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Tamarind Sauce Recipe

Thick and glossy homemade tamarind sauce in a black ceramic spoon, with tamarind pods scattered on a white background.

This tamarind sauce recipe makes it unbelievably easy to whip up homemade tamarind concentrate from scratch. From there, we'll transform the zesty extract into an irresistibly sweet and tangy dip. Drizzle it over your favorite dishes to add that perfect balance of flavor.

Thick and glossy homemade tamarind sauce in a black ceramic spoon, with tamarind pods scattered on a white background.

What is tamarind sauce

Tamarind sauce, a versatile sweet and sour condiment, is made from the pulp of tamarind fruit. Widely used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines, it enhances marinades, dips, glazes, and more.

What is tamarind

Tamarind is a tropical, pod-like fruit known for its tart flavor. It comes from the Tamarindus indica tree and is widely used in cooking and medicine. The fruit's pulp is the main ingredient in many sauces, drinks, sweets, and more, used for its sour and slightly sweet taste.

Inside each tamarind pod is a brown, sticky pulp that's a delicious mix of sweet and sour. The pulp is what we use in dishes and sauces.

Pouring smooth tamarind concentrate into a clear glass bowl with tamarind pods on a white plate.
Homemade tamarind concentrate with a tangy-sweet flavor.

In Thailand, a spicy tamarind dipping sauce is enjoyed with everything from crispy spring rolls to juicy fish cakes, and let's not forget those tasty look chin street food meatballs.

This easy dipping sauce recipe is simple yet delicious. We focus on balancing the sweet with the sour to create an irresistibly delicious sauce, and there's no spice in it, so it's perfect for the kids too!

What is tamarind chutney

Tamarind chutney is a specific type of Indian tamarind sauce that falls under the category of chutneys in Indian cuisine. It's more of a jelly-like sauce, often used as a condiment, where tamarind concentrate is the base. To this sauce, recipes often add a complex mix of flavors and Indian spices.

It starts with making tamarind concentrate, the liquid that's extracted from the pulp.

Bubbling tamarind pulp simmering in a traditional pot over an open charcoal fire.
Traditional method of extracting tamarind concentrate, simmering over a charcoal fire.

To this, a touch of sweetness is added with sugar, jaggery, or honey. Additionally, Indian spices and other ingredients like cumin, ginger powder, cayenne pepper, coriander, anise seed, or black salt can also be added for more flavor.

You'll find tamarind chutney served with Indian food like samosas, pakoras, chaats, vada pav, aloo tikki, and others. A fresh mint chutney is often served alongside the sweet and sour tamarind chutney to balance it with a bit of freshness and spice.

All in all, tamarind chutney is a versatile condiment that can be used for many things:

  • Dipping sauce for vegetables
  • As a marinade for meat
  • Add it to your stir-fries
  • Spread out on toast
  • Drizzle it over rice
  • Salad dressing

What is tamarind concentrate

Tamarind concentrate is a thick extract made from the pulp of tamarind fruit. Known for its sweet and sour flavor, it's used as a flavoring agent in many cuisines, particularly in sauces, marinades, and Asian food.

A woman strains tamarind pulp to create concentrate, set against a lush background with banana leaves and a clear blue sky.
Straining tamarind pulp for a pure, homemade concentrate.

We'll extract the concentrate by simply mixing tamarind pulp with water, and then straining the liquid. The resulting tamarind concentrate is a tangy and slightly sweet concentrate that can be added to curries, stirred into sauces, used to flavor up soups, and more.

Top-down view of a pot with tamarind concentrate and a wooden spoon.

Tamarind pulp can be found at Thai supermarkets or Asian and Indian grocery stores, markets, or you can order it online.

I suggest purchasing seedless tamarind pulp.

Recipes with tamarind concentrate

Tamarind extract is often used as an ingredient in Thai food. After making the concentrate, you can use it in one of my other Thai recipes:

Why make tamarind dipping sauce

  • You'll learn how to extract tamarind concentrate.
  • Customize the flavors: Adapt this sweet and sour sauce to your taste. Whether you prefer it sweeter, tangier, or with a kick of Thai chili flakes, it's all up to you.
  • Perfect for meal prep: Cook a large batch because it will last you a while. Freshly made, it keeps for up to 2 weeks, and you can even freeze some for later.
  • Homemade is best: A core essence of Thai cuisine is cooking from scratch, homemade tamarind sauce is better than store-bought!
  • Preservative-Free: Enjoy a dip free from preservatives and additives, crafted with only natural ingredients for a delicious, wholesome sauce.
  • Perfect for all: Tamarind sauce is gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan, it's the perfect addition to everyone's meal.

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Extract the tamarind concentrate

Tamarind pulp and water in clay dishes set on a banana leaf with flowers.
  • Tamarind pulp - Tamarind pulp is the sticky fruit of the tamarind pod. When cooked with water, you can drain it to extract tamarind concentrate.
  • Water

Tamarind sauce

Tamarind extract and water in clay cups with palm sugar, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce in plastic cups set on a banana leaf.
  • Tamarind extract
  • Light soy sauce - Light soy is a key ingredient of Asian cuisine, often used for adding saltiness and umami to many Asian dishes.
  • Dark soy sauce - Dark soy sauce adds a rich color, a subtle sweetness, and depth to the sauce.
  • Palm sugar - This sweetener is a key ingredient in Thai cuisine, with a subtle caramel-like flavor.
  • Water

Cooking instructions

1. Cooking tamarind concentrate: In a pot or non-stick pan over medium heat, combine water and tamarind pulp. Stir while simmering until the pulp dissolves, thickens, and the water reduces.
2. Extracting the liquid: Strain the cooked tamarind concentrate through a sieve into a bowl, pressing to extract maximum liquid. Add a splash of water and reheat briefly if more liquid is needed.
3. Preparing the sauce: Heat a pot over medium. Mix tamarind liquid, light and dark soy sauce, palm sugar, and water. Cook until the sauce thickens, turns dark brown, and gets a glossy glaze. Serve immediately.

How to use tamarind sauce

Transfer the sweet and tangy tamarind sauce to a small bowl or sauce cup. It pairs great with lots of dishes:

How to store

Store the leftover sauce in an airtight container, like a mason jar, in the fridge. This Thai tamarind sauce can last up to a couple of weeks. Use a fresh spoon for serving.

Freezing instructions: For longer storage, you can freeze the sauce in a freezer-safe container and thaw in the fridge when needed.

Fun facts

  • During tamarind season, trees are laden with countless pods. This might sound strange to some, but I love to pluck the pods and simply eat the fruit directly.
  • The wood of tamarind trees is known for burning quickly. In Thailand, especially in Isan, tamarind wood is a popular choice for firewood to start cooking fires.

Frequently asked questions

What does tamarind taste like?

Tamarind has a distinct tangy flavor, combining sour and sweet notes. Its sourness is subtle, not as sharp as lemons. Think of it as a gentle, lingering tartness. There's also a hint of fruitiness similar to dates.

Is tamarind sauce spicy?

No, this recipe for tamarind sauce is not spicy. Instead, it is subtly sweet, tangy, and sour. For a spicy alternative, see this spicy Thai tamarind dipping sauce.

Is tamarind good for you?

Yes, tamarind is a fruit with several health benefits. It's rich in essential nutrients, it's anti-inflammatory, helps with digestive health, has antioxidant properties, and the list goes on. It's for good reason that tamarind has been a traditional medicine for ages. As with most food, individual responses to tamarind can vary.

More Thai sauces you'll love

  • Fruit dipping sauce - Made with dried shrimp, traditionally used as a dip for sour green mangoes.
  • Green chili sauce - Easy to make with green chilies, fish sauce, fresh lime juice, and fresh herbs.
  • Nam prik noom - A delicious vegan dip with roasted chilies.
  • Sweet chili - Nam chim kai is easy and versatile, you can pair it with just about anything.

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Cooking Method
Cuisine
Courses
Time
Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 25 min Total Time: 30 mins
Servings 3
Calories 93
Description

Feel free to customize this easy tamarind sauce with your favorite spices and ingredients.

Ingredients
    To extract to concentrate
  • 3.50 ounces tamarind pulp
  • 17 fluid ounces water
  • To make the sauce
  • 1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Cooking tamarind concentrate

    In a pot or non-stick pan over medium heat, combine water and tamarind pulp. Stir while simmering until the pulp dissolves, thickens, and the water reduces.

  2. Extracting the liquid

    Strain the cooked tamarind concentrate through a sieve into a bowl, pressing to extract maximum liquid. Add a splash of water and reheat briefly if more liquid is needed.

  3. Preparing the sauce

    Heat a pot over medium. Mix tamarind liquid, light and dark soy sauce, palm sugar, and water. Cook until the sauce thickens, turns dark brown, and gets a glossy glaze. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 3


Amount Per Serving
Calories 93kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0.1g1%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Total Carbohydrate 24.5g9%
Dietary Fiber 1g4%
Sugars 22.7g
Protein 0.81g2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note
  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Tamarind sauce makes a great dip for a wide array of food. 
  • The tamarind extract can be used in my recipes that call for tamarind. You have to adjust the quantity, since tamarind extract is highly concentrated.
Keywords: tamarind sauce, tamarind sauce recipe, Thai tamarind sauce

Thank you so much for trying my recipe!