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What is Rice Candy?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Rice candy is a type of candy made with a base ingredient of rice, typically in the form of glutinous rice flour or sweet rice flour. Numerous variations on this sweet treat are eaten across Asia, with Japan, Korea, and China all producing traditional rice candies. One of the most popular forms of this candy is Botan Rice Candy in Japan, manufactured by JFC International, Incorporated. This candy is widely distributed beyond the borders of Japan, and it is often available in Asian markets and specialty candy stores.

The ingredients in rice candy vary, depending on the nation of origin. At a minimum, the candy is made with glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water. Colorings and flavorings are often added, and the candy is usually soft and chewy in texture, with a subtle flavor. Many manufacturers go light on the sugar, reflecting a preference for lightly sweetened candies in Asia. The rice itself is also naturally sweet, and too much added sugar will create a cloying flavor.

Many types of rice candy are designed to be eaten fresh as they are made. Other producers slice their candy into small chunks and wrap the chunks in rice paper for packaging and shipping. The rice paper wrapper keeps the candy from getting too moist, and prevents the candies in a package from sticking to each other. It is also edible, although some people are unaware of this, and they may struggle to peel the rice paper wrappers away from the gummy candy.

In addition to Botan Rice Candy, another popular style of rice candy is dragon's beard candy, which is made from pulled sugar which is rolled in rice flour to prevent the sugar strands from sticking together. The candy is typically wrapped around a nut filling such as crushed peanuts. Dragon's beard candy is very popular in China and Korea, where it is often served fresh at markets and fairs.

Most rice candy is safe for vegans and people who are gluten-intolerant, making it a relatively safe treat to have around the house. However, it is a good idea to read the candy's packaging, as each producer uses different ingredients. If you happen to live in an area where this candy is produced, you might want to take a factory tour, as the process of candy making is quite interesting, and the opportunity to taste packaged candy in fresh form can be a real eye-opener.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ladyjane — On Aug 26, 2011

I have triplets at home so as you can imagine I try to cut down on their sugar intake as much as possible. I found a box of rice candy in the Asian department of my grocery store and asked my children to taste it when I got home.

Of course they were excited at first but after removing the outer wrapper and sticking the candy in their mouths they all ran to the trash can to spit it out. They told me the candy was stale and that part of the wrapper was stuck to it.

Word to the wise, if you ever buy rice candy for your children be sure to tell them that the inner wrapper is supposed to melt in their mouths with the fruit candy, otherwise you may end up eating the whole box yourself, like I did.

By Sierra02 — On Aug 26, 2011

@whitesand - Rice candy is somewhat like taffy except it's not as chewy which is good for those of us with fillings in our teeth. I live in Hawaii and here we can purchase it fresh all the time so it's always soft, but it does get a little crunchier if you let it sit for a while and it starts to act more like a jelly bean.

Japanese rice candy has only one flavor that I know of and that's a mild sweet citrus taste of lemon and orange. I think the old fashioned candy was originally made without the citrus flavorings. But it's a very subtle flavor and won't jump out at you the way the juice from a Skittles candy does.

By whitesand — On Aug 25, 2011

I buy sugar free candy all the time. I can't believe I've never heard of rice candy before now. It sounds very similar to taffy. Does it also come in a variety of flavors?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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