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This tamarindo drink is one of the most popular beverages in Mexico, and we’re going to show you how easy it is to make at home. With just 3 ingredients required, it’s tart, sweet, and extremely refreshing!

Tamarindo Drink With Lime Wheel Garnish.
Garnish your tamarindo drink with lime!

📖 About

Agua de tamarindo (or tamarind water) belongs to the aguas frescas category. In Mexico, these “fresh waters” are served all over the country as a lighter alternative to fruit juice or soda.

Each agua fresca is unique in its flavorings:

In this tamarindo drink, all you need is water, tamarind pods, and your favorite sweetener. It transforms into a drink that is tart yet balanced.

History

It’s believed that aguas frescas were created during the Aztec era. According to food historians, here’s how these delicious drinks originated:

  • Many people traveled to and from Tenochtitlán for trading and socializing purposes.
  • Along the connecting waterways, there were various fruits and berries they could collect and muddle with fresh water.
  • There are even some sources that say they would add snow from nearby dormant volcanoes!

Nowadays, aguas frescas are widely available all across Mexico. They can be found at restaurants or street vendors sold in vitroleros (large jugs).

Tamarind Pods and Piloncillo.
Use tamarind pods or paste

🌳 What is tamarind?

  • Tamarind is a hardwood tree that is native to Africa, but it grows well in other tropical climates.
  • Tamarind trees produce pods that are filled with seeds covered in a fibrous pulp.
  • The unripe tamarind pulp starts out green, but it then ripens to a brown paste-like consistency.
  • Tamarind is used to flavor dishes (like tamarindo candy) in many cuisines such as Mexican, African, Indian, and Filipino.

Taste: Ripened tamarind has a sweet, sour, and tangy flavor.

🍲 Ingredients & substitutions

For complete ingredient measurements and instructions, see our recipe card.

  • Tamarind: We use tamarind pods, shell them, and remove the pulp for this recipe. You can also buy tamarind paste or concentrate to save on time. Tamarind is an excellent source of vitamin B.
  • Piloncillo: We really love the rich, caramelly flavor of piloncillo. You can also use brown sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, agave, or maple syrup if you prefer.
Peeled Tamarind Pods on a Plate.
Careful of your fingers when peeling the pods

🔪 Instructions

If you have questions about how to make this tamarindo drink, check out our FAQs or leave a comment.

Step 1: Prepare the tamarind pods by removing the outer shell and as many of the fibrous strings as you can manage (it’s easiest to pull them from the bottom up — see below).

Hands Peeling a Tamarind Pod.
Grab the strings from the end and pull along the pod

Step 2: Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot, then add the peeled tamarind pods. Reduce the heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Then, turn the heat off and let the water cool to room temperature for about 1 hour.

Hands Holding Tamarind Seed and Pod.
Make sure the water is cool enough

Step 3: Use your hands to separate the sticky paste from the hard seeds in the pot. Discard the seeds and any more fibrous strings you missed before.

Tamarind Mixture in a Blender.
Start with a small amount of sweetener

Step 4: Transfer the tamarind mixture from the pot to a blender with half of the grated piloncillo. Blend on high until smooth, then taste it and add in the rest of the sweetener if it needs.

Tamarind Pulp in a Mesh Strainer.
Straining will catch any last fibers

Step 5: Work the tamarind mixture through a mesh strainer into a pitcher or large jar. Mix in the rest of the water to taste, then let your agua fresca chill for a few hours or serve immediately over ice. Happy drinking!

🥗 Serving suggestions

With its sweet, tart, and refreshing flavors, this tamarindo drink is the perfect companion to serve alongside a spicy meal like:

  • Quesabirria tacos: Crispy, savory, and cheesy tacos filled with oyster mushrooms and fried in broth.
  • Enchiladas rojas: Corn tortillas bathed in red salsa, then filled with jackfruit and dairy-free cheese.
  • Tacos al pastor: A plant-based take on this infamous style of spit-roast taco marinated in achiote and served with pineapple.
  • Baja “fish” tacos: Ensenada-style fish tacos made with tofu, pico de gallo, and chipotle mayo.

🌡️ Storage

For the best taste, let your agua de tamarindo drink chill in the fridge for a few hours. After that, follow these general agua fresca storage guidelines:

  • Fridge: Aguas frescas will keep for about 3-4 days in the fridge. It’s best to use glass containers to keep your recipe fresh and prevent flavor seepage.
  • Freezer: You can keep this tamarindo drink in your freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw it in your fridge overnight when you want to serve it. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays to add to your next batch (no more diluted drinks).
Agua de Tamarindo With Lime Wheel.
Serve over ice for an ultra-refreshing drink

♻️ Variations

  • Spicy: Chiles are a common pairing with tamarind, especially in candies and other Mexican treats. Try adding cayenne or arbol chile powder for a twist!
  • Sugar-free: For a sugar-free version, replace the piloncillo with alternative sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit.
  • Boozy: This tamarindo drink makes the perfect base for tequila, mezcal, vodka, or whiskey.
  • Citrusy: For more tart, vibrant, and fresh flavors, squeeze some lime juice directly into your recipe.
  • Paletas: If you have any leftover tamarindo drink, freeze it in popsicle molds to make tamarind paletas.

🧑‍🍳 Top tips

  • Add more water. If this tamarindo drink is too concentrated for your liking, feel free to add more water until it’s just right.
  • Add more sugar. This drink is meant to be fairly tart. But, if it’s too tangy, add more sweetener a little at a time.
  • Stir before serving. The tamarind concentrate tends to settle at the bottom of the jar, so give it a good stir before serving.
  • Use molasses. If you don’t have access to piloncillo, add a few teaspoons of molasses to emulate its complex flavor.

💬 FAQ

What should I do with tamarind seeds?

You can discard your tamarind seeds, roast them to eat as a snack, or grind them up to make a thickening agent.

How much tamarind paste or concentrate should I use in place of tamarind pods?

It’s about a 1:1 ratio. Start with about 500 grams of tamarind paste or concentrate for this recipe. Note: some varieties of tamarind paste are already sweetened, so you may not need more sugar.

Is tamarind safe to consume during pregnancy?

According to the FDA, tamarind is safe to consume during pregnancy. Always consult with a doctor if you are unsure.

Agua de Tamarindo With Lime Wheel

Tamarindo Drink (Agua de Tamarindo)

Mitch and Justine
Made with just tamarind, piloncillo, and water, this agua fresca is tart, sweet, and refreshing all at the same time. You're going to love it!
5 from 35 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Rest time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Mexican, Vegan
Servings 12 servings
Calories 56 kcal

Equipment

  • Large stockpot
  • Blender
  • Mesh Strainer
  • Pitcher or large mason jar

Ingredients
 

For serving optional

  • Lime wedges
  • Ice

Instructions
 

  • Remove the outer shell from the tamarind pods and as many of the fibrous strings as you can manage. Note: It's easiest to pull the fibers from one end downwards along the length of the pod.
  • Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Once boiling, add in the peeled tamarind pods. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, then let the water cool to room temperature for about 1 hour.
  • Once the water has cooled, separate the sticky paste from the seeds in the pot. Discard the hard seeds and any more strings you can see.
  • Transfer the tamarind mixture to a blender with ½ the piloncillo. Blend on high until smooth, then taste and add the rest of the sweetener if it needs.
  • Work the tamarind mixture through a mesh strainer over a pitcher or large jar. Mix in the rest of the water to your liking, then let chill for a few hours or serve immediately over ice with a lime wedge. Happy drinking!

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Add more water. If this tamarindo drink is too concentrated for your liking, feel free to add more water until it’s just right.
  • Add more sugar. This drink is meant to be fairly tart. But, if it’s too tangy, add more sweetener a little at a time.
  • Stir before serving. The tamarind concentrate tends to settle at the bottom of the jar, so give it a good stir before serving.
  • Use molasses. If you don’t have access to piloncillo, add a few teaspoons of molasses to emulate its complex flavor.
  • Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
  • We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
  • Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe to recipe. All prices are in USD.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.6g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 12.2mg | Potassium: 9.4mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 13.3g | Vitamin A: 0.5IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 12.4mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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🍴 Similar recipes

If you enjoyed this tamarindo drink, be sure to try some of our other favorites:

  • Tejuino: A similarly tart, sour, and complex fermented corn drink.
  • Grapefruit mezcalini: Citrus, basil, and mezcal infusion served in a martini glass.
  • Agua de limón: A tangy lime agua fresca with the addition of chia seeds.
  • Agua de piña: Another agua fresca made with sweet, juicy, and golden pineapple.
  • Agua de guayaba: Made with creamy, sweet, and tropical guavas.

Note: We’ve updated this post to include new information and helpful tips about the recipe.

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