Vietnamese cuisine, with its rich variety of fresh produce and leafy green vegetables featuring in most meals, is often regarded as healthy and nourishing. However, many of the Vietnamese have a penchant for sweet food items too! Desserts and sweet treats feature prominently on the menu, ranging from traditional Vietnamese candy to modern Vietnamese desserts.
Read on to find out more about these scrumptious desserts and check out our other food and drink recommendations!
Vietnamese Sweets are a Real Treat
Looking for something to hit that sweet spot? Vietnam has many dessert dishes that are consumed as snacks throughout the day or as a yummy way to end a meal. From hot to a frozen dessert, from soft to hard candy, you have to try them all.
You can find many of these delicious desserts and candy in food markets, street stalls, cafes, and restaurants throughout Vietnam. Like savoury Vietnamese food, Vietnamese desserts defer from region to region, and different parts of the country have different specialities.
As you eat your way through popular Vietnamese desserts, you may notice a few similarities with Chinese, Thai, or Malay sweets, as well as more modern influences, pointing towards the rich history of Vietnam.
Check out our list of must-try candies and desserts of Vietnam!
5 Famous Vietnamese Desserts
You will find that many of the desserts have 'che' or 'chè' in their name, which literally translates to dessert, and is often used to classify traditional desserts and also Vietnamese sweet soups. These are some of the best Vietnamese che desserts that you can try at food stalls and restaurants, and perhaps even attempt to make at home.
1. Che Chuoi (Vietnamese bananas sweet soup)
This luscious Vietnamese pudding combines sliced bananas served with tapioca pearls mixed with rich coconut cream and then topped with roasted peanuts and sesame seeds.
Che chuoi sweet soup dessert is loved for its unique combination of the sweet and creamy coconut sauce contrasted with the salty peanuts. An added layer of complexity comes from the banana tapioca base. The bananas originate in Southeast Asia, small in size, they have a lovely sweet taste, while the tapioca pearls create a gum-like texture.
2. Che Ba Mau (three colour dessert)
A refreshing Vietnamese dessert of crushed ice perfect for the hot weather in Ho Chi Minh City. Created from three layers of yellow mung bean paste, red beans, and green pandan jelly, it is then topped with coconut milk for that velvety touch. Sometimes sweetened condensed milk is also used.
Often served in a tall glass or even a beer mug with the shaved ice at the top, the multiple colourful layers create a wonderful visual. Mix this Vietnamese dessert up to make it into a sweet soup or enjoy it layer by layer.
3. Che Troi Nuoc (glutinous rice balls with ginger syrup)
One of the famous Vietnamese new year desserts, the che troi nuoc is a symbol of fulfilment. It is also eaten during other celebrations such as an infant's first birthday. The sticky rice represents solidarity, and the balls can be dyed in lucky colours for the different festive occasions. This naturally dairy free dessert is also vegan friendly!
The glutinous rice balls often contain delicious mung bean paste, red bean paste, or peanut paste, and dipped in a spicy ginger syrup. This sweet mixture is served hot and most often accompanied by white sesame seeds.
4. Vietnamese Milkshake
The Vietnamese milkshake is Vietnam's take on smoothies. It is a blend of the amazing tropical fruits Vietnam has with either coconut milk, sweet condensed milk, Vietnamese yogurt, or even Vietnamese ice cream. One of the most popular desserts in Saigon, it is loved for its cool, refreshing taste.
Fresh fruit is a key ingredient here - create your own Vietnamese fruit cocktail containing mangos, passion fruit, avocados or even durian! The fruits are then blended with some of the above rich liquids.
Sweet and salty toppings can be added as well, including mung bean, tapioca, sweet potato pearls, taro pudding, shredded coconut, sweet corn, or nuts. This has all the makings of a delicious dessert.
5. Banh Tieu (Vietnamese donuts)
Banh tieu one of the famous crispy fried sweet snacks, often eaten during the rainy season. A popular Vietnamese street food dessert, the dough is covered with white seam seeds then deep fried.
The result is a slightly sweet, yummy, and unique dessert, they are crispy on the outside, fluffy and chewy on the inside. Sometimes turned into a mung bean pastry, the banh tieu's hallow inside are filled with fragrant mung beans. Otherwise, it can also be filled with chocolate or coconut ice cream.
The best Vietnamese dessert to enjoy during the monsoon season, people often pair it with black or jasmine tea, and listen to the rain pour outside.
5 of the Best Vietnamese Candy
If you have a sweet tooth and like to have something sweet to nibble on here and there or to enjoy at tea time, these are some of the tastiest and most popular Vietnamese snacks that you can keep at home and enjoy throughout the day.
1. Keo Dua (coconut candy)
This indulgent Vietnamese treat hails from the Mekong Delta. It is a rich and intoxicating blend of full fat coconut milk, coconut cream and palm sugar syrup or malt, and lastly aromatic pandan leaves complete this candy. It is one of the main desserts of the Ben Tre region. This Vietnamese dessert is addictive but be careful, it's is strenuous on the jaw!
You can also get the durian version of this candy, the strong flavours of durian goes well with the coconut cream, creating a very luscious treat.
It can get overly sweet, so it is best paired with strong black Vietnamese style coffee or dark Vietnamese tea.
2. Keo Me Xung (sesame and peanut candy)
A true blue che Vietnamese dessert, the keo me xung candy is a Hue speciality. It is said that this candy is reflective of Hue - an elegant and rich sweet.
The sticky candy is made from roasted sesame seeds, peanut, rice flour, and palm sugar. Eating this candy is considered an art, as it is hard and stick, it requires patience and delicacy, and even calmness to truly enjoy it.
Popular and well-loved not just in Hue, many might argue that this is also the best dessert in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. Pair it with green tea or lotus blossom tea to truly bring out its flavour.
3. Mut Hoa Qua (fruit gums)
If you enter any Vietnamese house during Tet (Lunar New Year), you will be greeted by a tray of festive delights on display at the table. Generally filled with seeds and colourful treats, you will likely also spot fruit gums amongst them. Fruits are a symbol of prosperity and success.
Little round balls flavoured by fruits are dusted with powdered sugar or with finely shredded coconut flakes. Popular fruit flavours include pineapple, orange, strawberry, mango, kiwi, and more!
A variation of this treat is candied fruit, where thin slices of fruits (and sometimes even ginger) are candied in a sugary syrup. This preserves the fruit and boosts their colour, making them perfect for the long Tet celebrations.
4. Tamarind Candy
The Vietnamese tamarind candy is a very special candy that combines both sweet and sour notes. A round sweet, it is also often made with lime and chilli for that extra flavour boost.
Tamarind has long been regarded as a healthy food in the region, it is known to be a rich source of antioxidants, a good source of magnesium and calcium, and may be able to boost heart health. Of course with a load of sugar added to make the tamarind candy, this sweet should be enjoyed in moderation.
5. Keo Chuoi (Banana Candy)
Another tasty treat originating from the Mekong Delta region, this sticky, chewy treat is a delightful burst of flavour. Made from bananas, coconut milk, condensed milk - it is hard to hate on this class Vietnamese dessert.
Traditionally, the candy is made from siem bananas, which are small, stout, and sweet. Sometimes the ginger bits are added to the candy, it is filled with peanuts, or it is coated in sesame seeds.
A candy that travels and keeps well, keo chuoi is often picked up as souvenirs by both domestic and foreign tourists. It is becoming a popular Christmas treat!
Always Room for Vietnamese Desserts
From North to South Vietnam, Vietnamese desserts are popular with everyone. Produce traditionally grown in Vietnam, such as mung beans, coconuts, other fruits, and even rice feature strongly on the dessert food menu.
Keep your eyes open for the 5 most popular types of desserts you can find at street food stalls or restaurants, as well as our list of the 5 most delicious candies to take home. Many of these are also easy recipes to try to make at home.
We could not list them all, but while you are at it, do also taste other classics such as the sweet corn pudding, black sesame soup, mung bean pastry, and modern twists such as coconut ice cream, and Vietnamese mango cake.
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