Do Korean Corndogs Contain Hidden Sugars?

What is a Korean corndog?

Korean corndogs, also known as “hotteok” or “goreun hot dog,” originated in South Korea as a fusion of traditional Korean street food and American-style hot dogs.

A Korean corndog is made of a hot dog or sausage coated in a thick batter consisting of wheat flour, cornstarch, egg, milk, and often sugar. The batter-coated hot dog is then deep fried until the exterior is crispy. After frying, the corndog is often topped or coated with a variety of ingredients like sugar, ketchup, mayonnaise, potato chips, cheese, or chopped nuts.

photo of assorted korean style corndogs

Some popular Korean corndog variations include:

  • Sugar corndog – coated in a layer of sugar or sprinkled with sugar
  • Potato corndog – topped with french fries
  • Cheese corndog – coated in melted mozzarella
  • Hot dog corndog – with just mustard and ketchup
  • Spicy rice cake corndog – made with tteok (rice cake) instead of a hot dog

Korean corndogs have become popular street food and snack items across Korea and internationally.

Nutritional content

Korean corndogs are made with a few main ingredients like wheat flour, eggs, sugar, hot dogs or mozzarella cheese, and occasionally rice flour for a crunchy coating. According to MyFitnessPal, a typical Korean corndog contains the following nutritional information:

  • 398 calories
  • 43g carbs
  • 17g fat
  • 19g protein

Compared to an American corndog which contains about 297 calories, 33g carbs, 17g fat, and 7g protein, the Korean version is higher in calories and carbs. This is mainly due to the double coating of batter and the use of wheat flour rather than cornmeal. The Korean corndog also has almost triple the amount of protein thanks to the mozzarella cheese or hot dog filling.

While the Korean corndog has a crispier external texture, the inside is softer and moister. The sweetness from the sugar paired with the savoriness of the sausage or cheese makes for an indulgent treat.

Sugar content

nutrition label showing sugar content

Korean corn dogs can contain a decent amount of sugar, both naturally occurring and added. The main source of sugar is from the corn dog dough. Traditional Korean corn dog recipes call for 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to be added to the batter. Assuming a typical corn dog is around 100 grams, this would equate to roughly 5-10 grams of added sugar from the dough alone.

The various toppings can also add more sugar. Sweet toppings like chocolate, honey, condensed milk, and fruit jam are common and bring extra sugar. Even savory items like mozzarella cheese and hot dogs contain some natural sugars like lactose. So in total, a loaded Korean corn dog might have 15-25 grams of sugar, both from natural sources and added sweeteners.

Sugar makes the batter crispy and browned when fried. It also balances the other salty and savory ingredients. However, the high sugar content should be considered, especially for those monitoring their intake. Opting for less sweet toppings or splitting a corn dog can help reduce the amount.

Health impacts

Korean corndogs can be high in sugar due to the sweet sauces, coatings, and fillings used. Consuming high amounts of added sugars has been linked to various health risks:

High sugar intake is associated with weight gain and obesity, as added sugars provide calories with few essential nutrients (1). Foods high in added sugars tend to be high in calories and can lead to overeating and weight gain over time.

Frequent consumption of sugary foods also increases risk for type 2 diabetes. The high glycemic load causes blood sugar and insulin levels to spike, which may worsen insulin resistance over time (2).

Sugary foods can also contribute to dental problems like cavities and tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and release acids that erode tooth enamel (3).

Limiting added sugar intake can have benefits such as lower calorie consumption, decreased diabetes risk, and improved dental health. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men (4).

(1) Don’t overeat dinner! Follow the “Three Bans” for nighttime …

(2) Don’t overeat dinner! Follow the “Three Bans” for nighttime …

(3) Don’t overeat dinner! Follow the “Three Bans” for nighttime …

(4) Don’t overeat dinner! Follow the “Three Bans” for nighttime …

Healthier Alternatives

Korean corndogs can be made with less sugar and healthier ingredients while still retaining the classic flavors. Here are some ideas:

healthier baked korean corndog recipe

Instead of white all-purpose flour, try recipes that use rice flour in the batter. Rice flour has a lower glycemic index, meaning it won’t spike blood sugar as much. This recipe from Korean Bapsang uses rice flour and only 2 tablespoons of sugar in the batter (https://www.koreanbapsang.com/gamja-hotdog-korean-corn-dog/).

Rather than coating the dog in a sweetened batter, coat it in panko breadcrumbs. This reduces the amount of simple carbs while still providing crunch. Sprinkle lightly with brown sugar instead of coating in a sugar-laden batter.

Use healthier toppings like fresh fruit instead of chocolate, condensed milk, or syrups. Strawberries, blueberries, banana slices, or mandarin oranges make fun and nutritious alternatives to typical sugary toppings.

Bake or air fry instead of deep frying to reduce oil, fat, and calories. While not quite as crispy, baking can still yield a delicious corn dog with a light, crunchy exterior.

Overall, a few simple ingredient swaps and cooking method changes can make Korean corn dogs much more balanced and diabetes-friendly.

Cultural role

Korean corn dogs have become immensely popular as Korean street food over the past decade or so. They are a fixture at street food markets and food trucks across South Korea. According to KOCIS, their popularity stems from their sweet, savory, and chewy flavors that make for an indulgent treat.

Vendors compete to create innovative and creative flavors and combinations, like bulgogi beef, mozzarella, potato, and even Oreos encased in thick batter. As noted by The Takeout, this creativity and variety adds to their appeal as a fun street food.

Korean corn dogs have also become a cultural phenomenon, appearing in Korean dramas, variety shows, mukbang broadcasts, and social media. Their photogenic, over-the-top appearance makes them popular subject matter. As Korean pop culture has spread internationally, so has the popularity of Korean corn dogs globally.

Where to find

Korean corndogs can be found at several places:

Korean bakeries and street vendors are a popular place to find fresh, handmade Korean corndogs. In cities with large Korean populations, like Los Angeles and New York, there are bakeries that specialize in Korean street food, including corndogs.

Frozen versions of Korean corndogs can also be found in the freezer sections of many Asian grocery stores. Brands like Ottogi and Farmstory make frozen Korean corndogs that can be heated up at home for a quick and easy snack.

For those interested in an authentic homemade version, there are many recipes online that provide instructions for making your own Korean corndogs from scratch. This allows customization of ingredients and toppings.

Overall, Korean corndogs can be purchased premade from specialty vendors, prepackaged frozen from Asian grocers, or prepared fresh at home for those willing to put in a little extra work.

Global spread

map showing global spread of korean corndogs

Korean corndogs have been growing in popularity internationally in recent years. This fusion street food has spread beyond Korea to become a global food trend, particularly through exposure on social media.

Countries like the United States, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines have put their own spin on the Korean corndog, incorporating local ingredients and flavors. For example, Thai corndogs mix Korean and Thai flavors by coating sausages in Thai sweet chili sauce instead of mustard.

Food influencers on platforms like Instagram and TikTok have helped fuel the spread of Korean corndogs. Videos showing the crunchy coated hotdogs have gone viral, sparking interest and inspiring people to try making their own. The hashtag #corndog has over 270 million views on TikTok. Through social media, Korean corndogs have developed an international cult following.

Recipes

Making delicious Korean corndogs at home is easy with just a few simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Hot dogs or sausage links
  • Rice flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Oil for frying
  • Skewers
  • Desired coatings like cheese, breadcrumbs, etc.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. In a bowl, mix together the rice flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, baking powder, milk, and egg until a smooth, thick batter forms.
  2. Slide hot dogs or sausages onto skewers.
  3. Dip the skewered hot dogs into the batter to coat completely.
  4. Roll the battered hot dog in any desired coatings.
  5. In a pan, heat up oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  6. Fry the battered corndogs 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.
  7. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Tips for perfect corndogs:

  • Make sure oil is hot enough before frying.
  • Let excess batter drip off before frying for a thin crisp coating.
  • Turn frequently while frying to prevent burning.
  • Use metal skewers to help conduct heat for even cooking.

Conclusion

In summary, Korean corndogs do contain a significant amount of added sugar. The batter used to coat the hot dogs or sausages often contains sugar, corn syrup, or other sweeteners to help achieve its unique crispy yet sticky texture when fried. The amount of sugar can vary based on the specific recipe, but a single corndog likely contains at least 10-15 grams of added sugars.

The key points around the sugar content of Korean corndogs include:

  • The batter coating is a defining feature of Korean corndogs and typically contains sugar as a main ingredient.
  • Recipes can use white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, honey, or other sweeteners in the batter.
  • Frying the batter caramelizes the sugar, giving Korean corndogs their signature taste and appearance.
  • A single corndog can easily contain over 50% of the recommended daily intake of added sugars.
  • Consuming Korean corndogs regularly may increase risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.

In conclusion, Korean corndogs are certainly a treat that should be enjoyed in moderation. Those looking to reduce sugar intake may want to consider baking corndogs at home using lower sugar batters or crumb coatings. Regardless, being mindful of portions is important for keeping sugar consumption in check when indulging in these creatively stuffed and fried hot dogs.

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