Chinese cuisine is diverse and rich in flavor, offering a wide variety of snacks that cater to different tastes and preferences. These snacks, often enjoyed as street food or in teahouses, provide a window into China’s regional culinary traditions. In this article, we’ll explore the best Chinese snacks, provide a list of scrumptious examples with short descriptions, and conclude with a summary of the gastronomic adventure that awaits you.
23 Chinese Snacks You Should Try
Baozi (Steamed Buns)
Many street food stalls and teahouses across China serve fluffy steamed buns called Baozi, which contain various savory or sweet fillings like minced pork, vegetables, or red bean paste, as popular breakfast items.
Jianbing (Chinese Crepes)
Jianbing is a popular street food snack that consists of a thin, crispy crepe filled with egg, scallions, cilantro, and a variety of sauces. People fold it and frequently insert a crispy fried cracker for additional texture.
Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings)
Restaurants typically serve delicate steamed dumplings called Xiaolongbao, filled with flavorful broth and minced meat (usually pork), in a bamboo steamer. People enjoy eating them by dipping them in vinegar and ginger first.
Tanghulu (Candied Hawthorn)
Tanghulu is a traditional Chinese snack consisting of hawthorn berries or other fruits coated in a hard sugar glaze and skewered on a bamboo stick. The sweet and slightly sour taste makes it a favorite among children and adults alike.
Cong You Bing (Scallion Pancakes)
Cong You Bing are savory, multi-layered pancakes made from a simple dough and filled with chopped scallions and sesame oil. People pan-fry them until they become golden and crispy, often serving them as a street food snack or side dish.
Yu Mi Lao (Corn on the Cob)
Yu Mi Lao is a popular snack in China, especially during the summer months. To create a delicious and satisfying treat, people brush grilled or steamed corn on the cob with a mixture of spices and sauces.
Douhua (Tofu Pudding)
Douhua, a silky, smooth tofu pudding, comes in either sweet or savory forms. People often serve the sweet version with syrup and accompany the savory version with soy sauce, chili oil, and scallions.
Dan Dan Noodles (担担面)
Dan Dan Noodles are a popular Sichuan street food dish consisting of thin noodles topped with minced meat, usually pork, and a spicy sauce made from chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, soy sauce, and sesame paste. The dish is known for its bold, numbing, and spicy flavors.
Guo Kui (锅盔)
Guo Kui is a type of Chinese flatbread with a crispy, golden exterior and a soft, chewy interior. It can be plain or filled with various ingredients such as minced meat, vegetables, or spicy sauces. This snack is often enjoyed on the go and can be found at street food stalls.
During the Dragon Boat Festival, people enjoy Zongzi, which are sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They fill the glutinous rice with a variety of ingredients, such as marinated pork, mushrooms, or red bean paste, before steaming or boiling the dumplings.
Shumai are small, open-topped steamed dumplings typically filled with minced pork, shrimp, and chopped vegetables. They are a popular dim sum dish and often enjoyed with soy sauce or chili oil for dipping.
Luobo Si Bing (萝卜丝饼)
Luobo Si Bing are pan-fried, crispy pancakes made with grated radish and a simple flour dough. They are savory and slightly spicy, making them a satisfying and flavorful snack.
Jiaozi are crescent-shaped dumplings filled with minced meat, usually pork, and chopped vegetables like cabbage, chives, or mushrooms. They can be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried and are traditionally enjoyed with soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil for dipping.
Fried Glutinous Rice Cake (糖油果子)
Fried Glutinous Rice Cake, or Tang You Guozi, is a popular dessert snack in Northern China. It consists of a small, round glutinous rice cake that is deep-fried until golden and crispy, then coated with a sweet sugar syrup that hardens as it cools.
Liang Fen (凉粉)
Liang Fen is a cold, jelly-like dish made from mung bean or pea starch. It is often served in the summertime, sliced into thin strips and topped with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, chili oil, and sesame paste. The result is a refreshing and spicy snack that is perfect for hot weather.
Chou Doufu (臭豆腐)
Chou Doufu, also known as stinky tofu, is a fermented tofu dish with a strong odor. It is typically deep-fried until crispy and golden and served with a spicy sauce or chili oil. Despite its pungent smell, it has a surprisingly mild taste and a unique, rich flavor.
Tang Yuan (汤圆)
Tang Yuan are small, glutinous rice balls that are usually filled with sweet ingredients such as black sesame paste, red bean paste, or crushed peanuts. They are typically served in a sweet, warm soup and are enjoyed during special occasions like the Lantern Festival.
Lanzhou Hand-Pulled Noodles (兰州拉面)
Lanzhou Hand-Pulled Noodles are a type of Chinese noodle dish originating from Lanzhou in Gansu Province. The noodles are hand-stretched and pulled, then served in a flavorful beef broth with thinly sliced beef, cilantro, and radish. It is a satisfying and delicious snack or meal.
You Tiao (油条)
You Tiao, also known as Chinese crullers or fried dough sticks, are long, golden, deep-fried strips of dough. They are light and airy with a slightly crispy exterior and are often enjoyed for breakfast, dipped in warm soy milk or congee.
Bai Tang Gao (白糖糕)
Bai Tang Gao, or white sugar cake, is a traditional Chinese steamed cake made from rice flour, sugar, and water. It has a slightly sweet taste and a soft, spongy texture. It is often enjoyed as a dessert or snack and can be found at street food stalls and teahouses.
Ma Hua (麻花)
Ma Hua are twisted, deep-fried pastries made from a simple flour dough. They can be either sweet or savory, with the sweet version often coated in sugar or drizzled with syrup, and the savory version seasoned with spices like Sichuan pepper or cumin.
Cha Siu Bao (叉烧包)
Cha Siu Bao are steamed buns filled with tender, marinated barbecued pork, known as cha siu. They are a popular dim sum dish and can be found in many Chinese restaurants and teahouses. The combination of the soft bun and flavorful pork filling makes for a delicious and satisfying snack.
Suan La Fen (酸辣粉)
Suan La Fen, or hot and sour glass noodles, is a popular Chinese street food snack. The dish consists of chewy, transparent glass noodles made from sweet potato or mung bean starch, served in a spicy, tangy, and slightly sour broth. It is often garnished with peanuts, scallions, and cilantro.
Chinese snacks are a flavorful and diverse representation of the country’s rich culinary heritage. From the comforting warmth of steamed buns to the crispy delight of scallion pancakes, these snacks offer a delectable journey through China’s gastronomic landscape. Exploring these mouth-watering delights not only provides an opportunity to indulge in new flavors and textures but also allows you to experience the regional traditions that make Chinese cuisine so unique.
So, the next time you crave a taste of China, consider trying one of these scrumptious snacks and immerse yourself in the world of Chinese culinary delights.