Difference Between Condiments vs. Spices

Main Difference

The main difference between the condiments and spices is that the condiments are mainly used at the dining table to enhance the dish and spices are food ingredients mainly used to season a food dish during its preparation.

Condiments vs. Spices

A condiment is a sauce or spice mixture that is chiefly added to different food dishes to give a specific flavor, to improve the flavor, or to supplement the dish. Spice is a leave, fruit, seed, root, bark, bud, berry, flower or vegetable substance mainly used as a coloring, flavoring or preserving agent in food. Condiments are added to food immediately before consumption. Food items such as sauces, pickles, mustard, etc. are considered to be condiments. Many spices have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Thus, spices are also used in meat curries to produce safe food for human consumption. Condiments are seasoning preparations utilizing the blend of herbs and spices that creates the final dish seasoning for easy consumption. Spices are refined further such as ground, crushed or heated to release flavors. These seasonings are more portable to offer longer storage. A condiment is something involving some preparation on its own before using, like ketchup, relish, mustard or a sauce. A spice is particularly a single unprepared ingredient (e.g., cinnamon, clove, salt, pepper), but spices can also be made further as a mixture, like curry powder or chili powder. Condiments are for using in the dishes to enhance the flavor according to the taste preference of an individual, e.g., ketchup with the burger. Spices are the ingredients used to season dishes in the meal during its preparation, e.g., mustard with the burger. Prepared mustard that is used on pizza or burger is a condiment because it is the ground mustard seed that is combined with vinegar and other ingredients to make the spread. Whole mustard seeds and dry mustard powder is made from the ground seeds and hence would be considered spices.

Comparison Chart

CondimentsSpices
Condiments are mainly used at the dining table to enhance the dishFood ingredients mainly used to season a food dish during its preparation
Preparation
Involve its preparation before usingParticularly a single unprepared ingredient
Contains
Salt, mustard, or pickleFruit, leaves, seed, root, bark, berry, bud, flower or vegetable
Market
Its trade is the second biggest market in specialty foods after that of cheeseIndia contributes 75% of spice production throughout the world
Examples
Compound butter, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, marmite, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustardCinnamon, mace, mustard, black pepper, cloves, saffron, fennel, turmeric, ginger, curry powder, chili powder, salt, galingale

What are Condiments?

Condiments are defined as a prepared food compound, containing one or more spices or spice extractives which enhances the flavor of food. A condiment is a sauce, spice or other food preparation that is added to food to give it a particular flavor or to enhance its flavor. A condiment is something involving some preparation on its own before using, like ketchup, relish, mustard or a sauce. Condiments are of two types: simple condiments and compound condiments. Simple condiments contain garlic salt, celery salt, onion salt, pepper salt, etc. Compound condiments contains products such as chutney, chili sauce, horseradish sauce, prepared mustard, meat sauce, mint sauce, soya sauce, sweet and sour sauce, tomato Ketchup, etc. Following are some common condiments widely used with many dishes all over the world:

  • Barbecue sauce
  • Aioli
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Chutney
  • Chili sauce
  • Fruit preserves
  • Fish sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Horseradish
  • Guacamole
  • Cocktail Sauce
  • Mustard sauce

What are Spices?

The term ‘spice’ derives originally from the Latin “species aromatase,” which means fruits of the earth. Spices refer to any dried, fragrant, aromatic or pungent, edible plant substance or vegetable, in the broken or ground form. The purpose of spices is to contribute flavor to the food, seasoning rather than nutrition, and relish the foods or beverages. Spices can be either the bark, buds, bulbs, dried vanilla, flowers, fruit, leaves, roots, seeds, rhizome, stigmas, and styles or the entire plant tops. Classical authors of Europe in different times classified spices into four different categories. These four categories of spices are Species Aromata, Species Thumiamata, Species Condimenta, and Species Theriaea. Spices are occasionally used in medicines, cosmetics or perfume production, religious rituals or as a vegetable due to their unique sensory attributes. Following are some common spices widely used all over the world:

  • Cumin
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Allspice:
  • Nutmeg
  • Mace
  • Bay Leaf
  • Annatto
  • Black Peppercorn
  • Star Anise

Key Differences

  1. Condiments are ingredients such as salt, mustard, or pickle that is used to add flavor to food whereas spices are aromatic or pungent plant part such as fruit, leaves, seed, root, bark, berry, bud, flower or vegetable used to flavor food.
  2. Condiments were known in and used by Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Ancient India, and Ancient China conversely Spices were used by almost all the countries in the ancient time, and the trade of spice grew throughout South Asia and the Middle East in about 2000 BCE.
  3. Condiments are something involving some preparation on its own before using, on the other hand, spices are particularly unprepared ingredients, but they can also be made further as a mixture.
  4. Condiments are commonly added before serving to add flavor or texture to the food on the flip side spices are mainly added to food during preparation or cooking.
  5. The trade of condiment is the second biggest market in specialty foods after that of cheese while 75% of spice production throughout the world is by India, and the world spice market is continuously growing.

Conclusion

Condiments and spices are used as a seasoning to add extra flavor to the food. Though they serve somehow the same function but have slight differences in their kind, for, and taste.

Author:

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

View all posts by Aimie Carlson