Chewy Sesame Peanut Candy (Keo Me Dau Phong)

I received lots of requests for a Chewy Sesame Peanut Candy (Keo Me Dau Phong) recipe after sharing the brittle version not too long ago.  (Check out the link for my Peanut Candy (Keo Dau Phong) recipe.)  This wonderful confection, as the name indicates, is softer, chewy and more like a nougat. It’s perfect for those who don’t like hard candy or fear cracking a tooth on these sugary delights.  The Viet version of this candy, Sesame Candy (Keo Me Xung), is made with only sesame seeds.  I love the coupling of sesame seeds and peanuts and modified the traditional recipe.  If you’d like to make an all sesame seeds version, just substitute the peanuts for more sesame seeds.  The rest of the recipe is the same.  Feel free to also use any combination of nuts you like.  Enjoy! 

Watch the video for instructions.

Notes on the Chewy Sesame Peanut Candy (Keo Me Dau Phong) Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Cooking the sugar is the trickiest part of this recipe and you may have to make this a few times before getting the consistency just right.  If the sugar is not cooked enough, the candy will be gooey and not hold its shape.  Cook the sugar too long and you’ll have brittle instead of a chewy candy.  The best ways to tell if the sugar is cooked just right is to:  1) check the color–the syrup should be the color of honey and 2) check the consistency–the syrup should bead off a spoon rather than stream off it indicating it has reached the appropriate thickness.  (If you have a candy thermometer that can provide a quick read, the sugar should reach the Firm-Ball Stage, temperature is 245°F – 250°F.)A homemade treat that's perfect for gift-giving.Be attentive as the syrup nears the 5 minute cooking window as it turns dark very quickly from this point on and can burn quite easily.  As soon as the syrup reaches the golden, honey color, add the lemon juice right away.   The lemon juice helps to suspend the syrup in its current candy state.  Add the lemon juice quickly and be careful as the syrup may splatter.

Stir the tapioca and water mixture before adding to the syrup as the contents tend to settle.  Again, as with the lemon juice, pour the mixture quickly into the pan and then stir vigorously.  The tapioca starch turns from opaque to translucent when it’s cooked.

For faster cooling, place the candy in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Chewy Sesame Peanut Candy / Keo Me Dau Phong

A popular sweet enjoyed during Lunar New Year!


1/2 cup roasted roasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup water + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts


Add the tapioca starch to 1/3 cup water and stir until mixture is smooth.  Set aside for now.

Line a 9×6 inch pan with parchment paper.  Drizzle vegetable oil into the pan and then use a brush to coat the paper with the oil.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup sesame seeds into the pan.  Tilt and gently shake the pan to distribute the sesame seeds making sure to cover the bottom of the pan completely.

Place a small saucepan over High Heat.  Add vegetable oil, sugar and water.  Stir together dissolving the sugar while bringing the mixture to a boil.  (This takes approximately 2 minutes.)

As soon as the syrup starts to boil, stop stirring.  Cook the syrup for 5 minutes or until it thickens and turns a light honey color.  Reduce the heat to Low and cook for another 1 minute or until the syrup turns a honey color.   (Be careful with this step as the sugar cooks very quickly at this point and can get dark and burn if left too long.)  As soon as the honey color is reached, quickly add the lemon juice and stir together.  Stir the tapioca and water mixture and then pour into the syrup along with the vanilla extract.  Stir quickly to combine and cook for another 1 minute.  Add the peanuts and mix well with the syrup.  Cook for another 1 minute and then turn off the heat.

Pour the hot candy into the pan prepared earlier and spread evenly into the pan.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sesame seeds on top.  Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth out the top.  Allow to cool for 3-4 hours.

To serve, remove the candy from the pan, peel away the paper from the edges, cut off the edges (optional) and then cut into 1 by 1 inch squares.

Store any uneaten candy in an air-tight container. The candy is good for up to 2 weeks.

Yields:  40 pieces

If you enjoy this Chewy Sesame Peanut Candy (Keo Me Dau Phong) recipe, you may also like:

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More Treat Ideas

This candy is a really popular sweet treat for Lunar New Year and you can easily make little goody bags or boxes for gift-giving.  Individually wrap the candies using plastic wrap or parchment paper to make tasty little bon-bons.  Alternatively, use small cookie cutters to cut the candy into fun shapes and then place on mini cupcake liners for cute little treats.  As Lunar New Year often falls close to Valentine’s Day, I decided to turn these candies into little V-Day treats.

A delicious homemade treat for Valentine's Day!

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22 Responses to Chewy Sesame Peanut Candy (Keo Me Dau Phong)

  1. Olen June 21, 2019 at 5:25 am #

    I am surprised, but happy, that people asked for this recipe after you posted the brittle version. Hard as a rock sesame brittle is common, but I am surprised that a lot of people know about this chewy version. It really is special and, though it is mostly sugar, it is surprising that it does not taste overly sweet in comparison to, say, taffy. People who have never tried this will be surprised by the texture. Properly made, it is chewy, but not overly sticky like taffy. The gal who said that her candy turned out tvery sticky (to teeth) probably needed to cook it just a bit more. The candy that I buy in Asian stores is not so sticky…in fact, it is sort of rubbery in texture, which is surprising since it is mostly just sugar.

    I have seen similar recipes that include maltose…which is a the sugar that develops in germinating grain to be used in beer-making…and which tastes less than half as sweet as regular white (sucrose) sugar. It’s usually found as a readi-made syrup, but should be available as a powder.

    • Trang June 30, 2019 at 8:36 pm #

      Hi Olen,
      Thank you for sharing your comments. I will have to share my recipe with maltose someday. It is delicious and easier to make which some cooks may like.

      • Chris July 20, 2019 at 9:54 pm #

        Hi Trang,

        Thank you for sharing this recipe. The ones I’ve eaten in Hong Kong are more chewy. Can I increase the tapioca? Would this make it more /firmer chewy like?


        • Trang August 1, 2019 at 6:36 am #

          Hi Chris,
          Yes, you can add more tapioca starch for a chewier texture. For a firmer texture, cook the sugar just a tad longer. Good Luck!

    • JOEL December 18, 2019 at 11:01 am #

      I’m Joel, I grew up in Hawaii island of Oahu the town of Waialua. And as a kid I would go to the corner store and buy these candys. I love them even now. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Kili February 6, 2019 at 12:55 pm #

    Can you use Mochiko instead?

    • Trang February 7, 2019 at 11:19 am #

      I haven’t tried using Mochiko but it’s worth a try I just made a batch of candy yesterday. Next batch I’ll try it too. Good Luck!

  3. Richard Boudreau Jr December 3, 2018 at 9:17 pm #

    I can’t wait to make this. My all-time favorite Chinese restaurant in Massachusetts on the Natick/Wellesley line was Chin’s Village and they served the soft sesame candy along with pineapple chunks after dinner. I loved the candy and have not seen it served, nor sold anywhere since. And the restaurant burned down long ago.,…. 🙁 This was all very long ago in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I would love to eat there, just one more time.

    • Trang December 6, 2018 at 2:41 pm #

      Hi Richard,
      Aww, such a shame your favorite Chinese restaurant isn’t around anymore. (That was a long time ago!) Some restaurants serve the most amazing foods that are so difficult to duplicate at home. That’s what makes them so special. I hope my recipe comes close to the sesame candy you remember. Good Luck and I hope you stop back to share your results. 🙂

  4. Yasmin February 25, 2018 at 7:07 am #

    Thank you. I used corn starch and only half the amount of sugar, but it came out perfect!

    • Trang February 26, 2018 at 7:58 pm #

      That’s wonderful Yasmin. I am so happy to hear that. Enjoy!

  5. Ellen February 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

    Hi Chi Trang,
    Does you candy stick your teeth??? My turned out soft but sticky to teeth and hate for the kids to get more cavities….:o)

    • Trang February 4, 2017 at 6:30 pm #

      Hi Ellen,
      Yes, this is a sticky candy. Please ask your kids to brush their teeth well after eating. 🙂

  6. Janet Glessner January 10, 2017 at 11:18 am #

    Thank you for this recipe. I haven’t made it yet because i got tapioca flour instead of the tapioca starch. Is there a difference between the two? Can i use the flour

    • Trang January 11, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

      Hi Janet,
      It’s the same. Enjoy the recipe!

  7. Katie March 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    Hi Trang! Thanks for the recipe. Is there a way to cut down on the sugar for those watching their sugar intake, yet still have the recipe turn out with the right thickness?

    • Trang March 15, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

      Hi Katie,
      I haven’t compared the sugar content but you can use corn syrup, maltose, honey or agave syrup. These alternatives yield a similar consistency to sugar when cooked.
      Good luck!

  8. Tiana December 10, 2015 at 7:26 am #

    It’s amazing! We love it! Thank you Trang.

    • Trang December 19, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

      Awesome! Thanks for trying my recipes and taking the time to share your results. I really appreciate it! <3

  9. Ann March 10, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    Chi Trang oi, I hate to bother you but I figure by asking questions, maybe others can learn from my mistake. I attempted the peanut candy for the first time today. The melted sugar scared me to no end but it turned out quite decent for a first timer. Did you by any chance double the recipe in your video? If you did, what size pan did you use? My candy is on the thin side, not as thick as yours but yummy though. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  10. Vi February 9, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

    Hi Chi Trang,
    Thanks very much for a soft chewy peanut candy ( KEO ME XUNG)
    I’ve been waiting so long for this recipe. I follow your other kind of peanut candy. Successfully. . Thank you for your always simple, short and easy recipes. I am so happy to find you and your recipes online. Very simple and easy to follow 🙂
    By the way, I will do this chewy peanut candy for lunar new year 2015.
    Wishing you good health and happiness!! Happy Lunar New Year 2015!!!!

    • Trang February 10, 2015 at 7:35 am #

      Hi Vi,
      Thanks for your patience. This recipe is a bit trickier than the brittle Peanut Candy I shared earlier because the cooking of the sugar may take a bit of practice. I hope you will be successful with this chewy candy version too, because it is so yummy and a must for Tet! Happy New Year to you and wishing you a healthy, healthy and prosperous new year! 🙂

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