How many different foods can you think of that start with the letter C? Chances are, you can come up with quite a list, as there happen to be a ton of foods that start with C!
We’ve gathered together 20 of the best (at least we think so!) foods that start with C and will get into some fun facts and background info on each. Always wondered how caramel is made? Need some new ideas for how to cook that head of cauliflower that’s been sitting around your fridge? And what actually is ceviche after all?
Let’s find out the answers to these questions and so much more and dive right into a sea of foods that start with the letter C!
20 Foods That Start With the Letter C
Cabbage is one of several leafy vegetables of the cruciferous family, along with other hearty vegetables like broccoli and kale. There are many varieties of cabbage, from football-shaped Napa cabbage, to the nearly perfectly round savoy cabbage, and even red cabbage which is at times brilliant purple in color!
The thing that nearly all cabbages have in common is that they are pretty unpleasant to eat raw. While they may look bright and leafy like a refreshing head of iceberg lettuce, the leaves of raw cabbage are tough and fibrous–not exactly something you want to eat a big bowl of. Therefore, cabbage is most often used in cooked applications or, at the very least, shredded and tossed in vinegar based dressings to help break down the tough leaves. Cabbage is used in many different dishes and cuisines, from the stuffed cabbage leaves of Poland to German sauerkraut, and beyond.
2. Caesar Salad
Caesar salad has 4 fundamental ingredients: chopped romaine lettuce, toasted croutons, parmesan cheese, and creamy Caesar dressing. Recipes for Caesar dressing may vary, but most of them contain the following: lemon juice, olive oil, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Yes that’s right, there is cheese in the dressing too and we think that’s one of the things that makes this salad oh so beloved!
Many Caesar dressings are thickened using egg yolk, but there are plenty of egg free, or anchovy free for that matter, options out too. Chicken is a common addition to Caesar salad as a means to make it a meal, but almost any protein will be delicious on a Caesar salad, from sliced skirt steak, to grilled salmon, or crispy tofu.
Calamari is the Italian word for “squid served as food”, and more often than not, you’ll spot this beautiful word on restaurant menus rather than the somewhat mundane sounding English term. Squid is a type of mollusk known as a cephalopod and is closely related to a very similar looking (and tasting!) creature, the octopus.
Calamari has a slightly sweet, mild flavor and a firm texture, not at all like other seafoods which can often be quite delicate. Properly cooked calamari should be pleasantly chewy, while overly cooked calamari can easily take on a rubbery texture. Perhaps the most popular preparation of calamari is sliced and deep fried in a light batter. These baskets of sweet yet salty, crisp yet tender rings can be served with a multitude of dipping sauce options from marinara sauce to chipotle aioli!
It may surprise you to learn that caramel is actually a type of candy! It all starts with granulated sugar, which is slowly cooked to a specific temperature range, at which point the sugars take on golden-brown coloring. At this point, milk or cream may be added to the caramelized sugar in order to create a smooth and creamy sauce.
If the desired outcome is caramel chews or candies, less dairy is added as this will cause the caramel sauce to be harder when it cools. Caramel is often flavored with vanilla, which perfectly complements the toasted sugar flavor. Many caramel sauces and candies are also seasoned with sea salt, which provides an unexpectedly perfect counterpoint to the overly sweet stuff!
Unlike many other spices which hail from a singular source, cardamom is actually made from a number of different plant species! It is made from the seeds of several different plants in the Zingiberaceae family, which also contains ginger and turmeric. Cardamom seeds impart an herbal, almost menthol taste to any dish they are incorporated into, and this flavoring can be used in both sweet and savory dishes alike. Not sure where to start with cardamom? Try this recipe for Cardamom-Almond Milk Hot Chocolate!
Carrots belong to a family of plants that produces many valuable food crops such as celery, parsley, and fennel to name a few. This root vegetable is most often associated with a bright orange color, but the truth is that carrots grow in a whole range of colors including yellow, purple, red, and even white! While unbeatable as a fresh and crunchy snack on their own, carrots are also easily incorporated into a wide range of recipes and baked goods. All you need is a bit of wheat flour, butter, and some spices and you’ll have everything you need to make carrot cake–the most perfect way to use up those carrots if you ask us!
7. Cashew Nuts
Chances are, you’re already acquainted with the ultra-rich, almost creamily-textured nuts known as cashews. What you may not know, however, is that cashews don’t grow within a fruit or a pod as do most nuts, rather they grow off the end of a fruit known as a cashew apple! These apples are the fruit of the cashew tree, which grows best in tropical regions that experience a true division of dry and wet seasons, such as Brazil, India, and Tanzania to name a few.
Cashews are plenty delicious in their whole form but are also super versatile! Not only do they produce wonderful nut butter and nut flour products, but they are also a key to many vegan cooking applications such as thickening dairy-free ice cream and other plant-based recipes, such as our Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake.
The catfish earned its feline-friendly moniker thanks to the long whiskers that decorate its snout, giving it an appearance much like that of a cat! These whiskers, also known as barbels, are extremely sensitive to temperature changes, movements, and tastes in the waters around them, thus helping the fish to avoid predators and find food without depending on eyesight. This is especially important as it enables catfish to inhabit the muddy and low-visibility waters that other fish would have to avoid.
Catfish is extremely versatile as a food fish and can be cooked in just about any manner. Lightly fried or blackened catfish, served with a squeeze of lemon juice of course, is always a popular fish dish, especially in Cajun cuisine.
Yet another cruciferous vegetable making the list of foods that start with C–it’s cauliflower! While cauliflower may look just like a chlorophyll-less head of broccoli, these two veggies are two distinct species. If you look closely at a floret of cauliflower, you’ll see that it is composed of many teeny tiny buds. These are actually the flower buds of the plant, which explains why they are so nutritious and delicious for us humans.
Cauliflower might seem like one of those boring ol’ veggies you’d just have to suffer through, but take our word for it, properly prepared cauliflower can be spectacular. Try one of these recipes for a colorful spin on this pale veggie: Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Cauliflower Piccata, or Sticky Sesame Cauliflower!
Hailing from Peru, ceviche is composed of raw fish which has been tossed in an acidic dressing, usually made from lemon or lime juice. Not only is this dressing delicious, but it reacts with the proteins in the raw fish, causing a reaction known as denaturing. What else causes proteins to denature? Heat! Therefore, fish which has been cooked and fish which has been bathed in acidic citrus juices wind up having a similar taste and texture! Science. Is. Awesome.
Ceviche recipes vary across the board, and much like a tossed salad or chili recipe, you can basically add or remove any ingredients you like in order to make it more suited to your own tastes. In addition to fresh fish and citrus juices, many ceviche recipes will contain other ingredients along these lines: tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, chiles, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. Some ceviche might be spicy-hot, while another may be cool and refreshing!
Cheese relies on the coagulation of a certain protein found in milk in order to change the structure from liquid milk to the solid, creamy substance we know as cheese. There are several routes one can take to coagulate this milk, but most often salt, lactic acid bacteria, and an enzyme called rennet are added to the milk. These additions cause the milk to curdle, after which point cheesemakers are able to scoop the curds together and form them into the desired cheese shape.
It goes without saying that there is a nearly endless variety of cheeses out there. From mild fontina (which makes the most perfect grilled cheese) to sharp parmesan cheese and even rich, stinky gorgonzola. Cheeses can be so different from one another it can be hard to believe that they result from the same process but without a doubt, they do!
Is there anything cuter than a perfectly shaped, bright red bunch of cherries hanging by their stems? We’d argue no. Cherries are in the stone fruit family along with their larger cousins, peaches and nectarines. Despite their size difference, these fruits share the common characteristic of having a central pit.
There are many varieties of cherries to choose from and they range in taste from deeply sweet to mouth-puckeringly sour! Bing cherries are the most common varieties while Chelan cherries have also earned the name “black cherries” thanks to their dark red coloring. Their deliciousness makes these little fruits perfect for being made into a wide range of products from cherry preserves or dried cherries to cherry fruit juice and of course, the famous cherry pie.
Chervil is one fresh herb which you may be relatively unfamiliar with! Unlike other, more predominant herbs like parsley and rosemary, chervil tends to be less widely utilized and a little harder to find. Chervil has a slightly licorice-y, delicately sweet flavor that can be compared to a more mild tarragon. The leaves are wispy and sensitive to heat, therefore chervil is best used as a garnish or for mixing into dishes that don’t require cooking such as cold salads or to decorate the surface of a cold, creamy soup. Chervil is one of several herbs which are key to making béarnaise sauce, a classic French sauce which has a hollandaise base and packs a punch of herbaceous flavor.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are members of the legume family along with peas and peanuts. These little beans have a wonderfully creamy texture, nutty flavor, and are satisfying in a way that makes them perfect for fulfilling the protein requirements of those who stick to plant based diets. In addition to being a great source of protein, chickpeas are highly nutritious, also containing high levels of fiber, manganese, copper, iron, and so much more! Chickpeas (along with tahini) are the key ingredient in hummus, which is an increasingly popular Middle Eastern food. Chickpeas can also be served as a meat replacement in tacos, tossed in a salad, or even oven roasted for an irresistible crunchy texture!
Chorizo is a spicy pork sausage that is generally associated with Spanish and Mexican cuisines. Chorizo is available fresh (as whole uncooked sausage links or loose), semi-cured, or fully dried. The fully dried versions of chorizo have a texture similar to that of hard salami or pepperoni. Spanish chorizo tends to be heavily seasoned with smoked paprika, giving the final sausage a bright red coloring and smoky, spicy taste. Mexican chorizo, on the other hand, is made with other seasonings and hot chilies, meaning Mexican chorizo tends to be spicier than Spanish chorizo.
Cinnamon is made from the bark of the cinnamon tree, which happens to share a botanical family with bay leaves and avocado! After harvest, the cinnamon bark curls as it dries, resulting in those fragrant, swirly patterned cinnamon sticks that are all too perfect for sticking into a mug of hot cider or cocoa.
Not all cinnamon is actually cinnamon though, there is another type of cinnamon which is quite common and is actually made from the bark of the cassia tree. Though these two trees are related, and have a similar aroma and spice level, cassia cinnamon is lower in quality than true cinnamon and will not provide quite the same complex, aromatic flavor you’d expect. Nevertheless, cassia cinnamon is much more affordable and will no doubt give your cinnamon rolls the sweet and spicy kick you’re looking for!
Speaking of cocoa, it’s yet another sweet food that starts with the letter C! We’re not just talking about the beverage, hot cocoa, though. Cocoa is actually the name of the plant from which chocolate is made. Also known as cacao beans, cocoa beans consist of cocoa solids and cocoa butter, which are the components that give chocolate its cocoa flavor as well as the rich buttery texture.
After harvest, cocoa beans must first be fermented in order to eliminate the naturally occurring astringency, after which they are roasted and blended. This mixture is then combined with varying amounts of milk and sugar to produce different types of chocolate. A pure dark chocolate bar will contain no milk whatsoever, while milk chocolate will of course, contain a fair amount.
Coconuts are the fruits of the made-famous-by-desert-island-scenes-everywhere tree, the coconut palm. While the name of this fruit does indeed have the word “nut” in it, and the flesh of said fruit has a high fat content and texture similar to that of a nut, coconuts aren’t really nuts at all! Rather, they fall into the category of drupes, right alongside their fellow fruit that start with the letter C: the cherry!
Aside from being edible and delicious in their whole form, coconuts are able to be used for plenty of other applications including coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut butter, and so on. These fruits are highly nutritious, versatile, and their smell alone evokes feelings of island vacations and sunshine.
Curry is a staple dish in many Asian cuisines and is immensely popular in countries like India and Thailand. Curry is generally regarded as comfort food, which at its base level consists of meat, tofu, or vegetables that are smothered in a gravy. Due to the saucy nature of this dish, curry is traditionally served with rice, perfect for soaking up all of that delicious curry liquid! Curry dishes may be referred to as red, green, or yellow, depending on the type of curry paste used to make the sauce for each dish.
Let’s finish off this list of foods that start with C right–with a sweet treat! Custard hits just the right note, as it is silky smooth, sweet, rich, but somehow still manages to be light on the tongue.
Essentially, custard is a dairy mixture that contains eggs, and when heated gently, the egg yolks cause the entire mixture to thicken up, achieving a smooth and uniform consistency. Custard can be made into many different flavors and is often used as a creamy filling for pastries. Custard also forms the base of crème brulee, which is a French dessert of flavored custard that has been sprinkled with sugar and torched until the sugar crackles and caramelizes on top of the dessert.
Final Thoughts on Foods That Start With C
Evidently, the letter C is a popular one in the world of food! There are so many ingredients, dishes, cooking techniques, and food descriptors that start with the letter C.
From crunchy cauliflower and comforting curry to creamy custard and crispy carrot sticks, there are countless ways to experience the relatively small number of foods we've included here. Pick one of these foods that start with the letter C and see what you can do with it for your next meal!