What’s Chamoy Sauce?

Use this simple method to make your own chamoy! Mexico’s favorite seasoning is used in a variety of ways, including on fruit, beverages, snacks, and even main dishes.

Serve handmade chamoy drizzled, mangonada, chicharrones de harina, over your favorite fruit, or even on the edge of a glass with cool Mexican cocktails to wow your guests.

It’s a fairly well-known condiment prepared from dried fruit like apricot, mango, or plums (or a combination of these), chile powder, salt, sugar, and a tiny bit of citrus juice. The perfect balance of flavors—sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and a little tangy!

The popularity of this Mexican sauce is rising swiftly both in the United States and elsewhere. But in Mexico, it has been a traditional sauce since the early 1970s. If you travel to Mexico, you must witness Chamoy being sold by every street seller selling food!

How does chamoy taste?

The flavor of chamoy is simultaneously salty, sweet, acidic, and seasoned with chile powder. Chamoy is marketed as a condiment for a wide range of dishes, from fresh fruit and drinks to potato chips and different nuts, due to the combination of salt, sweetness, and heat. Additionally, chamoy is utilized as a flavoring for frozen treats like sorbet and raspados, which have an unusual flavor combination of sweet, salty, spicy, and chilly.

The chamoy sauce is it hot?

Chamoy sauce made at home is exquisite. This sauce’s explosion of flavors and extreme addiction make it sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and hot. Eat it with a spoon, drizzle it over fresh fruit, or use it to rim a cocktail glass! You’ll have a million and one reasons to prepare this sauce, I promise. both gluten-free and vegan! View the 60-second clip.

Chamoy would be the dish that best captured the essence of Mexican cuisine.

Chamoy has a fruity chile sauce flavor. All of the flavors—salty, spicy, sweet, and sour—are present to their fullest extent. It is everything I adore about Mexican food: vivacious, flashy, and unabashedly bold.

The most typical way to eat chamoy sauce is to sprinkle it over fresh mango, watermelon, cucumbers, and jicama at fruit stands. It also embellishes other sweet street foods like helados, raspados, and paletas (popsicles) (ice cream).

A chamoy is what?

Dried chiles, lime juice, and fruit—usually mango, apricot, or plum—combine to make the spicy condiment chamoy. It can be manufactured at home, but is frequently purchased from stores. In addition to being available in paste and powder form, chamoy can occasionally be converted into candy that is savory, sweet, spicily, and sour. When used for confections, chamoy is widely used as a powder to coat gummies, created into a lollipop dipping powder, worked into hard sweets, and as a liquid or sauce that is squeezed out of a packet and placed on fresh fruit.

The apricot, plum, or mango must first be brined or salted-cured before being used to produce chamoy. It’s time to separate the solids from the liquid after the fruit has completely lost all of its moisture. The tough fruit is consumed on its own and is also marketed as saladitos, a salty and sweet snack. The liquid is used to create the chamoy base. Lime and chile powder are both added to this mixture to make a sauce that is then packaged and served as a condiment.

Unexpectedly, chamoy is an Asian dish that was first consumed by Latinos. Chamoy most likely originated from umeboshi, a form of pickled ume fruitume that is a type of tiny, sour plum or apricot. Umeboshi is a traditional Japanese delicacy. Or, it might have evolved from crack seed, also known as see mui, a Chinese snack item made of salted and dried apricots. All of this Asian influence is a result of migration. Since the 1590s, Asian immigrants have been moving to Mexico, and somewhere along the road, chamoy changed and grew into the common spice mixture and sauce that many fans of Mexican cuisine are familiar with today.

On what does chamoy sauce work well?

The flavor profile of chamoy is incredibly distinctive and is better appreciated rather than described.

Homemade chamoy has umami, umami, sweet, sour, salty, and sour flavors on its own. Even though it seems like there’s a lot going on, it just works!

This amazing fusion of tastes is wonderful on fruit or in beverages, but it’s also lovely served with tacos, vegetables, or meals made with legumes—much like you would with chutney.

Our opinion is that brewing your own chamoy is the greatest way to enjoy it. As previously indicated, you can change the fruits and other components to your liking!

Chamoy—is it a fruit?

Chamoy is the flavor that, in a bite, best captures Mexico. Chamoy is a salty, pickled, sour fruit that is spiced with chiles and available as dried fruit, candy, and sauce. It is usually produced from ume plums, which are actually sour apricots. According to La Palapa chef Barbara Sibley of New York City, “Anything that has all the tastes at oncesweet, sour, salty, spicy, and a bit umamithat’s where Mexico loves to reside, whether it be tamarind, mole, or chamoy.” She has happy memories of it from her upbringing in Mexico City, where American candy wasn’t sold before NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).

She claims that she would simply eat it whole till she thought her teeth were going to fall out.

When I moved to New York, I truly, really missed having it.

In Somerville, Massachusetts, chef Daniel Bojorquez of La Brasa and Fat Hen also has fond memories of chamoy. He claims that if you are Mexican, you have had chamoy at least once in your life. In the US, it is comparable to peanut butter. Unfortunately for Bojorquez and Sibley, it’s a flavor that more and more cooks are experimenting with in unexpected ways. It’s showing up as a savory sauce for protein and poured over sweet desserts, in part due to their own appetite for the item. However, it is useful to understand how chamoy came to be before seeing how cooks are coming up with new uses for it.

Chamoy 101: Traditional Mexican Variations

In Mexico, chamoy is seen as junk food, therefore you’re more likely to find it on the street than in a fine-dining place. Along with other traditional Mexican candies like palanquetas and mazapan, the dried fruit variety (marketed as chamoy or saladito) is either dry or wet (in a spicy sauce). Any sour fruit, such as unripe plums, sour mangoes, tamarind pods, or apricots, may be utilized; the seed should, whenever possible, remain attached to the fruit.

In recent years, chamoy has undergone a transformation into a hot sauce that is frequently utilized by street food vendors in Mexico and the US. Simple mango and cucumber slices, cups of esquites (a creamy concoction of maize, crema, cotija cheese, mayonnaise, lime, butter, and chile powder), or a glass of mangonada can all be found with it on them (a spicy drink that can be made with mango sorbet or mango shaved ice, fresh mango, lime juice, and chile powder).

Mexican kids love chamoy-flavored candies including chamoy gummies, liquid chamoy candy drizzled on top of spicy tortilla chips, liquid chamoy candy powder, and fruit-flavored lollipops rolled in or filled with chamoy. And that doesn’t even take into account the fruit popsicles, shaved ice, nieves, and ice cream that are drizzled with it and prepared with sweet and sour fruits like mango, pineapple, or tamarind.

The History of Chamoy

Chinese immigrants brought chamoy to Mexico, and it wasn’t until recently that it started to be regarded as a traditional dish. Although the exact date of the invention of chamoy is unknown, according to culinary historian Rachel Laudan and food anthropologist Gene Anderson, it most likely arrived with Chinese immigrants between the 16th and 19th centuries. During this period, a variety of Asian ingredients, such as tamarind, mango, and saw mui, a salted, dried apricot with licorice notes, came in Mexico. The Japanese umeboshi (a pickled and salted apricot made from the same ume plum) and later Mexican chamoy were both influenced by see mui.

Although the exact beginning of Mexicans consuming chamoy is unknown, it was probably a gradual process. Chef Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo in Austin, Texas, recounts that in the late 1960s, her father purchased dry or wet plums marketed as chamoy from a Chinese or Japanese merchant in Mexico City. Eventually, the addition of hot chile peppers helped the Mexicans transform it. The mass production of chamoy candy and sauce began in the 1970s by Mexican candy firms like Dulces Miguelito and Lucas. By the 1990s, it had become such an integral part of Mexican culture that its Asian roots had been forgotten.

Sibley had to relocate from Mexico to New York City and visit Asia in order to put it all together. She initially sampled umeboshi at Japanese eateries in New York before discovering chamoy in Thailand after tasting all of the dried plums outside of the temples.

Chamoy 2.0

The majority of chamoy produced nowadays is processed, loaded with additives, and sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Some chamoy sauces don’t even contain fruit; instead, they employ citric acid to simulate the tart fruit flavor. However, in recent years, chefs in the United States and Mexico have begun flexing their creative muscles by using this highly flavorful food to cook with it at fine-dining establishments and blend it into cocktails, pushing it out of the junk-food category.

Some chefs are starting their Bojorquez dishes, among others, by utilizing bottled chamoy sauce as a base. His chamoy and charred tomatillo barbecue sauce reflects his experience barbecuing while growing up in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. The acidic, sweet heat of the chamoy is the ideal foil for the tangy, slightly herbal fruit. Mexican ingredients are difficult to get in Somerville, Massachusetts, where Bojorquez resides, so his best option is to use bottled chamoy.

There is no one “correct way” to create chamoy; some people prefer to make it from scratch. Some chefs travel to Mexico to research menus, while others find culinary ideas in other cultures or merely attempt to replicate Mexican flavors (such as Rick Bayless’ “chamoy sauce,” which combines apricot spread, spicy sauce, and lime).

Rodrigo Sales and Leticia Castellano, a married couple, wanted a flavor of Mexico City when they moved to Dallas, Texas, so they came up with the Molli brand of Mexican cooking sauces. They expanded their product line by including a Culiacan chamoy sauce, which is created from dried apricots that are quickly pickled in vinegar, orange, and lime juice with guajillo and piquin peppers, salt, and brown sugar to finish.

Sales produced a baked salmon with chamoy dish after finding “inspiration from Japanese/Chinese cuisines that utilize similar sauces with salmon or other sweet fish.” Sales enjoys using it to roast root vegetables and enhance mezcal cocktails. In the US, it is the only business that is known to sell artisanal chamoy sauce. However, artisanal chamoy may soon find a market in the United States if President Trump’s proposal to impose a 20 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico is approved.

Sibley of La Palapa also uses dried apricots in her chamoy, but she likes to rehydrate them rather than pickle them because she believes this procedure better preserves their potent flavor. For color and additional tartness (“sometimes lime juice just gets in the way,” she explains), she combines them with concentrated unsweetened hibiscus tea, sugar, salt, and a purée of various chilies. She occasionally adds umeboshi, which is already salted and pickled, from a Japanese market. Sibley enjoys using her homemade chamoy in her frozen lime margaritas and as a glaze for a seared and charred duck breast. She said that while some clients worry that the food is too spicy because of its vivid red color, they always fall in love after tasting it.

Chef, educator, and restaurant consultant Norma Listman didn’t even think of experimenting with chamoy until she began working in the Bay area since chamoy is so deeply ingrained in Mexican snack culture (she grew up in Texcoco, Mexico, and currently lives in San Francisco, Nayarit). She created her own version utilizing a Japanese umeboshi recipe and suggestions from Sinaloa chamoy manufacturers, who are renowned for producing the best chamoy in all of Mexico (and also home to a large settlement of Chinese immigrants). She begins with lightly underripe ume plums (you could also use Santa Rosa plums or apricots, she adds) and honey-sweetened hibiscus flowers, which are then pureed and simmered with lime juice, champagne vinegar, guajillo and morita chiles. She adds a few drops of rose water to seal the deal.

The tastiest desserts, according to chef Enrique Olvera of Pujol (Mexico City) and Cosme (New York City), are made with chamoy. His chamoy sauce uses chile de arbol, sugar, water, pineapple vinegar for a fruity flavor, and omits the fruit totally. Olvera believes that subtlety is preferable to the traditional sugar explosions found in chamoy sweets. He says, “I like my desserts to cleanse the palate rather than give me a sugar rush. So, for Cosme, he came up with a play on raspado, a common shaved-ice delicacy frequently served with chamoy. In his preparation, he utilizes a delicate chamoy sauce, a tangy rhubarb granita, and fennel ice cream. He serves a peach vacuum-sealed with chamoy and served with smoky mezcal ice cream at Pujol.

Chamoy has come a long way from being a Chinese snack that crossed the water to becoming an iconic Mexican street food condiment to a new player in the kitchens of restaurants in Mexico City and Manhattan. It’s simpler for Americans to indulge in a little bit of Mexican nostalgia since chefs all over the U.S. and Mexico are constantly redefining how chamoy may be utilized in the kitchen and adapting it to the American palate. Who knows, though? We might start to see artisanal chamoy items at our grocery store, right next to the salsa, as more people begin to recognize this onslaught of flavor for the addictive cuisine it is.

How nutritious is chamoy?

No one claims that chamoy is a healthy food, despite the fact that it is delicious. It won’t comprise a significant portion of a dish when used as a spicy sauce or condiment. Chamoy is regarded as junk food in Mexico. Significant-fructose corn syrup and preservatives are found in high concentrations in most commercially made chamoy. According to Eater, it often doesn’t contain actual fruit but will have citric acid to generate the tart flavor. One tablespoon of Miguelito Chamoy Powder Mix is said to have 30 calories, 540 mg of salt, and 8 grams of sugar in it, according to Fooducate.

The chef and proprietor of the Bario Cafe in Phoenix, Silvana Salcido Esparza, admitted to NPR that she “loves to hate” chamoy and asserted that it, along with other common snack foods, “is making Mexico the most diabetic country in the world.” She supports more organic home-made chamoy.

Since Chamoy does not use any animal ingredients, it is also vegan. Given that you have more control over the foundation ingredients and manner of manufacture, homemade chamoy is undoubtedly a more nutrient-dense option than sugary, commercially produced chamoy (via Muy Delish).