The difference between spices and herbs

So, what is the difference between spices and Herbs?

Spices are traditionally dried parts of a plant that are used in cooking.

Salt is not a spice because salt is a mineral.

Officially spices are dried parts of a root, flowers, seeds, bark or fruit of a plant. Spices are often stronger in taste than herbs and should be used in smaller amounts at a time.

Herbs are also from plants.

The word “herb” comes from the Latin word “herba” meaning grass or green plant. Some people will pronounce the h in herb; others prefer to keep the h silent.

When the green leaves in a plant are used either fresh or dry the plant is traditionally referred to as an herb.

Some plants may be used as both an herb and a spice, the leaves would be herbs and the seeds would be a spice.

Spices and Herbs

Sometimes spices are put in the same category as herbs. In everyday speech the difference between herbs and spices seems somewhat vague.

Often the plants used in cooking are simply referred to as herbs and spices, all put in one huge category. The two terms have a tendency to get mixed.

Spices have been a valuable and much sought after treasure throughout history in most parts of the world. The quest for spices has been nerve wrecking and expensive.

In our time and age we the demand for spices has exploded. We are more eager to include dishes from all parts of the world in our everyday cooking.

As we travel more we become increasingly aware of the many new ways spices can be used to enhance our taste buds.

Spices certainly have made the art of cooking so much more fascinating. We all agree that using a little spice when cooking will take our dishes to extraordinary levels.

Spices obviously give great flavor to food and beverages when used correctly. Many spices also have amazing health benefits. Spices have been used has medicine since ancient times.

Spices can be used in perfumes. Spices are also used in religious ceremonies as in incense and candles. Some spices have their own stories in folklore, superstition and myth. Welcome to the wonderful world of spices!





  1. says

    We’ve been using a lot of Tumeric here in our household lately too for the amazing health benefits as well as flavor. I just got fresh tumeric from the health food store that I am eager to try!

    I agree that using a little spice when cooking will take our dishes to extraordinary levels – however I don’t think there is a “correct” way to do it other than keeping use at safe levels. I’ve been blending and mixing like crazy in my food & beverages; even lavender and paprika are awesome together in the raw paleo cookies I make!

    @Liv we use Rosemary a lot here in the states as well. I just got some from a great online store and it was so yummy, it inspired me to plant it in my garden!

  2. MavicEspiritu says

    Yes, I love the tastes of the herbs in food. It perks up the taste and the brings life to “common” taste effects. I believe that some spices also have a lot of health benefits. I used to buy different herbs when I was back home and in charge of the kitchen. The people at home just loved the taste of the food, it is different. Great for Herbs.. thanks for this sharing.. it enhances my knowledge on herbs.

    • MavicEspiritu says

      Now that I know the difference between spices and herbs.. I think I can make different variations of what to use for what. I love spices too. In Thailand, they use a lot of different spices in food. Sometimes, it is just to full of spices… really brings sweat as you eat. but such delicious meal.

  3. Shajahan says

    The question that has been goggled in my mind now get a right answer, yes i really don’t know the difference between the spice and herb now that doubt has cleared. It is better understand by giving live examples such as clove which we used for making food particularly when cooking non-veg is a example for spice and the tulsi which we used and grown in our garden is the best example for herb.

  4. Grace Obregon says

    Herbs are important in human life, they dont only bring beauty to our surroundings as they grow but likewise helps us in everyway. Like the spices, they are the dried form of some herbs that brings out a nice flavor to our dish. The scent or aroma of the spices brings out a soothing effect of satisfaction. Both are important in order to have a healthy life.


    I thought spice and herbs were almost the same thing but it was not actually. It’s good to know facts about their differences.

  6. Ram Bansal says

    Spices are usable in foods, but Herbs are not necessarily. Herbs are the plants themselves some of them used as spices. Spices are concentrated in their useful contents hence used in small quantities in foods while herbs are milder and may be used even without foods.

  7. Cotinghiu Razvan says

    Thanks for telling me the diference betwem herbs and spice. I prefer herbs they are more tasty than spices. but for example for tea spices are more better than herbs, if you try you see the differences

  8. Rinku says

    Good article which tells about difference between herbs and spices. It also tells about spices and herbs individually. This article definitely help those who read this article.

  9. peter says

    Great friend i have read difference between them in my school days but now its forgotten but thank you friend now i remember all differences between herbs and spices.

  10. Sarah says

    This was such a useful post! I think I’ve used the word herb wrong in my entire life. Now I know exactly when to use herb and when to use spice.

  11. doroffee says

    Thank you for clearing this for me! Now I know exactly when to use the word spice and when to use the word herb. It is actually logical that the dried part of plants, mostly used for cooking, are described with another word than green leaves.

  12. dorottya says

    I didn’t even know that spice and herb didn’t mean the same, especially since I’m not a native speaker. But now it makes sense, in my language we do this kind of separation in meaning.

  13. Joseph says

    I find out the difference between the spices and herbs now with the help of this great blog. The pictures and video gives more attraction to this blog

  14. maria peralta says

    Wow. I need something like this in my kitchen. I cook alot and use several spices. Ive never seen so many diff. kinds like her. And never knew of so many ways to use them all.

  15. Prem says

    Herbs and Spices are different, these two words show different meaning, both in pronouncing the word and what they represents.

  16. Nash says

    Thank you, thank you. I love to learn new things everyday and honestly this post about the difference between spices and herbs was really great.

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