Vietnamese desserts might not have the same reputation as Vietnamese cuisine, but they also deserve their own spotlight. The typical traditional desserts in Vietnam have ingredients like coconut, glutinous rice, fruit jellies, coconut, and bean puddings. Vietnamese desserts can be in the form of doughy rolls, sweet soups, iced treats, cakes, and many more. If you have a sweet tooth and are open to new textures and flavors, then you’re going to enjoy these Vietnamese sweets. Usually made with healthy ingredients and low in sugar, you’ll find a wide variety of sweet options to select from.
Here are nine of the most famous Vietnamese desserts.
Bánh Dau Xanh – Mung Bean Pastry
Mung bean pastries or Bánh Dau Xanh are specialty desserts in the country. It’s made of mung beans, sugar, fat, and oil. The texture of the beans may feel a bit odd for foreigners, but taking a bite of the pastry alongside sipping a cup of tea will leave you hooked. This dessert isn’t overly sweet and is a must-try for anyone who enjoys eating traditional food.
Banh Tieu – Vietnamese Doughnut
The addictive and delicious hollow doughnut is crispy and fried to perfection. It’s just the right amount of sweet and is balanced with white sesame seeds that add the crunchy texture and create the perfect blend of sweet and savory.
The Vietnamese doughnut is the ultimate treat during the monsoon season. Enjoy these mini doughnuts with a cup of tea while listening to the pitter-patter of the rain outside. Vendors typically sell these desserts in large metal saucers, so if you see one, don’t forget to buy some!
Bánh Xoai – Mango Sweet Cakes
Bánh Xoai is a somewhat deceptive sweet treat as it has nothing to do with mangoes. It only got its name because of its mango-esque shape. You can often find this delectable street food near street food vendors and in markets. The dessert is made of a glutinous rice shell filled with a sweet blend of sesame seeds and peanuts.
Chè Bà Ba – Sweet Potato, Taro, and Cassava Soup
The word “Che” or “Chè” literally means desserts in Vietnamese. It’s the word used for traditional Vietnamese sweet soups and desserts. Chè sweet soups are usually a mix of several ingredients combined and served in a large beer glass.
This Vietnamese dessert is native to its southern region and is popular for its famous combination of flavors. Taro, sweet potato, and cassava are simmered in coconut milk broth along with tapioca pearls. This creamy dessert can be eaten on hot and cold days and made more delicious by adding some crushed peanut toppings.
Chè Bắp – Sweet Corn Pudding
This Vietnamese sweet corn pudding is made with glutinous rice, rich coconut milk, and sweet corn topped off with sesame seeds. The flavors of coconut milk and sweet corn combined with the chewiness of the glutinous rice make for an excellent dessert experience. The best time to eat this dessert is during the harvest season (March-September) when the local corn is sweet and fresh.
Chè Ba Mau – The Three-color Dessert
Chè Ba Mau, or the three-color dessert, derived its name from its layers of green pandan jelly, red beans, and yellow mung bean paste topped with a layer of ice and a generous amount of rich coconut cream. Vietnamese serve this in a tall glass, providing a long spoon so you can mix the layers, quickly turning the dessert into a multi-colored gem. You can easily find these refreshing desserts near main street food markets in big cities.
Chè Trôi Nước – Sticky Rice Balls in Ginger Syrup
Typically served hot and topped with white sesame seeds, this gooey, sweet delicacy is studded with mung bean paste and cooked in an aromatic ginger syrup. Chè Trôi Nước is roughly translated as “fulfillment,” and Vietnamese usually eat this dessert on a child’s first birthday and other holidays like Tet (Vietnamese New Year).
Xi Ma – Black Sesame Soup
At first glance, this dessert doesn’t look like food you’d be eager to eat. Xi Ma or black sesame soup is a thick, black syrupy dessert typically sold by street vendors. Its color is from its main ingredient, black sesame seeds, and it isn’t overly sweet. It has a rich, toasted sesame flavor and is often eaten as a mid-afternoon snack in the region of Hoi An. The portions contain the herb pennywort, said to have potent healing properties, and are usually small and served hot.
Chè Chuối – Banana With Sago Pearls in Coconut Milk
Chè Chuối is one of Vietnam’s best desserts. Rich coconut milk, sweet banana, sago pearls, crushed peanuts, and sesame seeds make up this warm, heavenly dessert. Much of its sweetness is thanks to chuối sứ, a small banana native to Southeast Asia that’s more flavorful and sweeter than its counterparts.