Home Desserts 10 Traditional Ethiopian Desserts

10 Traditional Ethiopian Desserts

While Ethiopian recipes might be plentiful, there actually aren’t too many Ethiopian desserts out there. 

Go to any local restaurant, and you’ll find a plethora of incredible, vibrant, and delicious savory dishes to choose from.

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But you’ll more than likely only see a few simple desserts at the end. 

Tiramisu

This is due to their love for food and the fact that they don’t eat in a traditional Western three-course structure. 

In fact, there is no word for “dessert” in Amharic. Instead, they say “tafach,” which means sweets, and that usually refers to honey wine or Ethiopean beer when talking about an after-dinner treat.

That being said, there are quite a few desserts you will almost always find in an Ethiopian restaurant.

They pull from the Greek and Italian bakeries that popped up during the 20th Century, with baklava and tiramisu being at the top of the list!

Although some of these Ethiopian desserts may not originate from the region, rest assured they’re super popular and great after an Ethiopian meal.

1. Himbasha (Ethiopian Flatbread)

The lightly sweetened flatbread is spiced with cardamom and is typically made for celebrations. 

The great thing about this recipe is that it uses pantry staples and can be made in a matter of minutes. 

Start by adding flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, cardamom powder, and black sesame seeds to your stand mixer, and then add in the raisins, oil, and warm water. 

Knead for 7-10 minutes and let it rest before pressing into a baking dish and baking until golden brown. 

2. Ethiopean Fruit Salad

The key to a good fruit salad is to get the fruit when it’s ripe. You won’t want bland and hard melon or mushy and flavorless mango, right?

With papaya, you can usually tell that it’s ripe if you can push your thumb into the flesh.

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Gently press it, and if it gives a little, it should be good to go. If not, storing it in a paper bag will help it along.

Mangoes are very similar, but they will also emit a sweet fragrance from the stem when they’re ripe. 

3. Roasted Apricot and Honey Ice Cream

This recipe will leave you thanking the online shopping gods for that ice cream maker purchase!

I know it seemed extra at the time, but one bite of this and it will all be worth it!

Roasting the apricots will allow the natural juices to caramelize and will really boost that incredible flavor. 

In fact, that’s so good; you don’t necessarily need the honey. But the combination of the two is too good to leave it out.

4. Classic Ethiopian Honey Wine

Like I said, before the explosion of European bakeries in the region, a typical “dessert” in Ethiopia was a glass of honey wine or beer. 

Traditionally, it’s made like mead and allowed to ferment for around a week. However, this recipe is a bit simpler!

I don’t think I need to say this, but I will anyway: this wine is very sweet! If you like your wine dry, it might not be for you.

I happen to really love the flavor and only use local, organic honey when making this recipe. Trust me; it does make a difference. 

5. Baklava

Speaking of very sweet, we all know that baklava is not for the faint of heart!

With all that incredible syrup, most people can only handle a small slice.

If working with phyllo dough scares you, please don’t be intimidated.

You’ll just need to remember to keep it covered with a damp towel and work as fast as you’re able to. 

When brushing the pastry with butter, don’t be shy. The more butter, the better.

This recipe calls for walnuts, which are a total classic option.

I happen to prefer pistachios or pecans, but that’s just me. You choose whatever nuts you like.

6. Kahawa (Ethiopian Coffee)

Ethiopian beans account for around 3% of the world’s coffee, but it should be way more!

It’s smooth and rich without being bitter, and when you make it the right way, it’s to die for!

For this recipe, you’ll boil water with cardamon pods before adding the coffee close to the end.

This way, the water will infuse with the spice, and the coffee won’t become bitter. 

7. Mandazi (East African Doughnuts)

These doughnuts are traditional street food.

They’re light and airy while being wonderfully spiced and tender and have a lovely subtle coconut flavor. 

Not only does the dough use coconut milk, but it also calls for shredded coconut, which gives these babies a nice chewy texture. 

There isn’t much sugar in this recipe, so the spices and coconut are at the forefront.

If you like it a little sweeter, feel free to dust them with powdered sugar or dip them in a vanilla glaze. 

8. How to Make a Macchiato

I think most people see that large, very milky (and delicious) Starbucks drink when they see the word macchiato. 

That drink is a latte macchiato and is usually served with lashings of caramel to boot. It’s what I almost always order, and it’s worth every penny!

On the other hand, a real macchiato is a shot of espresso with milk foam gently nestled on top. It’s rich and strong and not super sweet.

Of course, if you want to add some sugar to the mix, that’s totally up to you. 

Instant coffee isn’t what you want for this. If you don’t have an espresso maker, try a simple cafetière.

You can usually find them on sale in Winners/TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Sense.

9. Fried Sweet Plantains

The first time I tried sweet fried plantain was at my friend’s house after a beautiful Haitian meal. I even got to press them myself!

Luckily, you don’t need to press anything here. Instead, just peel, slice, and fry in hot oil.

I like to use simple canola oil when frying plantains, but coconut oil would work, too. 

I also like to soak them beforehand in saltwater. This helps make them extra crispy.

Just don’t forget to dry them thoroughly before adding the slices to the oil. 

As soon as they come out of the oil, drop on a paper towel for a few seconds and then toss in cinnamon sugar for the perfect finish. 

10. Easy Eggless Tiramisu

Tiramisu doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and you won’t need a fancy cremeux to make this taste good. 

I mean, it’s coffee, cream, and booze, right? How can you go wrong?

One thing I will say is that mascarpone is a must! It’s just not the same without it, so please, make the trip to the store to get the good stuff. 

You don’t have to add booze to the coffee if you don’t want to.

But in my experience, kids don’t usually like coffee anyway, so why not give it a boost so the grown-ups can enjoy it even more?!

10 Traditional Ethiopian Desserts

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Ethiopian Desserts

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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