Sauce vs. Syrup — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 30, 2023
Sauce is a thick liquid served with food to add moisture and flavor; syrup is a thick, sweet liquid used as a sweetener.
Difference Between Sauce and Syrup
Table of Contents
Sauces are primarily culinary liquids used to add flavor and moisture to other foods, often possessing a complex blend of savory, tangy, sweet, or spicy elements. They can be served warm or cold and can be an integral part of a dish or added as a condiment.
Syrup is a dense, sweet liquid made by dissolving sugar in water or by reducing naturally sweet juices. It is commonly used as a sweetener in beverages, on pancakes, and in desserts. Syrups typically have a simple sweet taste profile and are not used to add moisture or flavor complexity in the same way sauces are.
The variety in sauces is immense, encompassing everything from simple gravies to elaborate reductions, and they can be based on a wide range of ingredients including vegetables, fruits, and meats. Their role can vary from being the centerpiece of a dish (like in pasta) to an accentuating side (like ketchup).
Syrups, by contrast, are usually straightforward and are primarily used to impart sweetness. While they can sometimes offer flavor nuances—like maple syrup or fruit-flavored syrups—their sweetness is their defining characteristic.
Therefore, while both sauce and syrup serve as accompaniments, the former is characterized by its culinary complexity and role in enhancing flavor and texture, whereas the latter is noted for its sugary sweetness and its role as a sweetener.
Liquid or semi-liquid used to add flavor.
Thick, sweet liquid used as a sweetener.
Culinary, to complement dishes.
Often as a dessert topping or in drinks.
Can be savory, spicy, tangy, or mildly sweet.
Varies from thin to thick.
Generally thicker and stickier than sauces.
Vegetables, meats, herbs, spices.
Sugar, water, sometimes natural flavorings.
Compare with Definitions
She topped the steak with a peppercorn sauce.
He flavored his coffee with vanilla syrup.
He always adds hot sauce to his tacos.
The cough medicine came in syrup form.
The sauce helped combine the ingredients in the casserole.
The dessert was finished with a chocolate syrup drizzle.
She served the roast with a side of sauce to add moisture.
Maple syrup is a classic pancake topping.
For Thanksgiving, we make a rich turkey sauce from the drippings.
She ordered an iced tea with peach syrup.
In cooking, a sauce is a liquid, cream, or semi-solid food, served on or used in preparing other foods. Most sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to a dish.
In cooking, a syrup or sirup (from Arabic: شراب; sharāb, beverage, wine and Latin: sirupus) is a condiment that is a thick, viscous liquid consisting primarily of a solution of sugar in water, containing a large amount of dissolved sugars but showing little tendency to deposit crystals. Its consistency is similar to that of molasses.
A flavorful liquid or semisolid condiment or mixture of ingredients served as a topping or other accompaniment to food.
A thick, sweet liquid made by dissolving sugar in boiling water, often used for preserving fruit.
Stewed fruit, usually served with other foods.
He has been bald for the past twenty years, his shame concealed by a syrup of some opulence
Something that adds zest, flavor, or piquancy.
A thick, sweet, sticky liquid, consisting of a sugar base, natural or artificial flavorings, and water.
(Informal) Impudent speech or behavior; impertinence or sauciness.
A thick, sugary liquid made by boiling down or otherwise concentrating plant sap, juice, or grain extracts.
(Slang) Alcoholic liquor.
A concentrated solution of sugar in water, often used as a vehicle for medicine.
To season or flavor with sauce.
Any thick liquid that has a high sugar content and which is added to or poured over food as a flavouring.
Peaches in syrup
To add piquancy or zest to.
(by extension) Any viscous liquid.
(Informal) To be impertinent or impudent to.
A liquid (often thickened) condiment or accompaniment to food.
Apple sauce; mint sauce
(transitive) To convert or process into syrup.
Tomato sauce (similar to US tomato ketchup), as in:
[meat] pie and [tomato] sauce
(transitive) To add syrup to.
Maybe you should lay off the sauce.
(transitive) To sabotage (a vehicle) by pouring syrup into the gas tank.
(bodybuilding) Anabolic steroids.
Same as Sirup, Sirupy.
(art) A soft crayon for use in stump drawing or in shading with the stump.
A thick sweet sticky liquid
(dated) Cheek; impertinence; backtalk; sass.
Any garden vegetables eaten with meat.
To add sauce to; to season.
To cause to relish anything, as if with a sauce; to tickle or gratify, as the palate; to please; to stimulate.
To make poignant; to give zest, flavour or interest to; to set off; to vary and render attractive.
(colloquial) To treat with bitter, pert, or tart language; to be impudent or saucy to.
(slang) To send or hand over.
A composition of condiments and appetizing ingredients eaten with food as a relish; especially, a dressing for meat or fish or for puddings; as, mint sauce; sweet sauce, etc.
High sauces and rich spices fetched from the Indies.
Any garden vegetables eaten with meat.
Roots, herbs, vine fruits, and salad flowers . . . they dish up various ways, and find them very delicious sauce to their meats, both roasted and boiled, fresh and salt.
Stewed or preserved fruit eaten with other food as a relish; as, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, etc.
A soft crayon for use in stump drawing or in shading with the stump.
To accompany with something intended to give a higher relish; to supply with appetizing condiments; to season; to flavor.
To cause to relish anything, as if with a sauce; to tickle or gratify, as the palate; to please; to stimulate; hence, to cover, mingle, or dress, as if with sauce; to make an application to.
Earth, yield me roots;Who seeks for better of thee, sauce his palateWith thy most operant poison!
To make poignant; to give zest, flavor or interest to; to set off; to vary and render attractive.
Then fell she to sauce her desires with threatenings.
Thou sayest his meat was sauced with thy upbraidings.
To treat with bitter, pert, or tart language; to be impudent or saucy to.
I'll sauce her with bitter words.
Flavorful relish or dressing or topping served as an accompaniment to food
Behave saucy or impudently towards
Dress (food) with a relish
Add zest or flavor to, make more interesting;
Sauce the roast
Do all sauces contain spices?
Not all; sauces can vary widely in ingredients and flavor profiles.
Can sauces be sweet?
Yes, some sauces are sweet, but they can also be savory or spicy.
Is syrup always sweet?
Yes, syrups are defined by their sweetness.
What is the base of most syrups?
The base is typically sugar dissolved in water.
Can sauce be a dip?
Yes, sauces can be used as dips, like barbecue sauce.
Is honey a syrup?
Honey is similar to syrup but it's a natural substance produced by bees, not made by dissolving sugar in water.
Are syrups used in savory dishes?
Typically, no. Syrups are usually used for sweet dishes or as sweeteners.
Is tomato sauce a type of sauce?
Yes, tomato sauce is a common type of savory sauce.
What defines a sauce?
A sauce is a liquid or semi-liquid used to add flavor and moisture to food.
Is mayonnaise considered a sauce?
Yes, mayonnaise is a type of emulsified sauce.
Are all sauces cooked?
No, some sauces, like salsa fresca, are served uncooked.
Can a sauce be a main dish?
Rarely; sauces typically accompany or enhance the main dish.
Can you make syrup from fruits?
Yes, fruit syrups are made by reducing fruit juices with sugar.
Are syrups only used for pancakes and waffles?
No, syrups can also be used in beverages, cocktails, and for dessert toppings.
Can syrup be used in cooking?
Yes, syrup can be used in cooking, especially in baking and dessert-making.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.