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What Is Chutney and How Do You Use It?

Chutney is a condiment usually associated with Indian cuisine but its sweet, spicy, tangy flavors work well with recipes from many other cultures. It is found in most grocery stores but is quite simple to make at home.

As ingredients and recipes become less regional and more global many people find themselves faced with a dish that calls for an ingredient they’ve never heard of. Chutney is often one of these. This condiment is a type of relish that can be sweet or spicy (or both) although most commercially prepared chutneys found in the United States will be sweet.

One way to use chutney - Pork Loin with Ginger Chutney  is a favorite at our house.

One way to use chutney - Pork Loin with Ginger Chutney is a favorite at our house.

Where does chutney come from?

The word chutney is derived from an Indian word chatni which means crushed. Originally the ingredients were ground by hand into a thick, flavorful paste with a mortar and pestle. It was made fresh before each meal and therefore did not require vinegar or sugar to preserve it.

During the British Colonial era the soldiers and their families that lived in India learned to appreciate the unique flavors of Indian foods like curries and chutneys. As these soldiers moved from country to country they took their love for chutney with them, introducing it to South Africa, the Caribbean, and their homeland in Great Britain.

Since many of the countries they were sent to didn't have the same fruits, spices, and herbs as those available in India the chutneys began to take on regional flavors as native people and cultures used the ingredients available to them. Over the years the ingredients and flavors of chutney increased until there were almost as many variations of the relish as there were cooks making it.

Ingredients in chutney

Chutney is sort of a combination of preserves and relish. It is made from a variety of fruits and spices, usually with vinegar or sugar to help preserve it.

Some of the most common ingredients in chutneys are:

  • Apple
  • Brown sugar or sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Coconut
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Green tomato
  • Ginger
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Mango
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Tamarind
  • Tomatoes
  • Vinegar
Both ginger and candied ginger are common chutney ingredients.

Both ginger and candied ginger are common chutney ingredients.

How do you use chutney?

Chutney is most commonly used as a condiment and often accompanies curry dishes and various meats. You will also see it used in appetizers, with cheese, in side dishes, and even in desserts.

Chutney pairs well with ham, smoked turkey, and other smoked meats. It also balances the flavors in richly flavored meats like lamb or game meats.

Use it as the starting place for unique appetizers. You may be familiar with baked brie or cream cheese with chutney poured over it to be served with crackers. You can also use it as a dip for tempura, coconut, or grilled shrimp.

Add chutney to your favorite vinaigrette recipe and enjoy your salad like never before.

Most kinds of chutney can be added to:

  • Chicken salad
  • Dips
  • Fruit salads
  • Grilled chicken
  • Mixed with mayonnaise as a spread for sandwiches
  • Sweet potatoes and winter squash dishes
  • Vegetables like carrots or onions that are naturally sweet
  • Vinaigrettes
You can make delicious fillings for tea sandwiches. Just mix softened cream cheese with chutney to taste.

You can make delicious fillings for tea sandwiches. Just mix softened cream cheese with chutney to taste.

How to Make Plum Chutney

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Easy Apple Chutney Recipe

Chutney is easily made right at home. Begin with this basic apple chutney recipe and then create variations and experiment with flavors to create your own recipe.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

20 min

30 min

1/2 cup


  • 4 honey crisp apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/4 cup currants or raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom


  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat and cover
  3. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring often. You may need to add a little water to keep it from going dry. Cook until apples are very tender
  4. Spoon into a jelly jar and cover tightly. Store in the refrigerator.

More Chutney Recipes

Recipes Using Chutney as an Ingredient

Buy chutney conveniently on Amazon

Where to find chutney

Many grocery store chains carry chutney in with their Asian foods. Smaller stores may have it in the pickles and relishes section. If you are adventuous and want to try many different types of chutney you will probably need to shop online. The Internet allows you to try an almost limitless array of commercial chutneys.

Some Interent sources for chutney are:

Choose a few different types and have fun integrating it into your recipes and meals.


Joan on August 02, 2020:

Thank you for all the information on chutneys. I will like to know what i can add to it to give it a longer shelf life outside the refridgerator

Elaine on September 01, 2016:

Thank- you, this info was very helpful and informative. thanks again.

Darcey on October 08, 2015:

Great article! Educational for sure, thanks!

Sandra Mireles from Texas on July 30, 2014:

Thank you for this wonderful and informative hub about chutney. I found out everything I wanted to know. Great job!

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