When you think of China, one of the first things that springs to mind may be Chinese food and the mouth-watering tastes and flavours on offer.
One arguably underrated part of the culinary culture, which many people from outside China are less familiar with, are Chinese snacks.
Today, let's dive into 20 of the best Chinese snacks out there including several of my favourites!
#1 Egg Cookie Rolls
Called 'dan juan' (蛋卷) in Chinese, these egg cookie rolls are different to the popular savoury egg rolls you might find in Chinese restaurants. Made from wheat flour, sugar and eggs, they are sweet, crispy snacks that are great for complementing a hot drink such as tea. There are several brands in the market that sell egg cookie rolls, however Ching Kee is my favourite and perhaps the most famous due to its delicate yet exquisite egg flavour.
#2 Haw Flakes
Haw Flakes are a crowd-favourite in many Asian countries including China. This popular Asian snack is a candy made from hawthorn fruit and strikes a nice balance between sweet and sour. You can find many bakeries these days using haw flakes to make unique pastries and cakes!
#3 Bak Kwa
My personal favourite snack on this list and one of the most authentic Chinese snacks is bak kwa, the traditional name for Chinese pork jerky. It is made by marinating cured pork with fish sauce, soy sauce, and five-spice powder. These savoury delights can also be made using chicken or beef instead of pork.
#4 White Rabbit Candy
White Rabbit Candy is among the most famous Chinese snacks with a history that stretches back all the way to the 1940s. The story goes that a merchant from a sweet factory in Shanghai was so impressed by a sweet he had tasted from England, that he decided to create his own.
Wrapped in edible rice paper, white Rabbit is a creamy milk candy that has a soft and sweet flavour. For many Asian people including myself, White Rabbit brings back fond memories of Chinese New Year celebrations from their childhood.→ Shop now
#5 Chen Pi Mei
Another widely popular Chinese candy, Chen Pi Mei will enliven your taste buds with its sweet and sour flavour and soft, chewy texture. Black in colour, Chen Pi Mei is traditionally made from preserved plum or Mandarin citrus.
#6 Rice Crackers
Rice Crackers are a quintessential Chinese snack that no snack lover should be without. Enjoyed by both children and adults for generations, each pack is filled with delightful, crispy crackers made from rice. Their light and airy texture combined with a satisfying crunch make them a timeless favourite. Many rice crackers are crafted without any artificial preservatives or additives, making them a more natural snacking choice. They are available in a wide range of flavours such as plain, soy sauce, seaweed, and spicy, reflecting the diverse taste profiles of Chinese cuisine.
Next up we have one of the best Chinese delicacies to nibble on during cold weather. Fans of mantou usually eat this Chinese snack with butter or by dipping it in soup. You can also add heavy sauces, such as curry, for a different dimension to your mantou experience!
#8 Nian Gao
Everyone would love having lady luck on their side, and if Chinese traditions are to be believed, then eating Nian Gao at the start of the lunar year will do the trick. It is believed that this sticky rice cake ward off evil omens, but it is also terribly sweet and delicious! Although traditionally served in a golden-brown colour, other colours are becoming increasingly common using different ingredients (e.g., pandan for green Nian Goa).
#9 Crunchy Rice Rolls
Crunchy rice rolls are, unsurprisingly, made from roasted rice. This crispy snack is also often covered with sesame seeds and has a light layer of syrup on its surface. It is a very light snack, making it perfect for when you’re feeling peckish between meals.
#10 Pineapple Bun
Pineapple buns are a sweet pastry snack best consumed alongside tea or coffee, that were a childhood breakfast staple when I was growing up. The funny fact is they don't actually contain any pineapple, instead they get their name from their resemblance to the tropical fruit's skin. They are also sometimes called polo buns.
#11 Dream Animal Biscuits
Dream Animals are a fun biscuit snack that you can never have enough of. Loved by generations of kids and adults alike, each box contains an assortment of biscuits inspired by a variety of animals. The name of each animal is shown on each biscuit, meaning that children can enjoy this tasty treat while learning about animals. Dream Animal Biscuits are free from any preservatives and additives and are also available in a variety of flavours including butter, banana milk, seaweed and vegetable.
Shaobing is an unleavened, layered flatbread which is especially popular as a breakfast or snack dish across northern China. Shaobing can be served plain or with a sweet or savoury filling such as red bean paste or meat. It is commonly eaten alongside milk or tea.
#13 Dried Squid
Dried squid or cuttlefish originates from the coastal areas of East and South East Asia and is one of my favourite traditional Chinese treats. The squid is dried, shredded and seasoned (most commonly with salt) giving it a soft, chewy texture. It's possible to munch on dried squid all day with no worries since it's relatively light and it takes a lot to fill you up.
#14 ChaCheer Potato Chips Crispy
Tasting somewhat similar to cheese or vegetable crackers, the ChaCheer Potato Chips Crispy has been lauded as superior to more orthodox potato chip brands. They are golden brown in colour and are produced through baking, not deep-frying, which means that they are healthier.
#15 Yohosiyo Crabstick
If you like crabsticks then you will love Yohosiyo Crabstick snacks which come in a range of flavours ranging from Seafood and BBQ to the more intense Spicy and Mala. They are delicious as a standalone snack, and can also make a great addition to rice or your favourite instant noodles.
#16 Stinky Tofu
This popular street food snack is common at night markets and roadside food stores, being instantly recognisable by its strong odour which is a result of fermenting tofu in brine. It is often believed that the stronger the odour, the better the taste as stinky tofu has a unique savoury taste with a crispy outer layer and softer centre. It can be served both hot and cold.
No list of the greatest Chinese snacks is complete without Youtiao. Youtiao are fried dough fritters that you can eat either by themselves or dipped in soy milk. They can be found throughout East and Southeast Asia, and many view them as the perfect breakfast snack and Asia's answer to churros!
Fishnacks are a dried fish snack which come sliced into very thin strips. Some people describe them as tasting like fish jerky. They are savoury and well-known around Taiwan and China for being extremely addictive. In fact, a lot of people who grew up in Southeast and East Asia consider this a nostalgic snack that reminds them of their childhood.
Hailing from the Manchu region of China, sachima is a sweet traditional snack made from fried butter bound together by rock sugar syrup. To many, they are Asia's answer to Rice Krispies Treats. There are also other variants of this original sachima, including raisin sachima and sesame sachima.
#20 Sunflower Seeds
Last but not least we have the classic sunflower seed. It is a snack that is commonly enjoyed by various cultures across the globe including Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, and of course, China. They usually come in bags and can be plain or salted.
And there you have it, 20 of the best Chinese snacks to purchase right now including several of my favourites. You can easily find them in both physical stores and online, so I recommend you try as many as you can to see which Chinese flavours best suit you!