There are a lot of mouthwatering sweet desserts and snacks that Koreans kids grew up with that put bomb pops and Oreos to shame. From street foods to traditional rice cakes to popsicles, here are just some of many Korean sweets that will make you drool.
If you’re an adzuki (red bean) lover, BB-Big is perfect for you. Red bean ice cream in bar form perfect for a hot summer day or just whenever you feel like it? Yes, please.
When you’re out in K-Town on a hot day, there’s nothing more satisfying than sharing a giant bowl of bingsu with your friends. Nobody does shaved ice like Koreans. I prefer the traditional patbingsu which has sweet adzuki beans, tteok (rice cakes), and misugaru (a sweet grain powder), but there are so many more variations. Chopped fruit, condensed milk, ice cream, milk tea, matcha powder, frozen yogurt, tapioca. The possibilities are endless.
Similar to Japanese taiyaki, bungeoppang is a fish-shaped waffle filled with sweet red bean goodness. They’re the ideal warm snack to scarf down on a cold night, so it’s pretty convenient that they’re such a popular street food. You can try making your own bungeoppang with this recipe.
4. Choco Pie
Choco Pie is a popular childhood favorite found at most Asian grocery stores. It’s a layer of cake cookie followed by a thick layer of marshmallow and then another cookie layer, all covered in a chocolate shell. It’s crumbly, yet chewy, and oh so very good.
To be honest, there were probably a few Choco Pie wrappers behind the living room couch at home on any given day (thanks, bro), but that speaks to just how often we had these bad boys as kids.
These are the superior Korean alternative to those overly sweet cake pops, balls, things or whatever people are calling them now. Hodugwaja are walnut pastries filled with sweet red bean paste. My local Korean grocery store conveniently (and probably strategically) placed them near the cash register, so that my child self could beg for my mom to add them to her basket.
This is my mom’s favorite and definitely one of mine. If you’re ever roaming the streets in Seoul, pick up these sweet hot pancakes filled with a gooey mixture of brown sugar, honey, chopped peanuts, and cinnamon.
Although not exactly a traditional Korean sweet, Jipangyi Seoul Ice Cream offers delicious soft-service ice cream in freshly made corn cones. These treats have gained so much popularity in New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver that they deserve an honorable mention in this list.
If you’re Korean, you probably grew up eating about five of these every day in the summer. They’re melon-flavored ice cream bars that make for the perfect treat on a hot day. Melona also comes in other delicious fruit flavors – mango, banana, and strawberry – but honeydew melon is the OG and for sure the best.
Pepero are cookie sticks dipped in chocolate that are so popular that many Koreans celebrate Pepero Day, similar to Valentine’s Day, on November 11th. On Pepero Day, people exchange Pepero to show affection for their friends and loved ones. Pepero is the Korean version of Pocky, introduced before Pocky was sold in Korea.
Chances are, I’d probably do nothing for a Klondike bar. I might be inclined to do something for an ice cream sandwich, but I would for sure do outrageous things for samanco. These vanilla ice cream sandwiches with a thin layer of red bean are so good (and adorable), that it’s probably even more fitting to ask, “What wouldn’t you do for a samanco?”
Besides kimchi, there is nothing more Korean than tteok. These traditional rice cakes can be eaten as either savory or sweet, and there are so many different varieties. Gyeongdan (pictured above) is my favorite: soft and chewy rice cakes covered in black sesame, yellow soy bean, or other powders, and filled with red bean or sesame paste inside.
If you haven’t realized it by now, Koreans love adzuki red beans. Yanggaeng is for the intense red bean lover because it’s pretty much a bar of sweet red bean jelly. It’s the perfect snack to satisfy your red bean cravings and sweet teeth. While it is often found in the snack or candy aisles of a Korean grocery store, you can make it yourself too.