How to Make Yakgwa, Korean Honey Cookies

Korean dessert, Yakgwa
Multi-bits / Getty Images
Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Soaking: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 20 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
447 Calories
38g Fat
28g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 447
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 38g 49%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 81mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 1g
Calcium 16mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Yakgwa is a traditional Korean sweet, and it's usually shaped into some sort of flower design if you're buying it in a store. It's deep-fried and very sweet, so it's more of a dessert than an everyday cookie, and it was traditionally served at ceremonies, celebrations, and on special occasions. Yakgwa literally means medicinal confection, as 'yak' means medicine and 'Awa' means confection/sweet. The medicinal part refers to honey, an important part of traditional Korean medicine.


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups vegetable oil (or as needed for frying)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 small piece of ginger (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup water

Steps to Make It

  1. Place flour in a large bowl.

  2. Add sesame oil and mix together with your hands. Rub the flour between your hands and fingers to combine.

  3. In another bowl, whisk honey, sake, and water together.

  4. Add to flour mixture and knead gently with your hands to form a dough.

  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

  6. After 30 minutes, on a floured surface, roll out dough to half an inch thick.

  7. Cut dough into one-inch strips to make diamond or rectangle shapes. Or cut into a flower shape.

  8. Put a small hole in the center of each cookie.

  9. To make syrup, put rice malt syrup, honey, and ginger in a saucepan over medium heat.

  10. Bring to a simmer and then remove immediately from heat.

  11. Pour into a rectangular dish or glass baking pan.

  12. Bring a sturdy, flat-bottomed fryer or saucepan with oil, making sure the oil doesn't go higher than half the height of the pot.

  13. Heat over medium heat until oil temperature is 212 F.

  14. In small batches, drop pastries in oil and fry, gently turning them until they puff and float (about 4 to 5 minutes).

  15. Now raise the heat of the oil to about 300 F and continue to fry until the Yakgwa turns a golden brown.

  16. Remove Yakgwa from oil and place into the dish with ginger syrup.

  17. When all of them have been placed in the syrup, turn each one over once so they are coated.

  18. Soak in the syrup for a few hours, and then remove with a slotted spoon onto another dish topped with parchment.

  19. Sprinkle with pine nuts and sesame seeds. 

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