Symmetric flapping foils are known to produce deflected jets at high frequency–amplitude combinations even at a zero mean angle of attack. This reduces the frequency range of useful propulsive configurations without side force. In this study, we numerically analyse the interaction of these deflected jets for tandem flapping foils undergoing coupled heave-to-pitch motion in a two-dimensional domain. The impact of the flapping Strouhal number, foil spacing and phasing on wake interaction is investigated. Our primary finding is that the back foil is capable of cancelling the wake deflection and mean side force of the front foil, even when located up to five chord lengths downstream. This is achieved by attracting the incoming dipoles and disturbing their cohesion within the limits of the back foil’s range of flapping motion. We also show that the impact on cycle-averaged thrust varies from high augmentation to drag generation depending on the wake patterns downstream of the back foil. These findings provide new insights towards the design of biomimetic tandem propulsors, as they expand their working envelope and ability to rapidly increase or decrease the forward speed by manipulating the size of the shed vortices.