I couldn’t possibly finish my ‘What’s Cooking in the Kitchen’ series without sharing some cooking idioms with you! So here are some idioms (and phrasal verbs) that are often used in General and Business English.

1. To cook the books – to record false information in the accounts of an organisation.
When the company went bankrupt, it was discovered that one of the directors had been cooking the books for years.

2. To go from/get/jump out of the frying pan into the fire – to go from a bad situation to a worse one

Blog_out of frying pan into fire
‘She had always had problems with her Sales Manager, so was relieved when he was sacked. However, she went from the frying into the fire with the new Sales Manager!’


3. Too many cooks spoil the broth – too many people managing a job can actually create more problems

‘Look, we need to decide once and for all who is managing this project because we have a situation of too many cooks spoiling the broth at the moment’.

4. To Cook Something Up* – to organise something
‘Leave the organisational details of the party to me. I will cook something up and it will be fantastic. You’ll see.’
*It is also used literally to mean to cook a meal.

5. To grill someone -to question someone without stopping

Blog_grill someone
The police grilled the suspect for seven hours and still couldn’t get a confession out of him.’

6. To boil over (phrasal verb) – when someone cannot control their anger and start to argue or fight
The situation was so tense in the boardroom that people’s tempers were boiling over by the end of the meeting.

Blog_Simmer Down before you boil over by Prader

7. To simmer down (phrasal verb) – to become calm
‘Hey, simmer down and relax. Getting angry won’t change things’.

8. To Simmer with rage/anger – to be filled with negative emotions like rage and anger
‘Susan simmered with rage when she saw the disaster the builders had caused to the extension’

9. To stew(v) or to be in a stew(noun) – to be mentally agitated
‘After the interrogation, the police let Tom stew for a few hours before releasing him’.

10. Half-baked ideas (informal) – ideas that have not been thought out enough

‘James is always coming to me with his half-baked ideas on how we can increase sales. He is so annoying.’


I hope you’ve enjoyed my ‘What’s cooking in the Kitchen Series’. As always, there are plenty more idioms and phrasal verbs connected to cooking, so if you can think of others please do share with me here.

Ciao for now