15 Most Mouth-Watering Vietnamese Desserts to Please Your Sweet Tooth
You may know that Vietnam has more to offer than the iconic Pho or Banh Mi. But did you know about its desserts? Sweet, savory, and more! It’s high time you got to expand your dessert radar so hold tight and get ready for a very fulfilling ride into the Vietnamese dessert land.
1. Dried Fruits (Ô mai)
Inheriting Chinese influence, this delectable dessert has been around for a few hundred years in Vietnam. We can list several dozen kinds of dried fruits, but the following are the most Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese consider this dried fruit a Hanoi signature. The crunchy texture, the aromatic ginger, and the incredible blend of sweet-spicy-sour flavor keep you coming back for more.
Dried Ginger Apricot
Your inner child will be so thrilled to know that desserts can be medicine in Oriental Medication. Indeed, the Vietnamese use dried ginger apricot not only as desserts but also as a cold treatment. Today, people enjoy the sweet, salty, and sour taste of dried ginger apricot almost all year round. You can have it by itself, or mix it with hot tea.
2. Pomelo Sweet Soup (Chè bưởi)
To many Vietnamese, nothing beats a hot summer day than a cup of iced pomelo sweet soup. What makes it so satisfying? The slightly chewy and crunchy texture of pomelo peel, a hint of sugar, soft green beans, and the creamy coconut milk on top. Now, all you have to do is savor it to the last drop.
3. Vietnamese Panna Cotta (Chè khúc bạch)
This delicate sweet dish only appeared a few years ago, yet it is now one of the must-try desserts in Vietnam. Wonder what’s in there? Little panna cotta blocks in mild sugar water, almond bits, a few longans, and that’s it! An elegant, pretty looking dessert that will delight your taste buds on summer days.
4. Black and Green Bean Sweet Soup (Chè đậu đen/xanh)
Here’s a breakdown of a Chè đậu đen/xanh cup: Purée green beans, cooked black beans, tapioca pearls, and gelatin cubes. While it may appear plain to some, this simple sweet soup reminds many of their childhood and remains a favorite to this day.
5. Tang Yuan – Glutinous Balls With Black Sesame Filling (Bánh trôi Tàu)
Despite having a tropical climate, northern Vietnam gets to enjoy winter thanks to it being closer to China. As a result, many are fond of hot dishes, including desserts! Another adoption of Chinese influence, Bánh trôi Tàu is a beautiful blend of thick malty water, fresh ginger, black sesame balls, and roasted peanuts. You may think that the combination of hot, sweet, and spicy is a bit off. But worry not, try one and you’ll become a fan in no time.
6. Ba Cot Sweet Soup (Chè Bà Cốt)
Vietnam’s special love for rice is often reflected in the country’s cuisine. Chè Bà Cốt, a proud invention of Hanoians, is no exception. Yellow sticky rice is steamed then slow-cooked in malt water. Once it reaches a gluey consistency, add fresh ginger, shredded coconut, and green beans. Each bite is so deep in flavor, you will wonder why you haven’t tried it sooner.
7. Green Bean Cake (Bánh đậu xanh)
It seems that the simpler a dish is, the more likely it can stand the test of time in Vietnam. Born in the 20th century in Hai Duong, a city neighboring Hanoi, the green bean cake is one of those long-lived desserts. The recipe? A simple mixture of green bean powder, purified sugar, and sunflower oil. So simple, yet so endearing to many generations. If you try Bánh đậu xanh one day, remember to avoid freshly made ones. Like cheese, the cake’s flavor is fully developed after around 10 days and best served with a hot cup of tea.
8. Green Sticky Rice Cake (Bánh cốm)
Another rice dessert that embraces the “simple is best” concept. Young rice in the fall is harvested to make the cake. Together with sweet green bean paste filling, Bánh cốm is often seen as a signature of Hanoi’s autumn. Today, you can enjoy the cake regardless of the season. But, it feels the most special to savor Bánh cốm in Hanoi in the fall.
9. “Floating” Rice Balls (Bánh trôi)
Every year, on the third day of the third Lunar month, Vietnamese families get together to remember their ancestors. Guess what’s the main dessert of this day? It’s Bánh trôi or “floating” rice balls. The dish got its funny name from the cooking process. Rice balls are boiled in a big pot and “float” on to the surface when done. Now, people can enjoy these silky rice balls with malt cubes almost any time of the year. But, having Bánh trôi on the right day feels home the most. So, give it a try when you have the chance!
10. Black Sticky Rice Cake (Bánh gai)
Can you imagine using a fiber crop to make food? In Vietnam, people have been using ramie leaves to get the natural coloring for Bánh gai for hundreds of years. When mixing rice dough with ramie leaf extract, the final product will turn black after steaming and release a pleasant aroma. Combine that with green bean pureé, fat cubes, winter melon jam, and sesame for the filling. And there you have it, a farmer product that is loved through and through.
11. Steamed Honeycomb Cake or “Cow” Cake (Bánh bò)
Banh bo’, the chewy, sweet sponge cake, is another adoption from Chinese cuisine. The recipe is pretty straightforward: rice powder, sugar, coconut rice, and water. Some people believe the cake’s amusing name comes from the shape of the molds (like a cow’s teat). No matter what, this simple cake is still a joy to many until this day.
12. Teochew-style Pastry (Bánh pía)
Bánh pía was first popular in the Mekong Delta and later nationwide. A savory pastry with several shells wrapping around the filling, including salted eggs, green bean paste, and durian. You’re not a fan of the stinky fruit? Worry not! Thanks to the other ingredients, the durian’s smell in Bánh pía is subdued and you’ll find it surprisingly pleasing.
13. Fried Pancake (with bananas or sweet potatoes)
Pay a visit to Hanoi in the winter and you’ll see this dish everywhere. And the recipe for fried pancakes is so simple that you can try it at home. Flattened bananas and shredded sweet potatoes are mixed with flour batter and deep-fried. Then, top it off with some sesame and you’ve got a greasy, crispy, and hearty treat!
14. Sticky Rice Ice Cream (Kem Xôi)
Warm sticky rice and ice cream?! The combination may seem odd at first but once you give it a try, you’ll see that it makes perfect sense. Like fried ice cream, the idea of a hot and cold dessert is what makes Kem xôi a favorite for all seasons in Vietnam. Our recommendation? Try Kem xôi on a winter day for ultimate enjoyment.
A dessert list isn’t complete without some candies. Although the Vietnamese aren’t big on candies, they still have some great sweets that you should try.
Sesame Peanut Candy (Kẹo Lạc Vừng)
The sesame peanut candy holds a special place in many locals’ hearts. A simple sweet treat made out of malt, peanut, and sesame, this dish has been with the Vietnamese through happy days and difficult times. When you have a chance to visit any provincial town in Vietnam, look out for some nutty Kẹo lạc vừng and a hot cup of green tea. A moment in life that can be so simple and sweet, just like that!
Coconut Candy (Kẹo dừa)
Today, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is a popular destination for both domestic and international visitors. Many things can attract you: picturesque scenes, warm people, and the food. While we need another article to talk about the variety of this land’s cuisine, you may want something sweet first. Kẹo dừa, the famous coconut candy, was created almost one hundred years ago in Ben Tre. And the way people make coconut candy hasn’t changed much ever since.
Coconut candy is the product of cooking malt, coconut milk, and sugar together. That’s it! The “simple is best” concept again proves how such simple candy can effortlessly capture many sweet lovers’ hearts.
Hungry for more?
The more you explore a country’s food scene, the less you seem to know. It is true that our list of the best 15 Vietnamese desserts seems short in comparison to the country’s amazing cuisine scene. To find out what else Vietnam can offer, check out more food guides below.