Tanghulu

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Tanghulu is a popular snack sold by street vendors in China. Colorful rows of fruit on a skewer glistens with a hard candy coating. It’s a stunning sweet treat and despite its fancy appearance, is actually quite easy to make.

Thankfully, with this fun recipe, every home chef can make these delicious crunchy candied strawberries.

Easy Tanghulu Recipe Feature

Tanghulu

Tanghulu is a traditional northern Chinese snack. It’s a popular street food because it’s served on a long bamboo skewer making it easy to eat on the go.

To make tanghulu, fresh fruit is added to the bamboo sticks. The skewered fruit is then dipped in simple sugar syrup. The hardened sugar syrup creates a hard crunchy and delicious shell around the fruit.

Chinese hawthorn fruit (also known as eastern hawthorn fruit) is traditionally used. The tart flavor and firm texture of hawthorn berries (kind of like a crab apple) work particularly well with the hard sweet sugar coating of tanghulu.

Today many different types of fruits are used including mandarin oranges, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, bananas, grapes and even cherry tomatoes.

One of the most popular treats though is tanghulu strawberries, which is the recipe you’ll learn today.

Candied Tanghulu Fruit Skewer

Ingredients For Tanghulu

Only three simple ingredients, plus a few kitchen tools, are needed in this easy tanghulu recipe.

Tanghulu Ingredients

  1. Strawberries or other fruit
  2. Granulated sugar (white sugar)
  3. Water

Other Tools and Supplies

  1. Wooden skewers
  2. Baking sheet with cooking spray, parchment paper or silicone mat
  3. Candy thermometer (optional)
Strawberries and water for Tanghulu

How To Make Tanghulu

Step 1
Prepare a sheet pan or baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray, line with parchment paper or non-stick mat.

Step 2
Wash your strawberries or other firm, tart fruit you prefer.

Step 3
Add the strawberries to the bamboo skewers. Add as many as you like, but 1-3 pieces is a good place to start. Pierce the fruit from top to bottom, starting at the stem.

Step 4
In a small saucepan, add the sugar, then pour the water in. Try to get all of the sugar wet. Shake gently if needed to cover the sugar, but do not stir.

Step 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).

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.

Sugar Water Syrup For Tanhulu

Step 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.

Step 7
Place the fruit skewer on the prepared baking sheet. The candy coating will harden almost immediately.

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

Easy Tanghulu Recipe

FAQs About Tanghulu

Q. How do you store tanghulu?

A. Tanghulu tastes best when eaten right away. This fruit snack is sensitive to humidity and moisture, so it must be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Q. How do you make tanghulu sugar?

A. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan. Do not stir. Swirl the pan gently if needed. On high heat, bring the candy mixture to a boil until a candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit (hard crack stage).

Q. How long does tanghulu take to harden?

A. Tanghulu sugar needs to be boiled to 300 degrees F. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes. If this step is completed properly, the sugar will harden almost immediately.

Q. Can I make this tanghulu recipe without a thermometer?

A. If a candy thermometer is unavailable, you can still make tanghulu by using an alternative method. Allow the water and sugar mixture to boil for about 5 minutes.

Dip a spoon into icy, cold water. Then dip the spoon into the hot syrup. The syrup is ready if it hardens immediately on the spoon. Test at 1-minute intervals until ready.

Tanghulu Fruit Skewers

Q. What is tanghulu made of?

A. Tanghulu is made with fruit, water and sugar. It is traditionally made in China with Hawthorn fruit, but any firm, tart fruit can be used.

Q. What does tanghulu taste like?

A. Depending on the fruit used, tanghulu is a sweet and tart fruit snack. Very sweet fruits like pineapple will result in a sweeter tanghulu. The hardened sugar coating is sweet and crunchy.

Q. How do you eat tanghulu?

A. The best way to enjoy tanghulu is right after it is made. You can bite the candy coating fruit right from the skewer or remove from the wooden sticks to eat.

Q. Is tanghulu supposed to stick to your teeth?

A. No, tanghulu should not stick to your teeth. The coating should be hard and crunchy. If it’s soft or a sticky mess, the sugar solution did not cook long enough.

Q. Why is my tanghulu sticky?

A. If your tanghulu is sticky, the most likely problem is too much moisture. The sugar syrup solution must cook to 300 degrees Fahrenheit to reach what is called the hard-crack stage. When it is allowed to boil to the proper temperature, usually about 5-10 minutes, the extra moisture is cooked out.

If tanghulu starts out with a hard, crunchy shell, but then becomes sticky, moisture is to blame again. If possible, enjoy it immediately after making it. If that’s not possible, store in a cool, airtight container away from moisture and humidity.

Q. Can you refrigerate tanghulu?

A. If you won’t be eating it right when you make it, tanghulu may be refrigerated. Be sure it’s kept in an airtight container. It will technically last 1-2 weeks, but the appearance, crunch, and flavor will start to lessen the longer it is stored.


With the step-by-step instructions in this easy recipe, you can make this favorite Chinese street food in the comfort of your own kitchen. Experiment with different kinds of fruit to see which version of this sweet treat you love the most.

You may also like:
Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

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Easy Tanghulu Recipe Pin
Yield: About 15 strawberries

Tanghulu

Easy Tanghulu Recipe

Tanghulu, a favorite Chinese street food, is easy to make in your own home. All you need to make these delicious crunchy candied strawberries is water, sugar, fruit and bamboo skewers!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries (about 15 berries)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water

Tools & Equipment

  • Bamboo Skewers
  • Baking sheet with cooking sprary, parchment paper or silicone baking mat
  • Candy Thermometer (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare a sheet pan or baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray, line with parchment paper or non-stick mat.
  2. Wash your strawberries or other firm, tart fruit you prefer.
  3. Add the strawberries to the bamboo skewers. Add as many as you like, but 1-3 pieces is a good place to start. Pierce the fruit from top to bottom, starting at the stem.
  4. In a small saucepan, add the sugar, then pour the water in. Try to get all of the sugar wet. Shake gently if needed to cover the sugar, but do not stir.
  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). 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.
  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. Place the fruit skewer on the prepared baking sheet. The candy coating will harden almost immediately.
  8. Tanghulu tastes best when eaten right away. However, they can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 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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