Chutney vs. Relish

What's the Difference?

Chutney and relish are both condiments that add flavor and texture to a variety of dishes, but they differ in their ingredients and origins. Chutney is a traditional Indian condiment made from a combination of fruits, vegetables, spices, and vinegar. It often has a sweet and tangy flavor profile and can be either chunky or smooth in texture. On the other hand, relish is a Western condiment typically made from pickled vegetables, such as cucumbers or onions, along with vinegar, sugar, and spices. It tends to have a more savory and tangy taste and is usually finely chopped or minced. While both chutney and relish enhance the taste of dishes, their distinct ingredients and cultural backgrounds make them unique in their own right.


Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash
TasteSweet, tangy, spicySweet, tangy, savory
ConsistencyThick, chunkyThick, chunky
IngredientsFruits, vegetables, spicesFruits, vegetables, spices
OriginIndian subcontinentVarious, including North America
UsageAccompaniment, condimentAccompaniment, condiment
Common VarietiesMango chutney, tomato chutneyPickle relish, corn relish
Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

Further Detail


Chutney and relish are both popular condiments that add flavor and depth to a variety of dishes. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the attributes of chutney and relish, including their ingredients, flavors, textures, and culinary uses.


Chutney is typically made from a combination of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, vinegar, and sugar. The specific ingredients used can vary depending on the region and recipe. Common fruits used in chutney include mangoes, apples, and peaches, while vegetables like onions and tomatoes are also commonly used. On the other hand, relish is primarily made from pickled vegetables, such as cucumbers, onions, and peppers. It often includes vinegar, sugar, and various spices to enhance the flavor.


Chutney is known for its complex and bold flavors. It often combines sweet, sour, and spicy elements to create a harmonious taste. The sweetness comes from the fruits and sugar, while the sourness is derived from vinegar or citrus juice. Spices like ginger, garlic, and chili peppers add a spicy kick to chutney. On the other hand, relish tends to have a more tangy and savory flavor profile. The pickled vegetables provide a slightly acidic taste, while the addition of spices like mustard seeds or celery seeds adds depth to the relish.


When it comes to texture, chutney and relish differ significantly. Chutney is typically smoother and has a thick consistency. It is often cooked down to a jam-like texture, allowing the flavors to meld together. Some chutneys may have small chunks of fruits or vegetables for added texture, but overall, it is a smooth condiment. On the other hand, relish has a chunkier texture due to the presence of diced or chopped vegetables. The pickling process also gives relish a slightly crunchy texture, adding a pleasant contrast to dishes.

Culinary Uses

Chutney and relish are both versatile condiments that can be used in a variety of culinary applications. Chutney is commonly used in Indian cuisine as a side dish or accompaniment to main courses. It pairs well with grilled meats, curries, and rice dishes, adding a burst of flavor. Chutney can also be used as a spread on sandwiches or as a dip for snacks. On the other hand, relish is often used as a topping for hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches. Its tangy and crunchy nature adds a refreshing element to these dishes. Relish can also be used in salads or mixed into dressings to provide a zesty twist.

Regional Variations

Both chutney and relish have regional variations that reflect the local ingredients and culinary traditions. In Indian cuisine, chutneys can vary greatly from region to region. For example, mango chutney is popular in North India, while coconut chutney is commonly found in South India. Each region has its own unique combination of ingredients and flavors. Similarly, relish also has regional variations. In the United States, for instance, pickle relish is a popular choice, while in the UK, piccalilli relish is commonly enjoyed. These regional variations add diversity and cultural significance to the condiments.


While chutney and relish share some similarities as condiments, they have distinct attributes that set them apart. Chutney is known for its bold flavors, smooth texture, and versatility in Indian cuisine, while relish offers a tangy and crunchy experience that complements various dishes, particularly in Western cuisine. Whether you prefer the complex flavors of chutney or the tangy crunch of relish, both condiments have their own unique charm and can elevate the taste of your favorite meals.

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