What Is Chamoy and How Do I Use It?

If you haven't met yet, say hello to your new favorite condiment. Sweet, sour, tangy and spicy, chamoy goes with everything! Endlessly versatile, this popular Mexican dressing plays well with others, both sweet and savory. Get ready to start your chamoy journey—here's everything you need to know.

person holding chamoy
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If you pay a visit to Los Angeles or another area with a strong Mexican street food presence, it'd be hard not to find chamoy being served in different ways. If you're new to the sauce, it has a deliciously sweet and tangy flavor that's just the right amount of sour and spicy. Here's everything you need to know about chamoy, including where it came from and how to use it.

What Is Chamoy?

Chamoy is a condiment made of fruit (usually apricot, prunes, mango or plums), dried chiles and lime juice.

Alejandro Sanchez of Maya's Snack Bar in New York says: "If you never tried it, it's a very unique flavor. Although there are now variations, the original has a sweet and tangy taste, more like a sweet and sour, and a sweet smell." In addition to the tried-and-true original, varieties like pineapple, watermelon and tamarind are also available from many brands.

Though chamoy is now closely associated with Mexican food and culture, that was not always the case. Its exact origin isn't clear, but it is believed to have arrived in Mexico via Chinese immigrants between the 16th and 19th centuries, according to food historian Rachel Laudan.

Uses for Chamoy

Chamoy is incredibly versatile and adds depth to a variety of foods and drinks:

For a summertime treat, Sanchez suggests adding it into your homemade paletas (popsicles). Try it with these healthy popsicle recipes!

Where to Buy Chamoy

Chamoy is typically sold in liquid sauce form in bottles, perfect for easy storing at home and even taking on the go. Some brands offer a thicker version in a shallow round container, ideal for use as a rim paste, and others offer a powdered version which can be used like a spice.

Depending on where you live, the availability may vary. Head to the Mexican food section of your local grocery store, a Latino market or a nearby farmers' market. Or you can shop online via Amazon, MexGrocer.com or ZocaloFoods.com.

How to Store Chamoy

Many bottled sauces and powders are shelf-stable and can be stored in your pantry for a few months to a year after opening; just be mindful of the expiration date. However, freshly made chamoy without preservatives should stay refrigerated and has a shorter shelf life.

What Is a Chamoyada?

A chamoyada, sometimes called a mangonada or chamango, is a sweet mango beverage layered with sweet and spicy chamoy. The drink is typically accented with a chamoy-and-Tajín rim and tamarind candy straws (look for tarugos in your specialty stores).

Bottom Line

Try drizzling your chamoy on these Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos, or add it to the popular street corn dish Esquites.

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