Tanghulu is a perfect snack that’s part candy part healthy fresh fruit! Shatter the crisp candy shell and release the juicy, sweet fruit inside for a true taste sensation. This candied fruit snack is a Chinese street food that has been popular for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
What is Tanghulu?
Tanghulu is a popular street food snack in China. It consists of sweet-tart fresh fruits candy coated with a hardened sugar syrup. Once you try it, you’ll want to devour it again and again. It’s different from the sugar coated traditional candied fruit you may be used to.
As an added benefit, Tanghulu fruit is really easy to make and takes just about 20 minutes. And Tanghulu is a fun recipe to make, too! In fact, it’s as fun to make Tanghulu at home as it is delicious to eat. If you’ve got kids, they’re sure to love making—and eating—this candied fruit treat!
What sets Tanghulu apart from other candied fruit is that the way it is made creates a hard, yet delicate, candy shell around the fresh fruit. It’s served on a wooden skewer to make it easy to eat and keep your hands from getting sticky.
In China, Tanghulu is traditionally made with Chinese hawthorn fruit or Chinese hawthorn berries. These tart-sweet round fruits can be yellow or red. You can find hawthorn berries—sometimes called thornapples or hawberries—in parts of the US, though they’re more common in China.
My favorite is Strawberry Tanghulu, made with fresh strawberries, but you can make it with any fruit you like. Choose ripe fruit that is not too soft. Fresh fruit like berries (strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries) are perfect. I also love to use kiwi slices, tangerine segments, or melon balls.
Equipment you need to make tanghulu
- Candy thermometer (helpful but not necessary)
- Bamboo skewers
- Small saucepan
- Silicone baking sheet or parchment paper and baking sheet
Ingredients you need to make this Tanghulu recipe
You only need 3 ingredients to make this Tanghulu recipe! Here’s what you need:
- Fresh fruit: You can use whatever fresh fruit you like. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, or tangerine segments are the best.
- Sugar: Just regular granulated sugar. Some recipes use corn syrup, but this one uses just regular granulated sugar.
- Water: This will combine with the sugar to make the syrup.
How to make it
This easy to make candied fruit Tanghulu recipe is fun and quick. You can use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the sugar water mixture. But don’t worry if you don’t have one. You can also make this recipe without a thermometer using a spoon and a glass of water to check the temperature. Simply dip a teaspoon into the sugar syrup and then into a glass of iced water. If the sugar syrup on the teaspoon cracks and has a crunchy texture, it’s ready.
Here’s how to make Tanghulu:
- Make sure the fruit is clean and very dry (pat it dry with a dishtowel or paper towel)
- Skewer the fruit. Use 1 to 3 pieces of fruit per skewer, depending on the size of the fruit.
- Have a bowl of ice water ready.
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the sugar and water together until the mixture reaches the hard candy stage, 300 degrees (300°F).
- Dip the fruit skewer into the sugar mixture, turn to coat the fruit in the sugar syrup, making sure to fully coat the fruit. Lift the skewered fruit out of the sugar syrup. Allow the excess syrup to drip off.
- Immediately dip the fruit skewer into the ice water. This will cause the sugar coating to harden.
- Repeat with the remaining tanghulu fruit. You’ll want to work quickly so that the syrup stays at the correct temperature.
- Place the and place it onto a silicone baking mat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
- Serve immediately.
More sweet treats you’ll love
If you love sweet treats like Tanghulu, you’ll also love Black Sesame Cookies, Mochi Donuts, Honey Cake, Kolacky, and Caramel Whoopie Pies.
Whipped Cream Fruit Salad is another easy fruit-based dessert or snack.
- 1 pound fresh fruits strawberries, grapes, tangerine, kiwi, blueberries
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup water
- Wash and pat dry the fruit.
- Skewer the fruit, adding 1 to 3 pieces per skewer.
- Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high until it reaches 300°F (150°C)
- Place a bowl of iced water next to the saucepan of sugar syrup.
- Dip and rotate the skewered fruit into the sugar syrup, then lift the skewered fruit out of the sugar syrup and allow the excess syrup to drip off. Dip the skewered fruit into the iced water and place it onto a silicone baking sheet.