Tamarindo candy is a tasty treat that only requires two ingredients — tamarind and sugar. Each bite is filled with sweet, tangy flavors and comes together in no time!
Table of Contents
📖 What is tamarindo candy?
Tamarindo candy encompasses a wide variety of treats popularly consumed in countries like Mexico and Jamaica. To make this homemade version, all you need to do is roll tamarind paste and sugar together to form little balls.
Although tamarind candies (or dulces de tamarindo) come in many forms, making balls is definitely the most popular and easiest version.
Most tamarind balls are rolled in granulated sugar, cacao, or spicy chile-lime seasoning. Each bite is bursting with sweet, tangy, and salty notes.
Candies and sweets have a long and robust history in Mexico. You'd be hard-pressed to find many other cultures with such a broad assortment of treats (where do you think chocolate originated?).
It wasn't until the colonial period that sugar started appearing in pretty much everything. Sugar and other imported ingredients morphed many traditional foods into the sweets of today.
🌱 Are tamarindo candies vegan?
Pre-packaged tamarindo candies are often accidentally vegan. One thing to note is that most are made with refined sugar, which is not always certified vegan.
But by making them yourself, you can determine the type of sweetener and other ingredients you use!
🍲 Ingredients & substituions
Tamarind — With a similar texture to dates or prunes, tamarind is widely used in candy across Mexico. You can purchase it in pod or paste form, but this recipe works best with whole pods. Tamarind is an excellent source of calcium and magnesium.
Sugar — To balance out the tart and tangy flavors of tamarind. We prefer to use piloncillo, but you can also use cane sugar or coconut sugar.
Coating — The most common coating is granulated sugar, but you can get creative here! Try other coatings like chile-lime seasoning, cacao powder, coconut sugar, coconut shreds, chopped nuts, melted chocolate, or freeze-dried fruit powder.
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Step 1 — Remove the shells and as many veins as you can from the tamarind pods. Break them into pieces and add them to a bowl with hot water.
Step 2 — Using a small knife, cut the seeds out of the pods before breaking them up (optional).
Step 3 — Add in the sugar and incorporate using your hands for about 10 minutes (be warned it's very sticky, so gloves are handy for this part).
Note — If the mix is too mushy or tangy, add in sugar a little at a time until it reaches your desired taste and a consistency that is able to be rolled.
Step 4 — Roll pieces of the tamarind candy mix into balls. Using 2 spoons, roll the ball in a bowl of chile-lime seasoning, granulated sugar, cacao powder, coconut shreds, chopped nuts, etc.
Step 5 — Continue this process until all of the tamarind balls are formed. Transfer to your fridge for storage. Happy eating!
If you have questions about this tamarindo candy recipe, check out our FAQs or leave a comment down below!
🥗 Serving suggestions
Tamarindo candy goes extremely well in flavor-intense recipes like these:
Mangonadas — Frozen mango drinks swirled with chamoy and served with tamarindo straws (tarugos).
Pepinos locos — Crazy cucumber cups filled with tamarind candy, cracker nuts, chamoy, and more.
Tostilocos — A popular street snack of chips covered in toppings like jicama, chamoy, hot sauce, tamarind candies, and chile-lime seasoning.
🤌 How to eat tamarind candy
Depending on the type of tamarind candy, there are many different ways to eat them. If you're consuming them in balls (like this recipe), just eat them with your hands while avoiding the seeds.
Caution: The tamarind seeds are very hard, so don't try to bite through them!
We love to keep a jar of these tamarind balls on hand for quick and easy treats. Follow these steps to ensure your recipe stays fresh:
Room temperature — If you enjoy a softer texture, keep your tamarind candy at room temperature in an airtight container for up 2-3 weeks.
Fridge — Tamarindo candy lasts in the fridge for up to 3 months. We think mason jars work the best for storage because the flavors don't leech.
Freezer — If you want to keep your tamarind balls for a long time, transfer them to the freezer in a freezer-safe container for up to a year.
Low sugar — While tamarind is super tart on its own, you can try halving the sugar or using a monk fruit 1:1 sugar replacer like Lakanato.
Chocolate — Dip your tamarind candies in melted vegan chocolate for an extra decadent sweet.
🧑🍳 Top tips
Use spoons — To help the tamarind candy coating stick, use two spoons instead of your hands.
Remove the seeds — If you don't want to eat around the seeds, use a knife to open the pods and remove them before mixing with the sugar.
Melt the sugar — If you prefer a smoother consistency in your tamarind balls, melt the sugar with a small amount of water before mixing the ingredients.
Add flavors — Try adding lime juice, cinnamon, coconut, or vanilla to the mix.
No, you don't have to remove the seeds from your tamarindo candy. It's actually much easier to form the balls with the seeds in them.
If your tamarindo candy mixture is too dry or not mixing well, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it reaches a moldable consistency.
If your tamarindo candy isn't forming into a ball, it's likely because you added too much water. Transfer your mixture to the fridge for ~30-60 minutes before forming balls.
🍴 More recipes with tamarind
If you enjoyed this tamarindo candy recipe, be sure to check out these other tamarind-based treats:
Tamarindo drink — A Mexican agua fresca made with tamarind pods.
Chamoy — Homemade chamoy sauce perfect to serve with fruit, drinks, and more!
Mangonada — An ice-cold drink filled with mangoes, layers of chamoy, chile-lime seasoning, and tamarind straws.
Tostilocos — Layers of tortilla chips, jicama, cucumber, peanuts, and tamarind candy topped with hot sauce, chamoy, and lime juice.
Best Tamarindo Candy
- Various sized mixing bowls
- Paring knife
- Measuring cups
For rolling optional
- 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons chile-lime seasoning (Tajin)
- 2-3 tablespoons cacao powder
- Remove the shells and as many veins as you can from the tamarind pods. Break them into pieces and add them to a bowl with hot water. Optional: using a small knife, cut the seeds out of the pods before breaking them up.
- Add in the sugar and incorporate with the pods using your hands for about 10 minutes (be warned it's very sticky, so gloves are handy).
- Note: if the mix is too mushy or tangy, add in sugar a little at a time until it reaches your desired taste and a consistency that’s able to be rolled.
- Add any coatings you’ll be using to shallow bowls. Using your hands, roll a portion of the tamarind mixture until smooth. Using 2 spoons, coat the ball in either chile-lime seasoning, more granulated sugar, or cacao powder.
- Continue this process until all of the tamarind balls are formed. Transfer to your fridge for storage. Happy eating!
- Use spoons — To help the tamarind candy coating stick, use two spoons instead of your hands.
- Remove the seeds — If you don't want to eat around the seeds, use a knife to open the pods and remove them before mixing with the sugar.
- Melt the sugar — If you prefer a smoother consistency in your tamarind balls, melt the sugar with a small amount of water before mixing the ingredients.
- Add flavors — Try adding lime juice, cinnamon, coconut, or vanilla to the mix.
- If you don't have piloncillo, substitute with equal parts coconut sugar.
- 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.
Note: We've updated this post to include new information and helpful tips about the recipe.