Top 15 Irresistible Persian Desserts & Sweets
As Persians say, at the end of a tasty Persian main course, such as chelo kabab (barbeque with rice) or a feast of khoreshts (stews), it’s time to enjoy something sweet. The majority of Iranian or Persian desserts are sweet and incorporate sugar, saffron, cardamom, and rosewater.
Just as Persian main courses vary from town to town, so too do Persian dessert traditions and recipes. In every corner of Iran, you will find a unique flavor and dessert specific to that area.
Read below to find out the best Persian desserts you must try during your lifetime!
1. Persian Black Tea with Cardamom & Dried Rose Petals
Hot black tea is one of the most important drinks for Persians to end their main meal. While it is not truly a dessert, the reality is that no dessert setting is complete without black tea. In Persian tradition, tea should be so hot that it burns your lips and so dark that you feel the bitter taste.
The most important thing about Persian tea is the way it is boiled and brewed in a teapot. Along with a teaspoon of black tea goes 1 or 2 cardamom pods and dried rose petals. Then the tea is brewed for about 5-10 minutes.
To properly drink Persian tea, place a sugar cube on your tongue and then allow the sugar to melt while sipping the tea. Additionally, you could dissolve a rock candy flavored with saffron in your tea. The bitterness of your tea will depend on the sweetness of the dessert it comes with. In Persian culture, this is a tradition treated with utmost respect.
Another dessert that is usually served with Perisian tea is Ranginak. Ranginak is a traditional dessert from Shiraz. Ranginak is made of dates drenched in a mixture of roasted flour, cinnamon, sugar, and cardamom, topped with ground pistachios.
This energy-rich dessert is perfect for cold days and when you need an energy boost!
3. Faloodeh: Persian Rose Water with Frozen Noodles
Faloodeh is an ancient Persian frozen dessert that originated in the city of Shiraz. It is the best dessert for the hot season. It is made with vermicelli rice noodles, rose water, lime juice, and cherry syrup. It is sweet, and adding lemon juice as you eat it really makes it cool and refreshing.
It’s an incredibly unique frozen dessert. Sometimes, it is served with bastani sonati, another famous Iranian dessert that you should try.
4. Bastani Sonnati/Akbar Mashti: Saffron Ice Cream
Bastani sonnati, also called akbar mashti, is Persian saffron ice cream. Bastani sonati literally means traditional ice cream in Farsi, and the history of this dessert goes back to around 500 BCE. It has been served to many kings and has always been very popular.
Giving it its yellowish color, the dominant flavor of this ice cream is saffron, alongside pistachios and frozen cream. It tickles your taste buds as you eat this sweet, rich ice cream, and it goes well with faloodeh.
5. Pashmak: Cotton Candy
Pashmak, which originated from Yazd, is cotton candy and is very popular with children. Persian pashmak has more soft threads than other cotton candies and is usually flavored with sesame, rose water, cardamom, orange blossom, saffron, vanilla, or pistachio. The threads are often referred to as angel’s hair in Farsi.
Pashmak can also be used to garnish other desserts such as saffron ice cream.
6. Sholehzard: Saffron Pudding
Sholehzard is the royalty of Persian desserts. This delicate and light-textured rice pudding is one of the tastiest! The prominent taste of saffron mixed with sweet rosewater melts in your mouth when you try it. This dessert is stored in the fridge for hours to chill before being served. It is then decorated with cinnamon and slivered pistachios or almonds.
Although it is a cold dessert, sholehzard can be served throughout the year.
7. Ab Havij Bastani: Carrot Juice Ice Cream
Ab havij bastani is Persian carrot juice mixed with a scoop of saffron ice cream to create a float. Carrot juice is very popular in Iran, and it is rich in vitamin A, so most cafes and restaurants serve it.
It is so effortless to make and very healthy to try! You just need fresh carrot juice and saffron ice cream. As an alternative, you can have it with vanilla ice cream. Some people may also add a hint of rosewater to enhance the flavor.
8. Cake e Yazdi: Persian Cupcake
Obviously, cake e Yazdi is from Yazd: a province in Iran. It is one of the most popular items in Persian pastry shops and one of the most common cakes served to visitors for tea. This pastry is also known for being served as a treat (shirini) when someone has good news to tell, such as a newborn’s announcement, buying a new house, etc.
The secret ingredients that make this cupcake stand out from others are the rosewater and ground cardamom, which give it more flavor.
9. Zoolbia-Bamieh: Persian Deep Fried Pastry
Zoolbia-bamieh is one of the sweets eaten during Ramadan. The nutritional energy and sweet taste of this pastry keep you full for hours. Zoolbia has a crispy spiral shape, and bamieh is a small funnel shaped fritter.
Yogurt and baking soda (or yeast) are mixed with flour to create a batter that is poured into sizzling oil in circular patterns. Finally, it is dipped in thick syrup and then served!
If you like stuffed cookies, you have to try these. Koloocheh is a dessert with an old history. Different parts of Iran have different types of koloocheh. The most famous are those from the Caspian region in Northern Iran.
These golden-colored delicious cookies are made of butter, vanilla bean paste, rosewater, and sugar and are stuffed with walnuts and dates or coconut. Different companies have various designs or company names embedded into the cookie to make them stand out from other brands.
Koloochehs are served on different occasions like Norooz (Persian New Year) or can be eaten as a midday snack.
11. Shir Berenj: Persian Rice Pudding
Another light and flavorful Persian dessert is shir berenj, a Persian milky rice pudding, a dish full of childhood nostalgia. It is simple to make and the ingredients can be found in almost any home.
Shir berenj is mostly made with cooked rice, milk, and pure rosewater. You can add sugar and syrup and decorate it with slivered almonds and cinnamon, It is often served cold. This dessert is great for when you crave something sweet but want something healthier than a chocolate bar.
Persian halva is served during traditional holidays and funerals. The color of halva depends on the degree of flour being toasted. The more you toast, the darker the color. Because of the high amount of butter, sugar, and syrup used to make halva, it is a very rich and filling dessert. In Iran, it is served to women after childbirth and to sick children to boost their energy for a speedy recovery.
Slowly toasting wheat flour, rosewater, and saffron in oil or butter creates a delicious treat. Afterwards, this thick paste is topped with slivered almonds and pistachios, and the sides are shaped with the fingers of a fork or the edge of a spoon.
13. Noon Khamei: Persian Cream Puffs
It is inevitable that, on your the first bite, you will fall in love with these puffy pastries filled with white cream. Noon khamei is a popular pastries to take when visiting a Persian family for the first time, or when you want to make a big announcement.
The soft and tasty dough filled with a delicious sweet white cream makes the perfect mouth-watering puff combination. They are sometimes decorated with slivered pistachios.
14. Sohan: Persian Saffron Toffee
Originally made in Qom in Iran, sohan-e Qom is a traditional Persian saffron toffee candy. This buttery, crunchy candy differs from regular candies by its saffron-scented nuts that are boiled with sugar and butter. This rich and tasty sweet will give you enough energy for hours, though it is rather addictive.
It often comes in large round mounds that you have to crush. Melt a little piece in your mouth as you enjoy a bitter Persian tea.
15. Gaz: Persian Nougat with Pistachios
Gaz, which is a Persian pistachio nougat, has an ancient history. It originated in Isfahan and was first made from the sap of an Angebin plant, found within the Isfahan region. Gaz is purer if the sap percentage is higher.
The original gaz has pistachios in it and a sticky texture that becomes hard when left exposed for too long. Today, it is often mixed with flour and wrapped individually to prevent the gaz pieces sticking and to keep it soft.
You should try gaz with a hot Persian tea and imagine you are traveling to the colorful bazaars of Isfahan.