popular korean sweets

Popular Korean Sweets | 10 Delicious Korean Desserts (Both Traditional And Modern)

If you have a sweet tooth, you need to check out these popular Korean sweets. This Korean desserts list includes delicacies like Hotteok, Korean rice cakes, etc. that you can easily make at home! 

Now who doesn’t love a good dessert? And if you’re a fan of Korean cuisine you’ll be glad to know that kimchi and ramyeon aren’t the only food from this country that’s popular.

There are several Korean sweets that will make you forget all about your diet. 

Some of these desserts are now gaining popularity due to their depiction in K-dramas and movies. Remember the Dalgona candy from Squid Game? 

Related: Popular Korean Chips

Related: Must Try Korean Soft Drinks

The traditional Korean sweets or Husik usually consisted of fruits and floral teas. And of course, there were dishes like Sikhye and Yaksik as well. 

But due to globalization, Korean desserts have also evolved to create a mouth watering amalgamation of Korean flavors and traditional Korean desserts like cakes, cookies, and macarons. 

So in this article today I’ve listed out a few Korean sweets and desserts that are absolutely delectable and something you can even try to make at home.

Popular Korean Sweets 

Yaksik (약식)

yaksik Korean sweets

What It Is – Sweet Rice

Ingredients – Rice, sugar, pine nuts, jujubes

Sweetness Meter – 5/5

Yaksik is probably one of the Korean desserts you can eat guilt free. What’s amazing about this traditional Korean dish is that it’s very easy to make.

You can prepare it in a pressure cooker or make it in an instant pot. 

To make this dessert you first create a sticky dark brown sauce of caramelized sugar and then dunking in glutinous cooked rice in there to create a sort of rice cake. 

In this dessert you can even add sesame seeds, pine nuts, walnuts, jujubes and even cinnamon to make things interesting. 

Yakgwa ( 약과)

Korean desserts recipe

What It Is – Honey Pastry

Ingredients – Flour, honey, sesame seeds, soju, nuts

Sweetness Meter – 5/5

Did you know that the word “yakgwa” roughly translates to the phrase “medicinal sweet” in Korean.

It gets its name as this sweet is made by dunking it in honey and as honey was once considered a traditional medicine in ancient Korea.

But what is Yakgwa exactly? Well it’s a version of Korean cookies. 

These cookies aren’t baked but actually made of wheat dough that are deep fried in oil and slathered in honey. 

These cookies also have a distinctive floral shape that makes them as good looking as they are in flavor. 

Hwajeon ( 화전)

what is the most popular korean dessert

What It Is – Rice Pan Cakes with Flowers

Ingredients – Rice flour, sugar, flowers of the season

Sweetness Meter – 4.5/5

There aren’t a lot of traditional Korean desserts as most Korean sweets involve fruits or some sort of floral tea. But Hwajeon is one dish that dates back to the Goryeo dynasty. 

In fact, the name derives from the word “Hwajeon Nor”, a traditional Goryeo-era picnic that women participated in where this dessert was eaten. 

Hwajeon is a sort of pancake made with rice flour and sugar and decorated with pressed edible flowers. 

Dasik (다식)

modern korean sweets

What It Is – Rice and Tea Cookies

Ingredients – Rice flour, matcha powder, honey, sesame seeds, rice syrup

Sweetness Meter – 4/5

While there are several modern Korean desserts that are versions of European sweets like cakes or custards, Dasik is a bonafide traditional Korean cookie!

The word Dasik literally means tea snack. It was bought over during colonial times and was once reserved only for the royalty and upper classes as a tea-time snack.

Dasik is a colorful Korean cookie that is made with chestnut flour, red bean paste, rice flour and sesame seeds. The sweetness in the cookie is from mixing honey in it. So it’s healthier than most modern desserts. 

Sikhye (식혜)

easy korean desserts to make at home

What It Is – Sweet Rice Punch

Ingredients – Milled Barely, Rice, Sugar

Sweetness Meter – 4.5/5

Now Sikhye is probably the only dessert in this list that is a beverage. In fact, the drink is a very popular Korean beverage and pre-packaged versions of it are available in almost all Korean supermarkets. 

Sikhye is one of the healthiest Korean sweets as it’s made with fermented rice and helps with digestion. 

Hotteok (호떡)

korean dessert flavors

What It Is – Sweet Pancake

Ingredients – All-purpose Flour, Rice Flour, Sugar, Cinnamon, Nuts

Sweetness Meter – 4/5

On first glance, the Hotteok doesn’t look any different from the pancakes we eat regularly.

But this particular one is different from the rest for two reasons. Firstly, it contains rice flour along with all-purpose flour, so it gives a more crispy texture to the pancakes.

Secondly, it’s filled with a hot and delicious cinnamon syrup in the center that will ooze into your mouth. But be careful this delicious little pancake can get super hot! 

Gangjeong (강정)

traditional korean treats

What It Is – Crispy Rice Treat

Ingredients – Glutinous Rice, Alcohol (mostly Soju), Honey

Sweetness Meter – 4/5

Ganghjeong is a piece of rice confectionery that isn’t just a Korean dessert but is also a traditional snack that was often distributed in the Goryeo dynasty after weddings, parties, and festivals.

But surprisingly it holds a lot of similarities with the modern-day rice krispies. However, one advantage that Gangjeong holds over rice krispies is that they are mixed with Korean rice wine or Soju!

Nurungji (누룽지)

most popular south korean snacks

What It Is – Scorched Rice

Ingredients – Cooked rice, water/tea, sugar

Sweetness Meter – 4/5

What I love about Korean food culture is that they do not believe in food wastage. Do you know that scorched brown bit on the bottom of the rice when you cook it? Well, this dish is made from that! 

But don’t you worry, it tastes just awesome! And it’s so simple to make too. Just fry the brown bits with sugar and water and you are done. 

Dalgona (달고나)

most popular korean desserts

What It Is – Korean Sugar Candy

Ingredients – Sugar, vegetable oil, baking soda

Sweetness Meter – 5/5

Yes, yes. This is the candy from Squid Game. And yes it might be very fun to make this candy in many different shapes and then to eat it without breaking the shapes off.

But trust me this candy tastes amazing too!

It is made by cooking sugar with baking soda to create a sort of caramel candy. You can see street vendors selling dalgona candy all over Korea. 


Bungeoppang (붕어빵)

What It Is – Korean Fish-Shaped Pastry With Filling

Ingredients – Flour, sweetened red bean paste

Sweetness Meter – 4.5/5

This dessert looks as delicious as it tastes. And I’m sure it’s going to be a hit with the kids. 

The outer pastry is made with regular pancake batter but made slightly crispy. And of course in a wacky fish shape. 

But the inner filling is made with a flavorful sweet red bean paste. Some people say this dish is inspired by the Japanese Taiyaki. 

FAQs about Korean Desserts

Which sweet is famous in South Korea?

There are lots of desserts in South Korea, but the most famous ones are Patbingsu and Yaksik. Patbingsu is a shaved ice dessert with a variety of toppings.
The most popular patbingsu is with red bean paste, but you can find all types of yummy toppings like fruit, ice cream and other types of jelly. Yaksik is a dessert made of rice cake and sticky rice and can be eaten cold or hot. 
As with Patbingsu, there are varieties of Yaksik like red bean topped Yaksik, ice cream topped Yaksik etc. 
The Korean version of popular European desserts are also very famous in this country. You can find dalgona candy, a version of caramel candy or the Korean version of macarons called mega-stuffed macarons are also in demand. 

Is Mochi a Korean dessert?

Mochi is a Japanese food made from a type of rice called mochigome, which is then pressed and dried into cakes. They come in various colors and flavors such as white, green, and purple from different ingredients such as red bean, green tea and raw salmon among others. 
Although it is a Japanese food, Koreans also have a version called Chapssaltteok which is basically a rice cake mixed with honey, cinnamon, garlic and pepper. It is a festive dish during the winter season. 
However, it’s important to note that Chapsasaltteok is actually called “Mochi” in Korea too because of Japanese colonial influences. It’s just that most people prefer the Korean version of the name nowadays. 

Are South Korean desserts healthy?

Like every other dessert on this planet South Korean desserts can be quite unhealthy and high in fat, and sugar. 
The modern version of South Korean desserts are quite different from the traditional healthy desserts. Usually, the traditional desserts were just fruits and were quite healthy. 
However, modern desserts usually include cream, sugar, or even fried stuff. So, before you eat any South Korean dessert, look at the ingredients to see if it is high in calories.
Modern desserts do contain a lot of cream and sugar, and they often have cream puffs, corn dogs, or doughnuts, which are deep fried. 
However, they are still a good dessert to eat. So eat them in moderation, and fewer in between, and you’re all good!

Final Thoughts About Korean Sweets And Desserts

I love how global flavors and food are getting popular worldwide, especially due to Instagram food bloggers and K-dramas. 

There is a whole treasure of food that includes both sweet and savory flavors in South Korean flavors that are waiting to be discovered.

I hope this article helped you find new comfort food recipes you can try out for desserts.

Most traditional desserts included just fruits or rice-based sweets. But now you can find a wider range of flavors that you can try.

So keep calm and always save some room for dessert! 

Also Read:

Fruits To Buy In South Korea

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