How to Make Tanghulu (Candied Fruit)

4.95 from 36 votes
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Crunchy, sweet, and packed with delicious candied strawberries, my version of the Northern Chinese tanghulu is low-effort, high-impact cooking at its finest. Enjoy a strawberry tanghulu or make other candied fruit.

Grape, blueberry and strawberry tanghulu

You’ve probably seen tanghulu fruit – or candied fruit – all over Instagram and TikTok, where everything from candied grapes to crunchy strawberries is coated in a sweet sugar syrup, left to harden, and put on a bamboo stick. And while I can’t whisk you to China for a taste of covered tonghulu, I can introduce you to my tanghulu recipe.

Strawberry tanghulu – my favorite – is so versatile. You can serve the glazed strawberries as a delicious dessert, midday snack, or even just on their own. I love them with a glass of my favorite bubble tea for a real boost of natural sweetness.

Three skewers with strawberry tanghulu

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What Is Tanghulu

Street food from Northern China, this fruit snack is said to date back centuries. More specifically, to the Guanzhong region during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Tanghulu was believed to have been created for the wife of a member of the dynasty. A folk doctor was enlisted to create a snack that would help her gain weight, so he covered pieces of fruit – traditionally, hawthorn – in sugar syrup.

Since then, this tanghulu recipe has become more and more popular. And nowadays, you can find all sorts of tanghulu fruit and tons of candied fruit recipes – crunchy strawberries, candied grapes, and other sugar-glazed fruit.

What Is Tanghulu Made of

  • Sugar: Use white granulated sugar over other kinds for a stronger syrup.
  • Water: Fresh drinking water.
  • Fruit: You don’t have to make candied hawthorn. Now, tanghulu is made with fruit like strawberries, green grapes, kiwi, blueberries – or whatever your favorites are.
Ingredients for tanghulu

You’ll also need a candy thermometer or other good food thermometer and skewers (metal or bamboo skewers).

Tools needed for making tanghulu

How to Make Tanghulu

This candied fruit recipe requires just a few simple steps. Prep the fruit, make the sugar mixture, then dip the fruit skewers and set the sugar-coated fruit.

Step 1: Prep the Fruit

Wash and pat dry the strawberries (or fruit of choice). Make sure to dry them well – we don’t want any extra moisture. If wanted, remove the green stems.

Then arrange the strawberries on a skewer – you can add just one or several if using smaller berries.

Then set the skewers aside while preparing the sugar syrup.

Strawberries arranged on skewers

Step 2: How to Make Tanghulu Sugar

In a medium-sized sauce pan, add the sugar and water. Then bring them to a boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

The temperature of the sugar water mixture has to reach about 300ºF/150ºC. This will take 5-10 minutes; the syrup will start to reduce. Check the temperature occasionally.

Chef’s Tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, here are two other methods for checking the syrup temperature.

Dip a small spoon in icy water. Then dip it in the sugar mixture. If the syrup hardens onto the spoon immediately, it has reached the right temperature.

Alternatively, drizzle some syrup into a bowl of ice water. It should set right away and form brittle crystal threads that break easily. If they bend, the syrup is not ready.

Steps for preparing sugar syrup for tanghulu

Step 3: How to Make Strawberry Tanghulu

After the sugar syrup has reached the required temperature, remove the pot from the heat. Take one of the skewers and quickly dip the strawberries in the mixture. Make sure they are all coated.

Prop the pot at an angle & dip the skewer in the deep part of the syrup or use a spoon to help cover all the fruit.

Place the skewer on parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet – the sugar coating should harden quickly and create a hard candy shell. Repeat with the rest of the skewers. Then enjoy your candied strawberries.

Strawberry tanghulu on a plate

Tanghulu Grapes

To make candied grapes, you can use the same steps. First, wash and dry the grapes well. Then dip the grape skewers in the hot sugar syrup.

Finally, place the candy grapes on parchment paper for the sugar coating to set.

Can Tanghulu Sugar be Used on Other Fruit

Yes, you can use this candy strawberries recipe for other fruit too. Choose your favorite from blueberries, kiwi (cut into thick slices or half/quarter moons), Hawthorn berries, kumquats, cherries, apples, tangerines, pineapple, or even cherry tomatoes. These all would make an amazing crunchy candied fruit snack.

So no need to be searching for tanghulu near me, just make your own at home!

Blueberries and grapes arranged on wooden sticks

How to Store Tanghulu

Tangulu sugar fruit is best enjoyed right away. In this way, with every bite, you can enjoy the hard candy.

If you need to store the candy fruit, cover lightly with plastic wrap and keep it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that the sugar coating will become softer as time goes by.

Strawberry, grape, and blueberry tanhulu on parchment paper

FAQs

How much sugar and water for tanghulu?

Use the ratio of 2:1 sugar to water – you can adjust based on how much candy fruit you’re making.

How long does tanghulu take to harden?

If the syrup’s been heated to the right temperature, the tanghulu fruit should harden almost immediately. If you are having issues, you can dip the candied fruit in ice cold water.

Why is my tanghulu sticky?

Too much moisture has likely gotten into the sugar syrup. You have to cook the sugar to 300°F/150ºC to get it to the “hard crack” stage of candying. 

How long does tanghulu last?

Tanghulu is best enjoyed immediately. But, if stored properly in a sealed, airtight container, your tanghulu can last for up to two weeks – though this will depend on the kind of fruit you use.

Why is my tanghulu melting?

It’s likely the sugar syrup wasn’t hot enough or you’ve exposed it to too high humidity. Keep the tanghulu fruit in a cool place and make sure your sugar is cooked to exactly 300°F/150ºC before using. 

Why not refrigerate tangulu?

The juices from the fruit are released in the fridge, which seeps into the syrup and causes it to dissolve. You can prevent this by storing it properly.

Other Sweet Treats

If you try this tanghulu recipe (candied strawberries), I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

How to Make Tanghulu (Candied Fruit)

4.95 from 36 votes
By: Samira
Learn how to make tanghulu at home – a crunchy Chinese candied fruit snack. My tanghulu recipe is simple and easy, using strawberries, grapes, or your favorite fruit!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 or more

Equipment

Ingredients  

  • 1 lb strawberries AND/OR blueberries, grapes, or other fruit of choice (see Notes below)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions 

Prepare the Fruit

  • Wash and pat dry the fruit well. Remove the green stems from strawberries (optional). Cut larger fruit into smaller bite-sized pieces.
  • Arrange the fruit on a skewer—add just one, a couple, or several. Set the skewers aside.
  • Fill a bowl with cold water and add a few ice cubes to make an ice bath.

Make the syrup

  • Add the sugar and water to a medium-sized saucepan and bring them to a boil over medium heat. Dorystallize. Only if needed (e.g., if not stir so the sugar doesn't c the sugar is piled in the middle of the pan), use a metal spoon and gently stir just once or twice.
  • The temperature of the sugar syrup has to reach about 300ºF/150ºC. This takes 5-10 minutes- the syrup will start to reduce and become amber in color.
    Check the temperature occasionally with a thermometer. Alternatively, drizzle some syrup into the bowl of ice water. It should set right away and form brittle crystal threads that break easily. If they bend, the syrup is not ready.

Dip the skewers

  • Once the sugar syrup has reached the required temperature, remove the pot from the heat. You can prot the pot at an angle so it's easier to dip the skewers in the deep part.
  • Take one of the skewers and quickly dip it in the mixture, making sure all the fruit is coated in the sugar syrup. Then, immediately dip it in the ice water so the coating can crystalize quickly over the fruit.
  • Place the skewer on a plate and repeat the steps with the rest of the fruit.
    Your tanghulu is now ready to enjoy!

Notes

Fruit options: Choose fruit with a firm texture, a sour or tangy flavor, and juicy inside, like strawberries, grapes, blueberries, kiwi slices, orange wedges, Hawthorn berries, kumquats, cherries, apples, tangerines, pineapple, or even cherry tomatoes.
To store: Tangulu fruit is best enjoyed right away. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Avoid using plastic wrap, and don’t refrigerate.
Check the blog post for more tips!
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Shelf life: Eat Immediately

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 0.3g, Fat: 0.3g, Saturated Fat: 0.01g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g, Sodium: 2mg, Potassium: 70mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 43g, Vitamin A: 5IU, Vitamin C: 27mg, Calcium: 8mg, Iron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

4.95 from 36 votes (33 ratings without comment)

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10 Comments

  1. elaine osben says:

    I could do three skewers max before the syrup crystalized! What did I do wrong?

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Elaine,
      It sounds like the syrup might have crystallized because it cooled down too quickly. To prevent this, try dipping the fruit into the syrup while it’s still hot. You can also try slightly heating the syrup again if it starts to crystallize. I hope this helps!

  2. CCH78 says:

    3 stars
    Not sure how I managed to mess this one up. I cook and bake A LOT. Should’ve been so simple for the kids but… stayed syrup. Never hardened. Help???? 🙁
    Also should have said that I tried five minutes then ten then fifteen and after twenty just gave up.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi there.
      The sugar syrup must reach 300°F (150°C). At this point, you can quickly dip the fruit, and the coating will harden. You can also place the dipped fruit in a bowl with ice water. I hope this helps.

  3. Mia says:

    5 stars
    unfortunately i burnt the sugar so that’s fun

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      So sorry to hear this, Mia! While the sugar syrup needs to reach 300ºF/150ºC, please boil it at medium heat so it doesn’t burn.

  4. Rahma says:

    this tanghlu was delicous

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Glad you liked it, Rahma!

  5. Nyoka says:

    5 stars
    My kids love it . We made strawberries

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Awww, glad you all liked it! Strawberry Tanghulu is delicious!