30 Best Chinese and Taiwanese Snacks You Should Try
– The Ultimate Guide to Chinese Snacks and Taiwanese Snacks
Who doesn’t love snacks? Around the world, Asian snacks are very well-known for their many varieties and tastes. I grew up in Taiwan and moved to the States in 2008. The city I live in does not have a huge Asian market, so that’s why every time when I am back to Taiwan to visit family and relatives, eating snacks is one of my daily, must-have routines!
Here, I am going to introduce you to the 30 best Chinese snacks & Taiwanese snacks you should definitely try!
In this article, it not only shows you what those snacks are, but also includes many pictures and videos that I took while I was in Taiwan. Let’s go unbox these delicious, tasty, and flavorful Chinese snacks.
凤梨酥 / 鳳梨酥 fènglí sū Pineapple Cakes
If you have tried some Chinese snacks, you must know pineapple cakes. But a fun fact you might not know is that traditional pineapple cakes did not have pineapples as an ingredient or main ingredient. The filling was mainly made from winter melon and sugar. Then in recent years, more and more people liked the filling to be not only sweet but also mixed with some sourness. So, people started making the filling with pineapple and sugar.
You can make pineapple cakes at home. They are actually not hard to make. As an immigrant like me, it is not easy to find hometown snacks in some cities, so this is one of the traditional Chinese snacks you can make at home.
I found this recipe on YouTube. I have tried this recipe quite a few times and really like it. But I did make some changes. I double the amount of the dough, while keeping the same amount of the filling. The baker in the video did not use a mold to shape the cakes. I found that it is doable if you don’t have one. Another reason I like to share this recipe is it also has English subtitles with the video.
科学面 / 科學麵 kēxué miàn Science Noodles
This Taiwan Instant Noodle has been popular since I was a child. The name Science Noodles is literally translated from its name on the package. “科學 / 科学 kēxué” is science. The most popular way to eat this noodle is to break the noodles into small chunks before the package is opened. Then when you open it, there is a seasoning package inside. Mix the seasoning package with the noodles and shake it!
Let’s watch this unpackaging video made by vividchinese.com.
蛋卷 / 蛋捲 dàn juǎn Egg Roll
Egg rolls are one of the most popular Chinese snacks, but not every brand is classic. If you go to an Asian store to find egg rolls, Serena should be the first one you look for. 喜年来蛋卷 / 喜年來蛋捲 xǐ nián lái dàn juǎn. Serena egg rolls are made by Serena Foods Incorporation. Just like its name, the shape of the egg rolls is long and hollow. The egg roll is VERY fragile (as you can tell from the short clip below!). You have to have a container or a napkin to catch the crumbs while you are eating.
Serena egg rolls package
Serena egg rolls: 4 rolls in a package
Serena egg rolls are long and hollow
义美泡芙 / 義美泡芙 / yì měi pào fú Puff
This mini puff is not like the kind that is freshly made from bakeries. They have 6 different flavors you can easily find in the stores in Taiwan. There are, chocolate, lemon, strawberry, milk, custard pudding, and vanilla choco. Their classic ones are chocolate, milk, and strawberry.
The size of a puff is bite-sized. The texture of the crust is crispy. Some people find that it tastes even better after you freeze it! If you can get a box, try it this way!
Puff in the store
Vanilla Choco puff
牛肉干/ 牛肉乾 niúròu gān Beef Jerky
It is funny to say that beef jerky really gave me a culture shock when I just arrived in the States. When I first saw beef jerky in a store in the US, I thought it would be about the same as the ones I had in Taiwan. And I found out I was wrong. Most of the beef jerky in the United States is pretty dry. The ones in Taiwan are flavorful and not as dry as the ones in the US. The main reason is they are made in different ways. Most of the beef jerky from the United States is put in a dehydrator while the meat is still raw (after marinating). But the ones in Taiwan, they cook the meat first and then dehydrate or bake them in an oven. When they cook, most of the sauce from marinating will be cooked into the meat. The juice will make the jerky softer. Spicy beef jerky has become popular in recent years.
Beef jerky in the store.
Top row left to right: KaoLiang Spicy Flavor Beef Jerky, Original Flavor Beef Jerky
Bottom row left to right: Original Flavor, Spicy Hot Beef Jerky
巧克力酥片 / 巧克力酥片 qiǎokèlì sū piàn Crunchoco
This is a round and thick Crunchoco. It is made by one of the most famous food companies, “I MEI 義美 yì měi.” There are two flavors, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. Crunchoco has sliced almonds on the top. It comes with in an individual pack. Crunchoco is easy to break apart. Some people prefer to eat as it whole, while some prefer to break it apart. I have not tried it personally, but I know some people even have it with milk!
This is one of my TOP 3 snacks.
Left to right: Original (milk chocolate), Dark chocolate.
Crunchoco is pretty thick. It is as thick as the wide of my thumb.
北海鳕鱼香丝 / 北海鱈魚香絲 běihǎi xuěyú xiāng sī North Sea Fishnacks
Another snack that is well known to Asian snack seekers. North Sea Fishnack is made by the Yofeng food company. This is the original fishnacks. Since it is so popular, plenty of others have tried to follow suit. But if you can find the “North Sea,” stick with this brand and you won’t regret it! The original fishnacks were long and thin. But later on, they introduced a newer kind that is wide. North Sea Fishnacks are chewy and with a bit of spiciness, but the spiciness goes away fast. Most kids can handle it. Besides the original flavor, now they also have a spicy flavor.
North Sea Fishnacks
Left to right: Original thin Fishnacks, Wide spicy Fishnacks
虾味先 / 蝦味先 xiā wèi xiān Shrimp Strips
These shrimp strips are made by the Yuzong Food Company. The length of the strips is about the same as the vegetable strips you can find in the States. But the shrimp strips are not hollow. The strips are crispy. They have expanded from the original flavor to three more flavors. They are spicy, kimchi, and spicy pot as you can see from the picture below.
可乐果 / 可樂果 kě lè guǒ Pea Crackers
The pea crackers have a unique shape, like spiral pasta. They are crispy. There was only the original flavor when I was a kid, but they have many fancy flavors now, like basil, wasabi, lemon pink salt, Szechuan spices, seaweed, and spicy. I have tried most of them and I loved everyone I tried!
Its shape is like a spiral pasta.
旺旺仙貝 / 旺旺仙贝 wàngwàng xiān bèi Want Want Senbei and 雪餅 / 雪饼 xuě bǐng Rice Crackers
I have included both “旺旺仙貝 wàngwàng xiān bèi” and “雪餅 xuě bǐng” in the same section because they are pretty similar. They are both crackers made of rice. The texture is crunchy. They are also both mixed with salty and sweet flavors.
Want Want Senbei packages
“雪餅 / 雪饼 xuě bǐng” literally means “snow crackers.” It has a white drops layer and it looks like snow. That’s where the name comes from.
海苔 / 海苔 hǎitái Dried Seaweed, Roasted Seasoned Seaweed
Dried seaweed is another popular snack in Taiwan. They come in a few different sizes. Some of them are as small as half an iPhone 6 screen, while some of them are bigger and you can make a sushi roll out of it.
Check out the video and see how many kinds of seaweed we have in a grocery store. They are all just like snacks. You can just open them and eat. One of the popular ways is to put rice on the top of a piece of seaweed and fold it.
There are many dried seaweed choices in the store. They even have their own aisle!
Small size seaweed, 6 pieces per pack. 48 packs in a bag.
Bigger size seaweed that you can place rice in the middle and make rice sushi.
蘇打餅乾 / 苏打饼干 sūdǎ bǐnggān Crackers
Besides my beef jerky shock, salty crackers also changed my expectations as well!
The square salty crackers we have in Taiwan are not plain slat. There are three main flavors you should be able to find, seaweed, vegetable, and green onion, as you can see in the picture below.
沙其马 沙琪玛 / 沙其馬 沙琪瑪 Shā qí mǎ Sachima
This soft sugar-flour cake reminds me of an American snack, Rice Krispie Treats. They are similar but Sachima do not have marshmallows as an ingredient. The texture is fluffy. It mainly consists of flour, butter, and rock sugar.
水果乾 / 水果干 shuǐguǒ gān Dried Fruits
Part of China and Taiwan are located in tropical areas. That is why we are able to get many different varieties of fruits. I believe that this one of the main reasons that dried fruit is so popular in China and Taiwan. Here is a long list with some pictures to prove how much we love our dried fruits!
芒果干 / 芒果乾 mángguǒ gān, Dried mangos
青芒果干 / 青芒果乾 qīng mángguǒ gān, Dried green mangoes
芭乐干 / 芭樂乾 bā lè gān, Dried guavas
红心芭乐干 / 紅心芭樂乾 hóng xīn bā lè gān, Dried red guavas
凤梨干 / 鳳梨乾 fènglí gān, Dried pineapples
草莓干 / 草莓乾 cǎoméi gān, Dried strawberries
杨桃干 / 楊桃乾 yángtáo gān, Dried star fruits
龙眼干 / 龍眼乾 lóngyǎn gān, Dried longans
洛神干 / 洛神乾 luòshén gān, Dried roselles
奇异果干 / 奇異果乾 qíyì guǒ gān, Dried kiwifruits
蕃茄干 / 蕃茄乾 fānqié gān, Dried tomatoes
香蕉干 / 香蕉乾 xiāngjiāo gān, Dried bananas
柠檬干 / 檸檬乾 níngméng gān, Dried lemons
橘子干 / 橘子乾 júzi gān, Dried oranges
柚子干 / 柚子乾 yòuzi gān, Dried pomelo fruits
蜜餞 / 蜜饯 mìjiàn Preserved Fruits
Preserved fruits are usually not considered as healthy as fresh fruits and dried fruits, since they need to have added preservatives to keep the fruits edible for a long time. They are usually sourer than dried fruits. The most popular preserved fruit is plum.
山楂餅 shānzhā bǐng / 仙楂餅 Xiān zhā bǐng Haw flakes
Haw flakes are Chinese sweets made from the fruit of the Chinese hawthorn. Haw flakes can be as thin as two millimeters. But you also can find thicker ones in the stores. These can be as thick as 1 centimeter.
This sweet and tangy Chinese snack is usually served to guests along with tea, or as a treat for children. A fun fact that some of you might know is that most of Chinese herbal medicine is made in a liquid form, and they are bitter. Some Chinese people take these flakes with these bitter Chinese herbal medicines or have a piece of haw flake after having bitter Chinese herbal medicines.
陳皮梅 Chan Pui Mui Preserved Plums
Chan Pui Mui is preserved and candied plums that are flavored with orange peel. It was made from plums, orange peel, and sugar.
When I first tried Chan Pui Mu, its look did not amaze me. But I convinced myself to try it, since I love most preserved plums. I was glad I did try it. There is a reason why it has stayed in the market for such a long time! It is really tasty if you like sweet and sour snacks.
果凍 / 果冻 guǒdòng Jelly
“果凍 / 果冻 guǒdòng” literally means “fruit frozen.” The original idea was from freezing fruits. When I was a kid, jelly was a simple jelly. They had different colors for the different fruit flavors they were made from. The container was smaller than the ones I find these days.
Jelly has got so popular now, and I found the “coconut-jelly and lychee jelly” is most people’s favorite. The coconut-jelly is cut into small cubes. The lychee flavor jelly is mixed with a few small coconut-jelly cubes in a jelly container.
The ones below are also popular with kids:
Coconut-Jelly Mango Flavor Jelly
Coconut-Jelly Assorted Jelly
Tropical Mix Fruit Jelly
糖果 / 糖果 tángguǒ Candy
When talking about snacks, we can’t skip candy! Before we jump into the candies I love, let’s learn some candy-related vocabulary.
糖果 / 糖果 tángguǒ Candy
軟糖 / 软糖 ruǎn táng Soft candy / Gummy
硬糖 / 硬糖 yìng táng Hard candy
牛奶糖 / 牛奶糖 Niúnǎi táng Caramel
牛軋糖 / 牛轧糖 niú gá táng Nougat
棒棒糖 / 棒棒糖 Bàng bàng táng Lollipop
太妃糖 / 太妃糖 Tài fēi táng Toffee
棉花糖 / 棉花糖 Miánhuā táng Marshmallow
口香糖 / 口香糖 Kǒuxiāngtáng Chewing gum
泡泡糖 / 泡泡糖 Pàopaotáng Bubble gum
巧克力 / 巧克力 qiǎokèlì Chocolate
大白兔奶糖 / 大白兔奶糖 Dàbái tù nǎi táng White Rabbit Candy
White rabbit candy is definitely the top candy that defined many people’s childhoods. It is popular worldwide. People remember it has edible rice wrapper and the rich milk flavor comes right after.
森永牛奶糖 / 森永牛奶糖 sēnyǒng niúnǎi táng Morinaga Milk Caramel
If you like Asian snacks, you must have heard of Morinaga before. Morinaga came from Japan originally. But Taiwan Morinaga was established in 1961.
Morinaga milk caramel was the very first product Taiwan Morinaga made. This milk caramel is soft and combines milk and caramel flavors. This definitely is the classic. The original package is a small box that contains 12 square milk caramels. Now they also have individual packs with cube shapes in it.
嗨啾 / 嗨啾 hāi jiū Hi-Chew
When talking about candies, Hi-Chew may be many kids’ first candy that jumps into their mind. Hi-Chew is made by Morinaga. It was originally from Japan but soon became very popular everywhere. Hi-Chew has many flavors. If you visit a different country, you may find flavors that you are not able to find in your area. According to Wikipedia, Hi-Chew is available in 14 flavors in the United States: watermelon, strawberry, green apple, dragon fruit, mango, grape, peach, banana, melon, cherry, kiwi, açai, pineapple, and (exclusive to Hawaii) lilikoi.
养乐多软糖 养乐多软糖 Yǎnglèduō ruǎn táng / 乳酸菌軟糖 Rǔsuānjùn ruǎn táng Yogurt Soft Candy
Yogurt soft candy is popular among children as well. Like the ones in the picture below.
Some parents do not allow candy for their little ones, but they may consider giving them yogurt soft candy. Some of the brands add probiotic within it, so parents may believe it is better for kids.
番石榴糖 / 蕃石榴糖 Fān shíliú táng Guava Candy
Guava candy was loved by most of my students when I was a high school Chinese teacher in the United States. This guava candy is a round hard candy. It has a rich guava flavor. Since the candy size is pretty small, it is pretty easy to eat them non-stop!
森永多乐糖 台湾特产水果硬糖 / 森永多樂糖 台灣特產水果硬糖 Sēnyǒng duō lè táng táiwān tèchǎn shuǐguǒ yìng táng Morinaga Taiwan Specialty Fruits Hard Candy
Another kind of candy that is made by the Morinaga Company. I did not have this kind of candy when I was little. I found this one a few years ago when I went back to visit my family in Taiwan.
There are 5 fruit flavors in the can, mango, peach, passion fruit, lychee, and guava. They are all pretty close to the real fruit flavor in my opinion. My favorite is lychee!
牛轧糖 / 牛軋糖 niú gá táng Nougat
As you can tell from its Chinese name, you may guess “nougat” did not originate from the Chinese language. So probably it was not first made in our culture. Yes, you are right. There are different stories about where it was from. According to Wikipedia, many legends exist around nougat’s origins. The early recipes for white nougat were probably borrowed from Central Asia.
The original nougats were made from honey, almond, and egg white. But when nougats came to Taiwan, the bakers changed the ingredients. They used milk powder as the main ingredient along with sugar, butter, egg white, nuts, and dried fruit bits. The texture is between soft candy and hard candy.
口香糖 / 口香糖 kǒuxiāngtáng 泡泡糖 / 泡泡糖 pàopaotáng Chewing Gum, Bubble Gum
“口香糖 / 口香糖 kǒuxiāngtáng” literally means “mouth smell good candy.” And “泡泡糖 / 泡泡糖 pàopaotáng” literally means “bubble candy.”
When I was little, there were two famous gum brands. They were “青劍口香糖 / 青剑口香糖 qīng jiàn kǒuxiāngtáng” and “飛壘口香糖 / 飞垒口香糖 fēi lěi kǒuxiāngtáng.”
青劍口香糖 / 青剑口香糖 qīng jiàn kǒuxiāngtáng is the brand “Doublemint.” It is a piece of chewing gum. You can’t really make a bubble from it. But the minty flavor can help get rid of food smells in the mouth.
Even though “飛壘口香糖 / 飞垒口香糖 fēi lěi kǒuxiāngtáng” prints “口香糖 / 口香糖 kǒuxiāngtáng” on its label, it is also a bubble gum. It was actually well known for being able to make a big bubble out of it.
Now, Airwave and Extra gums are taking over the gum market in Taiwan.
堅果 / 坚果 jiānguǒ Nuts
Nuts are one of the Chinese snacks we will give as a gift in Chinese culture. We like to have nuts while chatting, watching TV, watching movies, and when we get bored. There are some nuts we like that are pretty common in other cultures, like 開心果 / 开心果 kāixīn guǒ, pistachio, and 花生 / 花生 huāshēng, peanut. There is one I really like but I came to realize that some people find this Chinese snack “quite interesting,” it is 杏仁小魚 xìngrén xiǎo yú, Almond and Fish Snack Mix.
Nuts section in the store
杏仁小魚 xìngrén xiǎo yú Almond and Fish Snack Mix
Its name says everything. It is mixed with almond and fish. But the fish is not the fresh big fish you find in the seafood department in a grocery store. There are small fish. Those small fish can be a few different kinds of fish but mainly are clove fish.
“杏仁小魚 Almond and Fish Snack Mix,” its name says everything. It is a mix of almond sand fish. But the fish is not the fresh big fish you find in the seafood department in a grocery store. There are small fish. Those small fish can be a few different kinds of fish but are mainly clove fish.
黄飞红麻辣花生 / 黃飛紅麻辣花生
Huáng fēihóng málà huāshēng
Huangfeihong Spicy Peanuts
As spicy flavors are being accepted by more people, Huangfeihung peanuts have become a popular product when you go to Asian stores in the United States. If you like spicy flavors and nuts, this is the must-try snack. The peanuts are not only seasoned with dried red peppers, but also mixed with Sichuan peppercorns that will numb your tough. Some people enjoy the numb feeling. I will even keep the dried red peppers and the Sichuan peppercorns for later. I will have them to either eat straight or stir fried with vegetables or chicken.
Chinese New Year Snack Box
When the time approaches for Chinese New Year, you may notice that many stores, shops, receptions of companies, apartments and residential building entrances will place a bowl or a box by the entrance. A variety of goodies are in there. When there are little kids visiting a relative’s house, the host will offer the box and let the little ones have whatever they would like to take. If you shop in a store, and they have a bowl with goodies, you are welcome to take a couple of them. All of these symbolize that you will have a sweet New Year.