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Korean Desserts: From Traditional to Trendy

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Are you a traveler or an expat living in South Korea with a sweet tooth that craves delightful desserts? You're in for a treat! South Korea boasts a rich and diverse dessert culture that promises to tantalize your taste buds. In this blog post, we'll take you on a journey to explore some of the most mouthwatering traditional and trendy desserts that you simply must try during your time in this vibrant country.


South Korea is renowned for its delectable offerings, and its desserts are no exception. From time-honored classics passed down through generations to innovative and trendy creations taking over the cafes of Seoul, each sweet treat holds a story of its own. Get ready to indulge in a delightful array of flavors, textures, and shapes that capture the essence of South Korean culture and its love for all things sweet.


Traditional Korean Desserts


Hotteok (호떡)





These traditional Korean pancakes are a delightful treat, especially during the colder months. Served piping hot, Hotteok is generously filled with a delectable mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. The moment you take a bite, you'll be greeted with a burst of sweetness and nutty goodness that warms your heart and soul. Found on bustling street corners and select restaurants, these fluffy delights are a must-try when exploring the vibrant city life of South Korea.



Bingsu (빙수)

When summer arrives in South Korea, there's no better way to beat the heat than indulging in a refreshing bowl of Bingsu. This beloved dessert features finely shaved ice topped with an assortment of delectable goodies. From the classic red bean paste to an array of fresh fruits, condensed milk, and even cereal, the topping choices are as diverse as they are delicious. Each spoonful of Bingsu brings an explosion of flavors and textures, making it a perfect sweet escape on a scorching summer day.




Yakgwa (약과)

Image Source: Ccorea


Rich in tradition and history, Yakgwa is a unique Korean pastry that boasts an intricate and delicate flavor profile. Made with a delightful combination of honey, sesame oil, and wheat flour, these pastries are often shaped into beautiful flower or butterfly forms. Usually enjoyed during traditional Korean holidays, Yakgwa is a delightful reminder of South Korea's cultural heritage, offering a delightful balance of sweetness and subtle nuttiness that leaves a lasting impression.


Songpyeon (송편)

Image Source: Food Network


For those visiting during Chuseok, South Korea's cherished harvest festival, trying Songpyeon is a must! These crescent or half-moon-shaped rice cakes are filled with sweet bean paste, creating a delightful blend of soft rice and velvety sweetness. As families come together to celebrate, these mouthwatering treats symbolize a time of abundance and unity, making the experience of savoring Songpyeon all the more special.


Trendy and Modern Korean Desserts


Croffle (크로플)

In the cafes of Seoul, there's a trendy dessert that has captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike – the Croffle. A delightful fusion of croissant and waffle, this crispy and golden brown treat is made by pouring croissant dough into a waffle iron. Served with a medley of delectable toppings like velvety ice cream, succulent fruits, and dreamy Nutella, Croffles redefine the concept of dessert indulgence. These irresistible delights have quickly become a sensation, offering a delightful contrast of textures and flavors that will leave you craving for more.



Tanghulu (탕후루)

Source: She Kitchen


Prepare to be enchanted by Tanghulu – a captivating Korean-Chinese sweet fruit skewer that's regaining popularity, especially during the summer months. With its fruit-on-a-stick presentation and glass-like sugary coating, Tanghulu offers a harmonious blend of tartness and sweetness. From glistening strawberries to succulent grapes and beyond, these delightful skewers are a visual delight that make for a perfect sweet and refreshing treat.


Korean-style Doughnuts (꽈배기)


Deep-fried to golden perfection and coated with a generous dusting of cinnamon sugar, Korean-style doughnuts, known as "꽈배기" (Kkwabaegi), are a delectable and indulgent dessert. However, what sets them apart is their versatility. They can be filled with a range of luscious fillings, such as Nutella or custard cream, making each bite a surprise of flavors and textures. Whether you enjoy them as a delightful breakfast or a satisfying afternoon snack, these doughnuts are sure to win your heart.



Honey Bread (꿀빵)


Originating in Korea and now a worldwide trend, Honey Bread is a delightful dessert that offers an irresistible combination of flavors. A thick slice of bread is hollowed out, creating a space to be filled with a luscious honey drizzle and a medley of mouthwatering toppings like creamy ice cream, fresh fruits, and fluffy whipped cream.


From the warmth of Hotteok on a chilly day to the refreshing coolness of Bingsu under the summer sun, each dessert has a story to tell – one that connects you to the heart of South Korean traditions and modern-day delights. The blend of sweet flavors and the artistry in presentation make every dessert experience an extraordinary celebration of the country's culinary art.



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