We've all been there. You have no idea what to make for dinner and search recipes online for inspiration. You pick one particularly delicious sounding dish. But wait—what on earth is this 'Saran wrap' they speak of? And how much even is a 'cup?' Congratulations, you have stumbled upon an American recipe and us Brits have to embark upon a lengthy translation exercise before we can even start cooking (remember, Google is your friend).

To clear up any confusion, here's a handy list of the most common cooking Americanisms so that you can navigate any recipe with ease.

Arugula/ Rocket

salad, arugula, tomato, spinach
Claire Waggoner

Turns out arugula is referring to that peppery salad staple rocket. Usually an Americanism stumbled upon by those healthy types.

Chips/Crisps/ Fries

The classic example of British/American food confusion. For clarity, the humble British packet of crisps is referred to by our American cousins as chips. Meanwhile our British chips are like American fries, but thicker. Got it?

Cilantro/ Coriander

parsley, herb, cilantro, coriander, vegetable, relish
Gabby Phi

Aka Chinese parsley aka the Devil's herb aka the garnish used on almost every dish ever.


Dylan Barth

The big one. What does a cup mean precisely? Are we talking about an espresso cup? A teacup? Or the bucket-sized Sports Direct mug? Even then, how small should I cut food to fit into my cup? SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.

For whatever reason, America refuses to update their imperial measurement system and they're stuck with cups. For liquids, one cup is 225 ml. To make it even more confusing, conversion is different for liquid and dry ingredients and it depends upon the specific dry ingredient (complicated, I know). This US cup converter is a lifesaver and helps you navigate all the confusion.

Eggplant/ Aubergine

vegetable, eggplant, aubergine, squash
Helena Lin

The purple vegetable of emoji fame. 

Jam/ Jelly/ Jell-O

jam, toast, raspberry, strawberry, sweet
Amanda Shulman

Similar to the chips/crisps/fries conundrum. For us Brits, American jelly is usually called jell-o. It's actually a brand name that's now just the popular term, Hoover and Kleenex style. Americans call UK jam both jam and jelly depending on whether it has fruit bits in it (jam has bits, jelly is smooth).

Oatmeal/ Porridge oats

cereal, muesli, corn, oat, oatmeal, milk
Kassie McIntyre

The king of breakfast.

Saran wrap/ Cling film

Saran wrap is actually a brand of cling film in the United States and was so widely-used that the name stuck.

Zucchini/ Courgette

vegetable, squash, zucchini, cucumber, courgette, marinated cucumber, sweet
Kirby Barth

The vegetable made famous by spiralizers. The word zucchini comes from the Italian word for pumpkin, 'zucca.' However, the British decided to side with the French in the use of courgette.

This is not a comprehensive list, but with this knowledge you can more confidently venture into American cuisine with all their weird words.