I hear chefs like Gordon Ramsay say this and many, many others.

When a chef has boiled potatos or bacon or spinach...

Be it my family or Betty Crocker ... What are the "seasons" they are talking about????

[Please note] I am not asking "How much" but "What is"

  • 5
    Possible duplicate of In a recipe, how much is "to taste"?
    – Allison C
    Jan 18, 2019 at 16:42
  • 7
    @AllisonC disagree. The proposed duplicate is about the “how”, I read this more as a “what”. But both questions are related, imho.
    – Stephie
    Jan 18, 2019 at 16:57
  • @Allison_C Re-read the question please.
    – chrips
    Jan 18, 2019 at 20:23
  • @Chrips, the duplicate includes the "what" in the question, and expands on the "what" in the accepted answer. Any seasoning more specific than the ones in the existing question will also be recipe-specific and impossible to answer without that recipe.
    – Allison C
    Jan 18, 2019 at 20:30
  • 3
    @Chrips Please note that asking for clarification in comments is ok, but no matter how much users disagree, all interaction falls under the “Be Nice” rule.
    – Stephie
    Jan 19, 2019 at 12:55

3 Answers 3


Add your preferred level of salt and pepper

Seasoning usually refers to salt and black pepper, but occasionally to other flavor-enhancing ingredients in the dish such as acid (vinegar, lemon, etc.) and heat (red pepper, sriracha, etc.). "To taste" means to the degree you enjoy it.

  • 7
    Additional note: If the ingredients list contains spices, herbs or other intense flavors (e.g. vinegar or lemon juice) without giving a specific amount or just a range, that’s often an indication of the “what” the recipe writer thought of as “to taste” ingredients.
    – Stephie
    Jan 18, 2019 at 19:34
  • How would one know to extend beyond salt though? Not all foods deserve pepper
    – chrips
    Jan 18, 2019 at 20:21
  • 11
    Then, your "taste" for pepper on that food is zero. If you don't know, then you try adding a little and tasting (hence the "to taste"). I agree with this answer, the default definition for "seasoning" is salt and pepper. "To taste" makes the entire thing subject to your preference.
    – dwizum
    Jan 18, 2019 at 21:08
  • 1
    I was taught as I worked through the ranks of several kitchens that "Salt seasoning, pepper is flavour." I think by this, they meant that salt essentially alters how flavour is received, whereas pepper simply adds another level of flavour. In sweets, the parallel to salt would be sugar. Herbs/Lemon/Vinegar would all fall into the flavour category for me...
    – Doug
    Jan 22, 2019 at 11:28

to season

verb [ T ] UK ​ /ˈsiː.zən/ US ​ /ˈsiː.zən/

season verb [ T ] (FLAVOUR) ​ to improve the flavour of savoury food by adding salt, herbs, or spices when cooking or preparing it:

Drain the rice, stir in the salmon and season to taste (= so that it has the taste you like).


to season (v.)

"improve the flavor of by adding spices," c. 1300, from Old French assaisoner "to ripen, season," from a- "to" (see ad-) + root of season (n.) on the notion of fruit becoming more palatable as it ripens. Applied to timber by 1540s.



The nicest rule I've heard for seasoning (as opposed to flavoring) is:

"Not so much you can taste it, not so little you can't"

You can season with many things: salt, pepper, nutmeg, mace, Parmesan, anchovies, mustard, lemon juice.. I could go on. Seasoning enhances whatever you have decided are your main flavors. It shouldn't taste strong enough to confuse them, It should just make those flavors taste better.. 'more of themselves'.

  • 1
    @robin_betts someone really didn't like your seasoning ideas hahah.
    – chrips
    Jan 19, 2019 at 2:39
  • @Chrips They're not my ideas.. They come from classic, well-worn recipes from around the world. Jan 19, 2019 at 8:36
  • @robin_betts it was a joke because someone downvoted... I upvoted
    – chrips
    Jan 19, 2019 at 10:32
  • @Chrips Thank you! I guessed you had .. I can understand that some people might want to restrict the meaning of 'seasoning' more than this .. but I've found this distinction between 'seasoning' and 'flavoring' really helpful in my cooking.The idea that you might add just enough of something to enhance the main flavors.. but if you asked a diner what was in the dish, unless they were really trying, they couldn't identify that ingredient. Jan 19, 2019 at 11:04

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