Top 20 Nigerian Desserts That Will Keep You Asking for More
Popularly known as the giant of Africa, Nigeria is blessed with a rich culture, a proud heritage, and a variety of famously mouth-watering foods and delicacies. But in common with most African countries, it could be better known for its traditional desserts. In this article, we’re going to put that right!
The history of Nigeria plays a considerable role in its cuisine, as interactions with various cultures, especially Europeans and the Arab world, led to the adoption and incorporation of several foods that are staples of the nation’s cuisine today.
Several Nigerian desserts, made from traditional recipes, can justly be described as a piece of heaven. Ingredients include milk, flour, coconut, butter, groundnut, cassava, plantain, salt, pepper, etc.
Pepper? Yes, because unlike in other countries worldwide, where desserts are virtually always sweet, sweetness is optional in Nigerian desserts and many are savory!
This is due to the ancient tradition of avoiding very sweet foods in preference for concoctions made from certain bitter roots and herbs which are beneficial for health. So, if you’re not 100% familiar with Nigerian cuisine, don’t be surprised if your favorite savory snack is mentioned here.
Let’s dive in and take a closer look at 20 of Nigeria’s iconic desserts!
Puff-puff is a very popular Nigerian dessert in Nigeria that can also be eaten as a snack. When in smaller sizes, it is mainly used for “small chops” on Nigerian special occasions. It’s made by spicing batter, especially with diced fresh pepper, before deep-frying in vegetable oil. This enjoyable dessert is also served in other parts of Africa, though with slight regional variations.
2. Coconut Candy
These are made from coconut fruit and are crunchy, chewable, and generally candy-like. During preparation, the coconut is thinly grated and fried in balls after being covered with caramel.
Depending on whether water is added, this dessert will have a gorgeous creamy or golden-brown color. If sweets are your thing, these balls will send you to heaven!
3. Chin Chin
This popular crunchy snack is typically enjoyed as a dessert. It is made from well-kneaded dough flavored with butter, milk, and eggs. Chin-chin is either deep-fried or oven-baked, and the size/shape is generally based on individual preference.
4. Akara (Bean Cakes)
This is one of the most famous savory desserts in Nigeria. It is prepared from bean flour and can be spiced to taste with onions, pepper, crayfish, etc.
Akara is molded into small balls and deep-fried. It can be enjoyed with pap/custard or served with potato/yam/plantain fries, or perhaps with a mouthwatering stew to make a delicious and substantial meal.
5. Meat Pie
This savory dessert is enjoyed in almost every region of Nigeria,and in fact, all over Africa.
The exciting thing about this dessert is the spicy meat and vegetable mixture it’s stuffed with before frying. This tasty dessert will redefine your idea of what makes a perfect end to a meal!
This dessert embodies the magical culinary traditions of the Hausa people of northern Nigeria.
Donkwa is prepared from finely ground groundnuts and cornmeal, spiced up with chili peppers, then mixed with small quantities of water and oil. This mixture is then molded into shape – and your dessert is ready to devour!
7. Boiled or Roasted Maize & Coconut
This extraordinarily delicious combination is eaten as a dessert and is very popular in southern Nigeria, where maize and coconuts grow abundantly.
The maize can be prepared by boiling or roasting, depending on individual preference. Some people also combine the maize with small pears, a tasty combination that’s also packed with fiber.
Any cardiologist will tell you nuts are packed with vital, heart-healthy nutrients. Groundnuts, cashew nuts, and more are commonly eaten as desserts in Nigeria.
They can be eaten alone or with bread, boli (roasted plantain), egg, cucumber, etc. Tasty and filling, these nuts can fill you up and keep you going all day long.
9. Plantain chips
Plantain chips are perhaps the ‘granddaddy’ of Nigerian desserts- their origin is lost in the mists of time.
They can be made with ripe or unripe plantain, which is first peeled and sliced into thin discs before deep-frying. The result is crunchy, tasty, and incredibly more-ish.
10. Egg rolls
This savory Nigerian dessert can be easily mistaken for scotch eggs, but take a closer look, and you’ll see how different it is.
The egg rolls are prepared by enveloping boiled eggs in the dough before deep-frying in vegetable oil. Enjoy one (or more!) at the end of a meal, or as a filling snack at any time of the day!
Kokoro is typically associated with the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria. It’s made from crunchy cornmeal dough comprising sugar, water, and corn. The mixture is rolled into desired shapes and deep-fried. Chefs sometimes add their own special spices to create an unforgettable sweet dessert.
12. Kuli Kuli (Groundnut Cake)
This popular treat is native to northern Nigeria’s Hausa people and sometimes attributed to the Nupe people.
Kuli-kuli is prepared with roasted groundnuts that are milled and spiced before deep-frying. There are infinite variations on the basic recipe, and it can be enjoyed alone or paired with soaked garri.
13. Shuku Shuku
This luscious coconut dessert will keep you asking for more!
Shuku shuku are prepared by mixing coconut flakes with caster sugar, egg yolks, and flour. When the mixture achieves a doughy texture, it’s ready for baking. The shuku shuku balls come out of the oven with an irresistible aroma that no sweet dessert lover can resist!
Kilishi is a classic meat delicacy among the Hausa people of northern Nigeria. It is made from beef, mutton, or chevon (meat from a young goat aged six to nine months). The lean meat is sliced into thin sheets and sun-dried.
These dried sheets of meat are then dipped into a mixture of groundnut, seasoning, sugar, pepper, and a salt called Labu, and once again sun-dried, this time for even longer.
The result can be roasted over a fire and relished as a dessert. Kilishi can last for months without any deterioration in flavor. It’s a must-try for every visitor to Nigeria!
Kpekere is another plantain-based Nigerian dessert, very popular with the Yoruba people of western Nigeria. Unripe plantain is always used, sliced into thin sheets, and deep-fried.
It can be prepared in many ways – crunchy, spicy, salty, or sweet, depending on your preference. Our advice – sample them all to find your favorite!
Yoyo are lightly crushed and fried sprats – tiny oily fish that are related to the herring family.
They’re a healthy alternative to sweet desserts as they contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are very good for the heart and help prevent blood clotting.
This dessert is enjoyed everywhere in the country and is especially ubiquitous in the coastal regions of southern Nigeria.
Suya is nicely cut beef seasoned with a unique spice mix called Yaji before grilling over an open flame. It is served with fresh cabbage, tomatoes, and onions, typically wrapped with old newspaper or aluminum foil, and eaten as a dessert, especially during the cool evenings.
This spicy delicacy is a specialty of the Hausa people of northern Nigeria.
18. Boli (Roasted Plantain)
Boli, or roasted plantain, is yet another tasty delicacy enjoyed as a dessert in Nigeria.
The plantain is peeled and grilled on an open fire to a point where the outside gets charred. This is then peeled off, and the inside is served with roasted groundnuts or a mixture of olive oil, pepper, and salt. Boli is another dessert you have to try when you’re in Nigeria.
19. Ukwa (African breadfruit)
Ukwa, made with the roasted seeds of the African breadfruit, is also enjoyed as a dessert, especially among the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria.
Dried bread fruits range from hard, dried ones, which are dark brown, to softer ones, which are a lighter shade of brown.
Ukwa is very nutritious and is a favorite of both the young and old.
20. Date palms
This nutritious dessert is especially popular in the northern parts of Nigeria.
The dates come in various textures ranging from soft to dry. They’re packed with natural sugars, fiber, and minerals and can be preserved for an extended period under proper refrigeration.
In conclusion, the next time you visit Nigeria, be sure to treat yourself to some of these mouthwatering desserts. I bet you’ll keep coming back for more!
Or if you’re already a fan of Nigerian food, please let us know if there’s anything else you feel deserves a mention by leaving a comment below!
Next check out our top of the most popular Nigerian foods.