Difference between: chutney and salsa

Have you been canning this late summer/early fall? Chutney is a dish that comes up often in canning recipes – and it looks an awful lot like a fruity salsa.

What’s the difference between chutney and salsa?

a tarte with a red chutney on it, small container of red chutney behind it


  • Chutney: a sauce or relish of East Indian origin, often compounded of both sweet and sour ingredients, as fruits and herbs, with spices and other seasoning.
  • Salsa: Mexican cookery – a sauce, specially a hot sauce containing chiles; (also a ballroom dance).


  • Hails from India.
  • Usually contains fruit.
  • Is typically sweet and sour.
  • Ingredients often used: apples, mangos, brown sugar, raisins; tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic.


  • Hails from the Aztecs.
  • Sometimes contains fruit.
  • Is typically spicy.
  • Ingredients often used: cilantro, red onions, lime; tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic.


  • Often contain tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and/or garlic.
  • Can also contain a wide variety of other foods.
  • Can be chunky or smooth.
  • Are often pungent, or strongly flavored.

Although both definitions indicate the two food items are sauces, I would tend to disagree for chutney – I find chutney to be more like a relish in conjunction with preserves. Salsa is admittedly sauce-like. Unless it’s really chunky.

The biggest difference between the two is that chutney almost always contains fruit, and salsa usually doesn’t, although I have definitely seen watermelon salsa on Pinterest.