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Thai tamarind dipping sauce recipe is made with a delicious blend of brown sugar, salt, tomatoes, dried chilies, and more. The sweet, sour, and spicy flavors are perfect for elevating your favorite appetizers, from tasty fish cakes, to healthy shrimp rolls, to crispy fried chicken.
What is Thai tamarind dipping sauce
In Thailand, this spicy dipping sauce is a common, sight at food markets, often served with look chin – delicious Thai meatballs that also come in a fish version. The perfect balance of tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors makes this recipe an ideal accompaniment for an array of snacks.
Fresh tamarind is the heart of this dip, giving its exotic tangy flavors to the sauce. Mixed with brown sugar, the sauce is lifted to new heights with caramel-like sweet notes, and a pinch of salt adds a nice balance of flavors.
The heat comes from dried chilies, which add a spicy kick that you won’t get enough of. Tomatoes round out the sauce, giving it texture and a rich flavor.
In our former Thai restaurant, this was one of our best-selling condiments. The people loved it with crispy spring rolls, dumplings, and all kinds of grilled meat. Thai cuisine is so versatile, and so is tamarind dipping sauce recipe !
What is tamarind
The tamarind fruit is an important ingredient in Mexican and Asian cuisines. It comes from the tamarind tree, which thrives in the tropical climate of Southeast Asian countries.
The fruit grows in a pod that contains seeds enveloped in a delightful, sweet pulp. As the fruit matures, the pulp transforms into a paste, which we use in our Thai food.
The exotic kitchens of Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and more, use tamarind in soups, curries such as massaman curry, stir-fries, and sauces.
Combine with Thai meatballs
Tip: This sauce is the perfect combination with Thai meatballs / luk chin tod / look chin tod, commonly found at Thai street food markets.
You can find them frozen in Asian supermarkets in a variety of flavors and shapes. Common flavors are beef, pork, and fish.
My husband and I love eating them as a quick snack while we are strolling through food markets. The sweet and spicy dip they come with is the best thing about them, which is why I decided to create my own yummy sweet and spicy tamarind sauce recipe.
These Thai meatballs are incredibly easy to deep-fry in a pan, and they’re the perfect snack to pair with this spicy tamarind dipping sauce.
For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Tamarind paste – This thick, tangy paste is extracted from tamarind fruit pulp. It has delicious sweet and sour flavor.
- Pickled garlic juice – A liquid infused with the pungent essence of pickled garlic.
- Dried chili flakes – These fiery flakes add heat to the sauce, use store-bought or make them yourself by crushing dried chilies.
- Salt – Balances out the flavors and enhances the overall taste.
- Brown sugar – A healthier alternative to white sugar, it also adds a caramel-like sweetness to the sauce.
- Tomatoes – I used small tomatoes, but any size or type will do.
To make this recipe, you’ll need a cooking pot or a large wok pan.
Total Time: 45 minutes
Dice the tomatoes into small pieces to speed up the cooking later on.
Begin by heating 400ml of water in a large wok pan or skillet over medium heat. Once the water reaches a boil, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves completely.
Add tamarind paste, pickled garlic juice, salt and tomatoes. Let the sauce boil for ±30 minutes.
Add dried chili flakes. Adjust the amount of chili flakes to your own spice level. Taste as you add.
Let the sauce boil for 5 more minutes. Garnish with cilantro and whole dried chilies if you like to eat spicy. Serve immediately.
How to serve
Transfer the spicy tamarind sauce to a sauce cup and pair it with an accompaniment of your choice. Garnish with fresh herbs such as cilantro (coriander).
- Spring rolls
- Kanom jeeb (Thai dumplings)
- Tod mun pla (Thai fish cakes)
- Shrimp wontons
- Drumsticks with fish sauce
- Summer rolls with vegetables
- Moo ping (pork skewers)
- Grilled ribs
- Marinated chicken wings
- Fresh fruits or vegetables
- Use it as a salad dressing
- Use it as a meat marinade
How to store
This recipe yields 15 portions, so you’ll likely have some delightful sauce leftover which you can enjoy later! Allow the sauce to cool down to room temperature, and transfer it to an airtight container. Store the container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To freeze: leftover sauce can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
Apart from its culinary uses, tamarind offers many health benefits, making it a valuable ingredient in the medicine world. It’s rich in antioxidants and has anticancer properties, which is why this fruit promotes health and wellness.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)
Is this tamarind dipping sauce spicy?
Yes! This recipe makes a sweet and spicy sauce. To lower the heat level, simply reduce the amount of chili flakes used in this recipe.
Can I use fresh tamarind instead of tamarind paste?
Yes. If you want to use fresh tamarind, follow these steps: Add fresh tamarind and 6.8floz water into a bowl and mix until only the pit of the tamarind remains. The easiest way is to knead it with your hands.
Is this dipping sauce gluten-free and vegan?
Yes, all ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free and vegan. However, it’s important to check the labeling of your tamarind paste to ensure it is a gluten-free brand.
More Thai condiments you’ll love
- Sweet chili sauce – This nam chim kai beats any store-bought version, and it’s super easy to make.
- Nam prik ong – A northern Thai delight with minced pork.
- Authentic peanut sauce – My grandmother’s recipe is better than any peanut dip you’ve ever had!
- Green chili dip – Quickly add a burst of flavor to your food with simple ingredients.
Did you fall in love with this Thai tamarind dipping sauce recipe? I’d be thrilled if you would leave a star rating and/or a comment below! And if you’re craving more Thai recipes like this one, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter.
Authentic Thai Tamarind Dipping Sauce
This tamarind dipping sauce has a perfect balance of tangy, sweet, and hot flavors.
Make homemade tamarind paste: Add fresh tamarind and 200ml water into a bowl and mix until only the pit of the tamarind remains. The easiest way is to knead it with your hands.
Cut the tomatoes into small pieces so that they are easier to cook later.
Heat 400ml water in a large wok pan or skillet over medium heat. Once boiling, add sugar and stir.
Transfer fresh tamarind paste from step 1 to a sieve and hold it above the pan. Move it back and forth with a spoon so that all the juices drip into the cooking pan.
Add pickled garlic juice, salt and tomatoes.
Let the sauce boil for ±30 minutes.
Add the mixed dried chilies. Adjust the amount of chili flakes to your own spice level.
Let the sauce boil for 5 more minutes. Top with some coriander leaves and whole dried chilies.
- Amount Per Serving
- Calories 129kcal
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 0.1g1%
- Total Carbohydrate 33.3g12%
- Dietary Fiber 0.8g4%
- Sugars 32.2g
- Protein 0.5g1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
- This sauce can be kept in the freezer. The recipe yields 15 portions, so you'll most likely have some sauce left that you can store for later.
- The amount of chili flakes to use depends on your spice-level, taste as you cook.