Korean Desserts: Guides For Beginners

Korea has a long history of confectionery production. Before the invention of modern machinery, all Korean desserts were made by hand using natural ingredients. And unlike western desserts which are usually very sweet, traditional desserts from Korea tend to be quite mild in flavor – this is because sugar started becoming widely available only after the introduction of refined white sugar from India in the late 17th century.

One could even say that Korea’s unique culture and tradition surrounding food were born out of this revolution in food technology at its time. Let’s take a look at some popular Korean desserts!

What is a Korean Dessert?

Korean dessert is sweet dishes or snacks that can be enjoyed after a meal. It is an important part of Korean culture and range in taste and flavor like any other cuisine in the world.

The most common traditional dessert is 호떡 (Hotteok), which consists of fried dough with either filled or unfilled centers that have been coated in sugar syrup.

There’s also 수제비 (Sujeonggwa), a punch made from persimmons, cinnamon, ginger and pine nuts boiled in water and honey; 두부찜 (Dubuque), a hot bowl of sweet red bean porridge; and 과일구이 (Gwa-il Gui), which is grilled or broiled fruit, such as bananas or pineapples, drizzled with syrup.

List of 10 Best Korean desserts For You

Korean dessert is known to be some of the best in the world, with many people saying they taste like heaven. Koreans make thousands of different types of desserts by using natural ingredients and cooking methods. The list below includes only ten of the most popular desserts; there are hundreds more to choose from!

1. Bibimbap

Bibimbap

Bibimbap is one of the most well-known dishes in Korea for foreigners, so it deserves to be mentioned first on any list like this. Bibimbap is a bowl of warm white rice topped with sauteed vegetables and beef or other kinds of meat, served with gochujang (red chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and some more red chili pepper paste are usually added on top.

Bibimbap is so popular that it can be found anywhere from street carts all the way up to fancy restaurants. It’s also one of the most commonly served dishes in Korean homes. For this reason, bibimbap has spread throughout the world and you’ll find it just about everywhere – including Korea’s neighboring countries!

 

2. Gyeran-ppang

Gyeran-ppang

Literally “egg bread”, gyeran-ppang is a small piece of dough stuffed with a whole egg which is then fried up and served in a paper bag. Because of the sugar content in the dough, it has a sweet taste that’s a little bit like funnel cake. Gyeran-ppang can also be found almost anywhere – from street carts to convenience stores.

3. Tteok-bokki

Tteok-bokki

A popular lunch dish consisting of rice cakes cooked in a spicy sauce with other vegetables such as onions, carrots, and peppers. Tteok-bokki is usually served with a hard or soft boiled egg and sesame seeds on top for extra seasoning. This dish has its origins in Korean military camps during the 20th century when food was scarce but rice flour was plentiful.

The resulting tteok-bokki was made of rice cakes instead of the usual meat, which is why it has a strong, sweet taste – since sugar was also scarce at that time. It’s still one of Korea’s most popular street foods today!

4. Sikhye

Sikhye

Sikhye has first introduced over 1000 years ago as a drink Koreans would take before they went on trips to prevent illness and keep them hydrated. It is now served as both a traditional and modern dessert, especially at weddings or birthday parties where it will be served with dried fruits such as dates, chestnuts, raisins, and pine nuts.

Sikhye tastes like a mix of beer and root beer: there is sweetness along with some slightly nutty flavors. It can be served with most Korean meals or snacks, but many Koreans enjoy it as a dessert at the end of a meal.

5. Hotteok

Hotteok

Hotteok is a flat-fried dough pastry filled with crushed nuts and various flavorings such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and honey. Hotteok is typically eaten during the wintertime because it warms you up – it’s especially popular during the Korean New Year when every household prepares large batches of hotteok for their families.

6. Jeon

Jeon

Jeon is a pancake made with shredded vegetables and meat dipped in egg batter and then fried until crispy brown on both sides. Jeon can be made with seafood or just about any kind of vegetable imaginable – the most common types are kimchi jeon (made with cabbage), pa Jon (scallions), and pajeon (green onions). It’s eaten as an appetizer or side dish at home but sometimes served as a main dish in restaurants too!

7. Bindaettuk

Bindaettuk is a dish that consists of sliced rice cakes and fish cake stir-fried in oil. It’s usually garnished with green onions, chili pepper, and sesame seeds for an added crunch.

Bindaettuk

8. Makgeolli

Makgeolli

Makgeolli is a traditional Korean alcoholic drink that has recently become popular again due to rising interest in traditional foods. Traditionally makgeolli was served in earthenware bowls called ‘Botaegui’, but now it is served in any kind of bowl or cup; restaurants usually serve it in glass or ceramic cups.

If you are looking for a new way to cool yourself during the summertime, then this beverage is for you! Makgeolli is usually made from rice and contains between 1% and 8% alcohol.

9. Patbingsu

Patbingsu

Patbingsu is a dish that was introduced from China sometime during the 1960s or ’70s. It has become one of Korea’s most popular modern desserts, especially during summertime when it is usually made with shaved ice. Now every bakery makes patbingsu, but there are still traditional versions being sold on street stalls, which you can find during the summertime.

It is made with finely shaved ice and condensed milk, which makes it savory, sweet, fresh, and cold. There are many different varieties of patbingsu, including toppings such as chopped fruit or granola. However you like your patbingsu, this frozen treat is sure to cool you down on a hot summer day!

10. Sundae

Sundae

Sundae is a sausage made from ground pig’s or cow’s intestines stuffed with fillings such as cellophane noodles and cabbage. It typically tastes like hot dogs but it has a distinctive chewy texture due to the long-lasting, rubbery quality of its main ingredient, the pig intestine.

There are also non-intestine versions that consist only of the stuffing – then they’re called sundubu (soft tofu) instead! Also, check out Korea’s street food scene – where you’ll find some more great snacks!

3 Korean Desserts Recipe

Korean Dessert near me

If you are looking for where to have Korean foods, here are some restaurants that serve both traditional and modern Korean desserts near me.

FAQs

1. Do Koreans like desserts?

Yes, they do. A lot of Koreans love desserts and snacks, but not all types.

2. What are the most popular Korean desserts?

Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken soup) is a favorite after a meal for Koreans whereas foreigners favor fruits or shaved ice during summertime. For Han Bok-nal (Buddhist holiday), people eat “Songpyeon” which is a Korean traditional rice cake that you can make into different shapes using special wooden molds. Also, Jumulleok (주물럭) are small peaches that are pickled with honey for ten days.

3. What makes Korean dessert unique?

Perhaps it’s their cute appearance or unusual flavors? It’s hard to describe in words, but they tend to be very palatable! At first glance, some desserts may appear intimidating due to their bright colors but once you try them, you’ll find your next favorite dessert!

Final Thoughts

It is no secret that Korea has some of the best desserts in all of Asia. From traditional to modern, there are countless varieties to choose from. Here are 10 Korean desserts you should try for sure!  The list above features well-known and lesser-known flavors alike with a little bit about what makes them special. Do you have any favorites? Let us know in the comments below.

Staff Writer At Saved By The Max

Hi, my name is Janet. I am the co-owner of Saved By The Max and a chef by trade. I studied food, art, and music in college and enjoy cooking French food as well as making craft drinks like cocktails and kombucha on tap!

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