Canned compotes in large glass jars. Summer fruit drinks in glass jars.
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Coulis Vs Compote — What’s The Difference?

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Coulis and compote are types of fruit sauces. Both can be used to enhance your dishes and elevate your homemade food. 

What are the differences between coulis and compote? Coulis and compote contain fruits as their main ingredient. The key difference between the two is that coulis is blended and passed through a fine sieve to achieve a smooth consistency. A compote, on the other hand, is chunky. 

In this article, we compare and contrast coulis and compote to find out their similarities and differences.

Keep reading to find out how coulis and compote differ in terms of their method of preparation, ingredients, flavor, texture, uses, and more!

What Is Coulis?

Strawberry coulis on plate

Coulis is a thick sauce made of pureed fruits or vegetables. The word coulis comes from the French verb couler, which translates to “strain, flow.” 

Originally, the term coulis referred to the drippings of cooked meat. Later, it was used to refer to pureed soups as well as strained gravy. 

While the word coulis has been used to refer to different things over the years, it always indicates some type of thick liquid. 

As coulis is widely used for decoration, it should always have a beautiful, rich color and a fine, smooth texture. 

What Is Compote?

Homemade Strawberry Compote in two liter bank on white background.

A compote is a chunky sauce that originated in Medieval Europe and is made and enjoyed to this day. The word compote comes from the Latin word compositus, which means “mixture.” 

Traditionally, a compote is a mixture of fruits and sugar cooked on low heat. It may also contain spices, extracts, dried fruit, etc.

With this said, compotes can be savory too. You can make savory compotes using different vegetables, spices, and herbs. 

Compotes can be served both warm and cold. 

Coulis Vs Compote — Similarities And Differences

Coulis and compote share a few similarities. However, these two types of sauces have quite a few differences too.

Ingredients

Coulis can be made of both fruits and vegetables. Most commonly, coulis is made of uncooked fruits. You may cook the fruits for coulis if you prefer it that way or the fruits you are using are too hard and need to be softened. 

Cooking fruits for coulis is also important if you will be storing the sauce in the fridge for a few weeks. If not, it is best to make coulis using raw fruits for a fresh flavor and a bright color.  

Unlike fruits, most vegetables need to be cooked for coulis. They may be blackened, roasted, steamed, or boiled.

Fresh tomato coulis and roasted pepper coulis are two of the most popular vegetable coulis recipes. Despite the ease of preparation, these sauces are an impressive addition to any dinner. 

Depending on the main ingredient, coulis may also contain sugar. Lemon or orange juice may be added to fruit coulis to create a balanced flavor. To spice things up, you may also add a dash of liquor to fruit coulis. 

Compote is commonly made with fresh or dried fruit cooked in sugar syrup. Citrus juice is another common ingredient for compotes.

Compotes can also be savory, though sweet compotes are certainly more common. Compotes may also contain spices and wine.

You can use both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables for coulis and compote. 

Preparation

The preparation processes of coulis and compote share a few similarities. However, there are quite a few differences too.

Here are some of the differences between making coulis and compote: 

  • The key difference between compote and coulis is that compotes are always cooked while coulis can be prepared from uncooked ingredients. 
  • The fruits and vegetables for compote are cut and cooked to create a chunky consistency. For the coulis, the mixture should always be blended and passed through a fine strainer to create a perfectly smooth texture. 
  • Compotes take longer to cook than coulis. Some coulis recipes don’t even tell you to cook the fruits. 
  • You can use regular granulated sugar for compote — the sugar will dissolve while the fruits cook. When making coulis, it is recommended to use caster or icing sugar. As coulis is cooked either briefly or not at all, you need to use a sugar that dissolves easily. 
  • It is more common for compotes to contain added ingredients, including spices and citrus juice. 
  • Berries are the most commonly used fruits for coulis. Compotes, on the other hand, are made with a variety of different fruits, including stone fruits, citrus fruits, apples, and pears. 

Here are step-by-step instructions for making simple berry coulis and compote. You can use any berry of your choice, or other fruits!

How To Make Coulis

  1. Wash the berries and put them in a food processor or blender. You can simmer the berries with a small amount of water before you blend them if you prefer coulis made with cooked fruits.
  2. Add lemon juice and powdered sugar. Adjust the amount of sugar you use depending on your preferences and the sweetness of the fruits. 
  3. Blend until smooth. 
  4. Put a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the pureed berries into it. Use a spatula to push the puree through the sieve.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

How To Make Compote 

  1. Wash the berries and add them into a pot along with granulated sugar, lemon juice, and some water. If you are using stone fruits, remove the pits and cut the fruit into bite-size pieces. 
  2. Place the pot with fruits on low to medium heat and allow it to come to a boil. 
  3. Boil for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the fruit chunks soften.
  4. Remove from heat, serve, and enjoy! 

Texture

Coulis has an exceptionally smooth texture and the consistency is reminiscent of the consistency of heavy cream. A properly prepared coulis is smooth enough to go through the finest mesh strainer, a chinois. Coulis is thick, but pourable.

Unlike coulis, compote doesn’t have a smooth texture. It is usually quite chunky and loose. Texture-wise, compote is quite rustic and effortless. 

Despite the texture differences, both sauces may turn out too runny for different reasons. You can use the same method to thicken both compote and coulis.

Simply simmer them on low heat for a few minutes for the excess liquid to evaporate. Remove from heat when you achieve your desired consistency. 

Flavor

The flavor of both compote and coulis largely depends on the ingredients used to make them, including what fruits and vegetables you have used, if you have added sugar or lemon juice, what spices you have used, etc. 

Uses

Both coulis and compote are used to enhance the flavor of dishes.

Coulis, however, is also widely used to decorate dishes. Due to its smooth consistency and bright color, a fruit coulis works amazingly for decorating desserts as well as savory dishes. 

Here are the common uses for coulis:

  • Garnish for soups and a base for meats (vegetable coulis) 
  • Topping for pancakes, waffles, cheesecake, and other desserts (fruit/berry coulis)
  • Drizzled over ice cream, oatmeal, or yogurt (fruit/berry coulis)

Compotes have a wider range of uses. In some cases, compotes and coulis can be used interchangeably. Similar to coulis, you can use compotes as a topping for pancakes, cheesecakes, waffles, ice cream, oatmeal, etc. 

Here are the common uses for compotes:

  • Filling for cupcakes, muffins, and other baked goods 
  • Spread for toasts and sandwiches
  • Topping for bruschetta
  • Served as a side for cheese platters
  • Topping for meats, etc. 

Storage

Coulis made with uncooked fruits is best used fresh. You can pour it into an airtight jar and keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days. 

Coulis made with cooked fruit and sugar lasts longer. Pour it into an airtight jar or bottle and store it in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

Similar to coulis, compotes are not prepared and canned for long-term storage either. However, they do last longer than coulis. Compotes stored in airtight jars will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.  

Both coulis and compote last longer when they contain a relatively higher amount of sugar. Sugar is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of microbes. You can also freeze compote and coulis.

Which One Is Healthier, Coulis Or Compote?

Coulis made with uncooked fruits or vegetables and without sugar is the healthiest. Cooking fruits and vegetables may alter their nutritional value as some vitamins are water-soluble and get lost during the cooking process. 

As for the sugar, you can leave it out altogether if you want to make a healthy coulis or compote. Another option is to use healthy sugar substitutes, including honey and pure maple syrup

Related Questions

Now that we’ve learned all about the differences and similarities between coulis and compote, here are some additional questions we thought you might have.

What is the difference between a purée and a coulis?

The main difference between a purée and a coulis is that the texture of the coulis is more refined. If you strain the purée using a fine-mesh strainer, it will become a coulis. 

Is chutney a compote?

A compote is a sauce made with fruits or vegetables. Compotes can be sweet or savory depending on the main ingredients. 

Chutneys can be made of a variety of ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and salt. Unlike compotes, chutneys are always savory. 

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