NAVIGATING THE KITCHEN – A Bilingual Guide to Kitchen Gear

One of the most surprisingly difficult places to navigate when you are traveling is the kitchen. I find nothing more frustrating than to be cooking away, then not be able to find some utensil that I need. What in the devil is a colander called? A grater?

These aren’t exactly words we are taught in Spanish class. Oh, yes, we learn the basics: plate, fork, spoon, knife, glass. But when we get out of the comedor (dining room) and into the cocina (kitchen), we are suddenly thrust into no-person’s land.

Today I present to you words to help you more easily navigate around the hostel or your host family’s kitchen.

¡Buen viaje! ¡Buen provecho!

Place setting. photo © Lorraine Caputo

above (left to right)

bread / dessert plate – plato dulcero

soup bowl – plato hondo  / plato para sopa / bol / cuenco

below (left to right)

napkin – servieta

fork – tenedor

plate – plato

knife – cuchillo

teaspoon – cucharita

soup spoon – cuchara


Kitchen utensils. photo © Lorraine Caputo

above (left to right)

pancake turner / spatula – paleta

mixing bowl – tazón

strainer / colander – cernedor / colador

ladel – cucharón


knife – cuchillo


To cook your food. photo © Lorraine Caputo

skillet – sartén

pot – olla

lid – tapa


Three sizes of pailas. These deep metal skillets are used for all manner of cooking, from fried eggs to dishes. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The paila is a unique cooking vessel in Latin American kitchens, perfect for preparing such dishes as Roasted Veggies.


To prepare beverages. photo © Lorraine Caputo

blender – licuadora

coffee pot – cafetera


To enjoy your beverages. photo © Lorraine Caputo

(left to right)

glass – vaso

wine goblet – copa

cup – taza

saucer – platillo / plato dulcero / plato para café



Other utensils you may need to prepare your dinner are:

cake pan / bread pan – molde

can opener – abrelatas

corkscrew – sacacorchos

cutting board – table (de cortar)

dish rag – trapo

grater – rallador

griddle (for making tortillas or roasting chilis) – comal (Mexico, Central America)

squeezer (for lemon, oranges, etc.) – exprimador

mixer – batidora

potato masher (for potatoes or other vegetables) – aplastador / majador  / pasapurés / chino

serrated knife – cuchillo de sierra

teapot – tetera

tongs – tenacillas / pinzas

towel – toalla

whetstone – piedra de afilar / afiladera

whisk – batidor


And how to describe the means of cooking:

burner – hornilla / hornalla (Argentina, Uruguay) / quemador

charcoal – carbón

firewood – leña

grill – parrilla

matches – fósforos / cerillos (Mexico)

oven – horno

stove – estufa / cocina

turn off – apagar

turn on – encender



Is there any word I may have missed? Please mention it below in the comments.



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