Chinese cuisine is often known for delicious rice and noodle dishes with heavy savory and umami flavors. However, Chinese desserts are incredibly impressive compared to savory dishes.
Read on to find 27 classic Chinese desserts you need to try, including easy, ancient, modern, healthy, and dessert soup recipes.
- Easy Chinese Desserts
- 1. Soy Milk Pudding
- 2. Fried Mantou with Condensed Milk
- 3. Black Sesame Ice Cream
- 4. Chinese Raspberry Snowflake Cake
- 5. Chinese Pumpkin Pancakes
- 6. Chinese New Year Almond Cookies
- Ancient Chinese Desserts
- 7. Egg Tart
- 8. Youtiao (Chinese Fried Dough)
- 9. Mooncake
- 10. Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Sweet Rice Cake)
- 11. Jian Dui (Sesame Seed Dessert Balls)
- 12. Wife Cake
- Modern Chinese Desserts
- 13. Rose Ginger Steamed Sponge Cake (Ma Lai Go)
- 14. Red Bean Mochi
- 15. Mung Bean Popsicles
- 16. Shanghai Mooncakes
- 17. Ube Buns
- 18. Cheese Tea
- Healthy Chinese Desserts
- 19. Black Sesame Pudding
- 20. Water Chestnut Cake
- 21. Mango Pomelo Sago
- 22. Almond Jelly
- 23. Qingtuan (Sweet Green Rice Balls)
- Chinese Dessert Soups
- 24. Chinese Pear Dessert Soup
- 25. Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup
- 26. Red Bean Soup
- 27. Sai Mai Lo (Sago in Coconut Milk)
- 📖 Recipe
Easy Chinese Desserts
Here are some of the most popular Chinese desserts that have easy-to-follow recipes.
Jellies and pudding are a staple of Chinese desserts, and this recipe offers a vegan option for anyone with dietary restrictions. The pudding is creamy and sweet, and the soybean flour topping adds a tiny bit of texture.
Fried Mantou is a classic Chinese dessert in hot pot and dim sum restaurants, and you can easily make it at home. You’ll need to take a quick trip to your local Asian grocery store, which is definitely worth it.
Black sesame is a popular flavor in Chinese desserts. You can find black sesame ice cream, pudding, and soup on offer in the country.
This easy recipe for black sesame ice uses only four ingredients and does not require an ice cream churner.
This Chinese Raspberry Snowflake Cake is an excellent example of an easy recipe that looks impressive. The recipe combines gelatin, milk, cream, and raspberries covered in coconut for a delicious cold dessert. You could even make alternate versions of the cake with blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries.
Pumpkin pancakes are a popular breakfast item when fall begins in China. These pancakes don’t use flour like a classic pancake. The dough consists of rice flour and pumpkin puree for a chewy and soft texture. The flour also makes this dessert naturally gluten-free!
Food is a huge part of celebrating the Chinese New Year, and dessert is no exception. These almond cookies are likely the simplest dessert you can make to celebrate. The cookies have the buttery taste of shortbread combined with the nutty flavor of almonds.
Ancient Chinese Desserts
Below are some of the traditional Chinese desserts with a rich history.
7. Egg Tart
Egg tarts are small, round custard tarts found in dim sum restaurants and Chinese bakeries. The egg tart is a centuries-old dessert that originated in Guangzhou, China. Traditional egg tarts, like this recipe for Hong Kong Egg Tarts, use a simple egg custard.
Youtiao is a reasonably simple dessert with a surprisingly rich backstory. The dessert consists of two long strips of dough joined together and deep-fried. The fried dough represents a protest of a Chinese politician and his wife, who represent the two pieces of dough.
Mooncake is one of the most stunning desserts in the world and an important part of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration in China. The cake is a small pastry filled with thick, sweet paste-like lotus seed paste or red bean paste.
Nian Gao is another dessert served in celebration of the Chinese New Year. The cake is also known as “New Year Cake” and consists of glutinous rice flour, sweetener (either honey or brown sugar), and dried dates.
The history of Jian Dui dates back to the seventh and eighth centuries when the dessert was a popular dessert for royals. Now, all enjoy these sesame seed dessert balls as a popular dim sum offering and street food.
12. Wife Cake
Though no one knows if the legend is true, the story of Wife Cake goes that a poor husband and wife struggled to get by. The husband created the Wife Cake, dedicated it to his wife, and made enough money to support them both through struggles.
Modern Chinese Desserts
Modern Chinese dessert recipes often combine traditional methods with unique flavors.
This recipe adds a modern twist to a traditional Chinese dessert, Ma Lai Go (steamed sponge cake). The preparation is pretty similar to a traditional recipe, but the flavors of rose and ginger add a unique flavor to a classic Chinese dessert.
14. Red Bean Mochi
Mochi is traditionally associated with its country of origin, Japan. However, the popularity of these adorable rice cakes has led to every variation imaginable. This Chinese Red Bean Mochi recipe uses red bean paste for a fuller and less sweet flavor than traditional Japanese mochi.
Mung beans are a popular ingredient in many Asian cuisines, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean recipes. This simple recipe for Mung Bean Popsicles consists of mung beans, sugar, and milk for an earthy, cool, refreshing summer treat.
Mooncakes are a traditional Chinese New Year dessert, but many variations on the original recipe have emerged over the years. Shanghai mooncakes are a modern recipe with a crispier texture, similar to French pastries. The recipe uses lotus paste filling for a combination of traditional and modern flavors.
17. Ube Buns
Ube is a sweet purple yam found in Southeast Asian countries. This modern recipe combines the bright purple, earthy ube with a simple Chinese milk bread bun. The result is a completely unique pastry that is visually stunning and tasty.
18. Cheese Tea
Cheese tea is a unique drink that appeared in Taiwan in the early 2010s. The dessert drink does actually contain cheese and is similar to boba tea. The tea base can be any kind you like, including white, black, or green tea. The base is then covered in a foamy cheese topping.
Healthy Chinese Desserts
These healthy Chinese desserts are perfect for a refreshing dessert that isn’t too heavy.
Black sesame has a nutty flavor, similar to hazelnuts, but with a hint of spice. That flavor makes it a perfect contender for a classic Chinese pudding, a popular and healthy dessert. This recipe combines black sesame with milk, cream, and gelatin for a smooth and creamy pudding.
Water Chestnut Cake is a traditional Chinese dessert that showcases water chestnuts, an aquatic vegetable native to Asia. Water chestnuts are packed full of nutrients, so Water Chestnut Cake is often considered a light and healthy dessert.
Mango Pomelo Sago was created in Hong Kong, though the dessert is popular throughout most of Asia now. The dessert is similar to pudding and consists of mango, pomelo (a citrus fruit), coconut milk, and chewy sago balls (similar to tapioca pearls).
22. Almond Jelly
Almond Jelly is often referred to as “Almond Tofu,” but this dessert does not contain tofu. Instead, the name refers to the small squares you cut the almond jelly into, which resembles a bowl of tofu.
Qingtuan is a type of dessert dumpling often eaten at China’s Qingming Festival, an annual festival to honor ancestors. These sweet green rice balls combine mugwort and barley grass for the signature green outside, and the inside is a delicious sweet red bean paste.
Chinese Dessert Soups
In China, dessert soups are a popular alternative to a classic dessert. The soups use sweet flavors like fruit, jelly, or milk in both hot and cold soups.
Chinese pears are famous for their crisp texture, unlike the more mealy texture of American and European pears. That crisp texture and distinct flavor come alive in this spiced dessert soup which features Chinese pears, goji berries, star anise, and cinnamon.
This Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup is often promoted as a health aid as many people say it helps smooth and brighten skin. The sweet almond flavor is soothing and delicious, so the supposed health benefits are just a bonus.
26. Red Bean Soup
Red Bean is a popular flavor used in Japanese and Chinese desserts. The taste is sweet but with a subtle earthy and nutty flavor. This red bean soup recipe combines red beans with rock sugar and dried tangerine peels.
Sago is similar to tapioca pearls, often used in bubble tea. The small balls are made from sago palm starch and have a delightfully chewy texture. Combined with a sweet coconut milk soup, this recipe is great for a summer dessert.
- Soy Milk Pudding
- Fried Mantou with Condensed Milk
- Black Sesame Ice Cream
- Chinese Raspberry Snowflake Cake
- Chinese Pumpkin Pancakes
- Chinese New Year Almond Cookies
- Egg Tart
- Youtiao (Chinese Fried Dough)
- Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Sweet Rice Cake)
- Jian Dui (Sesame Seed Dessert Balls)
- Wife Cake
- Rose Ginger Steamed Sponge Cake (Ma Lai Go)
- Red Bean Mochi
- Mung Bean Popsicles
- Shanghai Mooncakes
- Ube Buns
- Cheese Tea
- Black Sesame Pudding
- Water Chestnut Cake
- Mango Pomelo Sago
- Almond Jelly
- Qingtuan (Sweet Green Rice Balls)
- Chinese Pear Dessert Soup
- Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup
- Red Bean Soup
- Sai Mai Lo (Sago in Coconut Milk)
- Review the listed recipes
- Pick your favorites
- Make your desired classic Chinese dessert recipes