Tap to Read ➤

How do Herbs Differ from Spices?

Jyoti Babel Mar 9, 2020
Do you often use the terms herbs and spices interchangeably? Well, they can't be used that way as they are dissimilar in many ways. Here, we will tell you the subtle differences between the two.

Did You Know?

The most costly spice in the world is saffron while the herb that is mostly used for cooking is parsley.
When it comes to cooking, herbs and spices are very essential ingredients. You cannot prepare a gourmet meal without using them. Every herb and spice has a distinct flavor, and when added in appropriate quantities while cooking, they enhance the flavor, color, and texture of the food. They have nutritional benefits as well.
Herbs and spices have been used in traditional cooking since ancient times. In fact, the trade of herbs and spices was very popular during the middle ages. In recent times, herbs have found extensive use in cosmetics, herbal supplements, alternative therapies, etc. Both herbs and spices can be stored in their dried form in airtight containers.
They should be protected from hydration to last longer. However, many people prefer to use fresh herbs and spices in their cooking as they add more flavor and aroma.

The American Spice Trade Association defines spices as "any dried plant product used for seasoning purpose."
This is a very generalized version of the definition as it includes all dried herbs, spice mixes, seeds etc., under its gamut. Many argue that there is no difference between the two as both are used to season food. Hence, often the terms, herbs and spices are used as synonyms. But, there are distinct differences between them.

Herbs Vs. Spices

  • Herbs come from the leafy, green part of a non-woody plant whereas spices are made from parts, other than the leaves, such as roots, bark, seeds, stem, bulb, etc. Spices can either be from a herbaceous plant or woody plant, but herbs comes from a non-woody plant only.
  • Herbs have their origin in temperate climates, whereas spices have their origin in warm tropical climate.
  • Herbs can have a mild or strong flavor and are usually used in large quantities, whereas spices are generally more potent and are used in small quantities.
Here are some examples of herbs and spices.


The herbs listed here are in their fresh form. These leaves are dried to get the dried version of the respective herb.
One should note that while cooking, fresh and dried herbs are used in different amounts. The flavor of the dish may differ slightly, depending on whether you are using dried or fresh herbs.


As mentioned earlier, spices can be derived from different parts of a plant. Following are some examples of spices along with their source.
So, those were a few differences between herbs and spices and a few examples of each of them. Which is your favorite herb and spice? Do let us know.