Difference Between Condiments and Spices

Main Difference – Condiments vs Spices

Spices and condiments are known as one of the most remarkable ingredients of the many styles of cuisine in the world. Generally, spices are food ingredients mainly used to season a food dish during its preparation. In contrast, condiments are mainly used at the dining table to enhance the dish. This is the main difference between spices and condiments. Spices share some similarities with condiments, but they do have some key differences as well. The purpose of this article is to highlight the difference between condiments and spices.

What are Spices

Biologically, spice is a fruit, leave, seed, root, bark, berry, bud, flower or vegetable substance principally used as a flavoring, coloring or preserving agent in food. In addition, many spices have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. As a result, spices are also used in meat curries to produce safe food for human consumption. Also, they are sometimes used in medicine, religious rituals, cosmetics or perfume production, or as a vegetable due to their unique sensory attributes.

Difference Between Condiments and Spices

What are Condiments

A condiment is a spice, sauce, or spice mixture that is mainly added to different food dishes to contribute a specific flavor, to improve its flavor, or in some nations, to supplement the dish. It is mainly added to food immediately before consumption. Food items such as pickles, sauces, mustards, etc. are considered to be condiments.

Main Difference - Condiments vs Spices

Difference Between Condiments and Spices


Spices: Spice is an aromatic or pungent plant part (fruit, leaves, seed, root, bark, berry, bud, flower or vegetable) used to flavor food.

Condiments: Food ingredients such as salt, mustard, or pickle that is used to add flavor to food.


Spices: Spices are categorized based on their botany;

Dried fruits or seeds – Fennel, mustard, nutmeg, and black pepper

Arils – mace (part of Nutmeg plant)

Barks – cinnamon and cassia

Dried flower buds – cloves

Stigmas – saffron

Roots and rhizomes – turmeric, ginger and galingale

Resins – asafoetida

Condiments: There are two types of condiments such as simple and compound. Examples for simple condiments are celery salt, garlic salt, onion salt, pepper salt, etc. Examples for compound condiments are products such as chili sauce, chutney, horseradish sauce, meat sauce, mint sauce, prepared mustard, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, tomato Ketchup, etc.


Spices: They were used by almost all the countries in very ancient time and the trade of spice developed throughout South Asia and the Middle East in about 2000 BCE with mainly cinnamon and pepper.

Condiments: They were known in and used by Ancient Rome, Ancient India, Ancient Greece and Ancient China.

Functional and Health properties

Spices: They are mainly used for followings;

  • To enhance color (Eg; Turmeric)
  • To enhance flavor (Eg: Cinnamon, cloves, pepper, ginger,)
  • Act as antioxidants
  • Act as antimicrobial compounds
  • Enhance the shelf life of food (preservative agents)
  • Reduce the risk of developing non-communicable diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancers,

Condiments: They are mainly used for followings;

  • To enhance color
  • To enhance flavor

Method of Incorporation into Food

Spices: They are mainly added to food during preparation or cooking.

Condiments: They are commonly added prior to serving. In addition, some condiments such as barbecue sauce are used during cooking to add flavor or texture to the food. Also, sachet packs of condiments are available packaged in single-serving packets and take-out or fast-food meals.


Spices: India contributes 75% of spice production throughout the world, and world spice market is continuously growing.

Condiments: The condiment trade is the second biggest market in specialty foods after that of cheese.


Spices: Cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, mace, fennel, mustard, black pepper, cloves, saffron, turmeric, ginger and galingale, chili powder, curry powder, fenugreek, and salt are examples of spices.

Condiments: Barbecue sauce, compound butter, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, marmite, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise are examples of condiments.Difference Between Condiments and Spices - infographic

In conclusion, both spices and condiments are essential culinary ingredients, and they are vital in your daily diet, and you need to incorporate into your meals to enhance their flavor, color, and nutritional value.


Farrell, K. T. (1990). Spices, Condiments and Seasonings (2nd ed.). MA, USA: Aspen Publishers. p. 291. ISBN 9780834213371.

International Organization for Standardization (2009). 67.220: Spices and condiments. Food additives

Linda Civitello (2007). Cuisine and culture: a history of food and people. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0-471-74172-8.

Merriam-Webster: Definition of condiment. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Ninfali, Paolino; Mea, Gloria; Giorgini, Samantha; Rocchi, Marco; Bacchiocca, Mara (2007). Antioxidant capacity of vegetables, spices and dressings relevant to nutrition. British Journal of Nutrition 93 (02): 257–66.

About the Author: Geesha

Geeshani has a BSc (Hons) degree in Food Science and Technology and Master's degree in Food and Nutrition. She is currently a PhD Student at the Massey Institute of Food Science and Technology. Sharing what she learned is a passion of hers and enjoys writing.