Learning about new ingredients is a lot of fun. With a world full of new and unique foods, it's impossible to know them all. If variety is the spice of life, then keeping fun new foods in your pantry can help break you out of a cooking rut, or re-envigorate your palate.
In this article, I've collected a list of 36 different foods that begin with the letter A. From Abalone to Avocado and everything in between this list will help remind you of foods you might have forgotten, or introduce you to new ingredients that you might want to add to your next grocery list
38 foods that start with the letter A.
Abalone is a sea snail or mollusk used in cuisines from around the world. This delicious seafood is native to a number of different places and cuisines. Abalone is common in the pacific northwest as well as many places worldwide. Served in a number of ways it can be steamed, grilled, or marinated much like clams or snails can.
Abiu is a tropical fruit tree from the Amazon region of South America. The abiu can grow to 30 feet high and produces round/ovular yellow fruit. Abiu fruit tastes sweet with a hint of pineapple flavor and has been described as "caramel flan" in texture/flavor. With translucent flesh, easily removable seeds, the Abiu fruit makes for an amazing tropical snack.
Açaí is the name for the small, purple berries produced by the South American palm tree. With a tart, blueberry/pomegranate flavor, these delicious berries are considered to be antioxidant-rich superfood. Açaí is often served as a frozen sorbet base used for a breakfast bowl that combines heart-healthy calories, with an incredibly refreshing flavor experience.
Achiote is a shrub that produces the annatto flower/seasoning. This bright orange seasoning has a lightly nutty flavor and is important in South American and Caribbean cuisines. The name achiote and annatto can be used interchangeably for the spice derived from the annatto seed.
Acorns or oak nuts are the seed produced by the oak tree. Acorns have a multitude of culinary uses, from flour to pancakes, to coffee, you can use acorns to produce a lot of different dishes and foods.
Acorn squash is a winter squash varietal. With long ridges on the outside and dark green skin, their distinctive shape and coloring are the reason for their name as they look like large acorns or nuts. With a bright yellow interior flesh and a rich vanilla flavor when roasted, these amazing acorn squash make great side dishes, soups, and purees, especially during the colder months.
7. Adzuki beans
Adzuki beans also known as red mung beans, are small red beans cultivated primarily in eastern Asia. These small, pea-sized red beans are most commonly used in the production of red bean paste, an ingredient often used in Japanese and Chinese desserts.
Agar is a jelly-like substance derived from red algae. This seaweed-derived jelly product is most often used in dessert production especially in Asian countries. With qualities like gelatin, this agar can be used to produce a number of different effects/textures and is often used in modernist cooking.
9. Agave syrup
Agave syrup is a sugary, honey-like syrup derived from the agave cactus. This syrup is created by extracting the sweet nectar of the "pina" or the heart of the agave, the syrup is then heated and reduced much like maple syrup to produce a sugary, light amber syrup. Slightly thinner than honey, Agave syrup is considered to be a healthier alternative to more refined sugar options.
10. Ahí tuna
Ahi tuna is a term used for two different types of fish, yellowfin tuna, and bigeye tuna. The name Ahi comes from the Hawaiian term 'ahi which refers to bigeye tuna but has since become interchangeable for either type. Ahi can be found in a number of different packages and styles. From frozen blocks or tuna filets to steaks and fresh-cut tuna from your local fish purveyor, there is a ton of great ahi available for your next sushi night or poke bowl!
11. Albacore tuna
Albacore tuna, also known as longfin tuna, is an edible fish found in tropical waters worldwide. Most commonly associated with canned tuna products, albacore tuna is delicious in a number of different recipes or preparation. With a lighter flesh than ahi tuna, albacore is wonderfully seared, roasted, or grilled.
Alfalfa is a flowering plant that is often used as forage or a cover crop. It can be eaten young, as sprouts. Used in salads on sandwiches or as an ingredient, alfalfa sprouts can be a healthy, and crunchy addition to your diet, they are also incredibly easy to sprout for yourself at home!
13. Alfredo Sauce
Alfredo sauce is a sauce made from parmesan cheese, butter, and cream, often seasoned with garlic as well as salt and pepper. Northern Italian in origin, this incredibly rich sauce is most commonly served with fettuccine pasta.
Commonly eaten in the Creole and Cajun cuisines of the Southern United States, Alligator meat is prized for its tender meat and subtle flavor. Often eaten in stews or gumbos as well as fried in a batter, Alligator has a flakey white flesh when cooked that tastes similar to chicken.
15. All-Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour is a general use flour made from hard red wheat berries. As the name implies All-purpose flour is suitable for ma different recipes and baking processes. From cakes to pie crust, pizza dough, biscuits, this flour will work well in almost any situation and is great to keep on hand as a pantry staple.
Allspice is a dried berry from a plant known as Pimenta Doica, which is a member of the myrtle family. Allspice is commonly used in baking recipes often in concert with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, or other warming/mulling spices. Allspice is also commonly used in savory dishes in Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and Latin cuisines.
Almonds are the name of a tree native to Iran that is now cultivated all over the world and is used to refer primarily to the edible seed the Almond tree produces. Almonds can be eaten by themselves as a heart-healthy snack but almonds are also used as the base for a number of different foods, from almond flour to almond milk or almond butter.
18. Almond milk
Almond milk is one of the most identifiable almond products available in grocery stores today. This "milk-like" product is a vegan alternative to dairy-based milk and provides, vitamins, minerals, and protein for those on a dairy-free diet. Created by grinding almonds and water and then straining the liquid away from the ground almonds, the tan/white liquid this produces is slightly nutty in flavor and tastes great in coffee or over cereal.
19. Almond Butter
Almond butter is a spreadable almond product created by grinding toasted almonds into a paste much like peanut butter. Almond butter can be sweetened with products like sugar or honey or served as is. Thanks to the low amount of processing, almond oil will sometimes collect on the top of the almond butter much as it does in all-natural peanut butter or cashew butter.
Amaranth is a flowering plant that is considered a pseudocereal for the seeds it produces and their grain-like quality. Amaranth can be cooked as a grain and is a cousin to quinoa, it can also be made into a flour that is often used in gluten-free cooking.
21. Amarelle cherries
Amarelle cherries or tart cherries are a breed of cherry that is bright red in color and because of the acidic nature of their flesh, much sourer than their cousin the sweet cherry. Amarelle cherries are commonly cultivated worldwide and are used in the production of maraschino cherries.
22. Amarena cherries
Amarena cherries are a small dark-colored sour cherry grown in Italy. These delicious cherries are most often sold bottled in a rich, sweet syrup. These delicious marinated cherries are great as a dessert topping, decoration, or as a garnish in a cocktail like a Manhatten. I love to top ice cream with Amarena cherries for a rich, decadent cherry flavor.
Annatto is a name for the seeds and food coloring derived from the Achiote tree. A native ingredient to Mexico and Central America, this bright orange/yellow colored seasoning is peppery in flavor with hints of nutmeg and spices.
Anchovy is a small silvery, saltwater fish that is prepared and served in a number of different dishes or recipes. Anchovies are often seen marinated in olive oil and used as an ingredient in Caesar Salads or Caesar dressing. These salty, fishy filets are a delicious if divisive ingredient.
Anise is a flowering plant that produces anise seed and is native to the Mediterranean and southwest Asia. With a flavor similar to star anise or licorice, this herbal seed is used commonly as a spice in cooking and baking. Outside of cooking, anise is often used in liquor or alcohol production and is used to flavor Ouzo, Sambuka, and Absinthe.
26. Anjou pear
The anjou or D'anjou pear is a green pear fruit that originated in Belgium or France but is now cultivated worldwide. This delicious fruit has a crips consistency similar to an apple with a sweet, subtle flavor reminiscent of lemon or lime. Delicious by itself or in desserts like pear tart or poached pears, Anjou pears can also be used in savory recipes as well, and are especially nice when grilled or roasted. These awesome fruits are available during the late summer months into the fall.
Antelope is a term that covers a number of different species of ruminating, horned animals. Similar in appearance to deer, antelopes don't lose their antlers every year and instead grow them continuously. Antelope are found in many different countries and are common in the Americas and in Africa. Their meat is lean and can be cooked in the same way you would prepare venison. Their loins or back straps are particularly prised and are often served grilled or seared.
Apples are the fruit produced by the apple tree. Originating in central Asia, apples are now grown worldwide and come in a rainbow of varieties, shapes, sizes, and colors. Apples are used for a number of different products such as cider, apple sauce, apple butter, and as a filling for desserts like apple pie, or apple cake.
Apricots are orange or yellow stone fruit with a light, floral flavor and sweet tender flesh. Originating in China or Central Asia, apricots come in a range of sizes, shapes, and colors. Apricots are delicious when fresh but because of their soft, tender flesh, they have a relatively short shelf life. Dried apricots make an awesome snack, and a great addition to your trail mix or salad.
Asparagus or garden asparagus is a delicious spring vegetable. Asparagus is a perennial plant and a patch of asparagus will come back year after year if properly cultivated. Shaped like a thin pencil or spear, asparagus is delicious in a number of recipes or dishes. From grilled asparagus to asparagus salad, soup, or marinated asparagus salads, this spring vegetable is a joy to use. Often green in color you can find purple and even white asparagus!
31. Arborio rice
Arborio is short-grain Italian rice from the Piedmont region of northern Italy Commonly used in the production of risotto this nutty short-grain rice creates an incredibly rich, starchy porridge when cooked slowly with lots of flavorful stock and cheese.
Arrowroot is the name for a tuber native to Indonesia. Commonly processed into arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch, arrowroot is used as gluten-free flour and thickener in a number of cuisines and dishes.
Artichokes are also known as a globe artichoke is a type of thistle that is eaten wildly around the world. With a green, pinecone-like shape, this vegetable can be prepared in a number of different ways. the leaves are often roasted or boiled and then eaten with a garlicky aioli. You eat the leaves by biting down and pulling the leaf out of your mouth, scraping away the tender roasted flesh with your teeth.
The heart of the artichoke can also be eaten and is often prepared by peeling away the leaves and outer flesh revealing a tender golf tee-shaped center that can be simmered in a mixture of lemon juice veggie stock and olive oil, or roasted/grilled until tender.
Arugula, also known as rocket or roquette is a leafy green vegetable commonly used in salads and salad mixes. With a strong, peppery flavor, arugula is a great addition to a light salad or even a stir fry/saute dish. I love to serve arugula in salads, and as a garnish or topping for dishes like pizza or larger entrees for parties. The unique shape and delicious flavor make it a great compliment to a ton of different dishes or recipes.
Aubergine is the french name for eggplant. Aubergine is a larger, oblong purple vegetable whose color can border on black depending on the time of year and variety. Eggplant comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all contain spongy tan flesh and small seeds in the center underneath their thick, shiny skin. Aubergine can be baked, roasted, or turned into a delicious middle eastern dip called Baba Ghannouj. Some of the most common uses for aubergine are in a ratatouille as well as eggplant parmesan. Both dishes are very different and truly show the versatility of this amazing nightshade.
Avocados are the fruit of a tree known by the same name. Scientifically speaking the avocado is a berry with a single large seed. It has a bright green flesh that is fatty and rich in texture in flavor. A staple ingredient in Latin food, especially in Guacamole, avocado comes in a number of different varieties. The most common avocado variety found in stores is the Hass avocado which has dark green to brown skin depending on ripeness and season.
Final thoughts on Foods that Start with A.
While some of these foods might be familiar, there are probably at least a few you've never heard of. With the growing availability of specialty ingredients in our grocery stores, it's easy to find new ingredients, and sourcing some of the more exotic on this list should be no problem, especially with online shopping as an option.
Did I forget one of your favorite foods that start with A? Let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to give it a try!