Is ginger a spice?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is ginger a spice?”. We will also discuss where ginger comes from and how it can be used as a spice.

Is ginger a spice?

Yes, ginger is considered as a spice. The edible part of ginger comes from its rhizome or roots. They are dried or used in fresh form to spice up your dishes. The botanical nature of ginger contributes to its identification as a spice. 

According to plant experts, if plant roots are used medicinally or for culinary purposes, they are considered a spice. 

Unlike the herbs that are essentially derived from the leaves of nonwoody, or herbaceous, plants, the aromatic ingredients derived from flowers, fruits, seeds, and bark are also considered spices. 

Where does ginger spice come from?

Ginger is a spice derived from the root (or rhizome) of Zingiber officinale, a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. It comes from the Zingiberaceae family, which is also home to different spices like turmeric, cardamom, black cardamom, and grains of paradise.

The ginger rhizome contains about 1-3 % essential oils, and the pungent/hot sensation is caused by the chemical “gingerol.” Dried ginger is generally less spicy than fresh ginger but fresh ginger is more citrus-like than dried ginger.

How is ginger used as a spice?

Ginger offers a wide range of flavors, from lemony and fresh to scorching and spicy, so it has a lot of applications as a spice.

It can be used in different forms: sliced, chopped, or shredded. It is widely used in savory dishes like stews, casseroles, and curries. 

Ginger gives a more balanced flavor when dried and crushed, making it suitable for baking and different beverages as well. Ginger can also be found in pickles, syrup, and masala tea. 

You can use ginger in different forms such as:

Raw ginger

Ginger is mostly used in its raw forms. You can chop them, grate them, make a paste, or make juice out of them according to what your recipe asks for. 

Regardless of how you use them, they will make your dishes flavorful with just the right amount of spiciness. You can also add it to marinades, dips, vegetables, soups, bread, cakes, ice cream, tarts, and even smoothies.

Dried ginger

Dried ginger is a convenient option when you don’t want to go through the trouble of peeling the ginger and turning it into a paste. 

It is not a powdered form, but the ginger roots are dried and used for convenience and are a great substitute for fresh ginger. Their flavors might not be as powerful as fresh ginger since some of them are lost during the drying process.

Pickled ginger

Pickled ginger is also known as gari or beni shoga in Japan. Ginger is often pickled in sweet vinegar and is usually bright pink. It is eaten as an appetizer to sushi and is also used to freshen one’s breath. Likewise, in Indian cuisine, ginger is also pickled with other vegetables in a spicy mixture.

Crystallized ginger

It is prepared by cooking ginger in sugar until they are crystallized and finally coated with powdered sugar. This form of ginger is also known as candied ginger and is often used in desserts. They also make a great snack with tea. You can find the easy recipe for crystallized ginger here.

Preserved ginger

Ginger can also be preserved in a sugar-salt solution. These are easily found in Asian or specialty stores. Just like crystallized ginger, they are also excellent for desserts and salads. While crystallized ginger is more like candies, preserved ginger is simply ginger pieces preserved in a sugar-salt solution.

Ground ginger

It is simply the powdered form of dried ginger. They are usually used in recipes where you want the flavors of ginger but don’t want the pieces of ginger seen. It has comparatively a longer shelf life than fresh ginger or dried ginger and is ideal for smoothies and desserts where the ginger flavor does not need to be overbearing.

Ginger oil

It is more suitable for medicinal purposes than for cooking. Although it is not used much while cooking, it can still be used to make infused drinks and mocktails.


In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “Is ginger a spice?” We have also discussed where ginger comes from and how it can be used as a spice.


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