Tanghulu: Candied Hawthorn

Tanghulu is one of the most famous snacks sold by street vendors in China. Made with candied hawthorn berries skewered on sticks, these delicious treats look like glossy jewels and have a super-satisfying crunch when you bite into them. It’s also a fun and easy recipe to make with friends and family!
Tanghulu pinit

About This Easy Tanghulu Recipe

Tanghulu, also known as candied hawthorn or bingtanghulu, is a traditional Chinese treat popular in northern China. Traditionally made with hawthorn, a common fruit in China, this recipe can also be done with other fruits like strawberries, cherries, grapes, blueberries, mandarins, kiwi, or pineapples.

The origins of this candied fruit snack seem to go back 800 years ago to the Song Dynasty when all of the court’s physicians struggled to find a cure for the emperor’s concubine when a strange sickness fell upon her.

She miraculously recovered when a doctor who was not from the court prescribed her hawthorn berries coated in hardened sugar syrup. The concubine miraculously got better and tanghulu gained immense popularity among the common people. Since the Qing Dynasty, tanghulu has become a traditional snack in China.

Hawthorn berries are small fruits that grow on shrubs and trees, look similar to crab apples, and have a sweet and tangy flavor. They are loaded with antioxidants and are even used in traditional Chinese medicine as a herbal remedy for digestive problems, high blood pressure, and heart issues.

To make this delicious snack, all you need are hawthorn berries or any other fruit, sugar, and water. The tiny red fruits are arranged on long bamboo skewers and are coated in clear sugar syrup. It tastes sweet and sour and is not only delicious but very pretty, too, with the shiny red fruits symbolizing good luck.

The only difference between a traditional candied fruit and tanghulu is that rather than a soft fruit, the tanghulu recipe ensures that the fruit is coated in hardened syrup that creates a hard, crunchy shell, delivering the most satisfying crunch with each bite!


What You Need for This Tanghulu Recipe

Tanghulu Recipe Ingredients

Ingredient Notes

  • Fruit: I love using hawthorn berries to make these candied fruit snacks because the sour and tart flavors of the fruit perfectly complement the sugary coating.
  • Sugar: I have used white granulated sugar.
  • Water: Just simple, plain water.


Ingredient Substitutions

  • Hawthorn Berries: If you can’t find them, you may also use other fruits like strawberries, cherries, grapes, blueberries, mandarins, kiwi, or pineapples. Just make sure to use firm fruits because if they are too soft, they will slip off the skewer and leak the juice.



How can I store tanghulu?

These candied fruits are best consumed as soon as they are cooled so that you can enjoy the crunchy shell. To maintain the crunchiness, you can also store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Why is my tanghulu sticky?

If your tanghulu is sticky, it is probably because the syrup was not hot enough or you did not dry off your fruits before dipping them in the syrup.

Tanghulu Recipe

Tanghulu: Candied Hawthorn

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 10 min Total Time 20 mins


If you like sweet treats with a hint of tartness and a delightful crunch, you’ll love these candied hawthorn berries!

Yield: 10


How To Make Tanghulu Step By Step

  1. Wash and pat dry the hawthorn berries and arrange them on bamboo skewers. 4-5 pieces per skewer is recommended.

    Tanghulu Recipe Step 1
  2. Add the water and sugar into a wok or a large saucepan with a good handle, mix them well, and bring to a boil over medium heat until bubbles appear, the color changes, and it becomes a thick syrup, around 10 to 15 minutes.

    Tanghulu Recipe Step 2
  3. When the water and sugar mixture is ready, dip the fruit skewer into the syrup to coat the fruit.

    Tanghulu Recipe Step 3
  4. Place the skewers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat or place them in a jar, and let them cool. Enjoy!

    Tanghulu Recipe Step 4


  • To check if the syrup is ready, you may use a candy thermometer. When the temperature reaches 150℃ / 300℉, the mixture is ready. Alternatively, if you do not have a candy thermometer, you may use chopsticks or a spoon to dip into the syrup and then in cold water. When it solidifies quickly, the mixture is ready.
  • The sugar coating should harden almost immediately.
  • If you put too many fruits on the skewer, it will be more challenging to coat all the fruits with syrup.
  • To create a clear syrup, do not stir the sugar and water mixture when it starts to boil. If you stir, it will crystallize.
  • Be very careful as the syrup is very hot.
  • You need to work quickly because it will crystallize as soon as the syrup starts to cool, making it difficult to use.