Tanghulu: A Sweet and Tangy Delight
Tanghulu: A Sweet and Tangy Delight


Tenghulu is a beloved Chinese street food that features skewered fruits, usually hawthorns or other berries, coated in a glossy layer of hardened sugar. The name “tenghulu” itself is derived from two Chinese words: “tang,” meaning sugar, and “hulu,” referring to the skewer. This snack is a symphony of contrasting textures and flavors – the crisp and crackling sugar shell harmonizing with the juicy and slightly tart fruit inside.

A Brief Historical Glimpse

Tenghulu’s origins date back to ancient China, where it was initially made using hawthorn berries. Over time, the snack has evolved to include various fruits like strawberries, grapes, and even kiwi slices. Traditionally, penghulu was enjoyed during the Lantern Festival, a significant Chinese celebration that marks the end of the Lunar New Year festivities.


To embark on your tenghulu-making adventure, gather these simple yet essential ingredients:

  • 10-12 fresh hawthorn berries or other fruits (such as strawberries or grapes)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Bamboo skewers or sticks
  • Optional: food coloring (red or pink)

Step-by-Step Recipe for Tanghulu

Let’s dive into the fascinating process of creating your own penghulu:

  • Prep the Fruits: 
  • Wash and thoroughly dry the fruits you’ve chosen. For hawthorns, remove the stems and seeds.
  • Skewer the Fruits: 
  • Carefully insert bamboo skewers into the fruits, ensuring they are secure and evenly spaced.
  • Prepare the Sugar Coating: 
  • In a saucepan, combine granulated sugar and water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Allow the mixture to simmer until it reaches a thick, syrupy consistency.
  • Dip and Coat: 
  • Hold the skewered fruit and dip it into the sugar syrup, ensuring an even coating. Hold it above the saucepan for a moment to let the excess syrup drip off.
  • Cool and Harden: 
  • Place the coated fruit skewers on a parchment-lined tray to cool and allow the sugar shell to harden.

Tips for the Perfect Tenghulu

  • Experiment with Fruits: While hawthorns are the traditional choice, don’t hesitate to try other fruits like strawberries, apples, or even pineapple chunks.
  • Poking the Fruit: Before skewering, gently poke the fruit with a fork to create small holes. This allows the sugar coating to adhere better.
  • Quick Work is Key: The sugar syrup hardens quickly, so work efficiently when coating the fruits.

Tenghulu: A Culinary Journey of Sweet and Tart Temptations

As you indulge in the captivating world of Tenghulu, you’ll discover a mesmerizing balance of flavors that dance upon your palate. This delightful Chinese treat offers a tantalizing blend of sweetness and tartness, creating a symphony of taste that’s simply irresistible. In this culinary exploration, we’ll delve deeper into the art of making penghulu, share creative variations, and offer insights into its cultural significance.

Tips for the Perfect Tenghulu
Tips for the Perfect Tenghulu

The Charm of Homemade Tenghulu

Crafting Your Own Tanghulu Creations

Creating penghulu at home is not just a culinary endeavor – it’s an art form. Here’s how you can embark on this captivating journey:

  • Fruit Selection: 
  • While hawthorns are the traditional choice, feel free to experiment with a medley of fruit. Strawberries, grapes, and even orange segments offer a burst of colors and flavors.
  • Sugar Syrup Mastery: 
  • Achieving the perfect sugar coating requires finesse. Allow the sugar and water mixture to simmer until it transforms into a luscious, amber-hued syrup. The key is to strike a balance between sweetness and viscosity.
  • Coating with Care: 
  • The moment has arrived to immerse your chosen fruit in the enchanting sugar syrup. As you pull out the skewered fruit, a translucent coat envelops it, capturing the essence of sweet indulgence.
  • Cooling and Setting: 
  • Gently place the coated penghulu on parchment paper, allowing it to cool and the sugar shell to harden. This transformation is a visual treat – the once-liquid syrup metamorphoses into a glossy armor.

Elevating the Tenghulu Experience

Artistic Flavor Infusions

While traditional penghulu is a masterpiece in itself, let your creativity flourish with these enticing variations:

  • Citrus Symphony: Experiment with citrus fruits like kumquats or mandarin segments. Their natural tanginess pairs harmoniously with the sugar coating, creating a citrusy crescendo.
  • Exotic Elegance: Elevate your tenghulu with exotic fruits such as lychee, dragon fruit, or even kiwi. The juxtaposition of flavors will transport your taste buds on a journey around the world.

Tanghulu: A Cultural Kaleidoscope

Embracing Tradition and Celebration

Tenghulu’s significance goes beyond its delectable taste. It’s deeply rooted in Chinese culture and tradition, often enjoyed during festive occasions. As vibrant as the lanterns adorning the streets, tenghulu symbolizes unity, joy, and the sweetness of togetherness, Also read about Scooby Snack Shot

Tenghulu: Beyond Tradition

While tenghulu remains rooted in tradition, modern twists have emerged:

  • Chocolate Drizzle: After coating with sugar, drizzle melted chocolate over the tenghulu for an indulgent twist.
  • Nutty Delight: Roll the freshly coated tenghulu in crushed nuts like almonds or peanuts for an added crunch.
Tanghulu: A Cultural Kaleidoscope
Tanghulu: A Cultural Kaleidoscope


Unleash your inner chef and embark on a tenghulu-making adventure. Whether you’re exploring its traditional roots or adding your own flair, this snack is bound to captivate your taste buds and leave you with a newfound appreciation for the art of balance and contrast. Discover more Swiss Rolls 


Can I use frozen fruits for tenghulu? 

Fresh fruits are recommended for the best results. Frozen fruits can release excess moisture, affecting the sugar coating.

How do I store tenghulu? 

Tenghulu is best enjoyed immediately or within a day or two. Store in an airtight container to maintain its crunch.

What if I don’t have bamboo skewers? 

You can use toothpicks or any food-safe sticks as an alternative.

Is tenghulu gluten-free? 

Yes, the basic Tenghulu recipe is gluten-free. However, be cautious if you’re adding toppings like crushed cookies.

Can I make tenghulu with savory flavors? 

While tenghulu is traditionally sweet, there’s room for creativity. Experiment with savory spices or herbs for a unique twist.


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