Beijing Food Tour: 33 Must-try Traditional Snacks

When you think of foods to eat in Beijing, you think Peking duck or Kung Pao Chicken. However, there are like a hundred traditional snacks to try, each with a unique taste and a special story. Old Beijing snacks involve Manchu royal snacks of various dim sum, halal snacks mostly made of mutton or beef and traditional Han snacks with bud-stimulating flavor.   

Recommended China food tours to Beijing:
10-day Taste of China Top Cuisines 
16-day China Culinary Tour 

Manchu Royal Snacks

Glutinous Rice Rolls with Sweet Bean Flour (驴打滚, Lv Da Gun)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Lv Da Gun or Rolling Donkey is actually a traditional Manchurian food. Rolling Donkeys are steamed glutinous rice rolls mixed with red beans or brown sugar and skinned using soybean flour. During the Qing Dynasty, it was a must-have dessert for people of the Eight Banners in the capital city, and later became one of the most famous Beijing local snacks.

Sachima (萨其马, Shaqima)

Sachima is another classic snack of the Manchus and now a popular sticky pastry across China from kids to adults. Though looking like American rice krispies, Sachimas are soft fried egg noodle strands mixed with sugar syrup. Sometimes sesame, nuts and raisins are added for extra flavor.

Fried Sauce Noodles (炸酱面, Zha Jiang Mian)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Zhajiang Mian, originated from the Manchu people, now is the most favorite noodle dish for Beijing local people. Zhajiang Mian is thick wheat noodles topped with soy-based pork meat sauce and sliced vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, sprouts, soybeans, etc.

Read more about How to Make Zhajiang Mian at Home and Top 8 Chinese Noodles

Stewed Pork Livers & Intestines (炒肝, Chao Gan)

Chaogan is a well-known traditional Manchu snack. Chaogan is made with the intestines of pigs (main ingredient) and pig livers with thick bone stock. Surprisingly, Beijing locals have this stewed pork liver and intestine soup as breakfast.

Stir-Fried Hawthorn (炒红果, Chao Hong Guo)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Chaohongguo is an appetizer with sweet and sour tastes. It’s a tradition for Beijingers to eat a bowl of chilled Stir-Fried Hawthorn on hot summer days. Named Stir Fried Hawthorn in Chinese, it’s in fact is not stir fried at all. Chao Hong Guo is Chinese hawthorn fruits boiled in melted ice sugar.

Baked Sweet Wheaten Cake (糖火烧, Tang Huo Shao)

Tanghuoshao is a famous traditional Manchu food with a history of over 300 years. You can find it in bakeries and snack shops all over the city of Beijing. Tangshuoshao has a crunchy outer shell and a soft interior with brown sugar and sesame paste, making it a great afternoon snack or breakfast item.

Stewed Bread (卤煮火烧, Lu Zhu Huo Shao)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Luzhu Huoshao is an old Beijing local favorite street food. Its making method is to cook chunks of Chinese flapjack and the internal organs of pigs together with the spiced soup. If you like strong flavors, try Luzhu Huoshao. It was once a palace food and introduced to the public and gained popularity during the mid-Qing Dynasty.

Old Beijing Cheese (老北京奶酪, Lao Beijing Nai Lao)

Old Beijing Cheese was once a treasure of Chinese royal delicacies during Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Unlike western-style cheese, Old Beijing Cheese is more like custard made from milk and fermented glutinous rice wine.

Sesame Cake with Minced Pork (肉末烧饼, Rou Mo Shao Bing)

Beijing local snack Sesame Cake with Minced Pork is one of the famous Manchu-Han Imperial Feast dishes. This flaky Chinese pancake was firstly a royal snack during the Qing Dynasty in Peking and was called “Dreams Come to True Shao Bing” by Empress Dowager Cixi allegedly.

Chinese Cabbage with Mustard (芥末墩儿, Jie Mo Dun’er)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Jiemodun’er, originated from the Manchu cuisine, is one of the most favorite foods for Beijing locals. Traditionally, this pickled Chinese cabbage with mustard sauce is a must-have cold dish of Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner in Beijing.

French Bean Rolls (芸豆卷, Yun Dou Juan)

One of Empress Dowager Cixi’s favored desserts, Yun Dou Juan is one of the most traditional snacks in Beijing. French Bean Roll or Kidney Bean Roll was originally a civilian snack and later introduced to the Court.

Walnut Cheese (核桃酪, He Tao Lao)

Literally named Walnut Cheese, traditional Beijing food He Tao Lao is actually a sweet pasty drink (like black sesame soup) made from walnuts, glutinous rice, jujubes, sugar and honey.

Halal Snacks

Mung Bean Milk (豆汁, Dou Zhi)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

A bowl of Douzhi (or Douzhi'er) with a pair of Jiaoquan is one of the most traditional and favorite breakfasts for Beijing locals. It’s a fermented drink made from mung bean lees with a sour taste and distinctive smell. Most visitors to Beijing find it hard to swallow, but true Beijingers really love it.

Fried Rings (焦圈, Jiao Quan)

Jiaoquan looks like an onion ring. It’s a crispy circle of fried dough. Fermented Douzhi accompanied with this golden color fried ring will mark a perfect start to a new day for native Beijing people.

Steamed Rice Cakes with Sweet Stuffing (艾窝窝, Ai Wo Wo)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

One of the top 10 famous snacks in Beijing, Aiwowo is a halal snack made with sticky rice with various stuffing like mashed Chinese date, walnuts, sesame kernels, hawthorn berries, etc. In the old days, Aiwowo was on sale from the Chinese New Year to the late summer. Now you can buy them throughout the year.

Quick-Boiled Tripe Quick-Boiled Tripe (爆肚, Bao Du)

Baodu, locally called Bao Dur by Beijingers, is one of the best examples of old Beijing snacks, has been popular since the time of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1700) of the Qing Dynasty. This Islamic snack is made of rapidly boiled lamb tripe or beef tripe, and served with sauces like sesame sauce, soy sauce, chili oil, Chinese black vinegar, etc.

Pea Flour Cake (豌豆黄, Wan Dou Huang)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Originally created by Muslims, Pea Flour Cake was introduced to the Court and became one of the imperial snack representatives of the Qing Dynasty. As a tradition, Beijing locals eat Pea Flour Cakes on March 3rd of the Chinese lunar calendar. It’s also a popular snack at Beijing temple fairs.

Fried Dough Drops (炒疙瘩, Chao Ge Da)

Chao Geda is a Muslim-style dish of Beijing food. It’s boiled dough drops stir-fried with meat (usually lumps of pork or beef) and vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots.

Sugar Yam Rolls (糖卷果, Tang Juan Guo)

Tangjuanguo is also a Muslim snack of traditional Beijing cuisine. Muslim Hui people usually cook this dish at festivals. Tangjuanguo is made from Chinese yam and jujubes covered with sugar syrup.   

Han Snacks

Candied Hawthorn Stick (冰糖葫芦, Bing Tang Hu Lu)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Bingtanghulu, also called Tanghulu, is Chinese candied fruits on a stick. Traditionally, it’s made of Chinese haw berries coated in hardened sugar syrup. But now inventive vendors also use other fruits to provide various flavors, like strawberries, cherry tomatoes, kiwifruits, grapes, etc. This classic Beijing snack is nationwide popular. Don’t forget to try Bingtang Hulu when visiting China, especially if you are traveling with kids.

Fried Filled Sausage (灌肠, Guan Chang)

Guanchang has been a popular street food in Beijing since the Ming Dynasty. You can always find it at temple fairs and night markets. Traditionally, it’s a prepared pork intestine stuffed with pasted starch, minced meat, and spices.

Sweet Ears (糖耳朵, Tang Er Duo)

Tangerduo is a fried dough twist covered with malt syrup, which gets its name from its shape. Tangerduo is also called Mi Ma Hua (蜜麻花) in Beijing. It’s one of the top old Beijing snacks. Fried Long

Fried Fermented Mung Bean Pulp (麻豆腐, Ma Dou Fu)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Madoufu is a kind of tofu made from the fermented mung bean residue left over from making Douzhi, but without the unpleasant smell of Douzhi. It’s a typical old Beijing dish since the Ming Dynasty. Looking like Beijing-version hummus, madoufu is traditionally stir-fried in lamb fat with salted vegetables, soybean paste, soybeans, minced scallions, minced ginger, etc.

Dumplings (褡裢火烧, Da Lian Huo Shao)

Dalian Huoshao are pan-fried long dumplings stuffed with meat and veggies, such as pork with cabbages, pork with fennel, and lamb with green onions. The pan-fried golden brown Dalian Huoshao is part of a local Pekinger’s favorite breakfast.

Buckwheat Cake (扒糕, Pa Gao)

Pagao is a traditional local snack in Beijing, which is cooled on ice in the summer season and fried with hot oil in winter. It’s a popular festive snack sold at food stands at temple fairs in Beijing. Pagao is made from buckwheat flour and served with pickled shredded carrots, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame paste, etc.

Baked Cake with Red Bean Stuffing (豆馅烧饼, Dou Xian Shao Bing)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Douxian Shaobing is a common old Beijing-style snack with a crispy mouthfeel. It’s a pancake stuffed with sweetened red bean paste and covered with sesame kernels outside. Douxian Shaobing is also called Hama Tumi (Frog Spit Honey). The name comes from shape because a crack will appear at the border when baking, sort of like an open mouth.

Almond Tofu (杏仁豆腐, Xing Ren Dou Fu)

Xingren Doufu is a popular summer snack in Beijing because of its chilled mouth melting taste. It’s a kind of Chinese version of panna cotta. Traditionally, almonds are milled into a pulp and solidified into lumps. It’s usually served with syrup and dry fruits.

Fried Sesame Balls (开口笑, Kai Kou Xiao)

Kaikouxiao is a classic Beijing local snack. It literally means “laughing mouth” in Chinese because the cracking looks like a laughing mouth after deep frying. The crunchy and tasty Kaikouxiao is made from flour, eggs, white sugar, and sesame seeds.

Xiaodiao Pear Soup (小吊梨汤, Xiao Diao Li Tang)

Must-try Traditional Beijing Snacks

Xiaodiaolitang is another favorable local delicacy in Beijing. Its making method is to cook a pear, tremella, preserved plums, goji berries, and rock sugars together in the water. Pears are considered a good food for the autumn and winter seasons to soothe the throat and reduce coughing. In China, pear soup is considered helpful to strengthen the lungs, soothing sore throats, and speed up the healing of coughs.

Fried Tickle Box (炸咯吱盒, Zha Ge Zhi He)

Gezhihe is another famous old Beijing snack. This deep-fried crispy flour snack was a favorable dessert for lunar Chinese New Year in old days.

Zucchini Pancake (糊塌子, Hu Ta Zi)

Hutazi is an old Beijing-style pancake made from zucchini, flour, eggs, and green onions. It’s also a typical homemade food for local Beijing people. Hutazi can be served along with garlic and Chinese black vinegar sauce.

Mongolian Snacks

Seasoned Millet Mush (面茶, Mian Cha)

Miancha literally means flour tea in Chinese, but it has nothing to do with tea. It’s a kind of thick porridge made from millet flour topped with sesame paste and sesame kernels. Mian Cha is a common snack in both Beijing and Tianjin.

Fried Butter Cake (奶油炸糕, Nai You Zha Gao)

Traditional Beijing local snack Naiyou Zhagao was originally a classic Mongolian food. It was inherited from the Mongolian people’s cuisine in the Yuan Dynasty. Naiyou Zhagao is made with milk, butter, eggs, and flour. Freshly fried butter cake is the most favorite snack for children.    

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