What Are The Differences Between Jam, Compote, Preserve & Jelly?

Jams, preserves, seasonal compotes make for amazing tzable condiments. But it helps to know about the basic differences between them. They can all be used as fruit-based spreads and can also be used in baking. However, jam has a thick, spreadable consistency with visible fruit pieces, while compote is looser and more sauce-like with smaller fruit chunks. Preserves contain larger pieces of fruit preserved in a thick syrup or gel, while jelly is smooth and clear with a firm, gel-like consistency.

Another key point of difference is their sugar content. Jam, compote, and preserves are made with whole or chopped fruit cooked with sugar and pectin, while jelly is made primarily from fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. Here are some basic differences betwen these condiments which can help you plan their usage.


Jam is perhaps the most familiar fruit-based spread, enjoyed by millions around the world. It is made by cooking fruit with sugar and pectin, a natural thickening agent found in fruits, to create a thick, spreadable consistency. The fruit is typically crushed or chopped into small pieces before being cooked with the sugar and pectin until it reaches a gel-like consistency.

One of the defining characteristics of jam is its slightly chunky texture, which comes from the pieces of fruit that are dispersed throughout the spread. Depending on the fruit used and the cooking time, jam can range in texture from smooth and spreadable to slightly chunky with visible fruit pieces. 


Compote is a fruit-based sauce or syrup made by simmering fruit with sugar and spices until it reaches a thick, chunky consistency. Unlike jam, which typically contains pectin as a thickening agent, compote relies solely on the natural pectin found in the fruit to achieve its texture. As a result, compote tends to have a looser, more sauce-like consistency compared to jam.

Compote is incredibly versatile and can be made with a wide variety of fruits, both fresh and dried. Common fruits used to make compote include apples, pears, berries, and stone fruits like peaches and plums. Compote can be enjoyed on its own as a topping for pancakes, waffles, or yogurt, or used as a filling for pastries and desserts.


Preserves are similar to jam but typically contain larger pieces of fruit that are preserved in a thick syrup or gel. The fruit used in preserves is often left whole or in large chunks, giving the spread a chunkier texture compared to traditional jam. Like jam, preserves are made by cooking fruit with sugar and pectin until it thickens, but the fruit is generally less broken down during the cooking process.

One of the key differences between preserves and jam is the ratio of fruit to sugar. Preserves typically contain a higher proportion of fruit and less sugar compared to jam, allowing the natural flavor of the fruit to shine through. Common varieties of preserves include whole fruit preserves, such as cherry or peach preserves, as well as citrus preserves made from fruits like oranges and lemons.


Jelly is perhaps the simplest and most refined of all fruit-based spreads, consisting primarily of fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. Unlike jam and preserves, which contain pieces of fruit, jelly is clear and smooth in texture, with a firm, gel-like consistency. This is achieved by straining the fruit juice to remove any solids before cooking it with sugar and pectin.

Jelly can be made from a wide variety of fruits, including berries, citrus fruits, and stone fruits, as well as ingredients like wine or herbs for added flavor complexity. It is often enjoyed spread on toast or biscuits, but it can also be used as a glaze for meats or a topping for desserts like cheesecake or ice cream.