Mandarin Orange (or Tangerine) Tanghulu Recipe

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Tanghulu is a popular Chinese street snack that’s both beautiful and tasty, and it’s easier to make than you might think. Traditionally made with strawberries, we’re putting a citrusy twist on the classic by using mandarin oranges, which gives this treat a refreshing zing.

Mandarin Orange Tanghulu Skewers

What is Tanghulu?

Tanghulu is a traditional Chinese snack that features skewered fruits, typically hawthorn berries, coated in a crunchy layer of hardened sugar syrup. Originating from northern China, tanghulu is celebrated for its sweet and tart flavor profile, making it a popular treat during festivals and holidays.

Over time, variations have emerged using different fruits like strawberries, grapes, or even cherry tomatoes, all coated in the characteristic glossy sugar shell that gives Tanghulu its distinct appeal. It’s not just a treat for the taste buds but also visually stunning and is often displayed in vibrant arrays at street stalls and markets across China.

Learn more about Tanghulu here.

Easy Mandarin Orange Tanghulu Candied Fruit

Mandarin Orange Tanghulu

Note: The printable and sharable recipe can be found at the end of this article.

Ingredients

  • 4 mandarin oranges or tangerines
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Ice cubes

PRO TIP: Choose mandarins for a mild, sweet flavor or tangerines for a richer, more aromatic taste. Both are delicious, so pick based on whether you prefer a subtle or pronounced citrus punch.

Other Tools and Supplies

  • Wooden skewers
  • Baking sheet with cooking spray, parchment paper or silicone mat
  • Candy thermometer (optional)

PRO TIP: If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can use a cold water test instead. Boil the hot sugar syrup for about 5 minutes. Dip a spoon in ice-cold water, then dip it into the syrup. If the syrup is ready, it will harden immediately. If not, continue to boil and test in 1-minute increments.

Instructions

  1. Prepare a sheet pan or baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray, line with parchment paper or use a non-stick mat.
  2. Prepare a large bowl filled with ice water.
  3. Peel the mandarins and separate them into individual segments. Add the segments to the skewers. Add as many as you like, but depending on the size of the fruit, 3-5 segments is a good place to start.
  4. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir very gently as needed to cover the sugar and combine.
  5. On high heat, bring the sugar water mixture to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, boil until the temperature of the sugar syrup is 300°F (hard crack stage).
  6. When the sugar solution is ready, remove from the heat. Dip the fruit skewers directly into the mixture. It may be helpful to tilt the pan to the side so the sugar pools to one side. You could also carefully spoon the sugar over the fruit. Allow excess sugar to drip back into the pot.
  7. Immediately dip the coated oranges into the ice water bath to cool and harden the sugar coating. Remove and pat dry (if needed).
  8. Place the fruit skewer on the prepared baking sheet.
  9. After the tanghulu has cooled, enjoy immediately or within 1-2 hours.

PRO TIP: Tanghulu tastes best when eaten right away. However, they can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a short time. This snack is very sensitive to moisture and humidity.

Mandarin Orange Tanghulu Recipe

Tips and Tricks

Clean Equipment: Ensure all your tools (pans, skewers, etc) are completely clean and dry. Any residue or moisture can cause the sugar to crystallize.
Work Quickly: When dipping the fruit into the sugar water mixture, work quickly but carefully, as the sugar will harden fast.
Work in Small Batches: If making a large quantity, consider working in smaller batches to ensure the sugar coating doesn’t harden too quickly.
Safety First: Be careful with the hot sugar syrup, as it can cause severe burns.

Using Other Types of Fruit

Feel free to experiment with different fruits for Tanghulu! Berries, grapes, and apple slices work well. Classic Strawberry Tanghulu is always a winner. Ensure the fruit is dry and free of excess moisture to help the sugar coating adhere properly. Avoid fruits with high water content, like watermelon, as they can make the sugar coating too sticky.

Yield: About 7-10 skewers

Mandarin Orange (or Tangerine) Tanghulu

Mandarin Orange Tanghulu Skewers

This easy and delicious Tanghulu recipe uses Mandarin oranges or tangerines and offers a citrusy twist on the classic Chinese street snack!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 mandarin oranges or tangerines
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Ice cubes

Tools

  • Wooden skewers
  • Baking sheet with cooking spray, parchment paper or silicone mat
  • Candy thermometer (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare a sheet pan or baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray, line with parchment paper or use a non-stick mat.
  2. Prepare a large bowl filled with ice water.
  3. Peel the mandarins and separate them into individual segments. Add the segments to the skewers. Add as many as you like, but depending on the size of the fruit, 3-5 segments is a good place to start.
  4. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir very gently as needed to cover the sugar and combine.
  5. On high heat, bring the sugar water mixture to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, boil until the temperature of the sugar syrup is 300°F (hard crack stage).
  6. When the sugar solution is ready, remove from the heat. Dip the fruit skewers directly into the mixture. It may be helpful to tilt the pan to the side so the sugar pools to one side. You could also carefully spoon the sugar over the fruit. Allow excess sugar to drip back into the pot.
  7. Immediately dip the coated oranges into the ice water bath to cool and harden the sugar coating. Remove and pat dry (if needed).
  8. Place the fruit skewer on the prepared baking sheet.
  9. After the tanghulu has cooled, enjoy immediately or within 1-2 hours.

Notes

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can use a cold water test to know when it’s ready. Let the hot sugar syrup boil for about 5 minutes. Dip a spoon in ice cold water, then dip it into the syrup. If ready, it will harden immediately. If not, continue to boil and test in 1-minute increments.

Tanghulu tastes best when eaten right away. However, they can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a short time. This snack is very sensitive to moisture and humidity.

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Meet Micky Reed, your go-to snack expert and creator of The Three Snackateers—a hub for all the best sweets and treats to make, try, and buy. From whipping up collaborations with industry giants like Ben & Jerry's to being featured on Delish and PopSugar, Micky's delicious adventures are causing a stir in the foodie world. You can find Micky on IG and Pinterest.

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