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How to describe recipes in English!

Recipes in English – Do you know how to describe a recipe in English? Cooking is a great topic of conversation. So, just to help you, in this lesson, you’ll learn

5 great verbs for describing a recipe.

First, you’re going to watch a conversation with Rachel and Arthur. In this conversation thyey are talking about recipes in English,

Rachel is explaining how to make one of her favourite recipes.

Then, we’re going to look at the expressions. Finally, you can try a little quiz to see how many of the verbs you can remember. Ready? OK, let’s go! [see below for the video script]

Hi, how’s it going? In this lesson, you’re going to learn how to describe a recipe in English. This is a very important skill, because you can impress your friends with your cooking skills.

OK, you’re going to watch a conversation, and afterwards we’re going to look at some expressions for describing a recipe. OK? Now, in the conversation, Rachel is talking about how to make something. I want you to answer these two simple questions:

What is the recipe for?

And secondly, how easy or difficult do you think it is to make?

OK? [see below for the video script]

5 useful expressions for describing a recipe

OK, very good. Did you hear the conversation? The recipe was for chilli con carne, which is a kind of Spanish recipe we use which is “con carne,” with meat, but we say that in English, chilli con carne. Chilli with meat. And I would say that recipe sounds quite easy; I mean I’ve made it before and the recipe sounded, well it sounded pretty good. What did you think?

OK, now let’s look at some expressions that she used in the video, and that you can use later, OK?

1 To heat

Rachel said, “I heat some oil on the stove.” If you heat something, you make it hotter, you make it warm. Also, interestingly, she used the word stove, and that’s the word Americans use; in British English we tend to use the word cooker, OK? Just a minor point.

2 To add

Rachel said, “I add the turkey.” If you add food A to food B, you put food A into food B, OK? So, if you put some turkey into the pot, you add it into the pot, OK?

3 To brown

“I cook it until it browns,” Rachel said. When food “browns,” it starts to change colour and become a Little bit Brown because it’s cooking, OK?

4 To take

Rachel said, “It usually takes about fifteen minutes.” The time something takes is the time from when it starts until it finishes. For example, a bus journey takes twenty minutes, so from the time it starts until it finishes is twenty minutes; a very useful verb.

5 To serve

And lastly, number five: To serve. “What do you serve your chilli with?” The food you serve the chilli with, is the food you put with the chilli. So, for example you could say, “I serve my chilli with guacamole,” or “I serve my chilli with sour cream.” So, it’s the food you put with the chilli, when you serve it, when you give it to people. OK, so there you go, five really useful expressions that you can use to talk about cooking.


Language quiz!

Try our little language quiz to see how much you can remember. [answers below]

What’s the word or expression?

1. I think you need to _______ some more salt to this.

2. Cook the meat at a very high heat until it _______.

3. The dish should _______ about 15 minutes to cook.

4. You could _______ it with some rice or potatoes.

5. Once it reaches boiling point, turn down the _______ and let it cook slowly for about 30 minutes.

6. We _______ the curry with some Basmati rice.

7. Next, you need to _______ the vegetables to the pot.

8. We _______ up some food from yesterday’s dinner and had that for lunch.

9. The dish _______ about an hour to make.

Video script
A = Arthur R = Rachel
A: I’m making chilli this weekend for a football party, but I’m not sure which recipe to use.
R: OK, I have a good one that I kind of critiques into my own that I make all the time. It’s really quite delicious.
A: Tell me about it, please. [OK.] I’m desperate!
R: Of course! So, I use ground turkey for my chilli, just to keep a Little bit healthier.
A: OK, turkey, not beef.
R: Yes, I prefer turkey. [OK.] So, I heat some oil on the stove and then I add the turkey until it browns. [OK.] Very simple. Once it browns, you can add your vegetables; I like jalapeños, peppers, onions, garlic. [Excellent.] You can throw it all in there.
A: Yes, jalapeño! Good, the spicier, the better.
R: And for the seasoning, I like to add some cayenne pepper, normal salt, some pepper of course, and also just some chilli powder.
A: OK, so at the end you and your guests are breathing fire.
R: We’re breathing fire, but I love it spicy. You can modify it and not put in spicy peppers if you don’t like it so hot.
A: OK, and how long does it cook?
R: It usually takes fifteen minutes after it’s all finished.
A: Only fifteen minutes!
R: Yeah, it’s easy!
A: OK, and what do you serve your chilli with?
R: Oh, cheese, sour cream, and sometimes guacamole.
A: Fantastic, I’m sold.
R: Perfect.
A: Thank you!
R: Let me know how it turns out.
A: I will, I’ll bring you some.
R: Perfect!
A: Good!


1. add; 2. browns; 3. take; 4. serve; 5. heat; 6. served; 7. add; 8. heated / served; 9. took
How many did you get right?

Learn Hot English magazine covers many different areas of English similar to this topicof recipes in English. Check it out others here.

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