5-Minute Dalgona Candy
Make Korean Dalgona candy with this easy recipe using sugar and baking soda. Enjoy the fun and traditional method of making this popular squid game candy in a soup ladle.
What is Dalgona?
Dalgona, also known as Ppopgi, is an old-fashioned Korean sugar candy made with just sugar and baking soda. Although it looks like cookies, it has a hard and honeycomb toffee-like texture. The reason this candy is so nostalgic to Koreans is because of how it’s made – in a soup ladle!
The popular Netflix show “Squid Game” featured this candy, and it became an overnight sensation through social media. It’s easy to see why this sugar candy became so intriguing to non-Koreans. Making the Dalgona candy recipe is a fun activity if you know the story behind it.
Dalgona vs Ppopgi
Dalgona and Ppopgi are two special Korean candy treats that any Korean who grew up in the 1970s (like myself) will remember. While Ppopgi is made with plain sugar, Dalgona is made with a glucose solid, giving them slightly different flavors and textures.
These candies were popular among Korean children in the 70s through early 80s, and it’s interesting to note that the names have been confused over the past few decades. What most people now call “Dalgona” should really be called “Ppopgi” candy. However, for the sake of joining the current trend, I’ll call this recipe Dalgona.
FYI, this recipe is for Dalgona candy, not the Dalgona whipped coffee.
The History and Game of Korean Dalgona Candy
In the 1970s, Korean children didn’t have many sweet treats. Home baking was rare, and only rich families could afford an oven. Dalgona was a popular candy back then and it came with a fun game.
Street vendors sold dalgona and had portable charcoal stoves to make the candy on the spot. They would give you a metal ladle with sugar and you would stir it until it caramelized. Then, you add baking soda and the candy turns bubbly. The goal was to cut out the shape without breaking it. If you succeeded, you got a free ladle of sugar.
As Korea developed economically in the early 1980s, Dalgona and Ppopgi disappeared from the streets. Today, street vendors selling Dalgona are rare, but the candy and game live on in the memories of those who grew up with it.
Childhood Memories of Korean Sugar Candy Making
Like me, many Korean children were obsessed with this sugar candy in the 1970s. We often tried to make it at home, sneaking into the kitchen when our mothers were out running errands.
Unfortunately, our attempts at caramelizing the sugar often left burn marks and discoloration on our mothers’ kitchen ladles, resulting in a scolding or even a smack on the backside when they discovered the damage upon returning home. Ouch!
The humble Korean sugar candy known as Dalgona, which holds nostalgic memories for many Koreans, has recently gained global attention.
Thanks to the popular Netflix series Squid Game, the Dalgona challenge has become viral on social media with the hashtag #dalgonachallenge.
Picking out the indented pattern from the pressed Korean sugar candy without breaking it is no easy feat. It’s a fun challenge to have the Dalgona game at home.
In this guide, I provide you with the necessary tools to make Dalgona, the recipe, and important cooking tips for you to succeed. Now you can have fun playing the Dalgona game in the comfort of your own home.
Dalgona candy tools
You can purchase a Dalgona tools set from online stores or use any small cookie cutter you have, along with a Korean Hotteok Press. If you don’t have a hotteok press, you can use the bottom of a small saucepan to press down instead.
I suggest getting a hotteok press tool, not only for making dalgona candy, but also for creating delicious Hotteok. This Korean sweet pancake is filled with brown sugar syrup, and my Hotteok recipe is definitely worth a try. You’ll love it!
- Stainless steel pressure plate with wooden handle
- Can be used for pressing various flat food dishes including Hotteok or Dalgona
- Ladle – Use a cheap one. Look for one at dollar stores or cheap kitchen supply stores. Don’t use your mother’s nice kitchen ladle. You might possibly get your backside smacked.
- Wooden chopsticks – or popsicle sticks.
- Hotteok Press – It’s a tool to press down the dalgona mass.
- Sugar – use granulated sugar.
- Baking soda – do not substitute with baking powder. It has to be baking soda.
- Cookie cutters – any size and pattern you desire. A simpler pattern will be easier.
- Silicon mat – It helps release the dalgona candy easily. You can also use parchment paper.
Commonly Asked Questions About the Recipe
How do I keep the ladle clean in between making candies?
Rinse the ladle under hot water to remove any hardened sugar residue after making each batch of candy. The hot water will dissolve the residue quickly. Then, dry the ladle with a towel before proceeding to the next dalgona.
My shape pattern keeps breaking when I try to pick it out. Any suggestion?
One solution is to press harder with a cookie cutter when making the indentation. The deeper the pattern, the easier it is to maintain the shape. Another method is to use a toothpick to poke around the edges of the pattern. Some people wet the toothpick with water to moisten the surface.
My Dalgona has a bitter taste. What should I do?
Reduce baking soda and avoid over-caramelizing the sugar to prevent bitterness in the candy.
Watch how to make dalgona (full version)
How to make dalgona candy
Step 1: Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar in a ladle over medium-low to low heat. When the sugar starts melting around the edge, stir with a wooden chopstick.
Step 2: Continue to stir the sugar until it melts and caramelizes. If the sugar burns too quickly, reduce the heat. Once all the sugar has melted, it should have a light caramel color.
Step 3: Remove the ladle from heat, and add a pinch of baking soda. Keep stirring until well mixed.
Step 5: Using a cookie cutter, quickly press down to create an indentation on the surface of the candy. Allow the candy to cool, and then lift it up with a spatula.
- To avoid burning the sugar, use medium-low to low heat when caramelizing it and ensure that it is fully melted before adding the baking soda.
- Once you add the baking soda, remove the ladle from the heat source and stir well.
- Be careful not to use excessive baking soda as it can cause bubbling and sticking to the hotteok press, which can make the candy taste bitter.
Ways to savor Korean sugar candy
- Indulge in the sweet treat on its own as a snack or dessert.
- Use it as a garnish on top of cakes, cupcakes, or ice cream.
- Add it to hot drinks like tea or coffee for a sweet boost.
- Crush it up and sprinkle it over popcorn or other snacks for a sweet and crunchy twist.
- Share it with friends and family and reminisce about your childhood memories.
Proper Storage Instructions
- To store the dalgona candy, wait for it to cool and then place it in an airtight zip bag. Keep the bag on the counter at room temperature.
- The dalgona candy can last up to three days if stored in an airtight container. However, if the climate is humid, the candy may become sticky.
Try Other Korean Sweet Treats
- Fluffy Korean Twisted Donut (Kkwabaegi)
- Sweet Rice Corn Hotteok
- Easy Korean Rice Punch Recipe (Sikhye) – Instant Pot
- LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars
5-Minute Dalgona Candy
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 pinch about 1/16 tsp baking soda
- Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar in a ladle over medium-low to low heat. When the sugar starts melting around the edge, stir with a wooden chopstick.
- Continue to stir the sugar until it melts and caramelizes. If the sugar burns too quickly, reduce the heat. Once all the sugar has melted, it should have a light caramel color.
- Remove the ladle from heat, and add a pinch of baking soda. Keep stirring until well mixed.
- Pour the sugar mix on a silicon mat and press gently with a Hotteok Press to flatten. Using a cookie cutter, quickly press down to create an indentation on the surface of the candy. Allow the candy to cool, and then lift it up with a spatula.
- To store the dalgona candy, once cooled, place them in an airtight zip bag and keep them on the counter for up to 3 days. However, if the climate is humid, your dalgona candy may become sticky.
- When the candy is cooled, lift up the candy and try to break the edges around the indented shape pattern. Have fun playing around.
- You can enjoy dalgona as is, but try enjoying it as a topping for ice cream. Yummy!