Your cooking escapade requires less confusion. And since your regular cookery gets along with a lot of food additives, we thought of clearing your doubts on the difference between spices and condiments.

A spice is basically used during the cooking and baking preparation and process to add flavor, aroma, color, and texture to a certain dish/food. While on the contrary, a condiment is used at the end of the cooking process or after a particular dish has been served to improve its flavor and quality.

So, with all these subtle distinctions, we wish to bring you a more accurate explanation of the difference between spices and condiments. For the best, read till the end without skipping a word!

The Difference Between Spices And Condiments- The Elaborated Explanation

Spices, seasonings, condiments, sauces, etc.- these are pretty familiar terms if you are someone who shares a closer bond with the kitchen. In fact, they distinguish each other from a very fine line that is necessary yet hard to understand.

Difference Between Spices And Condiments - SpiceRally

What are spices?

A spice is technically a single culinary element. It often comes as a dry ingredient directly deriving from a plant to flavor, color, and aromatize dish/food, added during the cooking preparation or process for flavoring and seasoning purposes. 

What is a condiment?

A condiment is an edible element you can add to a food/ dish to enhance its flavor, color, aroma, or texture.

It is an element that is originally not on the food or the recipe of the particular dish as an ingredient or else even if it’s already an ingredient of the food /dish but more can be used for added flavor or quality-enhancing purposes.

This edible element can be added to a food or a dish after the cooking process is completed or after it’s served.

Common Examples For Spices and Condiments

Cumin seedsBarbecue sauce
Coriander seedsRanch dressing
VanillaRed chili paste

Thus, as we have discussed on top, a spice is usually a single element that directly comes from a plant. And, it can either be a seed, rhizome, fruit, bark, or a stigma of a plant.

Spices usually give a depth of flavor, a pleasant aroma, an appealing color during the cooking process, and a nutritional value to the food.

On the other hand, the condiments are usually considered as supplementary components for food used after cooking or at the table when serving.

Simple and compound condiments can contain one, two, or more spices, herbs, and other ingredients such as oils, vegetables, fruits, eggs, etc. 

What you should remember is that, as long as a certain food element is included in the original recipe, it is an “ingredient”. But, if the same element is used at the table (after the dish has been served), particularly for flavor, aroma, color, and texture improving purposes, it becomes a “condiment”.

Accordingly, to get a clear idea, here’s a list of spices and other ingredients that function as “ingredients” and “condiments”.

However, condiments often complement the overall taste of food by divulging a specific flavor, after cooking. And they typically bestow their qualities over food by upgrading their flavor, color, texture, and aroma.

How much do you know about spices and herbs? If you do not know the real difference between these two culinary ingredients, click here as we have a fully detailed article.

Spices Vs Condiments – Usage In Cooking

If truth be told, the key difference between spices vs condiments comes down to their usage in cooking. As mentioned on top, spices are mainly used during the cooking or baking process, while condiments are used at the end of the cooking process or when a particular dish is served.

In fact, the distinctions are very challenging to determine as they have a higher probability of confusing with each other.

Methods Of Usage In Cooking


As aforementioned, spices are used as a whole, ground, powdered or granulated, varying upon the recipe they are employed. And these flavorings usually season food (meat, seafood, vegetables) and are often added during the cooking process. When used in baking or sweet dishes, the primary purpose of adding spices is to give flavor and aroma.

Spices are often paired with other flavorings rather than used alone. Ginger and garlic are omnipresent pairings in savory dishes. While cinnamon-nutmeg-cloves also can be considered another most-used spice pairing in many sweet dishes as well as savory recipes.

Did you ever think how condiments, sauces, and dips differ from each other? If you ever find an accurate answer to this question, we have an in-depth article answering all the doubts you have. Jut tap here!


On the flip side, condiments often become a supplement to many prepared dishes. And they are considered as last-moment additions in many recipes.

Condiments actually compliment a specific dish. And, there are instances where some condiments are used before serving. Popular condiments like mayonnaise, butter, margarine, or ketchup can be taken as common examples. 

What Are Simple and Compound Condiments?

In fact, condiments are a bit more complex. There are simple condiments like salt, sugar, black pepper that appear as single elements that can be used directly. Meanwhile, substances like onion salt, garlic, or celery salt also belong to the simple condiment category.

In addition, stuff like ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, ranch dressing, red chili paste, etc., are compound condiments made with several spices, herbs, and other ingredients.

Did you know that Tabasco sauce is a great flavor enhancer to many dishes? Click here for a fully detailed article about Tabasco sauce as we have a lot of important stuff to share with you!

The Difference Of The Forms Used

The spices we obtain from a plant are usually dried before it comes to our kitchen as a spice. Thus, drying is the generic method that a spice undergoes before being packaged or consumed. But there are exceptions like ginger which is also used fresh as a rhizome. Interestingly, the same spice is employed dried, powdered, and ground depending on the dish.

Condiments are like old friends – highly thought of, but often taken for granted.

Marilyn Kaytor

Conversely, condiments always depend on the ingredients used to make them. They can be either creamy (mayonnaise), saucy (ketchup), liquidy (honey, maple syrup), powdery (garlic powder), and even come as solids (sugar). Sometimes some seasonings such as salt also can be a condiment.

Ending The Battle Of The Difference Between Spices And Condiments…

To be honest, differentiating these two culinary substances was a real challenge since they distinguished in subtle terms. However, as you see, their main difference comes down to the time of using them with your food.

Spices are mainly used during the cooking process to flavor/ season, aromatize or improve the color of the dish. While condiments are used to boost the taste, smell, color, or texture of a particular dish after cooking or after it is served.

Most of the time, spices play the game alone, contributing with their flavor, aroma, and color to the dish/food. While at the same time, most condiments provide backup as an embellishment and flavor enhancer, coming in the form of a sauce, dip, solid, paste, liquid, and sometimes even as a single spice.

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