Li Hing Mui

Li Hing Mui

Li Hing Mui, A Hawaii Obsession

Li hing mui is a Hawaii dried plum treat that comes in the form of a seed (for snacking) and powder (for sprinkling on anything from shave ice to fresh fruits). It is sweet, salty, and sour!

Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Watermelon Gummy Candy in a White Bowl
Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Water

The term ‘crack seed’ is in reference to the dried plums that make li hing mui; the seed of the fruit is exposed — or cracked open — to enhance the sweet and salty flavors. “Traditionally, the plum used in li hing mui is eaten much like a sunflower seed but in reverse. The good stuff is on the outside of the seed — you throw the whole thing in your mouth, chewing off the meat and spitting out the seed.”

All in all, li hing mui is a flavorful experience that is a must if you want to try out a more interesting tropical taste.

Crack seed is a popular term in Hawaii and it simply refers to dehydrated fruits, seeds, and preserves. Chinese merchants would carry crack seed when traveling throughout China to supplement their rice meals. Salted seeds could be easily stored for long periods of time, making them ideal for long distance travelers. Most crack seed is typically salty, which replenishes electrolytes lost by perspiration from weary traveling merchants.

 Like spam and poke, li hing mui is a staple flavor to Hawai’i. You can find this in any drug store candy aisle along with many other different styles. Li hing mui gummy bears, gummy worms, sour apple, and strawberry sour belts. That is just one way to use it, you can also put it on different fruit like pineapple, apples, mango, and even strawberries

What is Li Hing Mui?

Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Mui Snack Pouch
Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Mui Snack Pouch

Li hing mui are tiny, salted and dried plums that originated in China. They are tangy and sweet and made for snacking. You just suck on them and then throw away the seed.

Li hing mui came to Hawaii in the 1800s (via immigrants who worked on sugar plantations…we also have them to thank for saimin, shave ice, and many local treats).

Like all the tasty things we love, we Hawaii-ized it and made it our own. In the US, people associate li hing mui with Hawaii.

The name li hing mui is the phonetic translation of the Chinese characters 旅行梅. In Cantonese, li hing means traveling and mui means plum. The words translate to traveling plum…so cute.

The dried plum itself is the original li hing mui snack, but today the powder (which is made from grinding up the dried plum) is equally popular because it has many culinary applications.

What does Li Hing Mui Taste like?

Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Strawberry Sour Belts Candy
Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Strawberry Sour Belts Candy

Li hing mui is all at once: sweet, salty, and sour. It’s a combo of all three in nearly the same proportions. Li hing mui is made from dried plums that have been pickled with ingredients including licorice, salt, red food coloring, and sometimes aspartame. The flavor is very distinct (you’ll never mistake li hing mui for anything else!)

Li Hing Powder vs Li Hing Mui

Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Powder
Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Powder

Li Hing Mui refers to the seed. You mainly snack on the seeds, but don’t really cook or make things with the seed.

Li Hing Powder refers to the powder that’s made from grinding up the seeds. The powder is used for sprinkling on things (eg. shave ice, popcorn, and fresh fruit), mixing into things (like juices and cocktails) or cooking. When you see just the words “li hing” on a menu, people are likely referring to the powder.

Enjoy is the most common li hing mui powder brand in Hawaii. You see it for sale at the supermarkets and stores. That 8-ounce bag should take you far.

Li Hing Mui Gummy Bears

Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Gummy Bears Candy Snack Food
Hawaii Enjoy Li Hing Gummy Bears Candy Snack Food

Li hing mui gummy bears are a big deal in Hawaii! Once you try, you’ll be forever addicted. You can buy li hing mui gummy bears at all local supermarkets, convenience stores, and snack shops around town.

Or you can make your own (it’s very easy), we posted the Li Hing Gummy Bear recipe here!

It’s simply li hing mui powder tossed with gummy bears. The powder sticks good to the gummy bears. Once you eat gummy bears this way, you can never go back to “regular” gummy bears.

Next step is to try all the other “li hing’d” gummies and snacks. Think li hing sour belts, li hing sour apples, li hing dried mango, and even li hing dried lychee! You can basically li hing anything sweet and fruity, and it will be good.

How to Use Li Hing Mui

There are so many ways you can use li hing mui! These are the most common:

  • Sprinkle it on fresh fruits. I like chopped pineapples and sliced apples the best. Li hing mui mango is also heavenly!
  • Put it in lemonade, iced tea, or other sweet drinks. The powder gives it this tangy-sweet-salty flavor that is just so tasty. Don’t forget to make li hing margaritas!
  • Li hing mui is a classic shave ice syrup flavor. If you don’t want to make the syrup, just sprinkle the powder on top of your shave ice.
  • Make li hing mui gummy bears by tossing li hing powder with gummy bears.
  • Toss li hing mui powder with popcorn. You can even made a li hing-hurricane popcorn.
  • Li hing adds a needed kick of saltiness to lemonade. You can find li hing lemonade at farmers’ markets and similar events. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf stores in Hawai’i also sell li hing lemonade as a product regularly.
  • Instead of salt, they use the Li Hing powder to coat the rim of the glass. Pretty much a no-brainer therw. Li Hing Magarita
  • Kakimochi, also called arare, is a savory toasted rice cracker snack originally from Japan that has long been adopted as local. The li hing adds sweetness to the unami flavor of the kakimochi.

Easy Li Hing Mui Margarita Recipe

If you’re wondering how to make li hing mui margarita, here’s a simple recipe:


  • 2 tsp. li hing mui powder
  • ½ oz. Cointreau
  • 1 ½ oz. tequila
  • 1 ½ oz. sweet and sour mix
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • ½ oz. mango puree

First take li hing mui powder in a shallow dish and wet your cup’s edge with a lime wedge. Dab it in the li hing mui powder to completely coat it.

Put the other ingredients in a blender and blend for around 10-15 seconds. Add ice and keep blending till it gets mixed well.

Now pour the mixture into margarita glasses and enjoy!

How to Store Li Hing Mui

Keep it in an airtight bag/container. You want it in dry storage, away from heat and sun.