Chutney vs Salsa – Everything You Need to Know

Salsa and chutney are both sides that are often used as dipping sauces. The main difference between salsa and chutney is that salsa is made from raw vegetables, and is chunky. Chutney is a ground sauce.


Chutney is in the family of condiments, and it is somewhat similar to relish. It is made by grinding together a combination of fruits or vegetables. The history of chutney dates back to as early as 500 B.C. In India, where chutney is native to, when it is made from fruit it is called jam. 

Chutney is almost always cooked before it is served. It is usually a dipping side, and can be served with just about any snack. Chutney is known to go well with breakfast pancakes. It can have many flavors, so it can go with many different types of food.

The most popular flavors of chutney are allspice, cinnamon, ginger, mango, garlic, cloves, mint, onion, citrus fruit, apricot, and peach, to name a few. Any combination of these ingredients could be used to make chutney. 

English-Style Chutney

Around 1780, chutney started gaining popularity overseas, in Britain. But English chutney tends to be different from Indian chutney. English-style chutney is usually made with both vegetables and fruits, as well as both spices and sugar. 

It is often eaten with bread and cheese, whereas Indian chutney will be eaten with fully cooked meals.This English take on chutney is a lot more chunky in consistency than the traditional chutney. Nowadays, chutney can refer to pretty much anything that has been preserved in vinegar or sugar. 

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According to this, sauerkraut would be a chutney, as well as ketchup.But salsa could not be classified as chutney. This is because chutney does not have a tomato base. Chutney could be considered a jam, by the English standards. 

Though Indian chutney would not be a jam, as the term is not used so loosely. Because chutney has become sort of an umbrella term, there are many variations of it.


Salsa is a dip that more people are probably familiar with, by name, than chutney. It is typically used in Mexican cuisine, or American versions of Mexican cuisine. Salsa is classified as a sort of sauce that is tomato-based. Its taste is usually somewhat spicy, with levels of spiciness varying on how it was made. 

The history of salsa dates back to ancient times. But the rest of the world discovered salsa when the Spaniards saw victory over Mexico in the 1500s, and it became increasingly popular. In Spanish, the word “salsa” translates to “sauce.”

The ingredients in salsa are more strict than those in chutney, usually with onions, peppers, cumin, and cilantro, plus the tomato base. While chutney is almost always cooked, salsa can be enjoyed either raw or cooked.

The Difference

The main, or only, similarity between chutney and salsa is that they can both be used as dipping sauces. Salsa almost always is spicy or tangy, and chutney will usually be on the sweeter side. The list of dishes that go with salsa is much shorter than those that go with chutney.

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Part of the reason for this is that chutney has multiple cultural adaptations, and salsa is more or less the same thing wherever you go. Chutney has a wide range of flavors that it can be found or made in, but salsa will always be chunks of tomato with varying levels of spice added to it.

Another notable difference is that they come from two different parts of the world. Chutney originated in India, and salsa is native to Mexico. Different adaptations of chutney have been created in America, but salsa has mostly stayed the same.


Chutney and salsa are two very different things. Chutney has become an umbrella term that many other sauces fit into, such as ketchup and relish. The definition of chutney can depend on geographical location. But, chutney almost always has a combination of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. 

Salsa is classified as a tomato-based dip that could be blended with various spices, but it isn’t salsa if it doesn’t have the chunky tomatoes. Chutney is blended more into a paste, while salsa tends to be chunks of the tomatoes. Because of the restriction on the definition of salsa, it pairs well with only one type of food, whereas chutney could be eaten with many foods.