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What’s the Difference Between Jam and Jelly?

Have you ever been puzzled by the question, “What’s the Difference Between Jam and Jelly?” while standing in the grocery aisle, faced with an array of fruity spreads?

You’re not alone! In this blog post, we’ll dive into the key differences between these two delicious preserves, unraveling the mysteries that set them apart.

From their unique textures to how they’re made, we’ll explore all the juicy details about what distinguishes jam from jelly.

What is the difference between jam and jelly?


Jam is made with crushed fruit and has large pieces of fruit in it. Jelly is made with only the juice of the fruit and has a smooth texture.

Jellies and jam is glass jars on a white tray with fresh berries

Jam and jelly are two types of sweet spreads made from fruits, sugar, water, pectin, and acid.

Although they share many of the same ingredients, the primary difference between the two is their texture and the amount of fruit used in each.

Jelly has a smoother consistency and is usually clear, while jam has a thicker, chunkier texture due to the addition of whole fruits.

What is jam

Jam is a spreadable condiment made from crushed or chopped fruit that is cooked down with sugar, pectin (a plant-derived starch used to thicken), and acid (such as lemon or other fruit juice).

The fruit is cooked until it softens and reduces in size, and the water evaporates, leaving a thick, spreadable consistency with seeds, peels, and chunks of fruit still visible.

Jam is regulated by the FDA and must contain at least 45% fruit and 55% sugar.

It is a great alternative to jelly, as it is chunkier and contains more texture, making it perfect for spreading on toast or English muffins.

Fresh raspberries make a great homemade jam, be sure they are fresh, and find out how to tell if raspberries are bad in my post.

What is jelly

Jelly is a sweet and firm spread made from cooked, clarified fruit juice, sugar, and pectin.

It is distinct from jam in that it is made from fruit juice rather than whole fruit, and has a jiggly, gelatinous texture.

The juice is extracted by boiling crushed fruit or fruit pieces in water until soft, after which the pulp and peels are separated from the juice using a sieve or jelly bag.

Pectin can be added to help the cooking process along and set the mixture into a clear, jiggly texture.

Once it has cooled and solidified, you are left with a firm and transparent fruit spread.

Learn how to tell if jelly has gone bad and also the answer to the common question, does peanut butter go bad?

Aspect Jam Jelly
Ingredients Whole or crushed fruit, sugar, pectin Fruit juice, sugar, pectin
Texture Chunkier, with fruit pieces Smooth and clear
Preparation Fruit is cooked with sugar and pectin, then mashed or left chunky Fruit juice is cooked with sugar and pectin, creating a clear consistency
Uses Toast, sandwiches, pastries Glazes, sauces, desserts

What about preserves?

Fruit preserves are a traditional delicacy that was developed as a method of storing fruit out of season before the invention of the at-home refrigerator.

Preserves contain more of the original fruit than either jelly or jam and have the least gel-like consistency.

They are made by chopping smaller pieces of fruit, mixing them with sugar to keep them fresh, and combining them with syrup or jam to contain them.

Unlike jelly, preserves retain the chunks of the fruits fibers, and seeds. This gives preserves a spreadable consistency and rich flavor that make it the ideal choice for baking and cooking.

What is marmalade?

Marmalade is a type of fruit preserve made from citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and kumquats.

The fruit, including the peel, is boiled until soft and then cooked with sugar to thicken. The end product is a slightly textured or gelatinous preserve with chunks of citrus rind throughout, giving it a sweet yet bitter flavor.

Marmalade can be used in any way that jam can, and because of its citrus ingredients, it tends to have a more sour and tangy taste than a traditional jam or jelly.

Types of jams and jellies

Jams and jellies are two delicious ways to enjoy fresh fruit all year round! Each type comes with its own unique texture and appearance, and both are sure to bring a delightfully sweet, and sticky treat to your table.

Whether you prefer the clear consistency of jelly or the more textured experience of jam, you can be sure your fruit will stay fresh and flavorful for much longer.

1. Fruit preserves

Fruit preserves are a type of fruit spread made by suspending whole fruits or chunks of fruits in a mixture of sugar and pectin that has been cooked.

Generally, preserves have a thick, spreadable texture and can be used as a topping on toast, waffles, ice cream, or other desserts.

2. Jam

Jam is a spreadable food made from crushed or chopped fruit that is cooked with sugar, pectin, and/or acid. It has a chunkier, looser-textured consistency than jelly and contains seeds or small pieces of fruit. Learn how to properly store homemade jam in my comprehensive guide to ensure that it will last you months.

3. Fruit jelly

Fruit jelly is a fruit spread made from fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. Fruit jelly is notable for its dense gel, its gemstone-like clarity, and for the fact that it is made with fruit juice instead of fruit.

There are also savory jellies, such as red pepper, onion, or bacon, which differ from traditional jellies in that they are not clear and smooth, and often include pieces of ingredients.

4. Marmalade

Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from citrus fruits, including peel. It has a complex flavor, with sweetness from the jam, and bitterness from the citrus peel.

5. Fruit Butter

Fruit butter is a type of spread made by cooking puréed fruit pulp with sugar until the mixture thickens. It has a rich, almost roasted flavor and dense texture due to the high pectin content of fruits such as apples and pears.

Unlike jams and jellies, fruit butter is not gelled, but instead has a smooth and creamy consistency.

Frequently asked questions for what’s the difference between jam and jelly

While jam and jelly have their unique textures, they can often be used interchangeably in recipes with minimal impact on the final product. However, consider the desired texture and consistency when making the swap.

Jam’s chunkier texture makes it ideal for spreading on toast, sandwiches, or pastries. Jelly’s smoother consistency is perfect for glazes, sauces, or as a topping for desserts. However, personal preference plays a significant role in determining the best pairing.

Both jam and jelly are high in sugar, so it’s essential to consume them in moderation. If you prefer a chunkier texture and slightly more fruit content, opt for jam. If you enjoy a smoother spread, choose jelly.

The main ingredients in both jam and jelly are fruit, sugar, and a gelling agent, usually pectin. However, jam uses whole or crushed fruit, whereas jelly is made from fruit juice, giving them their distinct textures.


Understanding “What’s the Difference Between Jam and Jelly?” ultimately comes down to their ingredients, texture, and preparation methods.

While both are tasty fruit preserves, jam boasts a chunkier texture with crushed or chopped fruit, and jelly has a smoother consistency due to its use of fruit juice.

Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, you can confidently choose between the two on your next grocery run!

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