Tamarind Balls: Try This Favorite Caribbean Snack

Tamarind balls are tiny, sweet, sometimes spicy treats that are favorites throughout the Caribbean.

You’ll find them at every roadside shop, in large groceries, and even in kiosks at different airports.

Tobago’s airport has a dedicated space for vendors to sell them along with other sweet treats like sugar cake and toolum.

Since I had leftover tamarind from making tamarind juice, I thought I’d share this recipe too!

Tamarind Balls: How to Make

Tamarind balls are simple to make.

You need tamarind flesh and lots of sugar. Garlic, pepper and Caribbean green seasoning can also be added for a contrasting, delicious flavor!

Ingredients to make tamarind balls

There are a couple ways to start making the balls.

One way is to use your hands and knead the sugar and seasonings into the tamarind flesh. Fair warning, it can get messy. And the flesh is pretty dry so it is a little tedious to work the sugar into the flesh.

Some seeds may pop out of the flesh. You can remove them. Once everything is nice and incorporated, divide the mix into small portions and roll them to form tamarind balls.

Another way is to add some boiling water to the tamarind flesh and mix for a couple minutes. The water soaks into the flesh and makes it easier to work with.

Adding water to tamarind

Add in the sugar and seasonings and mix until everything becomes firm. Divide into small portions like before and roll them to form tamarind balls. This way uses more sugar to absorb the added water.

Adding sugar to tamarind

Lastly, roll the balls in sugar to create a dry, crunchy outer layer of sweetness.

I prefer this method … for no other reason than it’s how I made tamarind balls as a kid. Heh!


Tamarind balls in glass
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5 from 1 vote

Tamarind Balls

Tamarind balls are sweet, spicy, flavorful treats that are favorites throughout the Caribbean. They’re made with tamarind, sugar, and seasonings like garlic, pepper and green seasoning.
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: tamarind balls, tamarind juice
Servings: 7 balls


  • 1/2 cup tamarind flesh
  • 1 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • pepper (optional)
  • green seasoning (optional)


  • Mash the tamarind flesh to separate the seed segments.
  • Add salt and boiling water to the segments.
  • Stir until the water is fully absorbed.
  • Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the flesh and mix.
  • Add the remaining sugar to stiffen the mixture. (Add more sugar if necessary).
  • Divide into small portions and roll into balls.
  • Leave for 15 minutes to “dry”.
  • Roll the balls in sugar to create a dry, crunchy outer layer of sweetness.



If you add more water, you will need more sugar to stiffen the mixture. 

Tamarind (according to the USDA Food Database) has good levels of Vitamins B1, B2, and B3; and minerals like copper, iron and magnesium. Plus studies like this one found tamarind could lower total and bad cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure.

But have these treats in moderation. They are loaded with sugar!

Pin these tamarind balls to your dessert board:

Tamarind Balls: sweet, tangy Caribbean treats

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