Tangy Tamarind Doritos Are Missing Something Important

These tart new chips could use one major improvement.

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doritos package; hand holding dorito
Photo: Dennis Lee

So long, sweet and savory—tangy snacks are all the rage right now. If you don’t believe me, just look at the rising popularity of pickle products; people can’t seem to get enough of that sour, pucker-inducing flavor. Frito-Lay has been keeping a close eye on these trends, apparently, because it released a new Doritos flavor, Tangy Tamarind, on August 15.

The new flavor joins a line of previous Tangy releases that includes Tangy Pickle and Tangy Ranch, neither of which are available anymore. But Tangy Tamarind is particularly exciting. If you’ve never tasted it before, know that tamarind is a pretty remarkable ingredient. Its fruit pulp is sour, sweet, and plays a great supporting role in savory dishes. It also makes a fantastic base for candies and cookies, as well as beverages (big fan of tamarind Jarritos here).

When I first learned about the new Doritos flavor, I was delighted. A huge brand like Doritos has the power to influence millions of palates, so introducing Americans to a flavor profile that isn’t as well known to the average consumer as, say, ranch feels like an exciting step in the right direction.

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But would it tamarind make for a delicious Doritos flavor? A sample was sent to The Takeout to determine exactly that. One thing I noticed immediately was that the chips are artificially flavored. It says so right on the front of the package. Sure enough, the ingredients list has no tamarind to speak of. I guess artificiality shouldn’t be surprising when we’re talking about mass-market snack food.

Cracking open the bag, I got a pretty big whiff of a sour, raisin-like scent, but it dissipated fairly quickly. It did, in fact, smell roughly like tamarind. And the flavor is surprisingly close to the tart fruit, slightly prune-like, but the artificial approximation has toned down the natural sweetness of the pulp, instead amping up the acidity big time.

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But that’s the thing. After a while, that ample acidity wore down my palate. You’ve got to really like the hit of acidity you get from, say, Flamin’ Hot–flavored snacks. But without any supporting flavors, the Tangy Tamarind chips get to be a little monotonous after a while. It’s just bite after bite of tangy, tangy, tangy, with a slight raisiny vibe if you pay close attention. Something’s missing here.

To figure out what these chips needed, I tried sprinkling a touch of kosher salt onto one, and the flavor suddenly improved. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but a little bit of extra salt on the Tangy Tamarind Doritos did the trick. I have mixed feelings about recommending this maneuver only because Doritos are already full of salt to begin with. But it really does help balance that onslaught of tanginess.

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I’m certain that Tangy Tamarind Doritos would make the perfect accompaniment to a michelada, which is easily one of my favorite summer beverages. The savory beer beverage would no doubt provide the slight boost of salt that these chips are missing, without having to reach for your salt shaker. Alone, these chips are a little too much for me to handle, personally, but if you like sour snacks, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.

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Tangy Tamarind Doritos are now available nationwide. Just get ready to pucker up, and maybe grab some stuff for a michelada while you’re at it.