Tamarind BBQ Sauce

published Jul 2, 2021
4th of july
Tamarind BBQ Sauce

This spicy, tangy and slightly sweet BBQ sauce is perfect on everything from grilled chicken wings to salmon.

Serves16

Makesabout 2 cups

Prep10 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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tamarind bbq sauce in a jar
Credit: Photo: Tara Donne; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

I’m what you’d call a sauce fanatic — especially come summertime, when I start throwing everything on the grill. I’m always looking for ways to play around with BBQ sauce, and this tamarind version is my current favorite. It’s equal parts sweet and spicy, and the addition of tamarind adds some tang. It truly is a flavor explosion in your mouth.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

What Is Tamarind, and How Do I Use It?

The tamarind fruit is native to Africa but can be found in a lot of tropical areas, and is very popular in Asian cuisine. The edible portion comes from the seed pods, which contain a sticky pulp or paste surrounding the seed of the fruit. It has a tart, sour flavor that grows sweeter as the fruit ripens.

You can purchase tamarind in two ways: as a paste or as a pulp. Whereas tamarind paste is ready to use, tamarind pulp often still contains the seeds. To create a tamarind pulp reduction (which can be used in the same way as the paste), combine the pulp with water in a small saucepan. Heat until the pulp dissolves, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl or measuring cup. Discard any seeds and pulp in the strainer.

My Favorite Ways to Use Tamarind BBQ Sauce

I love to use this tangy BBQ sauce on chicken wings: either roasted, grilled, or cooked in my air fryer. But it’s also great on seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, or cod.

Tamarind BBQ Sauce

This spicy, tangy and slightly sweet BBQ sauce is perfect on everything from grilled chicken wings to salmon.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 30 minutes

Makes about 2 cups

Serves 16

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 (1-inch) piece

    ginger

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 cup

    ketchup

  • 1/3 cup

    packed dark brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    tamarind paste concentrate, or 1/2 cup tamarind pulp reduction (see Recipe Note)

  • 1 teaspoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    hot sauce, such as Crystal (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1

    habanero pepper

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup

    apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Peel a 1-inch piece of ginger. Grate on a Microplane until you have 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger. Grate 2 garlic cloves. Place the ginger and garlic in a small saucepan.

  2. Add 1 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate or 1/2 cup tamarind pulp reduction, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce if desired, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Season with a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat.

  3. Add 1 whole, untrimmed habanero pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced slightly and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 10 to 20 minutes. (Tamarind concentrate will be quicker.)

  4. Add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar for a rich, sweet sauce, or 1/2 cup for a more tangy sauce. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes more for the flavors to meld. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.

  5. Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container and let cool to room temperature. Remove and discard the habanero before using or refrigerating.

Recipe Notes

Tamarind pulp reduction: To make a tamarind pulp reduction, place 1 cup water and 1/2 cup tamarind pulp in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring to combine, until the pulp dissolves into the water. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl or measuring cup and discard any seeds and pulp in the strainer. You will need 1/2 cup of this liquid for the BBQ sauce.

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.