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Tanghulu

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You've got to try this delicious candied fruit recipe, tanghulu. It's originally a Chinese recipe made with Chinese hawthorn berries but I'll show you how to make it with strawberries.

Like anything with sugar work, you have to work quickly and have everything prepped in advance, but it is possible to make a perfect tanghulu recipe.

You'll make a hard crack sugar candy coating for your fruit. When you bite into it, it has a wonderful crunch! It's so fun to eat.

Three candied strawberries on wooden skewers.
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Tanghulu Origins

Tanghulu, also called bingtang hulu, is a popular street food in Northern China that's made with Hawthorn fruit and sugar. Multiple berries are placed on long bamboo sticks and dipped in a sugar syrup that hardens into a sweet treat.

Tanghulu has been a popular treat for hundreds of years as it originated in the Song Dynasty.

Now, tanghulu is made with more than just hawthorn berries - you might find it made from kiwis, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, pineapples, bananas, and grapes. They're a fun treat to make for Chinese New Year!

What Does Tanghulu Taste Like?

Tanghulu tastes a bit like a jolly rancher. It's fruity with a delicious sugar crunch. It has a similar texture to hard fruit candies.

This tanghulu adds a candy coating to whatever fruit you would like (we recommend strawberries) and adds a sweet crunch to it. It's a delicious treat that's fun to eat!

Why You'll Love this Strawberry Tanghulu

You may have seen this candied fruit snack on TikTok, where it's gotten wildly popular - mostly due to the fact that it has a super satisfying crunch when you bite down on it.

It's a really fun recipe to make and fun to serve to friends and family, who will all enjoy the crunchy sweetness!

Strawberries on skewers, a cup of granulated sugar, and ½ cup of water in a plastic measuring cup.

Ingredients

Here's what is needed to make this tanghulu recipe: 

  • 10 pieces of fresh fruit (strawberries, other berries, other fruit of choice)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • Small pot
  • 10 long bamboo skewers
  • Candy thermometer (not required, but highly recommended)

I've found the maximum number of strawberries/pieces of fruit you can fully dip and coat when using 1 cup of sugar is ten berries. If you'd like to make more, you'll need to increase the amount of sugar and water you use. You will end up with some excess syrup, but cleaning up is easy (see below for cleanup tips).

See the recipe card for full details.

How to Make this Recipe

This recipe doesn't call for many ingredients but it can be a little tricky to make. When you're heating sugar it can quickly go from a perfect consistency to burnt. If you have a candy thermometer, I highly recommend you use it.

Here are the steps to make this recipe.

First prep your berries 

Wash and dry your berries. Push them onto a long bamboo skewer. If you're leaving the greens on your strawberries, pull them up and away from the berry so when you dip them, the leaves don't get stuck in the sugar. Place the berries on a silpat or parchment paper near your stovetop.

Strawberries on skewers on a piece of parchment paper.

Next prep the cold water bath

Place at least an inch of very cold water and a few pieces of ice on a rimmed baking sheet, in a 9x13 pan, or any other dish your pot can easily fit into. This water bath will help stop the hot sugar syrup from overheating once it comes to temperature. 

Then you'll heat the sugar

Combine the sugar and water in a small pot. Heat on high heat until the sugar mixture is boiling and at a temperature of at least 250 degrees. Test the sugar water mixture readiness by dipping a wooden skewer into the sugar and then immediately into the cold water bath. If the sugar is hard and immovable, it's ready. If the sugar doesn't harden it hasn't hit the right temperature. Keep heating it and try again in another minute. The sugar should not go above 300 degrees or it will burn.

Next you'll cool the sugar

Dip the pot with the sugar into the ice bath for 1 second and then remove and set back on the stovetop.

Dip the berries

Working quickly, tip the pot to the side so the sugar is deeper. Dip the fruit skewers in and twirl them to coat the fruit fully. Remove them, allow excess sugar to drip off, and then place them on the parchment or silpat. Repeat until you run out of fruit or the sugar becomes too hard.

Candied strawberries on skewers sitting on a white plate.

More Fruit Dessert Recipes to Try

If you love delicious fruit desserts like this one, check out some of our other favorites.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tanghulu

What is the best fruit to use for tanghulu?

You need to use fresh fruit for tanghulu. Fresh strawberries, other berries, or your favorite fruit will work. A fruit with a slightly tart taste is great, as the hawthorn fruit traditionally used has a tart taste, but any fruit will work. 

Why is my tanghulu sticky?

The most likely reason your tanghulu is sticky is that the sugar didn't get hot enough. Ensure your sugar is at least 250 degrees F before testing to see if it's ready.

The second issue could be that you got too much moisture in the sugar by not drying off your fruit before dipping it.

How long does candied fruit last?

The candied tanghulu will only last for about 30 to 45 minutes before it starts to get too juicy and break down the sugar. Tanghulu is best served immediately.

Can you put tanghulu in the fridge?

Unfortunately, tanghulu does not last well in the refrigerator. The fruit tends to release juice and the sugar breaks down and gets sticky. The best way to eat tanghulu is immediately after you make it!

Can you make tanghulu without a thermometer?

You can make tanghulu without a thermometer, but you need to be vigilant about watching the sugar. The sugar will need to be at a roiling boil. You can check to see if it's ready by dipping a wooden skewer in the sugar and then immediately dipping the skewer into a bowl of ice water. If the sugar is hard and immovable, the sugar is ready. If you can squeeze or move the sugar, it's not ready.

How do I clean the hardened sugar from my pan and tools?

Excess sugar can be removed from the pot just by soaking the pot and tools in water for an hour. Or you can add a few cups of water to the pot and boil it with the tools inside, let the sugar dissolve, and then you can pour it out and clean your pot.

A closeup shot of tanghulu strawberries on a white plate.

More Fruit Dessert Recipes to Try

If you love delicious fruit desserts like this one, check out some of our other favorites.

Tips for Making this Recipe

Links on some posts are affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cooking Tips - Make sure to dry your fruit before dipping it in the sugar. Also, have your fruit prepped and on skewers before heating the sugar. The sugar has a very short window between being ready to dip and burning.

Recommended Tools - I would highly recommend using a candy thermometer when making this recipe. If you need one, I use the Escali candy thermometer. If you'd like to make this recipe without a candy thermometer, please see my notes under "Frequently Asked Questions about Tanghulu."

Storing Tips - This recipe does not store well in the refrigerator. It can sit on parchment paper for 30 to 40 minutes before it needs to be served, but any longer than that and the juices in the fruit will break down the sugar coating (especially high water content fruit like strawberries). If you do need to save it, place it in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but it will lose its crunch.

If you try this recipe, let us know! Connect with us on Instagram and share your photos or leave us a rating.

Yield: 8 to 10 pieces

Tanghulu Recipe

Three tanghulu strawberries on skewers.

This fun sugared fruit recipe has a delightful crunch!

Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 strawberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water

Instructions

  1. Wash and pat dry the strawberries. Place each strawberry on a skewer or long toothpick. Pull the greens back from the top of the berries so they won't get stuck in the sugar. Set the strawberries on a piece of parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. Fill a rimmed baking sheet or a large pan with at least 1 inch of cold water. Set next to the stove.
  3. Add the sugar to a small pot then pour the water over the sugar making sure every part of the sugar gets wet. DO NOT stir the sugar. Shake the pot if necessary to cover the sugar. Put a candy thermometer on the side of the pot to continuously check the temperature.
  4. Bring the sugar to a boil over high heat. Once the sugar reaches 250 degrees F on the candy thermometer, check the sugar readiness by dipping a wooden skewer in the sugar and then dipping it immediately into the cold water. If it's hard and immovable, the sugar is ready. If you can still manipulate the sugar, let it continue to boil. The sugar should not go above 300 degrees F or it will burn.
  5. Once the sugar is ready, turn off the heat and dip the pot in the cold water for one second. Put the pot back on the stovetop.
  6. Tip the pot so the sugar pools on one side and begin dipping the strawberries one by one. Twirl them in the sugar, allow any excess sugar to drip back in the pot, and then place them back on the parchment paper or silpat. Work quickly to dip the rest of the berries.
  7. The sugar on the berries should harden almost immediately.*

Notes

*If the sugar is not hard after 1 minute, the sugar either didn't get hot enough or the berries were too wet. They'll still taste good but unfortunately, there's no way to get them to harden up if the sugar didn't get hot enough.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 166Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 1gSugar: 42gProtein: 0g

Mike

Saturday 3rd of June 2023

Great recipe. Strawberry is probably a better idea than hawthorns as you don't need to worry about crunching down on a pip. Thanks!

Gina

Thursday 23rd of February 2023

Hi, thank you for the recipe, can you make it ahead of time for a party, and do you keep it in the refrigerator? How long will they keep?

EW

Thursday 23rd of February 2023

They really don't keep well in the refrigerator - the sugar coating becomes sticky. If you are serving them at a party, I would make them as close to the event as possible! No more than a few hours before and keep them at room temperature till serving.

Kat

Saturday 26th of November 2022

Is it possible to use powdered sugar as a substitute of regular suger

EW

Saturday 26th of November 2022

I don't think it will work sadly! I tried to make tanghulu with multiple kinds of sugar and none of them worked besides regular granulated sugar.

Sophie P

Monday 9th of August 2021

how would you clean the pot after?

Katrina

Thursday 10th of March 2022

@Emily, that’s another great way to clean the pot! you can also fill the pot up with water and let it boil on the stove dissolves all the sugar and pour it all out!

Emily

Monday 9th of August 2021

Great question! It's actually easier than you'd think. When it's rock hard in the pot you can't really scrape it off, so you have to let the pot soak with a few inches of water for an hour or two. The sugar will all dissolve and then you can just pour it out and wash off the pot! Hope this helps.

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