Top 25 Mexican Sweets and Desserts
Think of Mexican desserts, and think of diverse flavors, colors, cultures, and traditions. The variety of ingredients used is the historic result of European conquest, when indigenous ingredients became mixed with European imports: a fusion that led to the delicious dishes and desserts Mexico is now known for.
In 2010, UNESCO recognized Mexican gastronomy as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, that is, a complete cultural model due to its ritual practices, ancient knowledge, culinary techniques, customs, and ancestral community practices.
The main pre-Hispanic Mexican sweets were based on chocolate, vanilla, and corn. And if you don’t think just three ingredients can produce much variety, just read on for the 25 Mexican desserts from across the ages. Let´s take a look!
1. Arroz con Leche (Rice with Milk)
This is a popular dessert in many countries and extremely popular in Mexico too. Made by slowly cooking rice with milk and sugar, arroz con leche has a very creamy consistency, with touches of vanilla, cinnamon and/or lemon peel for that extra taste. This could possibly be the country’s most popular dessert.
This is a Mayan dessert from the state of Chiapas in the south of Mexico. It is made with baked chayotes, a fruit that is cut in half and stuffed with a mixture prepared from its pulp, double cream cheese, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla. Do not leave Mexico without trying this unique dessert.
3. Camotes de Santa Clara (Santa Clara Sweet Potato Candy)
It is said that in the sixteenth century, in the convent of Santa Rosa, a 13-year-old novice called Lucia made this dessert with sweet potatoes, boiling them up with fruit from the orchard and a little sugar.
The nuns then added flavors and vegetable dyes, and the smooth paste was wrapped in waxed paper creating a tube-shaped sweet. Ever since then, the convent has dedicated itself to producing and selling this exquisite treat.
4. Mangoneada or Chamoyada
This comes somewhere between a drink and a dessert. Chamoyada derives from the word chamoy, which is a type of sauce made with seasonal fruits. It´s sweet, tangy, spicy, and so tasty.
As a refreshing dessert of frozen diced mango, chili powder, and lemon, it is perfect on sunny days.
5. Raspado (Scraped Ice)
In the Bible, there are references to King Solomon calling this “the snow soda on harvest days”.
This dessert is very popular, especially outside churches and schools. Made with crushed and sweetened ice topped with different fruit syrup flavors, it is divine on hot sunny days.
6. Camote Enmielado (Sweet Potato with Honey)
Street vendors sell baked sweet potatoes from small carts, hissing as they go to let everyone in the neighborhood know that the “sweet potato man” has arrived. It is also sold at some markets.
This is a very important dessert and is even listed on the altars of Day of the Dead.
7. Ponte Duro (Hard Popcorn)
This is a pre-Hispanic dessert. It is basically a sweet made with various types of seeds, though mainly with corn, bathed in honey to stick them together.
8. Jamoncillo (Sweet Ham)
This traditional Mexican sweet is from northern and central Mexico. It is made with sweet milk, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts. You can find it as pink and white bars, topped with walnuts or shredded coconut.
Originating from the state of Jalisco (central Mexico), this dates back to the nineteenth century when nuns prepared it for the children of the Hospicio Cabañas, downtown Guadalajara.
It is made from milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar and is very similar to custard.
10. Capriotada (Bread Pudding)
Capriotada is usually eaten during Lent, served on Good Friday. It is made from slices of fried bread and topped with a brown sugar cane honey (or unrefined brown sugar), raisins, nuts, almonds, peanuts, shredded coconut, and cotija cheese.
The dish was brought here from Spain during the conquest and was traditionally made with savory, salty ingredients, especially charcuterie.
11. Pan de Elote (Sweet Corn Bread)
Mayan writings describe a mixture of corn and honey eaten like bread in pre-Hispanic America. This became fused with the European pastry creating a pancake.
Pan de Elote is considered a Thanksgiving tradition and it is extremely delicious!
12. Chongos Zamoranos
This dessert originated in convents at the time of the viceroyalty in the town of Zamora, Michoacan. It is a typical Mexican dessert made from milk.
This dessert has a lot of flavor and is super simple to prepare. Its three ingredients, milk, brown sugar cane, and cinnamon, make it deceptively simple. But patience is a key ingredient as it can take up to two hours to prepare.
13. Marqueista (Rolled Crepe)
Marqueista, from the state of Yucatán, has a magnificent bittersweet taste. It is similar to a crepe but it is rolled up with condensed milk, chocolate, jam, and Edam cheese.
You simply are not allowed to leave Yucatán without trying one!
14. Dulce de Calabaza en Tacha (Candied Pumpkin)
Tacha pumpkin is a traditional Mexican recipe for the Day of the Dead. It is a sweet Castile pumpkin candy accompanied by brown sugar cane and guava. Easy to prepare, its delicious, homemade flavor is perfect during the autumn when pumpkin is in season.
15. Cajeta (Goat´s Milk Caramel Candy)
Cajeta or Goat´s milk candy comes from the state of Celaya. It can be consumed as it comes or used in desserts as a filling. It is a very thick liquid prepared with sugar, baking soda, and corn starch.
The milk is mixed with the other ingredients and boiled for several hours in a copper pot, stirring all the while, until it thickens and acquires a light brown color.
16. Churros Azucarados (Sugary Churros)
One of the most famous desserts in this country actually originated in China and reached Mexican lands thanks to Portuguese merchants. It is usually served with chocolate, goat´s milk candy, or condensed milk.
17. Chocoflan or Pasel Imposible (Impossible Cake)
This famous cake recipe originated in Mexico and was then spread all over the world. Essentially, it is two desserts in one: a base of chocolate cake with custard on top. Yum!
It is also called the “Impossible Cake” as when you pour the two batters together, they seem like they are mixing. However, the layers separate in the oven because of their different weights.
Here´s a great classic of Mexican cuisine. Hernán Cortes, the famous Spanish Conquistador, mentioned a drink that was a favorite of Mexican natives: a thick drink of corn, water, honey, and chilies, full of energy!
Coyotas are a traditional dessert from the state of Sonora in the north Mexico. They are made with wheat flour, vegetable butter (margarine), and sugar, stuffed with brown sugar cane. It has been around since the late nineteenth century.
Originally from the state of Oaxaca, southern Mexico, this is a dessert with a consistency similar to custard. It is handmade with Creole corn cooked in water, milk, sugar or brown sugar cane, and cinnamon. So creamy, tasty, and visually stunning.
21. Calaveritas de Azúcar (Sugar Skulls)
Skulls are a typical ornament on the Altars of the Dead. The sugary water is boiled for half an hour until it thickens, when a squirt of lemon juice is added. Once ready, craftsman would decorate them with colorful frosting.
22. Borrachitos (Drunkies)
When Mexico was a colony, nuns created Borrachitos. They have become a very popular sweet in the state of Puebla, and considered a sweet treat for after eating. Made with milk, alcohol, sugar, and flour, its consistency is super soft. You can find them all over the country!
23. Pedos de Monja
This originally came from Spain. When an Italian chef invented this cookie, he called them “petto di monca”, which Spaniards pronounce “pedo” rather than petto. And so they got their peculiar name: pedo = fart!
That didn’t put the Mexicans off and it became a very popular dessert. It can be found at kermesses (Catholic Church events).
24. Nieve de Xoconostle (Xoconostle Ice)
The Xoconostle is the fruit of the cactus family commonly called a prickly pear. It has an acidic taste and can be consumed as a juice or in sauces, jams, cakes, etc.
A very old recipe of Mediterranean cuisine, Buñelo is a dough of sweetened flour (similar to a flour tortilla) that is fried and sprinkled with sugar. It is usually consumed as a Christmas dessert.