What is a savory dish?

Updated April 17, 2017

In cooking, most dishes fall into one of two categories: sweet or savoury. You can define a savoury dish by its ingredients, its flavour and often by where and when it is served.


A savoury dish typically tastes salty or spicy, rather than sugary; the opposite of a sweet dish. The word "savory" (or "savoury" in British English) literally means "pleasing in taste," from the Old French "savour," meaning "to taste."


Savoury dishes use ingredients such as meat, vegetables, rice, potatoes and herbs and spices. Popular savoury snacks and foods includes meats, non-sweet pastries, cheese, crackers, chips and pretzels.


You may eat savoury dishes as an appetizer, as an accompaniment, as part of a main course or as a snack. In the U.K., party guests enjoy savoury dishes picked from a buffet. Traditionally, hosts served savoury dishes after the dessert to cleanse the palate.

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About the Author

Dave Koenig has written professionally since 2005. His writing interests include the arts, film, religion and language. Koenig holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical-theological studies from Manchester University and a Postgraduate Certificate of Education in religious studies from Lancaster University.