Tanghulu Candied Fruit: Only 3 Ingredients!

Tanghulu candied fruit is a classic Chinese street food made of a sugar-hard-candied fruit on a skewer. The hard candy coating makes a fun crunching sound when bitten. Tanghulu has taken TikTok by storm thanks to the crunch.

Single strawberry on a stick.

Tanghulu, also known as bingtang hulu or bing tanghulu, is a popular street food known for its crunchy shell. The shell makes a loud crunching sound when you first bite into it. This sound became a TikTok craze in the summer of 2022.

One of my favorite things about Tanghulu is how easy it is to make. In less than twenty minutes, you can make glass candy fruits! Strawberries are a popular choice. The color is striking. However, you are not limited to strawberries. You can make tanghulu out of any fruit with a firm exterior.

What Is Tanghulu?

Bingtang hulu is a traditional candied snack that has its origins in Northern China. Originally, it was made by skewering hawthorn on a long bamboo skewer and dipping it in liquid sugar that hardens into a hard coating.

Now, instead of hawthorn, strawberry is the most popular fruit to use.

Want to try another Asian dessert? Es cendol is a traditional Indonesian dessert that you can make at home.

Strawberry on a skewer coated in sugar.

Why I Love Tanghulu

  • Delicious and beautiful.
  • Easy and fun to make.
  • Vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free.
  • It only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish!

Ingredients

Sugar – White granulated sugar works great for this recipe. Avoid using brown or raw sugar because they give your glaze a brown color, and the sugar coating won’t stay clear.

Fruit – Use any fruit with a firm exterior. Strawberries are my favorite. They are strikingly beautiful and taste amazing! Other popular choices include:

  • Apple: Small apple slices or wedges can be used thanks to their crisp texture. I recommend Granny Smith apples!
  • Grapes: Small, sweet, and easy to eat in one bite. Seedless varieties are recommended.
  • Kiwi: Sliced into thick rounds, kiwi tastes and looks great on a stick!
  • Mandarin Oranges: Small segments can be used; they add a perfect tang.
  • Pineapple: When cut into chunks or rounds for a tropical flavor.
Ingredients used in the recipe (fruit, water, sugar)

Instructions

  1. Preparation: Begin by washing and drying the fruit thoroughly. Skewer the fruit and set it aside. Prepare an ice water bath. To set up a drying area, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or prepare a styrofoam block or cardboard box with holes to hold the skewers.
  2. Making the Sugar Syrup: In the saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Do not stir. Heat the mixture over medium heat and monitor the temperature using a candy thermometer. Bring the mixture to 300°F (149°C), which is the hard-crack stage.
  3. Coating the Fruit: Carefully dip each piece of skewered fruit into the hot sugar syrup, rotating to ensure an even coating. Immediately after, briefly dip the coated fruit into the ice water bath for 2-3 seconds to set the sugar. This will happen almost instantly.
  4. Drying: Place the coated fruit on the prepared baking sheet or insert the skewers into the styrofoam block or cardboard box to dry upright.

Steps to make tanghulu.

Expert Tips

  1. Candy Thermometer – I recommend using a candy thermometer to achieve the perfect crunch.
  2. Bone Dry– This is an essential tip. The syrup coating will only harden if the fruit is dry.
  3. Don’t Stir the Sugar – Stirring the water mixture will cause crystallization, which makes achieving the glass candied look impossible.

Troubleshooting

  • Why Isn’t the Tanghulu Hardening? To form a hard candy coating, the sugar mixture must reach the ‘hard crack’ stage, which is 300°F (149°C). If the temperature is below this, the sugar remains in a ‘soft crack’ stage or lower, resulting in a softer coating.
  • Why Is the Coating Watery? This issue generally occurs due to two reasons:
    • Excessive Water: Maintain a water-to-sugar ratio of 1:2 to prevent a watery consistency.
    • Low Dipping Temperature: Ensure that the sugar syrup is at the correct temperature before dipping the fruit.
  • Why Is the Sugar Crystallizing? Crystallization occurs if the sugar-to-water ratio is too high or if the sugar and water are stirred together, disrupting the syrup’s consistency.
  • Why Is the Coating Melting? Tanghulu is best served immediately. After about 30 minutes, the sugar coating starts absorbing moisture from the fruit, causing it to dissolve and melt. Additionally, insufficient heating of the syrup or exposure to high humidity can also lead to melting.
  • Why Isn’t It Crunchy? A lack of crunch despite the correct temperature suggests that the fruit wasn’t dried thoroughly. Ensure the fruit is completely dry before coating; think of drying it as an essential step for success.
  • Why Is It Chewy? A chewy texture indicates that the sugar-water mixture did not reach the hard crack stage, likely remaining in the soft or hard ball stage. Make sure to heat the mixture to the appropriate temperature for that crisp texture.
Candied strawberry with sparkle sugar on top.
Tanghulu sprinkled with glittery sugar.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Tanghulu taste like?

Tanghulu tastes like sweetened or candied fruit.

Is Tanghulu Chinese or Korean?

Tanghulu is a traditional Northern Chinese snack that has gained popularity in Korea.

How do you eat Tanghulu?

Typically, you bite directly into the fruit as you would if it were raw. Be careful not to bite the skewer!

Can you make Tanghulu without a thermometer?

You can make tanghulu without a thermometer. The water and sugar mixture needs to boil for 10 minutes to reduce into a thick syrup. To check if the candy recipe is ready, dip a toothpick and instantly dip it in a bowl of iced water. If it hardens immediately, you can begin making tanghulu.

Can I store Tangulu?

Tanghulu is best enjoyed within 30 minutes and up to two hours of making it. Over time, the fruit will expel moisture, and the coating will soften.

Bite out of hard candied strawberry.
Single candied strawberry.

Tanghulu Candied Fruit Skewers

Tanghulu, a candied fruit, is a popular Chinese street food. Made in just a few minutes, the look is beautiful and the fruit is sweet!
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Servings: 12 Skewers
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Equipment

  • Skewers
  • Sauce pan
  • Candy thermometer (recommended)
  • Sheet pan
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fruit
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ice water bath

Instructions

  • Step One – Preparation: Begin by washing and drying the fruit thoroughly. Skewer the fruit and set it aside. Prepare an ice water bath and also set aside. To set up a drying area, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or prepare a styrofoam block or cardboard box with holes to hold the skewers.
  • Step Two – Making the Sugar Syrup: In the saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Do not stir. Heat the mixture over medium heat and monitor the temperature using a candy thermometer. Bring the mixture to 300°F (149°C), which is the hard-crack stage.
  • Step Three – Coating the Fruit: Carefully dip each piece of skewered fruit into the hot sugar syrup, rotating to ensure an even coating. Immediately after, briefly dip the coated fruit into the ice water bath for 2-3 seconds to set the sugar. This will happen almost instantly.
  • Step Four – Drying: Place the coated fruit on the prepared baking sheet or insert the skewers into the styrofoam block or cardboard box to dry upright.
  • Note: Be cautious when handling hot sugar syrup, as it can cause severe burns. Use protective gear if necessary.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Tanghulu Candied Fruit Skewers
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
150
Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sodium
 
3
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
39
g
13
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
38
g
42
%
Protein
 
0.2
g
0
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Ruth holding a whisk to her chin.

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4 Comments

    1. Please do and let me know what you think! It’s a fun thing. My grandkids call them glass strawberries.

    1. Hi Maureen, that is a really good question. Technically you can gently stir it just enough to wet the sugar. However, if it is stirred too much the sugar can crystallize. To avoid this it is generally better to let the sugar dissolve as it heats up.

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