Snacking on fruit is fun again thanks to tanghulu! Skewered fruit is dipped in an easy and sweet sugar syrup, giving you a glistening and fruity snack no one can pass up. Best of all, it’s easy to make at home using almost any fruit you like!
Much like pasta chips, Jennifer Aniston salad, and dalgona coffee, tanghulu recipes took over TikTok and Instagram for a minute there. And it’s no surprise why. The sugar-coated fruit glistens beautifully and explodes with fruity flavors with each bite, making this fruit snack almost impossible to skip. It doesn’t hurt that it’s easy to make at home, too!
Making candied fruit skewers at home is as simple as heating simple syrup on the stove to a precise temperature before dipping skewered fruit in the sweet mixture. The syrup takes mere minutes to harden around the fruit, leaving you with a sweet snack that’s always a hit at birthday parties, cocktail parties, or any type of get-together!
What is tanghulu?
Tanghulu (pronounced tang-hoo-loo), or candied fruit skewers, is a Northern Chinese street snack made by dipping fruit skewers in syrup. The syrup hardens around the fruit, making this rock candy-like snack hard and crunchy on the outside with juicy and fruity flavors on the inside.
Chinese tanghulu recipes are traditionally made with Chinese hawthorn, a crabapple-looking fruit with a tart flavor and soft texture. But if you don’t want to stick with the traditional version, there are plenty of other fruits to choose from! Scroll down to the FAQs section for more ideas.
- Granulated sugar – Use granulated white sugar or cane sugar. For a deeper, more molasses-like flavor, use brown sugar or coconut sugar. Liquid sweeteners will not work here.
- Tanghulu fruit – There are endless tanghulu fruits to choose from but the popular choices are strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and tangerine sections.
How to make tanghulu
Wash the fruit pieces, pat them dry, and arrange them on bamboo skewers.
Add the sugar and water to a saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat. Once an instant read or candy thermometer measures the mixture at 300ºF, tilt the saucepan and dip the fruit skewers in the syrup. Rotate them to cover each piece evenly.
Let the excess syrup drip off the fruit, then place the skewer in an ice bath. Spin it around to cool.
After it cools, place the skewered fruit on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining fruit skewers, then enjoy!
Tips and tricks
- Always dry the fruit really well. The sugar syrup won’t stick to wet fruit.
- You can arrange as many fruit pieces as you like on the skewers. Just make sure each fruit piece can be dunked in the syrup and/or evenly coated.
- Either use only one type of fruit on each skewer or add different varieties. It helps if the pieces are evenly sized so they can be coated evenly in the syrup.
- Leave the syrup alone as it heats up on the stove. Stirring can cause it to crystalize.
Yes! If you don’t have an instant read or candy thermometer, you can check if the syrup is up to temperature by sticking a wooden skewer in it and then immediately dipping it in cold water. If the syrup hardens immediately, it’s ready.
The best fruit for tanghulu will have a slightly firm texture and won’t have a wet surface (apple slices, for example, wouldn’t work well). You can make tanghulu with small orange segments, pineapple, kiwis, bananas, strawberries, cherries, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, and melon balls.
Tanghulu is made with a syrup that uses a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. For this recipe, you need 2 cups of granulated sugar. This ratio makes the sugar slightly thicker and sweeter than a traditional simple syrup.
That’s a telltale sign that the syrup wasn’t heated to a proper 300ºF. When the syrup is heated to the right temperature, it should only take a few minutes to harden around the fruit.
I recommend snacking on your homemade tanghulu as soon as the syrup cools and hardens because the hard candy-crusted exterior will soften over time. Still, if you end up with leftovers, wrap them in plastic and store them in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
More fun and easy snacks
- Chocolate Charcuterie Board
- Salted Caramel Yogurt Popsicles
- Fresh Pineapple Salsa
- Irish Nachos
- Healthy Strawberry Smoothies
- Orange Julius Recipe
Did you make this tanghulu recipe?
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PS – Be sure to check out this full post on 30+ tasty Chinese desserts!
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound fruits (strawberries, grapes, blueberries, tangerine sections, etc.)
- Wash fruit and pat dry.
- Arrange fruit on a bamboo skewer. Only add as many pieces as you can dip into the pot.
- Bring water and sugar mixture to a boil.
- Add the sugar and water to your pot. Heat over medium-high heat until an instant read thermometer reads 300 degrees. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Do not stir the mixture. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can check if it’s ready by sticking a wooden skewer in it and then immediately dipping it in cold water. If it becomes hard immediately, the sugar is ready
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prepare an ice bath with ice cubes and cold water in a large bowl.
- When the sugar water mixture has reached the desired temperature, tilt the saucepan and dip the skewered fruit in the syrup, rotating to cover it entirely. Allow the excess syrup to drip off and then place it in the ice bath, spinning to cool. Place the skewers on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining skewers.
- Enjoy immediately.