Both of these words in the dictionary have themselves defined as “snack” but what are the differences between these 2 words?

3 Answers 3


小吃: snack. Examples: steam bun, hot dog, baked sweet potato (most street food stall's cooked food are considered 小吃.) There are also cold served 小吃 like cold cut meat or cheese on cracker (mostly served in parties)

零食: snack/ junk food. Examples: chips, candies

Most noticeable difference: We call 零食 junk food but not 小吃


There are!

小吃 is more like some freshly cooked food, usually served hot or warm.

零食 are things like chips, candys and will not be served hot in general.

And to my understanding of English, snack is more like 零食。


小吃:snacks you get from street stalls or cafes. 零食:packaged snacks you get from supermarkets. And I beg to differ from @Tang Ho because both 零食 and 小吃 can be junk food. We call the snacks from KFC 小吃, but they are junk food.

  • 1
    I love KFC . It is not 零食 or 小吃, it is a 餐 (meal)
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 21:55
  • Fast food is often categorised into 小吃. 吮指原味鸡、蛋挞、鸡翅、土豆泥 sold there definitely count as 小吃, but maybe hamburgers are not
    – Robin
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 7:22

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