What do you call food without a lot of pepper or salt or spices? How is the taste of ordinary food called?

  • Non-sweet food is called 'savoury' food. However that can include spicy food. Bland food is food without much flavour. That can include savoury or sweet foods. As Cambridge says: > bland (adj.) lacking a strong or particular flavor
    – bjb
    Jan 5, 2020 at 2:36
  • The trap here is - neither spicy nor sweet!
    – Maulik V
    Jan 6, 2020 at 8:47
  • bland or dull I'm only not sure about using it for food stuff
    – eagle275
    Jan 7, 2020 at 14:48
  • 1
    It's kind of weird to oppose spicy to sweet. The opposite of sweet is savory. Jan 7, 2020 at 16:03

5 Answers 5


Such food is unseasoned:

a : not seasoned with added spices or savory ingredients
// unseasoned food

(source: Merriam-Webster)

If you want to emphasize a lack of flavor, you can use the word bland:

2 c : lacking strong flavor
// Expect both kinds of salsify to be subtle and delicate—too bland for some tastebuds.

(source: Merriam-Webster)

  • 14
    Important usage note: if you tell a cook that their food is bland, it could be taken as an insult.
    – z0r
    Jan 6, 2020 at 2:38
  • 3
    Also, plain mustard greens not seasoned are spicy and plain apples (most) not seasoned are sweet. Jan 6, 2020 at 14:52

Food that is simple, not rich, spicy nor particularly sweet or salty is sometimes said to be plain. Plain food does not mean it is without salt, flavourings or sugar; plain simple cooking is the type of food one eats at home, and is suitable for both savoury and sweet food.

Plain yoghurt
Plain fish and chips
Plain potato soup
Plain sponge cake.

From Cambridge Dictionaries

  • He prefers plain food - nothing too fancy.

From Lexico

  • ‘Yet, perhaps because he deals mainly with sophisticated food, he prefers plain cooking at home.’

  • ‘He liked plain food, without sauces or cheese, and plenty of fresh vegetables, including those grown in the garden of his estate.’


  • Either way, a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek-style yogurt is a fine finish
  • Plain rice and water, with 12-hour days, 7 days a week, of hard physical labour
  • Scatter the top with more raspberries and grated plain chocolate before serving.

The first problem here is that your question is somewhat ambiguous, because (at least in US English) spicy has two distinct meanings. It can be either something that is flavored with traditional spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg &c, or it can be something that contains (often to excess) chili pepper.

Beyond that, there really isn't a single word that covers all sorts of unspiced foods, since there are so many differently-flavored "ordinary" foods, many of which have strong flavors that aren't the result of either sort of spice - e.g. chocolate, some kinds of cheeses, many fruits.

"Bland" doesn't really fit, since it just means that the food doesn't have strong flavors, regardless of whether that lack is innate to the food itself (as for instance mashed potatos), or because it wasn't spiced.

  • 3
    "Spicy" in the "hot" sense can also come from ingredients other than chili pepper, like mustard, ginger, or wasabi.
    – autophage
    Jan 6, 2020 at 20:56

There are 5 'flavours' or tastes. They are sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness and umami (all are self explanatory, except Umami, which is described as savory and is characteristic of broths and cooked meats. (a bit like Marmite?)

  • Yes. We had to borrow umami from Japanese, because "savoury" was too vague to be applied to a specific taste detected by none of the other taste sensors and IIRC, related specifically to glutamates. Marmite, also much far Eastern cooking using fermented bean or fish sauces.
    – nigel222
    Jan 7, 2020 at 15:47



not seasoned with added spices or savory ingredients

Low Sodium Diet


a diet restricted to foods naturally low in sodium content and prepared without added salt that is used especially in the management of hypertension, heart failure, and kidney or liver dysfunction

(Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/)

  • 1
    You should quote the definitions from those links within your answer itself. (Also, Google isn't really a reliable source for definitions, so you may want to link to Merriam-Webster or something for "unseasoned".) Your answer should stand on its own as an answer to the question. More specifically, you should point out how these definitions match what OP is asking for; I'm not sure how "low-sodium", on its own, has anything to do with taste (other than that products are sometimes advertised as "low-sodium" when they have less salt - but that doesn't make "low-sodium" mean bland/unseasoned).
    – V2Blast
    Jan 5, 2020 at 9:00
  • @V2blast Medical Definition of low-sodium diet : a diet restricted to foods naturally low in sodium content and prepared without added salt that is used especially in the management of hypertension, heart failure, and kidney or liver dysfunction. Jan 5, 2020 at 9:18
  • Unseasoned :not seasoned with added spices or savory ingredientsunseasoned food Jan 5, 2020 at 9:19
  • 1
    Rather than replying to me, you should edit your answer to read as if it were always the best version of itself. See Glorfindel's answer to this question for an example of the format you may want to use. (See also this question on meta and ColleenV's answer there regarding supporting answers - especially to [word-request] questions - with citations/sources.)
    – V2Blast
    Jan 5, 2020 at 9:24
  • 1
    @V2Blast thanks for suggestion Jan 5, 2020 at 9:33

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