Spicy Tamarind Caramel


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Spicy Tamarind Caramel
  • Yield:makes 1 10-ounce jar
  • Active time:35 minutes
  • Total time:2 hours
This recipe appears in:
Preserved: 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

Every recipe we publish is tested, tasted, and Serious Eats-approved by our staff. Never miss a recipe again by following @SeriousRecipes on Twitter!


  • 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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