These cooking idioms are often used in everyday conversational English. Learning and using them will make you sound more natural when speaking English.
An idiom is a fixed phrase that doesn't change. It's meaning is metaphorical rather than literal so you cannot usually understand it from the individual words. I have created several different lists of idioms and infographics to help you as study English idioms.
More examples of cooking idioms
Here are a few more examples to help make the meaning of these cooking idioms even clearer. I've also added a couple more cooking idioms that aren't in the infographic:
turn up the heat: To intensify criticism or pressure on someone.
- My girlfriend is turning up the heat for me to propose but I'm really not ready to get married and start a family.
- I think it's time to turn up the heat and try to close the sale or we won't make our sales quota this month.
- My parents are turning up the heat on me to move back home so I really need to find a job soon or I won't have any choice.
half-baked ideas: Ideas which have not been thought out very well.
- My assistant usually has half-baked ideas but I never discourage her because once in a while she thinks of something brilliant.
- I have to admit my suggestion was a half-baked idea. I didn't think of the complications or downsides and it's cost me a lot of headaches and money.
simmer down: To become less angry and agitated; to become calm and quiet after being angry.
- Kids if you don't simmer down and be nice to each other I'm going to take the game away from you.
- Take a walk and simmer down. We'll talk when you're calmer. I'm not in the mood to fight.
- My husband simmered down after he found out I gave our daughter permission to stay out late last night.
stir the pot: To deliberately try to make a situation/people more tense and upset.
- My old girlfriend was always trying to stir the pot and I really hated the drama.
- I look fat in these jeans? Wow, you're really trying to stir the pot.
- Please don't invite the marketing director to this meeting. He's very critical and always tries to stir the pot.
cook the books: To falsify the financial figures of a company's accounting books.
- She used to work in our finance department but she was convicted of fraud and cooking the books.
- I think our company is being investigated for cooking the books.
- Believe me, if you cook the books it will only get worse later on.
whip something up: To quickly prepare some food.
- How did you whip up dinner so quickly?
- I'd rather stay home and whip up a simple meal than waste money eating out again.
- I'll meet you at the movies in 30 minutes. I'll just go home and whip up a sandwich and change clothes.
from scratch: To make something from basic ingredients.
- I never have time to cook anything from scratch anymore—I just buy everything pre-made from the grocery store.
- My date pretended that she made dinner from scratch but I saw the empty food containers in the trash can.
- My children are always really happy when I bake cakes from scratch. They definitely taste better than store-bought cakes.
butter someone up: To praise, flatter or be very nice to someone so they will do something you want.
- Stop trying to butter me up. I already told you that I'm not buying you a new iPhone.
- It's embarrassing how Sandra keeps trying to butter up our boss. She would be better off if she just did her work.
- I have to admit I love it when my boyfriend butters me up.
what's cooking/cookin'?: What's happening, what's new, what's going on?
Note: this is a very informal idiom and the final "g" is normally not pronounced ("cookin').
- It's been so long since I've seen you! What's cookin'?
- What's cooking tonight? Are we going to the club?
- Welcome, come on in guys. What's cooking?
cook up a storm: To enthusiastically and energetically cook a large amount of food
- My husband's cooking up a storm again. Although I love it when he cooks, he makes a complete mess of the kitchen.
- I hope you'll join us for the barbecue this weekend. My colleagues and I plan to cook up a storm.
- I'm exhausted after cooking up a storm all week for my relatives who were in town.
grill someone: To interrogate or intensely question someone in order to try to get a confession or answers.
- My parents keep grilling me about what we did Saturday night but I keep telling them that we stayed at your house and watched movies.
- Doesn't it annoy you that your boyfriend is always grilling you about what you do when you're apart?
- The principal tried to grill my son about which students painted graffiti on the school's front door but my son would rather get expelled than lose his friends.
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