Discovering the world of traditional Korean desserts is a journey full of sweet surprises and intriguing flavors, perfectly capturing the essence of Korea’s rich culinary heritage.
While Korean cuisine is renowned for its spicy and savory dishes, the country’s desserts are an underexplored gem, often overshadowed by the popularity of main courses. Pairing these sweet delights with other components of a meal or enjoying them as standalone treats requires a nuanced understanding of their unique ingredients and preparation methods.
From the delicate sweetness of Bingsu to the chewy delight of Tteok, this guide unveils 18 traditional Korean desserts that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth while offering a glimpse into Korea’s historical flavors and textures.
Dive into the heart of Korean tradition and sweetness with our comprehensive guide, and discover how each dessert tells a story of its own, rooted in centuries-old practices and a love for authentic, homemade treats.
In A Rush? Key Takeaways:
- Explore a variety of traditional Korean desserts, from iced treats to rice cakes.
- These desserts offer unique flavors and textures, distinct from Western sweets.
- Perfect for food enthusiasts looking to expand their dessert horizons.
- Our guide provides insights into the cultural significance of each treat.
Korean Shaved Ice, also known as Bingsu, is a popular dessert in Korea during the hot summer months. This refreshing treat consists of shaved ice topped with various sweet toppings, such as sweetened condensed milk, fruits, and syrups.
Bingsu is a perfect dessert to cool down on a hot summer day, with its light and fluffy texture and refreshing flavors. Some variations include green tea bingsu, red bean bingsu, or even topped with pieces of cake or candy. .
Fish-Shaped Pastry is a beloved Korean pastry that is known for its unique and distinct fish-like shape. The pastry is made from a simple dough mixture that consists of flour, sugar, shortening, and water.
The dough is then molded into a fish-like shape, similar to a carp. The pastry is often filled with sweetened red bean paste, but some variations include fillings such as sesame seeds, chestnuts, and other types of sweetened nuts.
Korean poached pears, also known as Baesuk, is a sweet and delicious traditional Korean dessert that is perfect for chilly winter weather. The dessert involves simmering whole peeled pears in a sweet, cinnamon-infused liquid until they become tender and juicy. The pears absorb the flavors of the syrup, making them extremely flavorful and aromatic.
The dish is often served with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts or pine nuts on top which adds a lovely crunch and nutty flavor to the dish. Baesuk is a healthier dessert option for those with a sweet tooth as the pears are a great source of fiber and vitamins.
Korean Sweet Rice Drink, also known as Sikhye, is a traditional Korean beverage made from sweet rice. It is a popular drink during special occasions and holidays. The recipe involves boiling sweet rice with water, adding malt syrup, and allowing the mixture to ferment for a few hours.
Once fermented, the rice is removed, and the liquid is chilled before being served with pine nuts and dried fruits. The malt syrup gives the drink its sweetness, while the pine nuts and dried fruits add a crunchy, nutty flavor. The texture is also enjoyable, with a slightly thicker consistency than regular drinks.
Korean Watermelon Punch, also known as Subak Hwachae, is a refreshing and sweet drink that is perfect for hot summer days. The recipe requires blending watermelon chunks, sugar, and ice cubes until the mixture turns into a slushie-like consistency.
Then, the slushie is combined with water, soda water, or even aloe vera juice to create a fruity and effervescent drink. Finally, the punch is garnished with sliced watermelon, mint leaves, and even pine nuts for added flavor and texture.
Korean Sweet Pancakes, also known as Hotteok, are a popular Korean street food that has gained popularity around the world due to its deliciousness. These pancakes are made with a sweet yeast dough filled with a sweet mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts.
The dough is then flattened out into pancakes and fried until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside. When you take a bite into the fluffy and chewy dough, you will be met with a deliciously warm and gooey filling that is bursting with sweet and nutty flavors.
Sweet Rice Cake, also known as Yakgwa, is a traditional Korean dessert made from a blend of wheat flour, honey, and sesame oil. The dough is fried and then boiled in a sweet syrup made of honey and ginger. This cake is a favorite among Koreans and is often a part of the country’s celebrations and festivals.
The Sweet Rice Cake has a unique texture – chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Its taste is also distinct, with the sweetness of honey and the aroma of sesame oil and ginger blending together. The addition of ginger to the syrup not only adds flavor but also aids digestion.
Pepero Cake is a delectable Korean dessert made by layering Pepero sticks and whipped cream. Pepero sticks are a type of thin, biscuit-like cookie that is coated in chocolate or other sweet flavors. The combination of the crisp Pepero sticks and light whipped cream creates a delightful texture that melts in your mouth.
The cake is topped with fresh fruit or drizzled with chocolate, making it not only visually appealing but also irresistibly delicious! It’s easy to make and can be customized to suit your taste preferences by choosing the flavor of the Pepero sticks and the type of fruit to use.
Sweet Red Bean Porridge, also known as Patjuk, is a popular Korean dessert that is loved by many. This delicious dessert is made with red beans, sweet rice flour, and sugar. It is a simple recipe that requires just a few ingredients, but the end result is a rich, creamy, and sweet porridge that is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth.
The red beans used in this porridge are cooked until they are soft and tender. They are then blended into a puree and combined with the sweet rice flour and sugar to create a thick and creamy porridge. The porridge is typically topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, which adds a nice crunch and flavor to the dish.
Red Bean Popsicles are a refreshing and unique way to enjoy one of Korea’s favorite flavors – red bean paste. This recipe combines the sweetness of red bean paste with the coolness of a popsicle, making it perfect for hot summer days.
To make the popsicles, you will need to blend together red bean paste, milk, and sweetened condensed milk until you achieve a smooth consistency. Then, pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 4 hours. The result is a creamy, sweet, and refreshing treat that is sure to be a hit with both kids and adults.
This pastry is made with a crispy exterior and a sticky-sweet filling that is infused with the delicious flavors of honey. It is a perfect treat for those who love their dessert not too sweet but with the perfect balance of flavors.
The recipe for Korean Honey Pastry requires a few key ingredients such as rice flour, honey, vegetable oil, and water. The dough is made by mixing the rice flour with hot water and honey. This mixture is then kneaded and rolled out to create small dough pieces that are filled with the honey filling.
Korean Donuts, also known as Kkwabaegi, are a popular snack in Korea made from a simple yeast dough that is fried until golden brown. These donuts have a light, airy texture that is perfect for soaking up the sweet, sticky glaze that is drizzled on top.
The dough is flavored with aromatic vanilla and cinnamon, which give the donuts a warm, cozy flavor that is perfect for chilly days. One of the things that makes Korean Donuts so irresistible is their unique texture – they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with a hint of sweetness that is just enough to keep you coming back for more.
Dasik is a traditional Korean delicacy mostly served as a snack. It is made from rice flour, honey, and other delectable ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. The dough is kneaded until it has a smooth consistency, then formed into small, bite-sized pieces and left to dry.
The dried dasik is crisp, light, and sweet, with a delicate aroma that comes from the combination of various ingredients. Dasik sometimes serves as a popular Korean gift during special occasions like weddings, birthdays, and New Year celebrations. It’s not only a delicious snack but also has a symbolic meaning of offering sweetness, luck, and longevity.
Korean Half-Moon Rice Cakes, also known as Songpyeon, is a traditional Korean dessert that is commonly prepared during the holiday season. These rice cakes are made from glutinous rice flour, which is typically mixed with water or milk to create a smooth and pliable dough.
The dough is then filled with a variety of sweet or savory fillings and shaped into crescent-shaped dumplings. These dumplings are then steamed and served with a variety of dipping sauces. The dough is soft and chewy, and the filling adds a burst of flavor and sweetness. The dipping sauce creates a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors, making it the perfect dessert to end any meal.
Korean Red Bean and Mochi Cake is a traditional dessert that has been enjoyed in Korean culture for many years. This dessert is made using sweet red bean paste that is paired with soft and chewy mochi cakes. The red bean paste is smooth and sweet, while the mochi cake provides the perfect texture to complement the creamy filling.
The mochi cake is made with glutinous rice flour, giving it a tender and chewy texture that is unlike any other cake. The sweet red bean paste is a staple in Korean desserts and is both creamy and indulgent.
Korean Cinnamon Punch, also known as Sujeonggwa, is a traditional Korean dessert drink that is loved by many. This delicious punch is brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and dried persimmons. The mixture is then sweetened with sugar or honey and garnished with pine nuts and jujube.
It is usually served cold during the hot Korean summers, but it can also be served warm during the colder autumn and winter months. The fragrance of the ingredients is also intoxicating, making it a perfect dessert drink to serve after a hearty meal.
Both refreshing and flavorful, this Korean Cinnamon Punch will leave you wanting more with just one sip.
Korean Sponge Candy is a popular Korean dessert, also known as **Dalgona Candy**. This sweet treat is made by combining sugar, corn syrup, and baking soda to create a fluffy, airy texture that melts in your mouth. The process of making sponge candy involves cooking the sugar and corn syrup mixture to a high temperature before adding in baking soda.
The mixture will then expand and form a light, spongy texture. The sweetness of the candy is perfectly balanced, making it a popular treat for all ages. It’s easy to make and can be customized to suit different flavors and toppings, making it a versatile dessert option
Red Bean Mochi is a traditional Korean dessert that has gained a lot of popularity over the years. It is a sweet and chewy snack that is perfect for any time of the day. The core ingredient in this dessert is red bean paste, which is combined with glutinous rice flour to create a dough.
The dough is then shaped into small bite-size portions and will typically be rolled in ground sesame seeds for an extra bit of texture. The dish is often served with tea, and it is a welcome treat during any cultural gathering, especially during holidays.
Korean coffee, also known as dalgona coffee, has become a viral sensation on social media due to its visually appealing appearance and unique taste. The recipe consists of instant coffee, sugar, hot water, and milk. To make this unique coffee, mix instant coffee, sugar, and hot water together until it forms a frothy and creamy consistency.
Then, add the mixture to a glass of milk and enjoy! Its velvety texture and caramel notes make it a delicious alternative to traditional coffee drinks. What’s more, it’s a fun and playful recipe that is perfect for sharing on social media or enjoying with friends and family.