Learn English Food Idioms: A Comprehensive Guide for Students with Examples

improve your English language by learning words, phrases and expressions to improve your English vocabulary with a list of English idioms and sayings.

Common Food Idioms with Meanings and Example Sentences

A bitter pill to swallow

  • Something unpleasant or difficult to accept.
  • Losing the
    game was a bitter pill to swallow, but we’ll bounce back next time.

A hot potato

  • a controversial or sensitive issue that no one wants to deal with.
  • The topic of abortion is a political hot potato.

A piece of cake

  • something that is very easy to do.
  • The test was a piece of cake.

All gravy

  • Everything is going well or smoothly.
  • Don’t worry about it, everything’s all gravy.

Apple of one’s eye

  • Someone or something that is cherished or loved above all others.
  • My little sister is the apple of my eye. I love her more than anything.

Apples and oranges

  • Comparing two things that are completely different and cannot be compared.
  • Comparing a bicycle to a car is like comparing apples and oranges. They serve different purposes.

Bad apple

  • A person who is considered to be a troublemaker or has a negative influence on others.
  • Billy is a bad apple. He always causes trouble in class and doesn’t listen to the teacher.

Bad egg

  • Dishonest or unreliable person.
  • You shouldn’t trust him; he’s a bad egg.

Big cheese

  • An important or influential person.
  • He’s the big cheese around here, so we need to impress him.

Bigger fish to fry

  • More important matters to attend to.
  • I have bigger fish to fry than worrying about minor issues.

Bit off more than you can chew

  • Took on more responsibility than one can handle.
  • I thought I could handle all the projects, but I bit off more than I could chew.

Bread and butter

  • a person’s main source of income.
  • Her freelance writing is her bread and butter.

Bring home the bacon

  • To earn a living or provide for a household.
  • He works hard to bring home the bacon and support his family.

Bun in the oven

  • Used to refer to a woman who is pregnant.
  • Sarah has a bun in the oven. She is going to have a baby soon.

Butter someone up

  • to say good things about someone in order to gain something from them.
  • He’s always buttering up the boss to get ahead.

Butterflies in your stomach

  • Refers to the feeling of nervousness or excitement, often felt in the stomach, especially before a significant event.
  • I always get butterflies in my stomach before a big presentation.

Cheap as chips

  • Very cheap
  • You can get a great deal on these shoes; they’re as cheap as chips.

Chicken out

  • To back out or be afraid to do something.
  • I was going to try bungee jumping, but I chickened out at the last minute.

Cool beans

  • An expression used to show approval, agreement, or enthusiasm.
  • We’re going to the beach today!” “Cool beans! I love the beach.

Comparing apples and oranges

  • Comparing two things that are fundamentally different.
  • Comparing their teaching styles is like comparing apples and oranges.

Cool as a cucumber

  • to be calm and composed, especially in a difficult situation.
  • Even when the fire alarm went off, she remained as cool as a cucumber.

Couch potato

  • A person who spends a lot of time sitting or lying down, usually watching television.
  • My brother is a couch potato; he spends all day watching TV and rarely exercises.

Cream of the crop

  • The best or most outstanding of a group.
  • The top students in the class were selected for the science fair. They were the cream of the crop.

Cry over spilled milk

  • to be upset about something that cannot be changed.
  • I know you made a mistake, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Let’s focus on fixing the problem.”

Cut the mustard

  • To meet expectations or perform satisfactorily.
  • She applied for the job, but her qualifications didn’t cut the mustard.

Eat humble pie

  • Admit one’s mistake and apologize.
  • After his rude comment, he had to eat humble pie and apologize.

Eat like a horse

  • Eat a lot or have a hearty appetite.
  • Look at him devouring that pizza; he eats like a horse.

Egg head

  • A person who is highly intelligent or studious.
  • Lisa is a real egg head. She always gets top grades in school and loves to read books.

Egg someone on

  • Encourage or provoke someone to do something.
  • His friends egged him on to try the bungee jump.

Eggs in one basket

  • Relying on a single option or putting all hopes in one place.
  • Don’t invest all your money in one company; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Food for thought

  • Something that makes you think or consider.
  • The documentary presented some interesting food for thought about climate change.

Full as a tick

  • To feel very full, often after eating a large meal.
  • After the Thanksgiving dinner, I felt full as a tick.

Full of beans

  • Full of energy, lively, or enthusiastic.
  • The kids were full of beans after playing outside all day.

Go bananas

  • To become very excited or act in a crazy manner.
  • The crowd went bananas when their favorite band took the stage.

Go nuts

  • To become very excited or enthusiastic about something.
  • The children went nuts when they saw the ice cream truck coming down the street.

Good egg

  • A person who is kind, trustworthy, and reliable.
  • Tom is a good egg. He always helps others and is someone you can count on.

Gravy train

  • A situation where someone is making a lot of money with little effort.
  • My uncle is on the gravy train with his new business. He’s making a lot of money without working too hard.

Hard nut to crack

  • Difficult person or problem to deal with.
  • She’s a hard nut to crack; it’s challenging to get her to open up.

Have a chip on your shoulder

  • To be easily offended or always ready for an argument or confrontation.
  • He always has a chip on his shoulder and is looking for a fight.

Have your cake and eat it (too)

  • to want two incompatible things at the same time.
  • She wants to work less and make more money, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Handed to someone on a silver platter

  • When something is given to someone without them having to work for it.
  • Mark didn’t appreciate his new car because it was handed to him on a silver platter. He didn’t have to save money or work for it.

Hot potato

  • A controversial or sensitive issue that is difficult to handle.
  • The topic of politics can be a hot potato during family gatherings. It’s better to avoid discussing it.

Icing on the cake

  • Something additional that makes a good situation even better.
  • Getting a promotion at work was great, and receiving a bonus was the icing on the cake.

In a jiffy

  • Means “in a very short amount of time” or “very quickly”.
  • I’ll be there in a jiffy. Just give me a few minutes to get ready.

In a pickle

  • In a difficult or troublesome situation.
  • I forgot my wallet at home, and now I’m in a pickle.

In a nutshell

  • To sum up something briefly or concisely.
  • In a nutshell, the movie is about a boy who discovers a magical world hidden in his grandmother’s attic.

In the soup

  • To be in a difficult or troublesome situation.
  • After losing his job, John found himself in the soup. He had to look for a new job quickly.

Know your onions

  • To have deep knowledge or expertise in a specific subject.
  • Sarah is an excellent chef. She really knows her onions when it comes to cooking.


  • Something that turns out to be disappointing or of poor quality.
  • The used car I bought turned out to be a lemon; it broke down within a week.

Like a hot knife through butter

  • To describe something that is very easy or effortless.
  • With his new sharp knife, cutting through the ripe watermelon was like a hot knife through butter.

Like a kid in a candy store

  • To be extremely happy and excited about something.
  • When we entered the amusement park, my little sister was like a kid in a candy store. She wanted to try every ride.

Like two peas in a pod

  • Two people or things that are very similar or closely related.
  • Those twin sisters are like two peas in a pod. You can hardly tell them apart.

Not my cup of tea

  • Something one doesn’t prefer or enjoy.
  • I don’t really like action movies; they’re not my cup of tea.

Nuts about something/someone

  • To have a strong liking or enthusiasm for something or someone.
  • Example: Jack is nuts about soccer. He never misses a match and collects soccer jerseys.

On a silver platter

  • To receive or obtain something very easily or without effort.
  • She didn’t have to work hard for her success; everything was handed to her on a silver platter.

One smart cookie

  • A person who is clever, intelligent, or shrewd.
  • Lisa is one smart cookie. She always knows the answer to difficult math problems.

Out to lunch

  • To be unaware, inattentive, or not fully engaged in what is happening.
  • During the meeting, John seemed out to lunch. He didn’t pay attention to what the boss was saying.

Peachy keen

  • Excellent, great, or wonderful.
  • She aced her exam and received a promotion at work. Everything is peachy keen for her.

Pie in the sky

  • Something that is unlikely to happen or unrealistic.
  • Tom dreams of becoming a famous actor, but right now, it seems like a pie in the sky.

Piece of cake

  • Something that is very easy to do.
  • Don’t worry about the math test. It’s a piece of cake. You’ll do great!

Piece of pie

  • Something that is easy or effortless.
  • Don’t worry, this task is a piece of pie.

Salad days

  • Refers to a period of youth or inexperience, typically associated with carefree and enjoyable times.
  • I remember my salad days when I was in college and had no responsibilities.

Salt of the earth

  • A person who is honest, reliable, and down-to-earth.
  • Sarah’s grandparents are the salt of the earth. They are always there to help others.

Sell like hot cakes

  • Sell quickly and in large quantities.
  • The new smartphones are selling like hot cakes; they’re in high demand.

Sell someone a lemon

  • To deceive or cheat someone by selling them something of poor quality or value.
  • The used car salesman sold me a lemon. The car broke down the next day.

Souped up

  • To modify or enhance something, usually a vehicle, to make it more powerful or impressive.
  • John’s car is souped up with a new engine and fancy accessories. It’s really fast!

Sour grapes

  • To make negative comments or show bitterness because one is envious of someone else’s success.
  • After losing the race, he said he didn’t want to win anyway. It was just sour grapes.

Spice things up

  • To add excitement or variety to something.
  • Let’s spice things up by trying a new recipe for dinner.

Spice up your life

  • To make something more exciting or interesting.
  • Let’s spice up our boring routine by trying new activities and exploring new places.

Spill the beans

  • to reveal a secret.
  • She spilled the beans about the surprise party.

Spill the tea

  • To gossip or share juicy and often scandalous information.
  • Come on, spill the tea! I want to know what happened at the party last night.

Stew in one’s own juice

  • To suffer the consequences of one’s own actions or decisions.
  • After lying to his friends, he had to stew in his own juice when they found out the truth.

Sweet tooth

  • A strong liking or craving for sweet foods.
  • I can’t resist desserts. I’ve always had a sweet tooth.

Take the biscuit

  • Be the most surprising or outrageous.
  • After all the strange things he did, this takes the biscuit.

Take the cake

  • To be the most surprising or remarkable in a negative way.
  • I’ve heard some strange stories, but that one takes the cake.

Take with a grain of salt (take with a pinch of salt)

  • to not completely believe something.
  • He told me he was a millionaire, but I took it with a grain of salt.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles

  • That’s just how things happen or unfold, often referring to unfortunate events.
  • I didn’t get the job; well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

  • Children are often like their parents.
  • Just like her mom, she loves painting; the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The apple of someone’s eye

  • a person or thing that is loved.
  • Her daughter is the apple of her eye.

The greatest thing since sliced bread

  • Something considered highly impressive or innovative.
  • She thinks her new invention is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

The icing on the cake

  • something that makes a good situation even better.
  • Getting a raise was great, but the bonus was the icing on the cake.

The whole enchilada

  • Refers to the entirety of something or the whole package.
  • He didn’t just win one award; he won the whole enchilada. He swept all the categories.

Too many cooks spoil the broth

  • Too many people involved in a task can ruin the outcome.
  • Let’s have one person in charge; too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Top banana

  • The most important or influential person in a group or organization.
  • As the CEO, he’s the top banana in the company.

Turn up the heat

  • To increase the intensity or pressure in a situation.
  • The competition is getting tough. We need to turn up the heat and work harder.

Use your noodle

  • To use your brain or think carefully to find a solution.
  • If you use your noodle, I’m sure you’ll figure out the answer to the riddle.

Walk on eggshells

  • Be cautious or speak carefully to avoid angering someone.
  • Around her boss, she always walks on eggshells to avoid conflicts.

Worth your salt

  • Competent, skilled, or deserving of respect.
  • As a seasoned chef, he is worth his salt in the kitchen.

You’re toast

  • Means that someone is in trouble or facing a bad situation.
  • If the boss finds out you were late again, you’re toast.