If you’re in the mood for traditional Chinese desserts, you’ve come to the right place because I’ve got everything from steamed buns to sugarcoated haws.
And they’re so good, I know you’ll want to make them all!
25 Most Popular Chinese Desserts
There are so many incredible Chinese recipes out there, it’s hard to make a list of the best.
That said, I’ve pulled together 25 Chinese desserts I think you’ll really love.
They feature familiar and unique ingredients and some super interesting cooking techniques.
But it’s nothing you can’t handle!
1. Almond Jelly
Almond jelly is one of the simplest and most popular Chinese desserts around.
Made with almond-flavored gelatin and fruit salad swimming in a sweet syrup, it’s a light treat to cleanse the palate.
Almond jelly is a breeze to make and only calls for milk, ground almonds, water, and gelatin or agar-agar. How easy is that?
2. Steamed Asian Pears with Rock Sugar (冰糖雪梨)
Often made as a Chinese cough remedy, this simple fruity dessert is not one to miss.
You’ll need Chinese white pears, which are super juicy and crunchy (more like apples), along with Goji berries and Chinese dates.
Cook everything, steamed or boiled, so the juices meld and become more flavorful. Yum!
3. Soy Milk Pudding
Soy milk pudding is an incredibly soft and silky dessert of soy milk and soybean flour.
Add some gelatin or agar-agar, and it becomes wonderfully velvety.
Served straight out of the fridge, it’s a cool and refreshing treat, perfect for the summer.
4. Glutinous Rice Balls (Rice Dumplings – Tang Yuan) | 自製糯米漿湯圓
Tang Yuan (also tangyuan and Yuanxiao) are sweet rice balls, similar to mochi.
Initially, they featured black sesame, lard, and white granulated sugar. And many still contain a nutty black sesame filling wrapped in glutinous rice.
This version is just for the basic rice balls, which are best served hot in a sweet broth. So they’re kind of like little rice dumplings!
5. Chinese Red Bean Paste Buns
Red bean paste (Hong Dou Sha / 红豆沙) is a very popular filling in Chinese cuisine.
It’s made from adzuki beans, sugar, and fat and can be served chunky or smooth.
This recipe for steamed buns is an authentic Chinese dessert that’s often eaten for breakfast.
6. Liu Sha Bao (Salted Duck Eggs Custard Buns 流沙包)
Like the recipe above, Liu Sha Bao are steamed buns filled with something sweet.
And while you can get regular custard buns, I think these are worth a try!
This Cantonese dim sum has a wonderfully light dough wrapped around a super unique salted duck eggs custard filling.
It’s sweet and salty with an almost sandy texture (Liu Sha means ‘quicksand’!) that oozes out when you tear it in half.
7. Snow Fungus Soup with Pears (Chinese Dessert Soup 冰糖银耳炖雪梨)
Dessert soup is wildly popular in China and all over Asia. And for good reason!
This one is loaded with white wood ear (fungus) and is typically served on special occasions like Chinese New Year.
To make it at home, you’ll need to source dried snow fungus and soak it overnight. Then add pears, rock sugar, goji berries, and dates.
Oh, and feel free to add some of those glutinous rice dumplings too!
8. Chinese Pumpkin Cakes (南瓜饼 Nan Gua Bing)
These sticky rice pumpkin cakes (pumpkin pancakes) are to die for! And they’re such a fun, sweet snack.
Unlike the bun recipes above with soft, steamed dough, these babies are fried. So they’re deliciously crispy on the outside and tender in the middle.
They’re not overly sweet. Though you could serve them with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup if you like.
9. Fried Milk
Fried milk is a rich and creamy snack that I could honestly eat all day.
They look like mozzarella sticks, but they’re actually a heated blend of coconut milk, milk, cornstarch, and sugar.
The traditional Chinese snack isn’t coated with breadcrumbs, but the modern version is. And I just love that added crunch!
10. Almond Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies will always be my number one. But it’s nice to explore new flavors from time to time.
And these almond cookies are definitely worth a try.
They’re crisp on the edges, crumbly in the middle, and sweet and buttery all around.
11. Chocolate Chinese Five-Spice Cake
Clove, fennel, cinnamon, star anise, and pepper are five spices you’ll usually see in savory recipes.
But this is a terrific twist!
If you like chocolate and chili, I think you’ll love this five-spiced chocolate cake. And it’s perfect for people who find chocolate cake too rich.
12. Eight-Treasure Rice Pudding
Eight-treasure rice pudding is a dessert of sweetened sticky rice. It’s a lot like sticky mango rice, minus the mango.
This version is stuffed with sweet red bean paste and garnished with various dried fruits and seeds.
To top it off, drizzle over a fragrant chrysanthemum syrup to make it smell heavenly.
13. Tapioca Thousand Layer Cake
This southern Chinese dish is sweet, chewy, and very moist. And it’s easily identified by those layers!
It’s a tapioca flour cake that takes quite a while to make.
You’ll need to cook it in layers, steaming each for around four minutes before adding the next.
For that reason, it’s best reserved for special occasions!
14. Bing Tanghulu Candied Hawthorn Stick 冰糖葫蘆
Tanghulu is kind of like the Chinese version of candied apples.
They traditionally feature hawthorn berries dipped in a hot sugar syrup that turns hard – just like a red candy apple.
Of course, you can use this technique with other fruits too! Strawberries are the best if you ask me.
15. Chinese Jujube Date Sticky Rice Cake
If you like sticky toffee pudding, you’ll love this date cake!
Jujube are small chewy fruits that’re very similar to dates. They have an almost apple-like flavor and are, unfortunately, not easy to find in the states.
That said, they do come dried, so you can get them online or at your local Asian market.
And it’s definitely worth the hunt!
Sachima is a sweet and crisp snack made with egg noodles and sticky syrup. It seems such an unlikely combination, but it works!
Deep-frying transforms the noodles into crisp treats anyone would love to snack on.
Clumping them together is a sweet syrup that can be flavored with different extracts.
Make it once, and I’m sure you’ll crave it all the time.
17. Chinese Walnut Cookies
Crisp, crumbly, and bursting with walnuts, these cookies will bring you eternal bliss.
They’re not overly sweet, so you can devour a bunch before feeling full.
Plus, they don’t contain as many calories as other cookies, so go right ahead.
18. Jian Dui (Sesame Seed Balls)
Sesame seed balls are soft and chewy round snacks stuffed with a sweet filling.
They’re a popular dim sum dessert, and I’ve had them with red bean paste and black sesame.
Both were incredible!
This version adds sweet potato to the dough, so they have a lovely orange hue.
19. Mung Bean Cake
Mung bean cake (dvougao) is an authentic Chinese dessert eaten during the summer.
It’s made with – as you may have guessed – mung beans. It’s also filled with a sweet paste like many of these Chinese desserts.
Though they look like moon cakes (and are made in moon cake molds), they’re a little different.
Moon cakes feature a thin layer of pastry, and they’re baked. Mung bean cakes are enjoyed right away, with no baking required.
20. Water Chestnut Cake
Here’s another popular, sweet Cantonese dim sum dish.
As the name suggests, it’s a mix of water chestnuts, water chestnut flour, sugar, and water.
When served on special occasions, it’s sliced and lightly fried. But you’ll also find it cold during the summer.
It’s gelatinous with delightful pops of crispy goodness.
21. Winter Melon Puff (Wife Biscuit or Sweet Heart Cake 老婆饼)
The “Wife Cake” is a traditional Chinese pastry with lots of flaky layers and a yummy winter melon and almond filling.
Winter melon is actually a type of squash, so this can be made sweet or savory.
22. Fa Gao – Fortune Cakes
Fa gao (fortune cake) is a dense and gummy-ish cake usually served during Chinese New Year.
Also known as ‘prosperity cake’ and ‘lucky cake’, fa gao is eaten to bring prosperity in the year ahead.
They’re mini and steamed, with the high heat causing the surface to crack into four segments.
23. Dragon’s Beard Candy
Dragon’s beard candy is essentially Chinese cotton candy that’s pulled by hand.
It often contains fine white sugar, peanuts, desiccated coconut, white sesame seeds, maltose syrup, and glutinous rice flour.
But you can just make it as a fun treat without the filling.
24. Tangyuan (Sweet Rice Balls with Peanut Butter Filling)
If you like the idea of a sweet steamed bun but want something a little more familiar, try this recipe.
It’s just like the tangyuan recipe above, only it’s full of gooey peanut butter!
And it’s not just peanut butter from a jar, either. Instead, you’ll make a special paste that turns into molten dessert lava when hot!
25. Fortune Cookies
Last but not least, we have what is perhaps the most iconic Chinese dessert there is: fortune cookies!
Okay, okay, I know they’re not Chinese. But did you know they’re actually Japanese?
Well, there’s a darker version of the fortune cookie from Japan that made its way to America in the late 1800s.
Now it’s very much associated with Chinese-American cuisine.
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