Home & Garden Home What's the Difference Between Herbs and Spices? These flavorful ingredients are the key to delicious cooking, but what exactly are they? By Jaymi Heimbuch Jaymi Heimbuch Twitter Writer California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer specializing in wildlife conservation, technology, and food. She is the author of "The Ethiopian Wolf: Hope at the Edge of Extinction." Learn about our editorial process Updated April 26, 2022 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Aleksandr Zubkov / Getty Images Home Sustainable Eating Pest Control Natural Cleaning DIY Family Green Living Thrift & Minimalism From a sustainability standpoint, there's a lot to be said for cooking at home. Not only is it cheaper and oftentimes healthier, but you can control the ingredients and avoid all the access packaging that comes with to-go or convenience food. When decking out a pantry, a home cook will need a number of staples, among them spices and herbs. But what's the difference between the two? While both spices and herbs are used to boost the flavor of foods, the difference between the two is what part of the plant they come from. Herbs are the leaves of the plant, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, or cilantro. Spices, on the other hand, come from the non-leafy parts, including roots, bark, berries, flowers, seeds and so on. This would include cinnamon, star anise, ginger, turmeric, and pepper. "Essentially, any part of the plant that is not a leaf and can be used for seasoning would fall into the spice category," clarifies The Kitchn. 10 Essentials for Your Spice Cabinet Looking to stock your spice supply? Here are some of the most common herbs and spices:Black pepperRed pepper flakes and/or cayenne pepperCuminBay leafThymeOreganoRosemaryGround gingerGround cinnamonNutmeg Sometimes a plant can produce both an herb an a spice. Cilantro leaves are an herb while the seeds, coriander, are a spice. Dill weed also produces seeds that are used as a spice while the leaves are used as an herb. Simple, right? Well, there may be a small hitch to this easy definition. Fooducate specifies, "According to the American Spice Trade Association, spices are defined as 'any dried plant product used primarily for seasoning purposes'. This really broadens the definition of spices, allowing it to include herbs, dehydrated veggies, spice blends and spice seeds." Try Whole Spices Jarred herbs and spices fade in flavor as they age, so it can be helpful to purchase them in smaller quantities. You can also buy spices in their whole form—like whole nutmeg or cinnamon sticks—and grind them as you need them. Of course, a trade association wouldn't mind broadening a definition to include more products! Just know that if you're ever asked the difference between herbs and spices, you have a simple way to explain the distinction.