Spanish words are tricky to say – first of all, as with all languages, there are numerous regional variations of this language. Secondly there is a massive difference in pronunciation between Spain and in Latin America.

Here are the top 5 mispronounced Spanish Foodie words explained (more to follow soon). Click To Tweet

If you have any other words you aren’t sure of, don’t hesitate to ask about them.

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1. Chorizo

Oh dear, oh dear. I have heard seasoned BBC commentators mispronounce this one repeatedly. Click To Tweet

Even worse, I have seen chefs on TV standing in a plaza in the middle of Spain getting it wrong. The genesis of the problem is in the way the word is usually mispronounced:

Choritzo – the wrong way ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Culprits can see that the Spanish ‘z’ does not go the way of the English ‘z’, which is a good start. Then they make a fatal error – they use Italian pronunciation on a Spanish word. In Italian the ‘z’ has a ‘ts’/ ‘ds’ sound – think of ‘pizza’.

If ‘chorizo’ were an Italian word, there would be no problem, but chorizo is not an Italian word at all. It is a Spanish word. And the Spanish ‘z’ sounds NOTHING like the Italian ‘z’.

Now it gets a little more complicated – bear with me. In Spain, ‘z’ sounds like the ‘th’ in ‘thin’. In Spanish speaking Latin American countries (i.e. every country except Brazil, where Portuguese is spoken) the ‘z’ is pronounced like the ‘s’ in ‘sit’. Always.

BONUS: Making it easy to pronounce Spanish words with confidence! CLICK HERE to get the top words in Spanish.

So if you are in Spain, you say:


and if you are in South America, you say:


Both are correct.

* For full details on the difference between Spanish from Spain and Latin-American Spanish pronunciation, have a look at my Spanish Hints

2. Dulce De Leche

How Do You Say Dulce De Leche

I was going to say that you see this one in the UK far more than in the USA, but it turns out I was wrong – Americans are just as likely to make this error as the British. It’s another example of using Italian pronunciation on Spanish words, and sounds like this:

DOHL/tchay dee LEH/tchay ๐Ÿ˜ณ

It gets worse. Instead of writing ‘dulce de leche’, many people write ‘dolce di leche’. If you write it this way, you have 2 languages in one term!!! To correctly pronounce ‘dulce de leche’:

in Spain you say:

DOOL/theh deh LEH/tcheh

and in South America you say:

DOOL/seh/ deh/LEH/tcheh

BONUS: Making it easy to pronounce Spanish words with confidence! CLICK HERE to get the top words in Spanish.

3. Quesadillas

When people get this one wrong, at worst it comes out:

kweh/sah/dill/ahs ๐Ÿ˜ณ

and at best it is pronounced ‘keh/sah/dill/ahs. The first thing you have to get right is this: it doesn’t matter whether you are in Spain itself, or in any other Spanish speaking country – double ‘ll’ is NEVER pronounced like an ‘l’. A single ‘l’ is pronounced just as in English, but ‘ll’ is not – ever, ever, ever. It is most usually pronounced like the ‘y‘ in ‘yes’, and this is all you have to remember.

BONUS: Making it easy to pronounce Spanish words with confidence! CLICK HERE to get the top words in Spanish.

The second thing you have to drum into your head is that in Spanish everywhere, ‘que’ and ‘qui’ are always pronounced ‘keh’ and ‘kee’. Think of ‘mosquito‘ which is a word we get from Spanish.

What this all boils down to, is that the correct way to say ‘quesadillas’ is:


Technically, if you want to be fully authentic, you should say ‘keh/sah/THEE/yahs‘. If enough people want to know why, I’ll write a separate blog post to explain – in the meantime, see my Spanish Hints for more details. I think ‘keh/sah/DEE/yahs‘ is more than adequate.

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4. Tortillas

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A lot of people get ‘tortillas’ right. The rest say:

tohr/TIL/lahs ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Remember, in Spanish a double ‘ll’ sounds like the English ‘y’, so you say:



5. Paella

While we are dealing with the double ‘ll’ we may as well drum it in with as many examples as I can think of. ‘Paella’ is most often mispronounced like this by English speakers:

pah/ehl/lah ๐Ÿ˜ณ

It’s exactly the same principle as before – ‘ll’ has a ‘y’ sound in Spanish, and so you say:


BONUS: Making it easy to pronounce Spanish words with confidence! CLICK HERE to get the top words in Spanish.

By now you should be getting rather good at this :).
If you want more details about these words, the following are links to the database:

Of course there are many more mispronounced Spanish Foodie words – watch out for the next edition. If you have any comments or questions, please go ahead and add them!


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