Tanghulu, or Chinese Candied Fruit, is a traditional winter season treat in Northern China made with hawthorn or ‘haws’ but OMGosh how cool are these glossy, candied strawberries and fruit! Use an assortment of fruit to make an amazing array of colorful candied fruit, berries, citrus, and more!!
Tanghulu Recipe (Candied Strawberries, Grapes, Tangerines)
I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to share these super fun, shiny, and just GORGEOUS strawberries and fruit! I mean, I’ve made my crack grapes plenty of times now because the kids can’t get enough of them.
But this. It’s one of my most deliciously decadent indulgences!
What Is Tanghulu?
Tanghulu ( also called bingtanghulu or Traditional Chinese 糖葫蘆 ) is a candy-coated fruit enjoyed during the winter season of Northern China. Street vendors sell the brightly colored shiny, red, sour berries on bamboo skewers with all of the berries candy-coated together.
The sweet treat is traditionally made with the fruit of the mountain hawthorn ( also called Chinese haw, Chinese hawthorn, hawberry, or simply ‘haw’ ). The berries, to me, very closely resemble small crab apples in appearance. Crab apples are also certainly a sour enough fruit to coat with sugar!
Since haws are not found in grocery stores near me, I have opted to coat a variety of fruit tanghulu-style!
Tanghulu has become popular through a trend on TikTok and for its crackling sounds when eaten. It is frequently tagged with ASMR ( autonomous sensory meridian response ) for those that enjoy the auditory stimulation as well.
Ingredients Needed to Candy the Fruit
Just a few ingredients and supplies and you’re on your way to making some amazing sugar glass-coated candied fruit! The result is amazingly tasty and oh so pretty!
- Sugar – the main component for making hard candy, or sugar glass as this coating is more commonly known as. Use regular granulated sugar to make your tanghulu.
- Water – a bit of water gets the process started, but the boiling will evaporate the water to form the high shine appearance of our candied shell!
- Corn Syrup – we need a bit of fructose to help prevent the candy syrup from crystallizing while you heat it. The corn syrup keeps the sugar liquified longer so that you have a few extra seconds to work at coating your fruit.
- Fruit – choose your favorite fruits! I’d suggest checking out my details below about how well fruit varieties can be stored after coating them with candy. My favorites are what you see here, strawberries ( addictive and delicious! ), grapes, and Cuties.
How Do I Make Candied Fruit Without Corn Syrup?
I’ve only ever tried this with strawberries, but slice a small strawberry up into thin slices and add it to your sugar water combination. This will add the glucose needed, and work as a substitute for the corn syrup in any sugar glass.
You can also use a pinch of cream of tartar to stop the formation of sugar crystals. The cream of tartar aids in keeping your sugar syrup smoother, longer.
If you love this easy-to-make candied fruit, check out my ridiculously tasty crack grapes! Everything you love about that glossy, crackly coating plus tangy bits of candy to make the coating complete!
How to Make Tanghulu
Other than your ingredients, there are a few things you’ll need. I suggest using a candy thermometer, a heavy-bottom saucepan, and you’ll need skewers. The skewers should be long enough that when coating the fruit, you aren’t in danger of burning your fingers or hands!
- In your saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Bring to medium-high heat and allow the syrup to come to a boil without stirring!
- Prepare your fruit. Wash and dry the fruit if you want, but do make sure that it is dry. The extra water will seize your syrup! Place skewers into the ends of large fruit, or stack lots of fruits onto one long skewer. Alternatively, you can also candy-coat small bunches of grapes ( just leave a good stem portion for you to hang onto ).
- Boil the syrup until it reaches 300ºF ( 150ºC ) which is the hard crack stage. Remember, no stirring!
- Once you have reached the hard crack stage of boiling your syrup, reduce the heat by one increment and start coating your fruit ASAP! Spoon the sugar syrup over the skewered fruit, moving quickly through the process.
- Place coated fruit onto a parchment paper-lined plate, surface, dish, or cookie sheet. Allow the coating to set up until firm, about 10 – 15 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!
How to Get Hard Candy Out of Pans
You’ve made your delicious tanghulu strawberries and fruit, now how do you get all of that hard candy out of your saucepan? The solution is to refill the saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
Everything dissolves into the water and voila! You have a clean pan again 🙂
Storing Tanghulu Candied Fruit
This part is going to depend on the type of fruit that you used.
In the case of strawberries, the thin skin of the berry means that you have 2 – 3 hours at most to enjoy your tanghulu strawberries. Enjoy them quickly before the fruit starts seeping and you end up with a sugary sweet mess!
The same holds true for peeled tangerines, mandarin oranges, Cuties ( or Halos, that are both Clementine mandarin orange hybrids ), apricots, and sliced fruits. If you slice navel oranges, blood oranges, pineapple, or other tropical fruits they will also have the fruit juices exposed to the candy coating.
Fruits with thicker skin like grapes are ideal for coating with sugar glass! Candy-coated grapes will last around 4 days in an airtight container.
Humidity will affect this greatly! I have also experimented enough to know that my refrigerated tanghulu grapes may still look OK, but the glossy candy coating is actually sticky when serving.
Larger berries like honeyberry may also hold up well to candy-coating. I also suspect that there are many less common fruits that would be excellent for the tanghulu-style coating too.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup corn syrup
- 2 lbs strawberries (or assorted fruit)
- In a saucepan combine the syrup ingredients: sugar, water, corn syrup. Heat the syrup over medium-high heat.
- Prepare your fruit with skewers. *I have to wash everything, that's why you see the abundance of paper towels. I was busy drying all the fruit!
- Boil the syrup until it reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) or the hard crack stage.
- Once you have reached the hard crack stage, reduce the heat by one bit to keep the coating boiling. Spoon the candy coating over your skewered fruit. Move quickly through the process or you won't get everything coated in one batch of sugar syrup.
- Allow the coated fruit to setup as you continue to coat the additional fruit. Place coated berries, grapes, tangerines, etc onto a parchment paper-lined plate, cookie sheet, or dish.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma’s kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!