Looking for new ways to expand your culinary knowledge? Look no further!
The following list of wonderful foods starting with the letter B will surely introduce you to a few new ingredients. It might also inform you on dishes you’ve heard of and always wondered about or remind you of a long lost favorite.
Whichever the case, pick one out and get inspired for your next meal!
40 Foods that Start with the Letter B
Bacalao is the Spanish term for salt cod, which is cod fish that has been salted and dried as a means to preserve it. Before refrigeration was invented, this type of food preservation was vital as it meant that nutritious fish could be eaten any time, regardless of season. Bacalao is stable at room temperature but these days it’s a good idea to go ahead and store it in your refrigerator anyway, as this will greatly extend the shelf life! Before eating, bacalao must be soaked in fresh water for 1-3 days, so as to rehydrate the fish and remove excess salt.
2. Baked Beans
Baked beans are a classic dish made by combining dried beans (such as white beans, navy beans, or red kidney beans) with seasonings in a dish, and then baking in the oven at a low temperature. Many baked bean recipes use molasses or maple syrup for a slightly sweet flavor, and some recipes even get a salty, smoky kick from the addition of bacon or pork belly--yum! The key to a classic recipe for baked beans is that it is slow cooked, which allows the beans to fully tenderize and gives time for all of the flavors to marry together.
Baklava is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made by layering many sheets of filo dough brushed with butter. The layers of dough are filled with chopped nuts, then topped with or soaked in honey or a sweet syrup. The entire pastry is then cut into triangles and baked, resulting in crispy and flaky pastries. Filo dough is unleavened, meaning it will not rise when baked. Therefore, multiple layers of this dough (with plenty of fat in between) are necessary to achieve the airy yet rich texture that Baklava is known for.
4. Balsamic Vinegar
True balsamic vinegar requires a complex and lengthy aging process which results in a deeply colored and sweetly flavored vinegar. It all starts with grape must, which is a mashup of grape juices, skins, seeds, and stems. The must is then aged in barrels and rotated at certain points in the aging process in order to intensify the flavors. Balsamic vinegar production is highly regulated, and in order to be considered true balsamic, the vinegar must be produced in either of two Italian provinces: Modena or Reggio Emilia. Fortunately for those of us not living in Italy or with access to expensive imported goods, there are other producers creating excellent balsamic vinegars. While not authenticated in the same way as the real deal, these vinegars are delicious as well and worth having in your pantry!
5. Bamboo Shoots
Bamboo shoots are the edible sprouts of the bamboo plant, harvested before they can grow into the tall woody stalks that we typically think of when the word bamboo comes to mind. But! Before you go snacking on any young bamboo you happen to come across, it’s important to note that bamboo shoots contain toxins that must be cooked out before being safe for consumption. Canned bamboo shoots have already been processed and are safe to eat without any further cooking. Once properly prepared, bamboo shoots will add a crunchy texture and fresh flavor to any soup, salad, or stir fry!
6. Banana Bread
Most people are familiar with banana bread as the go-to solution for those ripening-too-quickly-to-eat bananas that are sitting in the fruit bowl. The best bananas for banana bread are actually a bit overripe because they mash and blend into a creamy puree much more easily than under ripe bananas. After adding a handful of other ingredients you most likely already have on hand, all you need to do is pop the banana bread in the oven and you have a great snack, dessert, or even breakfast!
7. Banana Pudding
Banana pudding is a layered dessert made up of luxurious vanilla custard, fresh banana slices, vanilla cookies, and whipped cream. The dessert is assembled and then allowed to chill for several hours so as to allow the cookies to soak up the custard and cream, softening their crunch and blending the flavors of the pudding together. There is another method of preparation which involves topping the pudding with meringue instead and baking in the oven, but the chilled pudding method is the most popular and what most people have in mind when they want that delicious taste of banana pudding!
Barley is one of several types of cereal grains, which are the edible seeds of any plants in the grass family--rice, oats, and rye to name a few! Barley is generally available in two forms: hulled or pearled. Hulled barley has had its tough, outer (and inedible) hull removed but retains the rest of its parts, making it a whole grain. Pearled barley is processed further to remove additional layers of the grain thus making it quicker-cooking, but stripping the barley of some of its nutritional value.
Basil is a highly aromatic herb that is commonly associated with Italian cuisine. Fresh basil is a key ingredient in sauces such as pesto and tomato sauce, while dried basil is often used to season meats and soups. Unlike tougher herbs such as rosemary, basil is delicious when eaten raw as well, making it a welcome addition to salads or cold vegetable dishes.
Bass is actually an umbrella term for several species of edible fish: striped bass, black bass, and sea bass to name a few. Some species of bass are freshwater dwelling, while others live in saltwater or brackish (a combination of the two). No matter the variety, all bass are similarly mild-flavored with a firm white flesh. Bass fillets are excellent when floured and lightly fried, oven roasted, or grilled as a whole fish.
11. Bay Leaf
Bay leaves are the aromatic leaves of the laurel tree, which is actually in the same family as cinnamon and avocado! While their leathery texture makes bay leaves essentially inedible on their own, their herbaceous and bright flavor is beyond compare. Bay leaves are best used in dishes such as soups, stews, and braises which will be simmered for some time, allowing the bay flavor to fully permeate the dish.
12. Beach Plum
Beach plum bushes are found growing in the wild along the eastern seaboard of the US. They produce cherry-sized fruits that range in coloring from dark red to purple with a sweet and tangy taste, similar to that of a cranberry. Their tartness means that additional sweetness is often needed in order to bring out their flavor and make them more palatable. Beach plums are most often made into jams and jellies, but also are sublime when juiced and used in a cocktail or sweetened and cooked down as a compote.
Béchamel might sound fancy, but truthfully, it’s nothing but a basic cream sauce! After making a roux (cooked mixture of butter and flour), hot milk is whisked into the pot, resulting in a thick and creamy white sauce. From here, additional seasonings or ingredients can be incorporated. Depending on what is added, béchamel can be quickly transformed into a slew of other sauces, such as cheese sauce, alfredo sauce, or sausage gravy. Béchamel is one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine, making it a key pillar of cuisines all over the world.
Beets are an incredibly useful plant as all parts of the plant are nutritious, edible, and long lasting. The root of the beet is most recognizable to most, with its bright red and crunchy flesh. The stalks and leaves of the attached beet greens are hardy and iron-rich, and delicious when sauteed. It might surprise you to learn that beets are not always red; they also come in other colors! Golden beets have a brilliant yellow flesh and Chioggia beets have beautiful pink and white striping.
15. Bell Peppers
Unlike spicy chili peppers, bell peppers contain low levels of the compound capsaicin, giving them a sweet taste and satisfying crunch! Bell peppers are most commonly seen in red, yellow, orange, and green but a stop at a farm stand will show you just how broad of a spectrum these little nightshades can grow in! Bell peppers can be purple, white, lime green, brown, or a mixture of multiple colors. Bell peppers are especially delicious when grilled, stuffed, or simply sliced and eaten raw. They also happen to be an outstanding source of vitamin c, so go ahead and eat up!
Bergamot is a tropical fruit native to southern Italy. As a type of citrus fruit, bergamot has the same characteristic pulp as everyday lemons and limes, all wrapped up in an essential oil rich peel. The pulp of the bergamot fruit is actually so acidic and bitter, it's considered to be inedible and is never eaten fresh. However, the peel and its oils are delicious and highly sought after. If you've ever had a cup of Earl Grey tea, you're already familiar with the taste of bergamot, as the tea is flavored by the fragrant oil found in the bergamot citrus peel.
Biryani is a flavorful one-pot meal that originates from India and continues to be a staple food of Indian cuisine. The ingredients used in this dish can vary from recipe to recipe, but generally biryani will include: long grain rice such as basmati, a protein such as chicken or red meat, and sometimes vegetables such as onions or bell peppers. The protein is often marinated and cooked in a spicy sauce first, perfuming the entire dish with seasonings such as saffron, coriander, nutmeg, chile peppers, and garlic.
Commonly thought to be the same species as buffalo, bison is actually its own distinct animal! Bison is a red meat that can be most readily compared to beef, although bison is leaner and has a slightly sweeter taste. Bison were once nearly hunted to extinction but in recent years, farmers have been taking care to raise these animals once again as they are an important food source. The lean meat of bison is becoming more readily available online and in specialty butcher shops as demand for it increases.
Bisque is a thick and creamy soup often starring vegetables or seafood. Traditional bisque is actually thickened with the shells of crustaceans! For example, a lobster bisque would use cooked and ground up lobster shells to achieve its creamy texture. Nowadays, bisques are often thickened with a puree of cooked white rice and/or cream, which results in a similarly smooth texture. The method of thickening is less important when it comes to deciding if a soup qualifies as a bisque or not, the main point is that it must be smooth, velvety, and rich in order to be considered a bisque!
20. Black Beans
Black beans, also known as turtle beans or frijoles negros, are a type of legume most commonly used in Mexican cuisine. As with all legumes, these little beans are protein packed, making them an excellent meat replacement in dishes such as tacos and a staple food of vegetarian diets everywhere. Black beans can be purchased in either dried or canned versions. The downside of dried beans is that they take longer to cook, but on the upside, they can be simmered with any combination of aromatics you desire: garlic, chiles, herbs, spices--the choice is yours!
21. Black Garlic
It may surprise you to learn that black garlic is actually regular ol’ garlic bulbs that have undergone a process which turns them inky black. First, the garlic must be placed in an environment where the temperature and humidity can be highly regulated and maintained. This causes an eventual breakdown of the compounds within the garlic and a slow-moving caramelization of the natural sugars. The result? Deep, dark cloves of garlic with a sweet, savory flavor and none of the sharpness you get from garlic in its raw state.
22. Black Pepper
Along with salt, black pepper is an item that is in nearly every kitchen and on dining tables everywhere! Funnily enough, most people don’t know what this little spice actually is. Black peppercorns are the dried berries of a flowering vine, and despite their spicy tang, are not at all related to chile peppers. Black pepper is sold pre-ground for easy seasoning, but buying whole peppercorns and grinding them fresh will elevate your black pepper experience to a whole new level. Freshly cracked black pepper is an excellent counterpart to sweet food as well. Try sprinkling it on fruit before grilling or mix it into your next batch of whipped cream for a pleasantly spicy-sweet treat!
Blueberries are one of only a handful of berries native to North America. In addition to commercial berry farms, wild blueberry bushes can still be found readily growing in some regions. The wild blueberry is actually the state fruit of Maine! As evidenced by their brilliant blue hue, fresh blueberries are naturally rich in antioxidants, which are known to fight free radical damage in the human body. Fresh blueberries are best enjoyed raw and by the handful in order to appreciate their delicately sweet flavor, but are still plenty delicious when cooked into desserts, sauces, or even dried.
24. Blue Cheese
Blue cheese may refer to any number of different cheeses that have been ripened with a specific type of mold. The most common varieties of blue cheese are Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton, but there are plenty of others as the variety of these cheeses only continues to grow. Blue cheese gets its name from the blue-green mold running through it, which is entirely safe to eat and is responsible for the salty, sharp flavor that blue cheese is known for. Blue cheese really packs a punch, therefore a little goes a long way in sauces, dressings, or simply crumbled as a salad topping.
25. Bok Choy
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage that forms a head with thick white stems and dark green leaves on top. Originally native to China and once found only in Asian cuisine, bok choy has grown in popularity and is now enjoyed all over the world. Bok choy has a hardy structure which enables it to stand up to cooking methods such as stir-frying, braising, and roasting. The leaves of bok choy have a slightly bitter taste, similar to that of any other leafy green vegetable, but provide tons of vitamin c!
26. Bonito Flakes
Bonito flakes are shavings of fish fillets that have gone through a specific process of drying, smoking, and fermenting. When used in recipes, bonito flakes add a substantial kick of umami (savory flavor) to the dish, and they are often used for topping rice dishes. Bonito flakes are a main component of Japanese dashi, so if you’ve ever had soup at a Japanese restaurant, you’ve most likely tasted the rich, deep flavor of bonito flakes!
Remember those beets we were discussing earlier? Well, they just so happen to be the star of this classic Eastern European dish! Borscht is a hearty soup, made up of everyone's favorite red root vegetable and other veggies such as cabbage or onion. Thanks to those beets, the entire soup takes on a brilliant crimson color that permeates the broth. Borscht can be served either hot or cold and is often topped with sour cream and fresh dill.
28. Brazil Nuts
Oddly enough, the Brazil nut is not actually a nut! Rather, it is the seed of the fruit of the Brazil nut tree. Each fruit has a hard woody shell similar to that of a coconut which contains several seeds tightly packed together. Just like true nuts, Brazil nuts are high in healthy fats and minerals, making them an important part of a healthy diet. Brazil nuts also happen to be an excellent source of selenium, which is vital for proper thyroid function and keeping skin healthy.
29. Brie Cheese
Brie is one of the most well-known soft cheeses in the world. Made from cow’s milk, it has a rich creamy texture and a mild flavor that make it appealing to cheese lovers of all taste levels. The rind is mold-ripened and intended to be eaten along with the cheese, although many people opt to remove it as it has a stronger flavor than the body of the cheese itself. Brie is also excellent for melting and is often sliced and used in panini sandwiches or toasts.
Brioche is a type of bread, known for its fluffy texture and rich taste. Brioche's richness comes from the addition of butter, eggs, and sometimes milk into the bread dough, resulting in a pillowy soft and sweet loaf! The texture of brioche means it is ideal for soaking up moisture, making it perfect for dishes such as French toast or strata. Brioche is often baked into individual rolls and is a popular bread choice for burgers and breakfast sandwiches.
31. Broad Beans
Broad beans are known most commonly in the US as fava beans. They grow as a series of seeds within a larger, outer pod, similar to typical green beans. However, unlike green beans, broad beans must be cooked and removed from their pods before consumption. These beans have a nutty and slightly sweet flavor, with a creamy and buttery texture when cooked. Broad beans are classified as legumes and are closely related to lima beans, which are known regionally as butter beans.
Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is closely related to cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and collard greens. Broccoli is a highly versatile vegetable and is suited to a wide range of cooking methods: steaming, roasting, stir-frying, and even grilling. There are a variety of types of broccoli: traditional broccoli, Chinese broccoli (which has a thinner stem and smaller crown), and even baby broccoli/broccolini (which is a cross between the two)! The florets of traditional broccoli sprout from a thick, tough stem which is often discarded. However, once the tough exterior is peeled away, broccoli stems are just as delicious when cooked or eaten raw.
33. Brown Butter
Brown butter is one of those ooh-aah ingredients you’re likely to see on dessert menus and bake shops, but truly, there’s nothing too fancy about brown butter at all! Brown butter is simply regular butter that has been slow cooked to the point where the milk solids become lightly toasted, imparting a nutty and caramelized flavor throughout the butter. Brown butter is delicious when used in place of regular butter in any baked goods and can be used in a variety of savory sauces and sweet dishes.
34. Brown Rice
Brown rice is the exact same grain as white rice, the only difference is that brown rice hasn’t been stripped of its husk, bran, and germ. Leaving these parts intact makes brown rice into what we know as whole grain rice, meaning brown rice is a healthier choice than its fully processed white rice counterpart! Brown rice contains higher levels of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and has a delicious nutty flavor that can't be beat.
35. Brown Sugar
Most of us are familiar with and have used brown sugar at some point in our lives, but what actually makes it brown? To put it simply, brown sugar is actually your standard issue white sugar with the addition of molasses! The molasses adds extra moisture and minerals, making it an excellent choice for baked goods and sweets.
36. Brussels Sprouts
Ok, we know you might have been scared off by brussels sprouts in the past. After all, this green leafy vegetable contains high levels of glucosinolates, the compounds responsible for the characteristic bitter taste of brussels as well as other members of the brassica family (think broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi). Brussels sprouts are making a comeback though as it turns out they’re delicious and far less funky when cooking methods such as frying or roasting are applied. Give 'em a chance!
37. Bulgur Wheat
Bulgur wheat is another cereal grain, as it is made from cracked whole wheat that has been parboiled, then dried and packaged. Confusingly enough, bulgur wheat is not the same as cracked wheat, which while similar in look and taste, has not been parboiled therefore takes longer to cook than bulgur wheat. As a whole grain, bulgur wheat is highly nutritious and can be used in place of rice in most recipes or as a side dish all on its own. One of the most popular Mediterranean dishes, tabbouleh, stars bulgur wheat as the main ingredient along with fresh vegetables and herbs.
On first glance at a ball of burrata, you might think you were looking at a standard mozzarella. Almost! Burrata is essentially a hollow mozzarella, which is then filled with savory cheese curd and decadent cream before being sealed--can you say wow! Once you cut into the shell, the filling spills out and you have a perfect juxtaposition of stringy mozzarella and rich creamy curds, perfect when enjoyed with rustic bread, fresh fruit, or a salad.
Originally, buttermilk was the liquid leftover from churning cream into butter, hence the name buttermilk. Since the majority of the milk fat had solidified during the process of churning butter, the remaining milk was low in fat and had a slightly sour flavor due to the butter making process. These days, producers need not wait for butter to be made in order to have buttermilk. Commercial buttermilk is now made by adding cultures to regular skim milk, resulting in the same texture and taste as traditional buttermilk. The acidity in buttermilk makes it especially good for use in baked goods or for marinating meats.
40. Butternut Squash
Similar to pumpkin, butternut squash has a creamy, sweet flesh that turns bright orange when ripe. Butternut is a type of winter squash, which are named for the fact that their thick skins provide enough protection that the squash can remain in storage for many months after harvest, sometimes all winter! Butternut squash is highly versatile, as its mellow flavor can easily go in either sweet or savory directions. Butternut squash is great for roasting whole, pureeing into a soup, or as a pumpkin substitute in any dish.
Final Thoughts on Foods That Start With B
Whether you are just starting out on your cooking journey or are already a full on food enthusiast, we hope you've found a delicious food (or two!) in this list that speaks to you. There are many, many more foods that start with the letter B that aren't mentioned above; proof of just how vast our culinary world truly is!
We hope to have sparked your curiosity and creativity, as there are plenty more ingredients, dishes, and cuisines yet to discover. Next time you're at a new restaurant or grocery store and see an item you might have learned about here, give it a try! Drop us a line and let us know how you like it.