Spicy Tamarind Caramel

[Photographs: Emily Teel]

This caramel pairs tangy tamarind with sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper, a twist on flavors found in tamarind candies from Thailand and Central America.

Note: Thanks to the addition of fresh tamarind pulp, this caramel won't be as velvety smooth as traditional caramel.

About the Author: Emily Teel is food writer and recipe developer in Philadelphia. Follow along at on Instagram @emily_teel or Twitter @brotherly_grub, and see more of her work at emilyteel.com

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Spicy Tamarind Caramel

About This Recipe

Yield:makes 1 10-ounce jar
Active time:35 minutes
Total time:2 hours
Special equipment:a candy thermometer
This recipe appears in: Preserved: Spicy Tamarind Caramel


  • 1 pound box fresh sweet tamarind
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 - 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. 1

    Crack the shells from the tamarind and de-vein as much as possible. Discard shells and place pulp in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water. Bring pulp and water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, covered, 45 minutes to 1 hour, until pods are completely broken down and you can see the glossy tamarind seeds throughout the mixture.

  2. 2

    Remove from heat and pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, stirring to separate the pulp dissolved in the liquid from that still clinging to the seeds.

  3. 3

    Return the pulpy seeds to the pan and add 1 cup fresh water. Once again, bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, this time for 15-20 minutes. Strain into the bowl with the first round of pulp. You should have about 2 1/4 cups. Discard seeds and rinse out saucepan.

  4. 4

    Spread one cup of sugar in an even layer on the bottom of saucepan and place over medium heat Cook undisturbed until sugar begins to melt and takes on a golden color. Carefully, as the mixture will bubble furiously, add the liquid tamarind pulp and whisk together. Cook about ten minutes until the mixture appears glossy and reaches 223°F on a candy thermometer.

  5. 5

    Remove from heat and stir in cayenne pepper and salt. Allow to cool, pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator.

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