Is Garlic a Vegetable Herb or Spice?

Sheri Dorn is a versatile homesteader and culinary artist with a strong focus on organic and heirloom gardening. Holding a Master's degree in Culinary Arts, she combines her love for cooking and gardening in a unique way. Sheri is an active contributor to online gardening communities and enjoys quality outdoor time with her family and pets.
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Garlic is a popular kitchen essential all around the world. But Is Garlic a Vegetable, Herb, or Spice? Let’s end this confusion once and for all!

Garlic is not only used in kitchens to uplift flavor, but it also has medicinal properties to cure ailments like high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, and the hardening of the arteries. Moreover, it is also known for its therapeutic effects. What often confuses people is garlic’s classification. Is Garlic a Vegetable Herb or Spice? Read ahead!

Check out our article on growing garlic here

What is a Vegetable?

Is Garlic a Vegetable Herb or Spice

According to Botany, a vegetable is an edible part of a plant, consumed by humans and herbivorous animals as food. It typically consists of leaves, stems, roots, bulbs, flowers, or seeds. Vegetables typically contain a high proportion of water and are a source of essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.

Many vegetables are low in fat and calories, making them a healthy choice for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Common examples of vegetables include broccoli, spinach, carrots, potatoes, peppers, squash, and tomatoes.

What is an Herb?

Botanists define an herb as a leafy or flowering part of a plant. You can use it either fresh or dry to flavor food. Parsley, mint, basil, and dill are some prime examples. Herbs have several uses in the kitchen and have exceptional medicinal and even spiritual value.

Herbs can be used fresh, dried, or in the form of essential oils and extracts.

What is Spice?

Spice is a mixture that is typically made up of dried and ground plant-based materials, such as herbs, seeds, and roots. It is used to flavor and color food, as well as to impart a variety of medicinal and therapeutic benefits.

Common examples of spices include clove, black pepper, cinnamon, and cumin.

Is Garlic a Vegetable, Herb, or Spice?

Garlic can be hard to classify into a specific category. Botanically, it is a vegetable. And as a vegetable is an edible part of the plant, like the roots, leaves, stems, and bulbs. The garlic plant itself has a bulb, a tall stem, and long leaves. You can also relish the mild onion-like nutty flavor of its edible green leaves and scapes with other greens, which makes it a vegetable.

But what makes this more interesting is when the definitions come into the picture. If you are going to look for what a herb is, you’ll get–“Any plant having leaves, seeds or flowers for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume.” And as garlic is a famous flavoring substance in food, it somewhat makes it also a herb!

Now, when you look for the meaning of spice, you’ll get– “An aromatic or pungent vegetable substance to flavor food, specifically in the dry form.” And as people always prefer using garlic fresh, it surely doesn’t make it a spice.


Garlic has extensive uses as an herb, but botanically, it is a vegetable. But unlike all vegetables, people don’t use it in the same large quantities.

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