7 Super Useful Ways to Respond to ‘Buen provecho’ in Spanish

Planning on visiting Latin America?

Well, you’re in for a veritable culinary treat!

But aside from the spices and new flavors, there’s something else that might throw you slightly off balance, and that’s people telling you ‘buen provecho’ before, during or after your meal …

Buen provecho’ is a bit like saying ‘enjoy your meal’ and it’s a widespread (and slightly controversial!) custom in much of Latin America.

So, how on earth do you respond (especially when you’ve got a mouth full of tacos)?

Cutlery at the ready, let’s find out more!


KEY TAKEAWAYS


These are the most common ways to respond to ‘buen provecho’ in Spanish –

  • Gracias, igualmente. = Thanks, you too.

  • Buen provecho. (Latin America) = Enjoy your meal.

  • Que aproveche. (Spain) = Enjoy your meal.

  • Provechito. (Mexico) = Enjoy your meal.


Buen provecho’ in English

‘Buen provecho’ (literally ‘good benefit’) is a Spanish phrase meaning something along the lines of ‘enjoy your meal’.

It’s not actually something we say *that* much in English, so it might be more useful to think of it as the Spanish equivalent of ‘bon appetit’.

Un hombre sirve la cena de Navidad a su familia

Listo, la cena está servida. ¡Buen provecho!



A man serves Christmas dinner to his family

Voilá, dinner is served. Enjoy!


And where does it come from?

Well, the phrase ‘buen provecho’ can actually be traced back to Moorish Spain.

In many Middle Eastern countries, belching is still a polite way of indicating that the food has been to your taste / satisfaction and, well, Arabs normally use phrases like ‘buen provecho’ to respond to a resounding belch (but in Arabic, obviously!).

Nowadays, it’s still a widespread custom (saying ‘buen provecho’ that is, NOT belching!), although some do consider it a little rude as it often means interrupting someone’s meal. Regardless, MANY people continue to use it!

It’s also worth mentioning (because you might witness it firsthand) that many people in Mexico may also respond to ‘buen provecho’ with a hand gesture, kinda like a military salute.

It’s basically a super useful way of saying ‘thank you’ without having to speak with your mouth full.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the most common ways to respond to ‘buen provecho’!




1 Gracias, igualmente – Thanks, you too

Since it’s always well-intentioned, the most common response to ‘buen provecho’ is ‘gracias, igualmente’, which means ‘thanks, you too’ in English.

Una familia antes de comer

Hija – Todo se ve delicioso. Buen provecho.

Madre – Gracias, igualmente.



A family before having dinner

Daughter – Everything looks delicious. Enjoy.

Mother – Thanks, you too.

2 Buen provecho – Enjoy your meal

You can also respond with a ‘buen provecho’ in return (easy peasy, right?).

This is actually pretty customary, especially when everybody is gathered around the table at the beginning of a meal.

Compañeros de trabajo a la hora de la comida*

Mariano – Buen provecho a todos.

Gladys – ¡Buen provecho!



A group of coworkers at lunchtime

Mariano – Bon appetit everyone.

Gladys – Bon appetit!

*Erika’s note – ‘comida’ means ‘food’ in English, but in Mexico and Spain it’s also a way to say lunch’ or ‘lunchtime.


3 Provecho – Enjoy

‘Provecho’ is just a shortened version of ‘buen provecho’.

Feel free to use different combinations of ‘provecho’, ‘gracias’ and ‘igualmente’.

Una maestra entra en la cafetería de la escuela

Maestra – Buen provecho, chicos.

Vinicio – Gracias, profesora; provecho.

Tatiana – Provecho, profe.



A teacher walks into the school cafeteria

Teacher – Enjoy your lunch, guys.

Vinicio – Thank you, teacher; enjoy.

Tatiana – Enjoy, teacher.

4 Provechito (Mexico) – Enjoy

When visiting local restaurants and food stalls in Mexico, you’re bound to hear the word ‘provechito’ sooner or later, which is the diminutive form of ‘provecho’.

But worry not, ‘provechito’ is no less effusive and meaningful than ‘provecho’ itself … diminutives are just extremely common in Mexican Spanish (you can think of them as a linguistic quirk!).

En un puesto de tacos en la Ciudad de México

Cliente 1 – Buenas tardes y buen provecho.

Cliente 2 – Buenas, provechito.



At a taco stand in Mexico City

Client 1 – Good evening and bon appetit.

Client 2 – Good evening, bon appetite.



5 Que aproveche (España) – Enjoy your meal

Whilst ‘buen provecho’ is customary in Latin America, in Spain you’ll likely hear people say ‘que aproveche’.

Un hombre entra a un restaurante y saluda a uno de los comensales

Luis – ¡Antonio! Gusto en verte. Que aproveches.



A man walks into a restaurant and greets one of the diners

Luis – Antonio! Good to see you. Enjoy your meal.

6 Buen apetito – Bon appetit

The literal equivalent of ‘bon apetit’ is ‘buen apetito’, and it’s considered a more polite phrase than ‘buen provecho’ (as long as you don’t say it to someone with a gob full of carne asada!).

Una mujer prepara un brunch para sus amigos

Abel – ¡Te luciste! Todo huele increíble.

Karla – Espero que les guste. Buen apetito.



A woman prepares brunch for her friends

Abel – You outdid yourself! Everything smells amazing.

Karla – I hope you like it. Bon appetit.

7 Que disfrute sus alimentos – Enjoy your meal

‘Que disfrute sus alimentos’ is the literal translation of ‘enjoy your meal’.

It’s considered a more formal alternative to ‘buen provecho’, but in truth it’s only really used by people in the food industry, such as waiters, cooks, chefs, etc.

En un restaurante

Mesero – Quedo a sus órdenes; que disfruten sus alimentos.

Comensal – Muchas gracias.



At a restaurant

Waiter – Let me know if you need anything; enjoy your food.

Diner – Thank you very much.


Final thoughts

So, there you have it!

Now you know all about this extremely common Spanish expression. Even though it might be questioned by etiquette sticklers, if you’re visiting a Spanish-speaking country and people wish you ‘buen provecho’, it’s always a kind gesture, and it’s best to respond with a hand gesture at the very least!

Oh, and if you wanna dive even deeper into Spanish vocabulary, I recommend you head on over to our article on the differences between ‘INTENTAR’ AND ‘TRATAR DE’.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

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