Churchkhela Recipe: How to Make Georgian Candy

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by Maggie Turansky

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Churchkhela can look a bit odd and suspect at first glance, especially if you’re not sure what these odd, sausage-like Georgian food items are. Found throughout Georgian markets and fruit and veg shops, this is Georgia’s favourite sweet and one bite can transport you to this beautiful country in the Caucasus.

Resembling candlesticks, this Georgian candy is sweet but fairly nutritious compared to other desserts, especially when comparing sweets from neighbouring countries (namely, Armenian gata and Azeri baklava are far more fattening and have a higher sugar content).

If you wish to experience this yourself, are wondering how to make churchkhela or just want an entertaining cooking project, then make sure to try out this recipe!

Finished homemade churchkhela
Finished homemade churchkhela

How to Make Churchkhela

Making churchkhela may seem like a complicated undertaking and the process can seem a bit long, however, it does actually only use three major ingredients and is relatively simple to make, you just need to be patient!

First things first, you need to make sure that you have top-quality ingredients. I developed this recipe while living in Georgia where I was able to use fresh-pressed juice from Rkatsiteli grapes, but any kind of 100% grape juice will do.

It doesn’t matter if you use white grape juice, red juice or a mixture of the two, but the one thing you need to ensure is that it is 100% juice with no added sugar and it’s not from concentrate.

The ingredients for this recipe
The ingredients for this recipe

The first step of making churchkhela is to make the tatara — the mixture of concentrated grape juice and flour that thickens beautifully to coat the strings of nuts.

The traditional way to do this in Georgian cooking is to reduce down the grape juice for about an hour before stirring in flour to thicken the mixture and then dipping the churchkhela. I, personally, think this lends to a gummy, raw flour taste in the churchkhela that is undesirable. So I modified it slightly.

To make the tatara, begin by making a roux. Heat some oil in a saucepan over medium heat until just shimmering before whisking in flour in order to make a loose paste. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until the flour darkens slightly and a faint toasted smell begins to come off of it — about 3-5 minutes.

Finished roux
Finished roux

Slowly pour in the grape juice, whisking constantly in order to avoid lumps. The mixture will sizzle and seize up initially — don’t be alarmed. It will loosen as more liquid is added and make sure that you are constantly whisking to eliminating it clumping up.

Once the juice has been incorporated, bring the mixture to a boil (it will thicken considerably as soon as it starts to boil), reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture is very thick (but still viscous) and reduced by about half — about one hour.

Make sure to whisk occasionally to loosen the tatara and to ensure that it doesn’t scorch on the bottom.

While the tatara is cooking, it’s time to move onto phase two of this recipe — stringing the walnuts. This is a fairly straightforward process where all you need is a needle and thread (and some walnut halves).

Stringing the walnuts
Stringing the walnuts

Thread your needle (double up the thread so it makes a loop at the top — this will make dipping and hanging the churchkhela later much easier) and make a substantial knot at the end of the thread, a few centimetres from the bottom.

String walnuts through the needle until you reach the bottom the thread, stacking them on top of each other and taking care not to leave any space in between. How many walnut halves you decide to put on each string really depends on how long you prefer your churchkhela to be.

Traditionally, there are supposed to be 25 walnuts per churchkhela, however, I only make them with around 15 walnut halves because I find shorter ones a lot easier to manage when dipping and coating them with tatara.

Dipping the walnuts into the tatara
Dipping the walnut strings into the tatara

Once you’ve strung your walnuts and the tatara is cooked, remove the tatara from the heat and allow to cool and set slightly for about five minutes. Then, take a string of walnuts and dip it into the tatara, holding it from the top loop and ensuring the walnuts are completely covered in a think layer of tatara.

Carefully lift the walnuts from the mixture and allow the excess to drip off for a few seconds before hanging in a safe place to dry — we used our laundry drying rack! Repeat this step with your remaining strings of walnuts.

Lifting the churchkhela after dipping
Lifting the churchkhela after dipping

Allow the churchkhela to set and dry for 24 hours before making a second batch of tatara and repeating the dipping process in order to make a thick layer of grape juice over the walnuts. Allow the churchkhela to dry for another 48-72 hours or until they are firm and not very soft. After that, they are ready to eat!

Drying the churchkhela after the second dip
Drying the churchkhela after the second dip

How Long Does Churchkhela Last?

Churchkhela is meant to last for quite a long time and, in fact, few Georgians will eat it fresh. Traditionally, they are made September and October and left to age, wrapped in towels, for a few months to be consumed at Christmas (Which is 7 Jan in Georgia!) and New Year’s.

That being said, however, I think that churchkhela is best consumed within a couple of weeks of making and I wouldn’t keep them for more than a few months.

Colourful churchkela at the Green Bazaar in Kutaisi, Georgia
Colourful churchkhela at the Green Bazaar in Kutaisi, Georgia

Keep in mind that as the churchkhela age, they will develop what looks like a fine white powder covering them. These are simply sugar crystals that form as the candy ages.

Finished homemade churchkhela

Churchkhela: Georgian Grape & Walnut Candy

These strings of walnuts dipped in concentrated grape juice are ubiquitous throughout markets and shops in Georgia. Commonly referred to as "Georgian snickers," churchkhela are the country's favourite sweet and are fun and easy to make!
4.8 from 12 votes
Servings 6
Prep Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 3 days
Total Time 3 days 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 120 ml (½ cup) neutral oil divided
  • 150 g (1 cup) flour divided
  • 2 litres ( cups) 100% fresh grape juice divided
  • 250 g (2 cups) walnut halves


  • In a large saucepan, heat 60 millilitres (1/4 cup) of oil over medium heat until shimmering. Whisking, add 75 grams (1/2 cup) of flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the roux darkens slightly in colour and gives off a lightly toasted smell, about 3-5 minutes.
    Finished roux
  • Whisking constantly, pour one litre of grape juice over the roux. The mixture will sizzle and seize as the juice is added but will loosen as more liquid is incorporated. Whisk continuously while incorporating in order to avoid lumps.
  • Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to low, allowing to simmer, whisking occasionally to break up any lumps and prevent scorching on the bottom, until very thick and reduced by about half. This grape juice mixture is called tatara in Georgian.
  • While the tatara is cooking, prepare the walnut strings. Using a needle and thread, tie a knot at the end of a thread, leaving a few centimetres at the end, and string walnut halves until you reach desired length. Traditionally, churchkhela is made with 25 walnut halves, but you can make them any length you choose. I find that 15 walnut halves are the most manageable. Once strung, leave a few centimetres at the top of the string in order to be able to hang the churchkhela to dry once dipped.
    Stringing the walnuts
  • Once the tatara is cooked and thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool for about five minutes, or unit it has thickened a bit more but is still quite viscous.
  • Working one at a time, fully submerge walnut strings into the tatara, holding onto the top string and keeping it from the grape juice mixture, using a spoon to completely cover the walnuts, if necessary. Lift string from tatara, allowing excess to drip off for a few seconds (do not shake off the excess) before hanging to dry in a safe place.
    Dipping the walnuts into the tatara
  • Allow churchkhela to dry for 24 hours before repeating the process, making a second batch of tatara, and dipping one more time.
    Lifting the churchkhela after dipping
  • Allow churchkhela to hang to dry for at least 48-72 hours before eating (they can be stored at room temperature for up to three months). Remove the strings by pulling it through the walnuts before consuming. The churchkhela will darken in colour slightly as they dry.
    Drying the churchkhela after the second dip



Calories: 740kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 21g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 581mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 37IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

Tried this recipe or have questions?Click here to leave a comment!

Though the process of making homemade churchkhela can be time-consuming, it is relatively simple and very rewarding and totally recommended as a fun project!

Have you enjoyed Georgian churchkhela before? Have any questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frills Kitchen. She is a world traveller, home cook and recipe developer who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Read More


  1. Tell more about the walnuts. I was told they were chosen before fully “ripe” because they are less brittle, easier to string without breakage. Are they the same species as “English” walnuts?

  2. Hi Maggie! Thanks for the recipe, I am trying to make this now. What is the reason why it is dipped twice? I saw a video on Youtube with two Georgian women who seem to be making it by just dipping it once and leaving it to dry in the sun but the tatara they make looks very thick. I was wondering if you are dipping it twice so that it can dry properly inside without sun or if it’s a way to make a less floury taste by making a thinner tatara and then double-coat or if it’s just the most common way?
    I hope the question makes sense.


4.84 from 12 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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