Asian desserts are hugely diverse, ranging from widely-known options like chewy mochi, fortune cookies, and mango sticky rice, to lesser known outside of Asia like taro sago and red bean sesame balls. You won’t find regular wheat flour used much, it tends to be corn starch, rice flour, or tapioca starch.
They come in plenty of varieties, plenty of fried dough desserts, creamy sauces, tropical fruit flavors, and jelly textures. Asian desserts, like anywhere else, make use of what is locally available. This means there are plenty of tropical fruit flavors like mango and banana, lots of rice and coconut milk, cream, flesh, and flakes. Basically coconut in all forms!
If you’re in a dessert rut, check out one of the Asian desserts for inspiration! You’ll find more new dessert ideas than you’ll know what to do with.
This is a hugely popular dessert in Thailand, and probably one of the most well-known Asian desserts in the Western world. Joyous Apron divulges a beautiful recipe for creating this tropical dish in your own kitchen. Be careful to follow the recipe and not substitute ingredients for this one, glutinous rice, mango, and coconut milk are all essential! It’s also worth noting it works best with full-fat coconut milk or even coconut cream.
Another Asian dessert that’s popular in the Western world, especially in Chinese restaurants. It’s not usually one people think to make themselves at home, but Gluesticks gives great written and video instructions. She also shares how any leftover batter can be used to make ice cream bowls!
If you can have coffee-flavored ice cream, why not matcha green tea ice cream? You’re more likely to find green tea and matcha-flavored ice cream in Asia than coffee. You can even find matcha soft serve at McDonald’s in South East Asia! Beyond The Noms shares how to create it at home if you want to try out this flavor.
Cherry On A Cake shares how to create these Kuih Keledek Bom’s at home. You’ll need to hunt down glutinous rice flour to get the texture right, but other than that the ingredients are quite easily found. They are little spheres about a golf-ball size that comprise a dough filled with a sweet potato mixture, deep fried and coated in sesame seeds.
Asian desserts are typically very dense and thick in texture thanks to all the glutinous flour used, and this Kuih is no exception. Almost like a jelly, it uses tapioca flour and wheat starch, mixed with sweet potato, sugar, and coconut milk. It’s then sliced and looks similar to gelatine-heavy Jell-O cubes, despite it being a baked dessert.
Many Asian desserts use ingredients we consider savory in the Western world, for example, sweet potato, sweetcorn, and beans. Table For 2… Or More shares a recipe for a traditional taro sago dessert. Taro is a starchy purple root vegetable, and sago is the tapioca pearls you’d find in something like bubble tea. This recipe uses purple sweet potato as well, to give a brighter purple color.
There are many festivals and celebrations in the Asian calendar, some are more well-known than others (such as Chinese New Year or Deepavali). Red House Spice introduces us to mooncakes, which are a delicacy eaten during the Mid Autumn Festival. This is actually a huge festival in China and focuses on lunar appreciation. They are little pastry pies traditionally filled with salted egg yolk and lotus paste, but there are many variations on fillings you can choose.
Though usually containing fruit or vegetables, Asian desserts definitely are not considered healthy. All Purpose Veggies takes a traditional dessert flavor (red bean) and creates a healthier version. She takes the idea of ‘nice cream’, ie blending frozen bananas for the creamy ice cream texture, and adds in red bean paste for the Asian flavor.
Another red bean dessert, but completely different from the ice cream above. Takes Two Eggs shares how to create these little crispy, yet chewy, sesame balls at home. They are fried and again require glutinous rice flour to pull off the right texture. Note that you’ll likely have to visit a specialist Asian store to find the red bean paste.
Traditionally eaten over Chinese New Year, these egg tarts are the signature dessert guests would bring to your house over this festive period. Eggs are seen as a symbol of fertility, and Chinese New Year is all about symbols of good fortune and prosperity. The Purple Pumpkin Blog shares that egg tarts are slightly different everywhere, for example, in Hong Kong, they have a glossy and smooth top, whereas in Macau they have a caramelized top similar to those you’d find in Portugal.
Food Talk Daily shares a recipe for this Indian version of ice cream, or ‘desi’, as it’s known there. It’s made by slow-cooking milk and sugar until it reduces and thickens when sweet condensed milk and the flavors are added. Usually, the flavors would be seasonal or locally grown, hence saffron and pistachio being used here. Rose is another popular flavoring choice in India.
Does every culture have its own signature doughnut? Handle The Heat tells us all about the trademark Chinese doughnut, which you’d likely find at places like hotel dessert buffets. The cooking method is what you’d expect from a doughnut, so what makes them Chinese? Basically, it comes down to keeping out all the Western flavors and add-ins (sprinkled, frosting etc…) and they are kept simple, just deep-fried balls of dough coated in sugar.
Some of the yummiest Asian desserts use the delicious tropical flavors of the fruit that comes from that region. This mango pudding is no exception. Hot Thai Kitchen shares both written instructions and a video tutorial ensuring you don’t go wrong, but states the most important aspect of this recipe is using mangoes that are ripe and sweet. They can be fresh or frozen but cannot be under-ripe. It requires cooking on the hob, and the texture is somewhere between Jell-O and custard.
14. Ice Katcang
Rasa Malaysia opens our eyes to the Eastern version of shaved ice. It has the same principles as shaved ice we’d buy in the summer from a food truck, or on vacation in Hawai’i, it just uses Asian flavors. This actually transforms it into quite a different dessert. It’s something you’d find at a local hawker center or food court and is typically topped with ingredients like red beans, sweetcorn, or grass jelly, and always topped with a sugar syrup (but not a neon-colored one you’d get in North America!).
15. Gulab Jamun
Gulab Jamun is an Indian dessert of balls made from milk powder nuggets and then soaked in rose syrup. They are traditionally served during Holli, the festival of colors. Chef At Home shows us how to recreate this at home, and suggests adding in semolina to lighten them up a bit.
For those of you who are going to struggle to find some of the ingredients needed for many of these Asian desserts, if you live far out of town etc… this is a perfect recipe for you to try. Bon Appetit has truly Americanized this Indian dessert, showing us how to create it using Cool Whip and condensed milk! The recipe came from her auntie who moved from India to America and used to recreate this ice cream-style dessert using products she could easily find at the local grocery store in Texas.
17. Ras Malai
Originating in West Bengal, this Indian dessert comprises soft milk curd dumplings floating in a creamy saffron sauce. It’s a very sweet and creamy dessert, that is somewhat time-consuming to make so don’t start it in a rush. The end result is very colorful, especially when topped with bright green pistachio pieces.
Che Chuoi as it’s known in Vietnam, is a simple pudding using tapioca pearls, coconut milk, mango, and banana. The reason so many Asian desserts use coconut milk over cow’s milk is because that is what is readily available in the region, there are many more coconuts than cows! Cooking The Globe states it can be eaten hot or cold, but that he prefers it to be chilled.
Another Vietnamese dessert, often found sold from street carts as night falls. The Spices of Life shares how to recreate this yummy dessert known to locals as Chuối Bọc Nếp Nướng. It’s a good one to try out on the barbecue, or even on a camping trip over the fire. Step aside s’mores, there is a new kid in town!
Pandan is a plant that grows in abundance in South East Asia. It basically looks like a huge leafy bush, and will grow and grow and grow! The leaves are used in a huge assortment of dishes, everything from cake and bread to chicken rice. People will pluck the leaves and boil them in water and sugar to make tea, sometimes adding lemongrass too. This particular recipe from Recipe World comes from Vietnam and is a starchy green and white jelly-like cake.
Step aside Halo Top, because we’re here to share a new creamy, high-protein dessert. It is made from soy milk and sheets of gelatine and is served cold. Traditionally it is then served with a syrup drizzled over the top, such as ginger syrup or a simple clear syrup. Delightful Plate gives recipes for a few different toppings.
Scruff & Steph create a tempting recipe for these colorful Vietnamese coconut ribbons, or Mứt Dừa, as they are known locally. They are usually made during Lunar New Year in Vietnam. You’ll need to add patience to the list of ingredients because this recipe involves scooping the flesh out of the coconut yourself. Bring it on!
23. Coconut Candy
Whip out that bag of shredded, dried coconut that’s been sitting in your pantry for a year, because Roti & Rice has a recipe for you! You’ll need full-fat milk, condensed milk, sugar, and butter, plus of course, food coloring to make it that bright color that’s signature to many Asian desserts.
Happy Happy Nester reveals what many might not know, mochi isn’t actually the ice cream-filled dough balls they sell in Western grocery stores. It’s a dough ball filled with red bean paste! This Japanese rice cake is a popular dessert made with water, sugar, and sweet rice flour (though many recipes use a different type, such as cornstarch).
25. Strawberry Mochi
We all like to think of ourselves as worldly and open to everything, but there is a reason ‘fusion’ dishes exist. If you aren’t so keen on red bean paste, this recipe from All Purpose Veggies takes the idea of mochi but fills it with strawberries. The bonus of this recipe is that it’s made entirely in the microwave so you whip it up at a moment’s notice!
Think of a stack of buttermilk pancakes but with each pancake triple the size, and incredibly light and fluffy. Two Plaid Aprons shares how to create these delectable souffle pancakes, and it’s not as hard as you’d think. Oven-baked souffles are notoriously difficult and time-consuming to bake, but the same isn’t said of these pancakes. The secret to their iconic jiggle is the egg whites, which are whipped to a stiff foam and gently incorporated into the batter before frying. The next top tip is covering the pan while they cook, allowing them to rise even more.
26 Awesome Asian Desserts
- MANGO STICKY RICE
- FORTUNE COOKIES
- MATCHA GREEN TEA ICE CREAM
- SWEET POTATO BOMBS
- STEAMED SWEET POTATO KUIH
- TARO SAGO DESSERT
- CHINESE MOONCAKES
- RED BEAN ICE CREAM
- RED BEAN PASTE SESAME BALLS
- HONG KONG EGG TARTS
- SAFFRON PISTACHIO KULFI SLICE
- CHINESE DOUGHNUTS
- HONG KONG-STYLE MANGO PUDDING
- ICE KATCANG
- GULAB JAMUN
- RAS MALAI
- VIETNAMESE BANANA TAPIOCA PUDDING
- GRILLED BANANA AND STICKY RICE
- PANDAN RICE CAKE (BANH DUC LA DUA)
- TOFU PUDDING (TÀO PHỚ)
- CANDIED COCONUT RIBBONS
- COCONUT CANDY
- STRAWBERRY MOCHI
- JAPANESE SOUFFLE PANCAKES
- choose your favorite recipe
- click the link to find the recipe instructions
- follow the linked instructions