butter
Pint (16oz)… Pint (20oz)
Pita… Pitta
Pizza pie… Pizza
Plain yogurt… Natural/Plain yoghurt
Plastic wrap… Clingfilm
Popsicle… Ice lolly
Pork butt… Pork shoulder
Powdered sugar… Icing sugar
Range… Cooker
Red pepper flakes… Chilli flakes
Rutabaga… Swede (Turnip/neep in Scotland)
Saute… Fry
Scallion… Spring onion
Self rising flour… Self raising flour
Short rib… Jacob’s Ladder (traditional – American term is now used)
Shrimp… Prawns/shrimps (size is important)
Skillet… Frying pan
Snow pea… Mangetout pea
Soda… Soft drink
Sprinkles… Hundres & Thousands
Steak sauce… Brown sauce
Stove… Cooker
Superfine sugar… Caster sugar
Takeout… Takeaway
Tuna salad… Tuna mayo (sandwich)
Tuscan kale… Cavolo nero
Tuxedo… Dinner jacket
Zucchini… Courgette


John, Canada is feeling a little overlooked right now.

Turnip and Rutabaga are interchangeable for the big brown turnip in Canada, or at least Ontario. Turnip is the more common word. Most Ontarians do not expect the smaller smoother turnips unless they shop at fancier food shops.

Other words used in Canada

Ground almonds in Canada might be for baking, and are not as finely ground relative to what is labeled almond flour.

Coffee lingo:
Regular coffee at a coffee shop could mean 1 cream and 1 sugar
Double Double means 2 creams and 2 sugars
Double Milk Double Sugar, etc

Both Candy Apples and Toffee Apples /Caramel Apples are available in Canada .
Candy Apples are bright red with a hard, translucent candy coating. Caramel Apple/Toffee Apple is covered in chewy caramel.

Pork Butt, and a Pork Butt Picnic roast are available, as is Pork Shoulder. I don’t think they’re the same thing.

Scallion/ spring onions are called green onions, but most people understand scallions, as well.

We have cider and Apple juice available . Not the same thing. Apple juice is filtered and clear, cider is less filtered, is kept refrigerated and has an expiration date. The cider has a stronger flavour and darker colour.

Sugar Snap peas in Canada are relatives of Snow Peas, but the pea is allowed to grow a little more. They aren’t flat like a Snow Pea. I plant both types.


US - UK:

Aluminum foil - Aluminium foil
Chile - Chilli
Counter/Countertop - Worktop
Baking soda - Bicarbonate of soda
Superfine sugar - Caster sugar
Plastic wrap - Clingfilm
Flatware - Cutlery
Grilled cheese - Toasties
Scotch - Whisky

I read food magazines in German produced in Germany, Austria and Switzerland… some ingredients have their own names in each country. I have to look them up sometimes.

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It took several hours to find it. I knew exactly what thread John was talking about, but damned if I could find it! Found it buried as a link in another thread about the word differences. Glad I could find it!

And @Harters , one thing to note - the U.S. does have both snow peas (flat) and sugar snap peas, selling them right next to each other in our markets. But as I noted on another thread elsewhere, I auto-think sugar snap peas whenever anyone says snow peas. Because the sugar snaps are the only ones I buy now. LOL



Snow peas…mangetout peas

I’ve amended the original list


There you go. And I like the definitely for mangetout: “eat it all”. Yup - except for those damn strings. :wink:

We use “chickpeas” here in the US too–I’ve seen that as often or more often than garbanzos.

And what used to confuse me about GBBO was the use of “fan” oven. Maybe convection ovens are more common in the UK? And we definitely don’t have anything like “Gas 5” on our ovens.

I’ve never cooked on gas so have absolutely no idea what “Gas Mark 5” actually means

pork butt and pork shoulder are both used in the US as they are two different cuts

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Thank you for bringing this over here, John! I hadn’t thought about that thread for a bit, but it was a lot of fun.


A lot of this is true in the US, as well, e.g., apple juice vs. apple cider, candy apples and caramel/toffee apples, pork butt and shoulder. People use scallion and green onion interchangeably in the US, whereas spring onions are immature white or red onions and their greens (and generally only available in the spring).


I think the main unique word in Canada that relates to dining is serviette for paper napkin. The word serviette is less common than it was in the 70s and 80s, and I have a feeling half the servers in Toronto these days would not know what a serviette is if you asked for one.

A few others that come to mind:

Whole wheat flour : wholemeal flour
Strong flour: bread flour
Cornstarch : corn flour (in the US, corn flour is very fine cornmeal)
Corn : sweetcorn


Similar in the UK. It was in common usage when I was a young bloke.

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Harters I recall an exchange last year where some supposed baking expert was going on with you about how cakes in the US and puddings in the UK were the same or something like that. Talk about not understanding when using the same words.

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It must depend where in Ontario. I grew up in a farming area and there was a definite difference when talking about the two. Turnips were only the white and purple roots.

As an aside, have you ever tried golden turnips? They look very much like yellow beets, but are lovely, delicate and sweet turnips. A new favourite here.


I haven’t tried golden ball turnips. I have grown the white and purple ones, and rutabaga, as well as turnips for the greens, but stopped growing them because we don’t end up eating what I grow. Now I buy one rutabaga a year , for Burns Night. :rofl:

The word could definitely depend on the region- I shouldn’t have spoken for the entire province. My farm family lives in Saskatchewan, and I’ve only seen the rutabaga type of turnip out there.

The UK understanding of convection is the natural circulation of heated air from a hot object (e.g. a room radiator or a heating element, see Wiki for better description), this being one of the three common heat transfer mechanisms. The others are conduction and radiation. Thus to us a convection oven has in the past been one without a fan, effectively the opposite of how convection is applied in the US in this context. However, that is falling away IMO, and cooks in the UK that care will twig the linguistic difference. Those that don’t care will never notice the difference in how the food turns out anyway!

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I also remember it. As a common British expression, she was “talking out of her arse”.