Learn how to make this simple Tanghulu or (Chinese Candied Fruit) recipe using two simple ingredients and your favorite fruit and make candied grapes, candied strawberries, or mandarin oranges. This is fun and makes a delicious treat that resembles a unique Chinese street food also known as Hawthorn Candy. Better yet, this recipe does not use corn syrup!
If you're looking for a sweet and crunchy snack, Tanghulu is perfect! It is a traditional Chinese street food made by skewering fresh fruit, in a sugar syrup and allowing them to dry, resulting in a crispy outer layer with juicy fruit inside. It can be made with any fruit: candied grapes and hard shell strawberries are popular here in the US. Both tanghulu and candied grapes are delicious treats that are perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth. Whether you're looking for a fun and unique snack to try or a tasty dessert to serve at your next gathering, this is sure to please.
This recipe makes a simple, yet decadent dessert that can be a fun way to entertain guests at a party. Try our other fun entertaining desserts like our Oreo Trifle. Or try these tasty candied orange slices.
- Bamboo Skewers
- Granulated Sugar, white
- Strawberries, or other fruit like grapes, mandarin oranges, or blueberries
See recipe card for quantities.
Begin by washing and drying your desired fruit. I like to keep the tops of the strawberries on for a cute look, but you can remove the tops if desired.
Using bamboo skewers, skewer 1-4 pieces of fruit on each skewer. Keep the fruit the same, or create a cute pattern.
Prepare a sheet pan and line it with either a silicone mat, or parchment paper.
In a medium sized pan, combine the sugar and water. Mix briefly.
On medium heat, bring the sugar water to a boil. Boil until the temperature reaches 300 degrees, about 10-15 minutes. Measure the temperature using a candy thermometer.
When the desired temperature of 300 degrees is met, dip the skewered fruit into the boiled sugar water and remove once the fruit is covered in the syrup.
The sugar water syrup mixture should harden around the dipped fruit almost immediately upon removal.
Place each bamboo skewer on the lined sheet pan to finish cooling.
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also cover any leftovers with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.
Hint: If your sugar water syrup is done, the fruit should harden almost immediately after you dip the fruit. If it doesn't reach the correct temperature, the sugar water mixture will create a sticky coating but will not harden.
You can use any type of fruit when making this hard shell fruit. Tart fruits are fun to candy as the hard candy shell brings a delicious sweet and sour taste.
- Mandarin Oranges
- Cherries - remove the pits before dipping
Depending on how you want your bamboo skewers to be presented, you can mix up which fruit goes on each skewer. Make sure to only go as high as you can dip in your pot.
- All one fruit - A single strawberry or a row of grapes makes a nice presentation.
- Mixed fruit - create a cute pattern with your fruit alternating back and forth ⅓ up the skewer.
It is important to use a candy thermometer when making this dessert.
You will also need bamboo skewers, a medium pot, a sheet pan and a silicone mat or parchment paper.
This recipe is best when first made. If needed, store any extra fruit in and airtight container in the refrigerator in order to maintain the hard shell. Humidity and moisture will break down the hard sugar coat. If kept properly, the hard shelled fruit will last up to two weeks.
Cleaning the pan
When boiling sugar and water, the syrup mixture can get stuck to the bottom of the pan. To clean, sprinkle the scorched bottom with baking soda and then cover with water. Bring the water to a boil for 20-30 minutes. This will help loosen the burnt on sugar.
Use a candy thermometer when boiling the sugar water. Other methods to check the temperature of the sugar water are not as reliable and may cause you to burn your sugar water. If the temperature of the sugar water doesn't get hot enough, the dipped fruit will have a sticky and gooey coating but the will not have a hard shell you are looking for.
Tanghulu (Chinese Candied Fruit)
- 1 pound fresh fruit of your choice - strawberries grapes, mandarin oranges, blueberries
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- Wash and dry your fruit. If using strawberries you can choose to cut the tops off or leave them on.
- Take a bamboo skewer and add 1-4 pieces of fruit on each skewer.
- Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat, or parchment paper.
- In a medium sized pot, combine the sugar and water, mix. Bring the pot of sugar water to a boil on medium heat. Bring the boiling sugar water to 300 degrees. Check using a candy thermometer. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
- Dip the skewered fruit into the boiled sugar water. Remove immediately after the fruit is fully submerged in the sugar syrup. The syrup will harden immediately. See photos above for a great visual.
- Place each bamboo skewer on the lined sheet pan to finish cooling.
- Serve immediately or store up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Use a candy thermometer when boiling the sugar water. We have found that other methods are not as reliable as using a candy thermometer.
- Keeping any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator is important to maintaining that hard shell.
A method to candy fruit like strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and oranges. It is similar to the Hawthorn candy which is a Chinese street food.
Different from other candied fruit, this method is a hard sugar syrup that surrounds the fruit. This recipe does not use corn syrup.
This sugar shelled fruit has a sweet taste from the sugar coating and depending on the tartness of your fruit, it can have a sweet and sour taste to it.