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8 BEST Tamarind Concentrate Substitutes – I Test Them All

I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different tamarind concentrate substitutes to find the best one, whatever your reason for needing a substitute is and whatever dish you’re cooking.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best substitute for tamarind concentrate in terms of flavor is a homemade tamarind paste, pomegranate molasses, or mango powder. Regarding accessibility, a combination of vinegar or lime juice and brown sugar is your best bet. Worcestershire sauce is an okay option too.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The Experiment

I made a simple pad thai sauce to try out eight different tamarind concentrate substitutes. 

Tamarind concentrate is an intensely-flavored syrup made from tamarinds (duh). 

It’s a souring agent mostly used in Asian dishes, but you might also see it listed as an ingredient in your favorite condiments like ketchup.

If you need a bottle and can’t find one at your local grocery store, don’t worry! We’ve looked at the alternative options.

Here’s what I tested and my verdicts:

SubstituteSub 1 teaspoon for?Verdict
Tamarind paste1 teaspoon10/10
Rice vinegar/lime juice + brown sugar1 teaspoon rice vinegar + ¼ teaspoon brown sugar10/10
Mango powder (amchur)1 teaspoon mango powder 8/10
Pomegranate molasses1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses7/10
Worcestershire sauce mixture1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce mixture7/10
HP sauce½ teaspoon HP sauce7/10
Balsamic vinegar1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 6/10
Homemade tamarind concentrate1 teaspoon homemade mix10/10

Replicating the exact taste of tamarind is pretty much impossible without tamarinds – the flavor is just so distinct. 

So before you use a substitute, I would make sure you’ve checked every store in your area that might possibly stock tamarind concentrate (or paste). You can also consider buying it online, it lasts for ages!

If you still want to use a substitute, you can replicate the sweet-sour flavor notes that tamarind adds to a dish. Just not the unique taste.

Common dishes and their substitutes

  • Sauces, curries, marinades, pad thai – tamarind paste, lime juice + brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Hp sauce
  • Desserts, chutneys, and drinks – tamarind paste, mango powder, marmalade

Tamarind paste / powder

If you have another form of tamarind, like a paste or a powder then go ahead and use this.

Tamarind paste is very similar to concentrate but has a slightly less intense flavor, so you can get away with adding more.

If you have tamarind powder, mix it with some water until it has a similar consistency to wasabi and use this as your concentrate.

Psst… if you have whole tamarinds skip to here to find out how to make your own tamarind concentrate.

Taste and texture
This was by far the best substitute because tamarind has a very distinct taste you can’t really replicate without tamarinds!
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate = 1 teaspoon tamarind paste

Vinegar/lime juice + brown sugar

These combo’s are great substitutes if you’re having trouble finding some of the more uncommon ingredients.

Both vinegar (go for rice or white vinegar) and lime juice are really easy to find (you could even use lemon juice in a pinch), and have the same sourness that you find in tamarind concentrate.

Then ading a small amount of brown sugar replicates the sweet undertones.

Always remember to taste as you go with substitutes. Adding too much vinegar or lime juice could make your dish too tart.

Taste and texture
I already had these ingredients in my cupboard which was super convenient, and they added similar sweet-sour note to tamarind concentrate but the flavor was less intense.
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate = 1 teaspoon rice vinegar + ¼ teaspoon brown sugar

Mango powder (Amchur)

Amchur (commonly known as magno power) is a dried spice made from unripe mangos. It’s mainly used in Indian cooking to bring a citrusy boost to dishes.

But it also works really well to replace the acidic sourness you usually get from tamarind.

If you want to make it into a paste, simple mix it with water before adding it to your dish.

And if you can’t find any in your local stores, you can easily buy it online.

Psst… mango chutney can also work as long as you don’t mind some background sweet-spicy notes.

Taste and texture
The flavor amchur added to my pad thai was very similar to tamarind, but the spice wasn’t easy to find.
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate = 1 teaspoon mango powder

Pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate molasses is a very good substitute for tamarind concentrate in terms of flavor.

The only problem is that is can be just as hard to find as tamarind concentrate, and you’re very unlikely to have some hanging around in your cupboard.

But if you do, you’re in luck!

And if you fancy getting hold of some, you can use the leftovers in salad dressings, dips, cocktails, and marinades.

Taste and texture
This was the best substitue I tried that isn’t made from mainly tamarinds.
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate = 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses.

Worcestershire sauce mixture

Tamarind extract is actually an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, so it will add that familiar sweet-sour note to your dish.

But it also has lots of other ingredients like anchovies, which bring a big hit of savory umami.

If this bothers you, you can try mixing the Worcestershire sauce with other sweet-sour ingredients like lemon juice, tomato paste, or brown sugar.

This can help bring the flavor profile closer to tamarind concentrate, but will require some trial and error!

Related: substitutes for anchovies

Taste and texture
The Worcestershire sauce made my pad thai taste less exotic and more meaty, but it did add a similar depth of flavor to the tamarind concentrate.
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate = 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce mixture

HP sauce

HP sauce may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about tamarind concentrate substitutes, but it works pretty well in certain situations.

Like Worcestershire sauce, tamarind is an ingredient in HP sauce and tomatoes also feature prominently, giving it a sour flavor with a hint of sweetness. 

It’s also peppery, so you may have to adjust your seasoning for some dishes. I think it’s an excellent substitute for tamarind concentrate in meat marinades. 

Psst.. A1 steak sauce is also very similar.

Taste and texture
I wouldn’t use this again as a substitute in pad thai, but it’s thicker consistency and a prominent sour flavor would be perfect in other dishes.
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate = ½ teaspoon HP sauce

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar doesn’t taste like tamarind concentrate, but it has similar tartness.

It’s sour, and as you cook it down you get a fruity sweetness that you won’t find in tamarind concentrate.

A big plus to this sub is that it’s widely available, but get a bottle of the high-quality stuff for the best results.

Taste and texture
Its sweet-sour flavor was definitely different from the tamarind concentrate flavor, but it worked okay to add some extra oomph to my pad thai.
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate = 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Homemade tamarind concentrate

If you have access to dried tamarinds, you can make your own tamarind concentrate from scratch instead!

Pati Jinich shares a recipe that involves soaking the fruit in water and then cooking down the juice into a syrupy consistency. It’s pretty easy, you just need a lot of time (around 9 hours!).

Leftovers from this homemade concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator and will last for months.

Other options to explore

If none the mentioned substitutes don’t work for you, here are some other options you can consider.

They won’t taste anything like tamarind, but can help add more flavor to your dish.

  • Marmalade – if you’re really in a bind, marmalade could work, especially if you add an extra splash of lime juice. This is a good option for cocktails and desserts.
  • Ketchup – it has a fairly similar sweet and sour flavor, but you need to add more ingredients like oyster sauce and dark soy sauce (which you may not immediately have on hand) to get it close to tamarind concentrate. The Worcestershire sauce mixture is easier to make.

Best Tamarind Concentrate Substitutes

We test out 8 different tamarind concentrate substitutes to find the best one.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Asian, Indian
Keyword: tamarind concentrate substitutes, what to substitute tamarind concentrate with
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 24kcal


  • Tamarind paste / powder
  • Vinegar / lime juice + brown sugar
  • Mango powder
  • Pomegranate molasses
  • Worcestershire sauce mix
  • HP sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Homemade tamarind concentrate


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen tamarind concentrate substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 24kcal

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