This spicy tamarind margarita has a salt and chile rim and is super easy to make! The flavor is earthy, sweet, and sour from the tamarind concentrate and lime juice.
A tamarind margarita with a spicy rim served on the rocks is my absolute favorite kind of margarita (I’m also a fan of mango and strawberry). Tamarind/tamarindo isn’t a super common flavor in the US, but if you find it on the menu of your favorite Mexican restaurant, I’d recommend trying it!
🧊 Frozen vs “on the rocks”
I’m team “on the rocks” 100%, so that’s how this margarita is prepared. Frozen margaritas are blended with ice, and between that and the extra cold temperature dulling the flavor, frozen margaritas are usually watered down.
One way around that is if you froze the lime juice in an ice cube tray and blended the remaining ingredients with these “ice cubes” instead of cubes of water. This would work best in larger batches.
A classic margarita calls for both tequila (use any kind you like) and triple sec, an orange liquor. Yes, there are multiple types of citrus in a margarita! Cointreau is a popular brand of triple sec, but you can find more generic brands for relatively cheap.
If you’re not into the idea of investing in a bottle, you can replace the triple sec by adding a bit of orange zest to vodka. I don’t think any real mixologist would approve of this, but it gets the job done.
Some margarita recipes call for lime, and some a mix of lemon and lime. I’m a fan of 100% lime. Make sure to use fresh lime juice for the best flavor! None of that “sour mix” nonsense.
You can make simple syrup by dissolving 1 part sugar in 1 part water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let it cool, and use in cocktail recipes. Store it in the fridge and it will keep for 2 weeks.
For more detailed instructions, you can check out my recipe for lavender simple syrup in my cold brew coffee post. Just follow the steps, leaving out the lavender. You could add a bit of lime zest if you want to infuse your margarita with more lime flavor.
Let’s talk about tamarind, the star of the show here!
Tamarind (not to be confused with tamarin) is a tropical tree that produces tamarind pods, which is both a fruit and legume. Inside the pods is a sticky pulp that can be used in cooking and baking. It’s a common flavor in many cuisines around the world, notably Asian and Latin American.
Tamarind has a unique flavor. It’s sour, but earthy, and has a bit of sweetness. It’s a bit of a culinary chameleon as it adapts to the dish you’re making. If you add sugar, it becomes dessert, but it also makes a great stir fry sauce if once you add soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.
You’ve likely eaten it without knowing. It’s a super popular flavor in Mexican candies and ice cream, and it’s one of the main ingredients in Pad Thai sauce.
Where to buy it
You can buy tamarind in many forms—as a paste (either in vacuum-sealed bags or frozen), concentrate, juice/nectar, or the whole pods themselves. I’ve found that the easiest, least messy way to use tamarind is getting tamarind concentrate. You’ll find it in Asian markets for a few bucks, or you can purchase it online if you can’t find it in stores near you. It’s also great to have on hand for making stir fry sauce.
This tamarind margarita recipe calls for tamarind concentrate. If you can’t find concentrate, you can replace it with tamarind nectar (such as Jumex brand). The flavor just won’t be as strong, so you may want to taste and adjust the flavors as you’re preparing the margarita.
We’ll use the Tajín and salt on the rim of the glass. Tajín is a seasoning made of chiles, lime, and salt. It’s more tangy than spicy, but if you’re sensitive to chiles, you could just do a salt or sugar rim on your glass.
You can buy Tajín at pretty much any supermarket or online, but if you don’t have any, you could use chili powder on the rim instead.
Since Tajín really isn’t spicy, the recipe calls for a pinch of cayenne pepper. This is optional, but recommended if you truly want a spicy margarita.
🍹 Making margarita mix
As written, this recipe makes one margarita ready to drink. To prepare a large batch of tamarind margarita mix ahead of time, scale up the recipe (leaving out the ice and garnish) and store everything in a container in the fridge.
Then when you’re ready, prep the chile salt rims. Wet the rim of the glass with a lime wedge, then roll around on a plate of salt and Tajín. Pour some of the mix into a cocktail shaker with ice, and strain over glasses with ice.
You could even stick the mix in the freezer for an hour or so before serving if you want to skip the shaking step. Just give it a stir and pour over glasses filled with ice. This is also a way to get slushy “frozen” margaritas without watering down the flavor.
🌮 Pairs well with…
Tinga is typically made with shredded chicken stewed in a spicy chipotle tomato sauce. One of the best vegan alternatives to shredded chicken and pork is young jackfruit, so jackfruit is the way to go. Jackfruit tinga is flavorful, naturally gluten-free, and is a nice alternative to your typical tofu or seitan burrito fillings.
This vegan Spanish rice is full of flavor and can be made with pantry staples in less than 30 minutes. Serve it alongside beans, or make a burrito bowl.
These black bean burgers are vegan, flavorful, and served with a spicy chipotle mayo. Serve them with any toppings you like.
Follow along with each step for making the tamarind margarita.
Spicy Tamarind Margarita
Chile and salt rim
- Lime wedge
- Tajín or chili powder
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila
- 1 ounce triple sec such as Cointreau
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce lime juice fresh
- 1/2 ounce tamarind concentrate see note
- 1 pinch cayenne optional, for spice
For the rim
- Rub the lime wedge along the rim of the glass.
- Sprinkle some salt and Tajín on a plate.
- Roll the edges of the glass on the plate so the mixture adheres, then set the glass aside.
For the drink
- Fill a cocktail shaker or cup with ice.
- Pour in the tequila, triple sec, simple syrup, lime juice, tamarind concentrate, and cayenne (if using).
- Shake until thoroughly mixed and then strain into glass.
- This recipe doubles, triples, and quadruples well.
- This tamarind margarita recipe calls for tamarind concentrate. If you can't find concentrate, you can replace it with tamarind nectar (such as Jumex brand). The flavor just won't be as strong, so you may want to taste and adjust the flavors as you're preparing the margarita.