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Differences Between a Dessert and a Side Dish

Dessert vs Side Dish

A lot of dishes are being served on our dining room tables. All of the food seems to be tasty, and that makes us drool. But can you determine which is the dessert and which is the side dish? Since we are always inclined to eat, we sometimes don’t delve deeper into small details like this. For just a little information, let us find out which is which.

To some, identifying the dessert from the side dish is plain easy. You just have to spot which is the sweet food among the rest. And this is definitely the norm. A dessert is usually the sweetest course that comes in a full meal. Though desserts have already made their brands as sweet dishes, desserts are not only limited to sweet foods. A lot of countries have developed their own dessert recipes which may include not-too-sweet cakes and cookies, soft ice creams, puddings, pies, chocolates, candies, gelatin, and more. Even fruits can serve as desserts since they contain that natural sweetness.

Do you know that desserts were already making a name for themselves since the period of ancient civilization? During those times, people ate honeycombs, nuts, and fruits as desserts. As we advanced towards modernization, the same thing goes for desserts. Chefs have developed several techniques on how to make tastier and sweeter desserts.

As for the side dish, it is often the food which is placed on the side of the main course. Otherwise known as a side order, a side item, or a side, it is a food that always accompanies and complements the main course. In the Western parts of the world, the most common side dishes are: potatoes, salads, and even breads. Potatoes can be served as mashed or the more popular fries.

Several new side dishes are now being served on dining room tables. When in Europe, the staple foods, such as rice and couscous, are considered side dishes. Rice is largely loved by Asians while couscous roots its popularity in France. On the other hand, Americans love serving meat as their main course. To make the meal complete, they often have a side dish of vegetables or salad, a starchy side dish like bread, potatoes, and pasta. Also, most restaurants offer combo meals to their customers. If you ordered barbecued meat as the main course, you will get a side dish of pickled fruits and vegetables, or a creamy, mushroom bread soup.

Desserts and side dishes both come in smaller portions. You can have a slice of pie or a scoop of ice cream as dessert after eating your meal. Meanwhile, you can have a small plate of salad or a piece of bread as a side dish. If you would notice, the ingredients for making desserts and side dishes are full of carbohydrates. Their main difference is that desserts are sweet, and side dishes are often starchy.


  1. A dessert is a sweet course that comes after a full meal. Desserts are often eaten last. On the other hand, a side dish is a starchy course that accompanies the main dish. Side dishes are often eaten together or in-between your main dish.

  2. Examples of desserts are: pies, fruits, chocolates, ice creams, puddings, candies, cakes, cookies, gelatin, and more. Examples of side dishes are: mashed or fried potatoes, leafy vegetable salads, breads, rice, pasta, and many more.

  3. Both desserts and side dishes are served with smaller portions. But, of course, it depends on your discretion whether you want to eat more of them or not.

  4. As we head towards modernization, several dessert recipes and side dish recipes are being introduced and served from all around the world.

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