Try this easy-to-make, tangy, and chewy tamarindo candy! It's a popular treat enjoyed all over Mexico that can be made in so many different ways. Let your imagination run wild with unique flavor pairings and mix-ins!
You'll be going back for seconds in no time.
Table of Contents
Although tamarind candy comes in various forms, making fresh tamarind balls is by far our favorite. This recipe is bound to be loved by all.
What is tamarindo candy?
If you've ever tried tamarindo candy before, you may have been surprised by the complexity of how it tastes. Sweet and tangy (sometimes even salty or spicy) notes are all mixed up into a bite-sized treat.
For us, we'd say it's an acquired taste that we now can't get enough of! And because homemade always tastes better, we set out to create this Mexican tamarind candy using fresh ingredients with bold flavors.
The recipe is quite simple at its core — tamarind pods, sugar (piloncillo or regular), and coatings like cane sugar, chile-lime seasoning, or even cacao powder.
Mix and roll everything together, and you'll be enjoying this tangy treat in no time! It's really that easy.
Candies and sweets have a robust history in Mexico. You'd be hard-pressed to find many other cultures with such a broad assortment of treats. Let's take a step back in time.
One of the most well-known treats in the world (chocolate) actually originated a very long time ago in Mexico. To balance ultra-bitter cacao beans, the Aztecs used chiles (amongst other spices) to flavor this delicacy.
It wasn't until the Spanish conquest that sugar started appearing in pretty much everything. Sugar and other imported foods have shaped many traditional sweets now considered to be authentically Mexican.
Enter tamarind candy.
Access to tamarind fruit pods, a plethora of spices, and a new love for sugar merged to create a candy that is now synonymous with Mexican cuisine.
You can find this sweet, tangy, and spicy treat sold on white plastic spoons by street vendors or mass-produced, packaged, and sold at Oxxos under popular names like Pulparindo.
We like snacking on our tamarindo candy when we're starting to become hangry throughout the day. These also make great on-the-go treats when you're out and need some quick energy.
Try making these tamarind balls for your kids and watch them go crazy for a new and exciting recipe!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: with bursts of sweet and sour flavors, tamarind is a truly unique fruit with a similar texture to dates or apricots. It's widely used in candy across Mexico and other Central American countries. While rather tart on its own, tamarind is absolutely delicious when paired with a sweetener.
Health: tamarind is an excellent source of calcium and magnesium. Both of these minerals play a crucial role in the health and development of your bones.
Taste: our favorite sweeteners for this recipe include cane sugar or piloncillo (or both). We really enjoy the complex flavor that piloncillo adds to tamarindo candy. Buuut, if you don't have access, brown sugar works great too!
Health: unrefined piloncillo sugar is not processed like other sweeteners, and it also contains plenty of nutrients like zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, B, and C. Ultimately, eating anything in excess isn't healthy, which is why we save our tamarind candy for a snack throughout the day.
This is where the fun begins! Coating your tamarindo candy is only limited by your imagination. Here's a list to get you started:
- Cacao powder
- Chile-lime seasoning (or Tajin)
- Cane or coconut sugar
- Coconut shreds
- Chopped nuts
- Melted chocolate
- Dried fruit powder
Ultimately, it's all about personal preference with tamarind candy coatings. If you're feeling extra spicy, you can even throw some fresh chiles right into the mixture (if you dare)!
If you have questions about this tamarind candy recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: remove the peels 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.
Step 2: 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 3: add the coatings you’ll be using to small, shallow bowls. Then, using your hands, roll a portion of the tamarind mixture until smooth. Using 2 spoons, roll the ball in either chile-lime seasoning, more granulated sugar, cacao powder, or any other coating you want.
Step 4: Continue this process until all the tamarind candies are formed. Transfer to your fridge for storage. Happy eating!
We always keep a jar of this tamarind candy on hand. Follow these steps to ensure your recipe stays fresh for longer.
If you enjoy a softer texture, keep your tamarind candy at room temperature in an airtight container for up 2-3 weeks.
Tamarindo candy lasts in the fridge for up to 3 months (just make sure you use an airtight container). We think mason jars work the best for this because the flavors don't transfer.
If you want to keep your tamarind balls for a long time, transfer them to the freezer in a freezer-safe container and they'll stay fresh for up to a year.
Thaw them in the fridge overnight and they'll be ready to eat by morning time.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with these dulces de tamarindo for you:
- Toss the tamarind candy with spoons. To help the coating better stick, use two spoons instead of your hands.
- Remove some seeds. If you're not a fan of eating around the seeds, use a knife to open the pods and remove them before mixing.
- 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, spicy chiles, coconut, or alcohol to the mix.
🍴 Tasting notes
We love making tamarind candies for a snack or treat throughout the day, and you will too. They're:
If you try this tamarindo candy recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
- 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
- First, remove the peels 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 the coatings you’ll be using to small, shallow bowls. Then, 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 the balls are formed. Transfer to your fridge for storage. Happy eating!
- There is no need to remove the tamarind seeds from the mixture, but if you prefer your candies without seeds remove them with a knife at the beginning.
- If you don't have piloncillo, substitute with equal parts brown 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.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty dish ideas, check out our:
- Tamarindo drink to try a tart, sweet, and ultra-refreshing Mexican agua fresca.
- Chamoy for a sweet, tangy, spicy, and salty sauce to serve with fruit, drinks, and more!
- Mangonada for an ice-cold Mexican drink filled with mangoes, layers of chamoy, and Tajin seasoning.
- Tostilocos for layers of tortilla chips, jicama, cucumber, peanuts, and tamarind candies topped with hot sauce, chamoy, and lime juice.
No, you don't have to remove the seeds from your tamarind balls. It's actually much easier to form the balls with the seeds in them. If you prefer them seedless, cut out the seeds with a small knife before mixing.
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 staying in a ball, it's likely because you added too much water. Transfer your mixture to the fridge for ~30-60 minutes before forming balls.