How much do you love Asian desserts? We curated an epic list of 28 different recipes for Asian desserts to help you choose your new favorites!
The flavors of Asian cuisine have flourished for a long time in the west.
We love our classic cream cakes, our cookies, and our tarts, but our taste buds also love taking a trip to foreign locales.
In the dessert dishes of Asia, a swirl of familiar and unfamiliar flavors meet and collide, resulting in delectable dishes that feel familiar and foreign at the same time.
In this article, we’ve compiled some of the best Asian desserts worldwide into one comprehensive list.
Here you’ll see the flavors of Singapore, China, and Korea, but you’ll also see East Indian and the Middle Eastern desserts that will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Fun fact! Saffron, cardamom, tapioca pearls, and other delicacies play a big part in Asian flavors.
Also the ever-beloved ice cream comes in different interesting shapes and flavors. You’ll see delights in our list, such as Kulfi, Black Sesame Ice Cream, and Green Banana Ice Cream.
Plus, keep an eye out for #27: Coconut Cake for the win.
I wonder what kinds of desserts do you expect to see in our list of popular Asian desserts?
Well, we have here a variety of desserts you can also find in most Asian restaurants.
Since our tour of Asian desserts runs from the Middle East to far-flung Indonesia and everywhere in between, you’ll see many desserts that seem to have not a single thing in common.
One question to consider about a culture is their staple food.
In many parts of Western Asian culture like the Middle East, bread (or leavened bread) is a staple.
For starters, leavened breads include pita bread, Khobz, and Nan-e Barbari.
In the far east, rice has become the staple dish.
This staple food becomes significant when considering the desserts of Asia, for many of the far eastern desserts require rice flour, while for example Masoub (Saudi Banana Bread) makes use of leavened bread.
Many of the desserts on our list also show a strong preference for fruity flavors, rather than the typical caramel and chocolate flavors.
This discrepancy between our baking preferences and those of Asia is not too hard a nut to crack.
In case you didn’t know, Chocolate’s history begins in present-day Mexico, which was simply inaccessible to the bakers of Asia even well beyond 1492.
On the other hand, pineapple, fresh mango, banana, and other exotic fruits, were eminently available leading to the creations of various tasty dessert treats.
Other common flavors include red bean paste and lotus paste, which you can easily spot in the Asian dessert recipes below.
28 Asian Desserts
Ready to get cooking? Here are my 28 favorite easy Asian desserts for any occasion.
The tropical fruit, Durian, is likely the last place many of our readers would think to look for an Asian dessert.
And yet, durian whipped cream is an incredible balance of sweet, fluffy, and sumptuous, sitting nicely on its own in a cocktail glass or atop your favorite Asian dessert.
Durian is a love-it-or-hate-it fruit, and its smell has been equated with hot pineapple garbage, or sweet rotten onions. Who can resist?!
Besides being big fan of Vietnamese food, I also love visiting Vietnamese restaurants for their coffee.
The strong taste of the Vietnamese coffee is softened by the droplets of sweetened condensed milk lingering at the bottom of the glass.
But for this recipe, take the perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee, and turn it into a summer sweet that will cool you down and fire you up with its little kick of caffeine!
Plus, Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles are one of the easiest Asian dessert ideas on this list.
All you need to do is mix the ingredients in a popsicle mold, add in the popsicle stick, and pop them into the freezer.
If you’re feeling a light sponge cake for the day, try the Japanese Castella Cake.
It’s a favorite traditional Asian desserts because of its soft, fluffy, and moist texture, which you can pair well with a cup of coffee or tea.
This Japanese castella cake is in its essence a plain sponge with just a hint of honey added.
Also, since this cake is an incredibly popular dessert in Japan, they’re available everywhere from convenience stores to malls.
But if you can’t visit Japan soon, better give this cake a try by baking it at home.
The flavors of Indian baking, replete with rose petals and saffron, meet gloriously with ice cream in Kulfi, a traditional Indian ice cream.
You may profess to be an ice cream lover, but I’ll bet you’ve never had anything like Kulfi.
Kulfi has an almost chewy texture, with a richness from the cream unparalleled by even Italian gelato.
Add mango and passion fruit pulp for a real exotic experience.
The simple cups of the Chinese-style egg custard tarts belie the richness of the flavor.
An easy prep and cook time of just forty minutes will have these egg custard tarts prepared and piping for any occasion.
With its spectacular look that tests miles away from your standard vanilla ice cream in a cone, this soft serve is perfect for hosting guests.
The black sesame seeds and a pinch of salt push the ice cream towards the savory side, while the heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk give the ice cream the sweet and creamy delight you expect.
From Thailand, where they’re considered a street delicacy, Khanom Khrok coconut rice pancakes are a delectable trip to the Far East for your tastebuds.
These very simple pancakes are made with just coconut milk, rice flour, and sugar, which, mashed up together, form a dough that will cook on the skillet for just a minute or so.
For something really fun, serve the pancakes in a banana leaf container.
Gula Melaka, a kind of palm sugar, forms the sweet core of this very popular Malaysian ice cream.
Ice Kacang also has a large presence in the dessert scenes of Singapore and Brunei.
Traditionally written as Ais Kacang, the meaning of this dessert is literally “bean ice.”
This dish is extremely easy to make and looks totally foreign.
Our western palates may not be used to the taste: the red azuki beans and sweet corn with the ice cream create a taste that is distinctly Asian.
At the same time, few are those who endeavor a taste of ice kacang and come back dissatisfied.
Straight from Lao, you and your guests won’t be unhappy with Khao Nom Nap.
These sticky rice coconut dumplings make a lovely full stop at the end of a Lao meal, although they can, of course, be enjoyed after any meal, at any time of day.
Particularly fun about this recipe is the creative use of the banana leaf packaging and the so-called “banana leaf origami” that wraps up your sweet creation in a metaphorical bow.
Most often, mooncakes is eaten in China during the mid-Autumn festival as a traditional dessert.
Mooncakes are small Asian pastries that are stuffed with a sweet paste and baked in an oven.
In this recipe, you’ll use lotus paste, but red bean paste is also popular.
Green banana ice cream, a favorite of South Sulawesi in Indonesia, is a unique-looking dessert that will fulfill your ice cream hankering and even give you a little more on top of that.
In this recipe, you cover bananas with green dough and boil them until they float. Here’s a video with instructions from Recipe Box:
Add these green banana dumplings to a roux of strawberry syrup, shredded cheddar cheese, and chocolate sprinkles, then you’ll have the Green Banana Ice Cream.
Here’s a non-frozen version called Kolak Pisang.
Straight from the streets of India, the Gulab Jamun has a complex mix of sweet cake and bitter dark chocolate that will have you saying, “just one more” every time.
The taste of cardamom and pistachio are also strong in the Gulab Jamun, which would be every pistachio-lover’s dream.
While the individual sweet cake balls are drenched in an exhilaratingly sweet syrup that complements the cardamom and pistachios in the recipe.
From Bangladesh, this super simple holiday dessert is a lovely cold-weather treat for any occasion.
Using just a few ingredients beyond the staples of date molasses and rice flour, Handesh are about the size of your palm and extremely dangerous for anyone on a diet.
The Turkish treat, simply “cup of dessert,” may not be what you’re picturing.
These domed treats are not terribly difficult to make, but a successful bake makes even the most amateur baker seem like a master confectioner.
These sweet Turkish cups are covered with coconut and topped with a strawberry—simplicity and elegance in a cup.
The simplicity of the flavors from the vanillin and coconut, comes out full and proud in each bite of the squishy, sumptuous Turkish Cup of Dessert.
Light, crisp, and mouth-watering is what this pineapple fritter gives in every bite.
It’s a well-known dessert item from the well-loved food mecca, Thailand.
Those of us that don’t like the super-sweet desserts will love the pineapple fritter, which is in some ways a love letter to the rich flavors of the pineapple.
Serve this with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and a selection of fresh fruit for a delightful, natural-tasting dessert.
Banana Tteok, rice cakes from Korea, are easy to make and scrumptious for a holiday snack.
The creamy banana filling on the inside is unlike the classic banana flavor you might be familiar with: this is the true banana flavor, not artificial, not manufactured.
The rice cake balls are sticky on the outside, with sweet cake crumbles that make them all the more enticing to pop in your mouth.
The author of this post does a really good job of going into detail about the origins of Masoub, but here’s what you need to know: this Saudi banana bread is tasty and very filling.
That’s because it is made from a banana and leavened bread mash.
In this recipe, you can use a white or brown bread to be, as the author writes, “guilt-free.”
Unlike what you might be thinking based on the name, Rasbari has nothing to do with raspberries.
In fact, this dessert isn’t fruity at all, but it still hits the spot every time.
Rasbari is originally from East India.
It consists of milk balls soaked in a chilled syrup made from sugar, providing you with bits of milky and sweet goodness.
Rasbari are not tied to a traditional day or festival but are rather served at any and all gatherings with the need for tasty treats.
I’ve got three words for you.
Steamed. Caramel. Custard.
Does that not say it all?
Watalappan is the special Sri Lankan recipe for steamed caramel custard, unique with its chopped cashew nuts and cardamom powder.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “what’ll happen if I try watalappan?” My answer: you might just have a new favorite dessert.
Layali Lubnan, as it’s called in Lebanon, brings your taste buds straight to 1001 Nights and the flavors of the Middle East.
Orange blossom water, ground pistachios, and of course, heavy cream, form the staples of this cake-like dessert.
Top with a garnish of rose petals for a professional look.
This sweet yam dessert drink is served on celebratory occasions in the Maldives.
Ala Kandhi is served hot or cold and consists of coconut milk infused with cardamom, cinnamon, yam, sugar, and cornflour.
Modak, which is a rice flour dumpling, is an Indian sweet served on holy days to honor Ganesha.
Modak is very easy to make, and the saffron and cardamom flavors make the dessert stick out as something truly unique.
When I was doing research for this post, I saw that I was really a sucker for anything claiming to be “soft and chewy.”
This soft and chewy nougat does not disappoint.
This treat is perfectly chewy and made from egg whites, honey and dried fruits and nuts.
Now I know what you’re thinking: What are Portuguese Custard Tarts doing on a list of 28 Asian desserts?
Don’t worry; my definition of Asia isn’t that broad.
Portuguese custard egg tarts, of course, began in Portugal but made their way to Macau, in China west of Hong Kong.
These tarts are crispy, sweet, and buttery and hit the spot.
If you’re a fan of simplicity, you’ve made it to the right item on our list.
Bibingka is an unfrosted coconut cake from the Philippines made from glutinous rice flour and coconut cream.
Our final dessert is another stop in the Philippines, this time to test Biko.
This popular Filipino dessert is great for all kinds of parties, and this recipe will serve a whole slew of guests with wide-ranging tastes.
Sticky rice, coconut milk, and brown sugar form the core of this ever caramel-brown cake.
The bottom line
The flavors of Asian baking have a little bit of everything and a little something for everybody.
Whatever you decide to bake for your next gathering, may these delicious Asian desserts and the sensibility of Asian baking be always by your side.
- Durian Whipped Cream
- Vietnamese Coffee Popsicle
- Japanese Castella Cake
- Chinese Style Egg Custard Tarts
- No Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream
- Khanom Khrok Coconut Rice Pancakes
- Ice Kacang
- Khao Nom Nap Sticky Rice Coconut Dumpling
- Traditional Chinese Mooncakes
- Green Banana Ice Cream (Es Pisang Ijo)
- Chocolate Pistachio Gulab Jamun
- Turkish Cup of Desert
- Pineapple Fritter
- Banana Tteok Rice Cakes
- Masoub (Saudi Banana Bread)
- Lebanese Nights Dessert
- Ala Kandhi (Yam Dessert Drink)
- Brown Sugar Cendol Drink
- Soft and Chewy Nougat
- Portuguese Custard Tarts
- Bibingka Filipino Coconut Cake
- Biko Filipino Sticky Rice Cake
- Choose one or more options from our list of Asian Desserts here!
- Create your new favorite dish.
- Pat yourself on the back for making food at home for you to enjoy!
- Share and comment! Did you make any tweaks so it’s all your own?