Tanghulu

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 14/06/2022 Updated: 01/12/2023
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 25 minutes
Let’s make this beautifully glossy strawberry tanghulu at home! This popular Chinese street snack is made with fresh strawberries coated in a thin sugar syrup.
Tanghulu

Let’s make this beautifully glossy strawberry tanghulu at home! This popular Chinese street snack is made with fresh strawberries and coated in a thin sugar syrup.

Someone holding up three strawberry tangulu.

Tanghulu made with fresh strawberries coated in a glistening crunchy candied sugar make a delicious treat when you are craving something sweet and fruity. This tanghulu recipe uses strawberries but you can substitute in for any fruit of your choice!

Tanghulu is the perfect recipe to make when strawberries are especially sweet during these warm spring and summer months. If you are interested in making more strawberry treats, check out my strawberry jelly cheesecake, Japanese strawberry shortcake, and matcha strawberries!

A plate of strawberry tanghulu with fresh strawberries nearby.

What is Tanghulu(糖葫蘆)?

Tanghulu (糖葫蘆) also called bing tanghulu is a traditional Northern Chinese snack usually made with Chinese hawthorn fruit. The fruit is skewered and dipped in a sugar syrup that adds a sweet crunchy shell to the fruit. Today it is made with strawberries, kiwis, mandarins, and many other fruits. This sweet treat has been made since the Song dynasty and remains popular throughout Northern China.

Up close of a plate of strawberry tanghulu.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Strawberry tanghulu is easy to make and absolutely addicting.
  • This tanghulu recipe only requires 3 pantry staple ingredients.
  • You don’t have to travel to China to have this popular sweet and crunchy tanghulu treat!

Kitchen Equipment

  • Candy Thermometer: a candy thermometer will ensure that you have the exact temperature that you need to have for the ideal crunch.
  • Small saucepan: you will need a small saucepan to heat the sugar syrup.
  • Skewers: you will need bamboo skewers to skewer the strawberries to dip into the hot sugar syrup.
  • Baking tray: you will need a baking tray lined with parchment paper to set the dipped strawberries onto. The parchment paper will prevent the sugar from sticking to the surface.

Ingredients

  • Strawberries: for best results, use fresh strawberries that are washed and dried completely.
  • Granulated Sugar: is the main base for sugar syrup. Once it melts and reaches the right temperature it creates a beautiful shiny, glossy exterior.
  • Corn syrup: I know this is a controversial ingredient, but corn syrup is key for a foolproof sugar syrup that won’t crystallize or seize up when you dip the strawberries into the sugar.
  • Water: creates and thins the sugar syrup and makes the crunch a little softer.

Substitutions and Additions

I made strawberry tanghulu because strawberries are my favorite! However, you can mix it up and customize your tanghulu recipe based on your personal preferences.

Substitutions

  • Fruits: you can use any fruit of your choice for this recipe—kiwi, oranges, blueberries, apples, etc. Just make sure that the fruit is completely dry and not wet when you are dipping them in the sugar syrup.
  • No corn syrup: you can take out the corn syrup and use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. For example, if you use 400 g of sugar you should add 200 ml of water.
  • Brown sugar: you can switch out granulated sugar for brown sugar for a more caramel-flavored coating.

Additions

  • Honey: for additional sweetness at the end, you can add a drizzle of honey when the candy hardens.
  • Food coloring: if you want a more vibrant red glisten around the strawberries, I recommend adding 1-2 drops of food coloring when you add the sugar, water, and corn syrup.

How to Make Tanghulu

You can make this tanghulu recipe right at home with 4 simple steps. It may be a little tricky to master so make sure to read the instructions and tips at least once through before you begin!

  1. Prepare the strawberries. Wash the strawberries and dry them completely. Any remaining moisture will prevent the sugar syrup from coating the strawberries. Skewer the strawberries on sticks.
  1. Line a baking sheet. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  1. Cook the candied sugar until 300°F. In a small saucepan, add the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Mix until combined. Place your candy thermometer in the saucepan and cook on medium heat until it reaches 300°F or 150°C WITHOUT STIRRING about 12-15 minutes. To test if the sugar is ready without a thermometer, drizzle some hot sugar syrup into ice-cold water. If it turns into brittle crystal ribbons that crunches when you bite it then it is ready.
  1. Coat the strawberries. When the temperature is at 300°F or 150°C, turn off the heat, and tilt the pot slightly so the syrup pools to one side. Dip and gently twirl the skewered strawberries until completely coated. Allow the excess syrup to drip off before placing the sugared strawberries onto the lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the strawberries are sugared.
  1. Serve. Allow the sugar coating to harden completely before removing it from the baking sheet. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Up close of someone holding up strawberry tanghulu.

Tips for the Best Tanghulu

  • Make sure your fruit is completely dry. This will ensure that sugar syrup will bind and coat the strawberries. Any moisture will prevent the sugar from binding to the fruit leaving an empty gap.
  • Use a candy thermometer. A candy thermometer takes the guesswork out of how hot the temperature needs to be. You need the temperature to reach exactly 300°F or 150°C for the ultimate hard shell.
  • Do not stir the sugar when you are heating it. Stirring the sugar can set off a chain reaction that can cause sugar to seize up and crystallize the sugar, ruining the entire batch.
  • To clean your saucepan, pour the excess sugar mixture into a disposable can, bottle or jar. Then add water to the saucepan and bring it to a boil mix and pour it down the sink. Repeat to remove all the hardened sugar.
  • For a brighter color add food coloring. If you want your strawberry tanghulu to really pop, you can add 1-2 drops of red food coloring when you add the sugar, water, and corn syrup.

Storage Instructions

This strawberry tanghulu is best served immediately, over time the sugar will absorb the moisture from the fruit and become soft and chewy. However, you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

What is tanghulu made of?

Tanghulu is made with fruit skewered on bamboo skewers that are covered in a hard sugar syrup made with sugar, corn syrup, and water.

Is tanghulu supposed to stick to your teeth?

No, tanghulu should be crisp with an immediate crunch when you take a bite. It should not be sticky or chewy like caramel. This only happens if your sugar syrup was not heated to 300°F or 150°C degrees.

Can I make strawberry tanghulu without a candy thermometer?

Yes! You can make strawberry tanghulu without a candy thermometer. To test if the sugar is ready, simply drizzle the hot sugar syrup into a bowl of cold water. It should instantly harden into brittle crystal ribbons that easily snap. If the crystals bend, then it is not ready yet. However, I recommend using a candy thermometer for best results.

Why do you need corn syrup for tanghulu?

Corn syrup is a common ingredient in hard candy recipes because it is an invert sugar. Invert sugar inhibits the formation of sugar crystals and provides a smooth texture to hard candy. It prevents the sugar syrup from crystalizing and turning goopy when the strawberries are dipped into the syrup.

Can I make this tanghulu recipe without corn syrup?

Yes of course! If you don’t want to use corn syrup for this tanghulu recipe, you can use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water instead. In other words, you should use 400 g of sugar with 200 ml of water.

What other fruit can I use with this Tanghulu recipe?

Tanghulu is traditionally made with hawthorn fruit that is prevalent in China. However, you can use any fruit that you like! It works best with strawberries, mandarins, grapes, blueberries, pineapple, and kiwi.

Did you make Tanghulu?

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Recipe

Up close of someone holding up strawberry tanghulu.

Tanghulu

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Let’s make this beautifully glossy strawberry tanghulu at home! This popular Chinese street snack is made with fresh strawberries coated in a thin sugar syrup.
Servings: 6 skewers
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 25 strawberries washed and stems removed
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • cup (120 g) corn syrup
  • ½ cup (125 g) water

Instructions

  • Prepare the strawberries. Wash the strawberries and dry them completely. Any remaining moisture will prevent the sugar syrup from coating the strawberries. Skewer the strawberries on sticks.
  • Line a baking sheet. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper set aside.
  • Cook the candied sugar until 300°F. In a small saucepan, add the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Mix until combined. Place your candy thermometer in the saucepan and cook on medium heat until it reaches 300°F or 150°C WITHOUT STIRRING about 12-15 minutes. The sugar should be lightly golden and bubbling. To test if the sugar is ready without a thermometer, drizzle some hot sugar syrup into ice cold water. If it turns into brittle crystal ribbons that crunches when you bite it then it is ready.
  • Coat the strawberries. When the temperature is at 300°F or 150°C, turn off the heat, tilt the pot slightly so the syrup pools to one side. Dip and gently twirl the skewered strawberries until completely coated. Allow the excess syrup to drip off before placing the sugared strawberries onto the lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the strawberries are sugared.
  • Serve. Allow the sugar coating to harden completely before removing from the baking sheet. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • Make sure your fruit is completely dry. This will ensure that sugar syrup will bind and coat the strawberries. Any moisture will prevent the sugar from binding to the fruit leaving an empty gap.
  • Use a candy thermometer. This takes the guesswork out of how hot the temperature needs to be. You need the temperature to reach exactly 300°F or 150°C for the ultimate hard shell.
  • Do not stir the sugar when you are heating it. Stirring the sugar can set off a chain reaction that can cause sugar to seize up and crystallize the sugar, ruining the entire batch.
  • To clean your saucepan, pour the excess sugar mixture into a disposable can, bottle or jar. Then add water to the saucepan and bring it to a boil mix and pour it down the sink. Repeat to remove all the hardened sugar.
  • For a brighter color add food coloring. If you want your strawberry tanghulu to really pop, you can add 1-2 drops of red food coloring when you add the sugar, water, and corn syrup.

Nutrition:

Calories: 344kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 78mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 88g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg

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