What Are the Different Types of Vietnamese Desserts?

Andrea Cross

There are many types of Vietnamese desserts, most of which incorporate fruit. Fresh fruit, including bananas, mango, and papaya, among others, is itself the most popular form of dessert in Vietnam. Other Vietnamese desserts commonly combine sweet beans, fruit, and glutinous rice into a variety of sweets and cakes.

Mung beans are used to make bánh da lơn, a Vietnamese dessert.
Mung beans are used to make bánh da lơn, a Vietnamese dessert.

Chè is a very popular dessert that has a huge number of variations. A sweet dessert with a soup to pudding-like consistency, basic chè consists of mung or kidney beans, coconut milk, and pearl tapioca along with sweet yam or yucca root and sugar. To these, cooks add any combination of fruits. Served hot or cold, chè is also eaten as a snack throughout the day and is so popular that there are dedicated shops with chè being the only item on the menu.

Fresh papaya is a popular Vietnamese dessert.
Fresh papaya is a popular Vietnamese dessert.

Xôi is a dessert made from glutinous rice and beans. Other ingredients include coconut, pandan, fruits like durian, and sugar to produce a variety of different tastes. This often colorful dessert can also be eaten as a main meal, and there are savory versions that incorporate meats such as chicken or sausage. Another type of popular Vietnamese dessert is chè xôi nươc, balls made from mung bean paste, which cooks then coat with glutinous rice flour. These balls are served warm in a thick, sweet, ginger sauce and are often garnished with sesame seeds.

Pandan leaves are used in many Vietnamese desserts.
Pandan leaves are used in many Vietnamese desserts.

Bánh đūc, or Vietnamese cake, contains nonglutinous rice flour, which is boiled with other assorted ingredients such as pandan leaf extract or coconut. Once cool, this produces large, solid sheets that are cut into gelatinous blocks before being served. This sweeter version tends to be served mainly in the south of the country, while in the north, bánh đūc refers to a savory cake garnished with ingredients such as pork or shrimp.

Bánh da lơn, like many Vietnamese desserts, contains mung beans, rice flour, and sugar. These are mixed with tapioca starch, taro, and durian with a splash of coconut milk and water. The different mixtures are steamed and then combined in alternating layers. The resulting dessert is sweet, soft, and colorful.

Sâm bô lương is a sweet soup that is served cold. The basic dessert contains Job's tears, seaweed, dried longan, and red jujube. These ingredients are then blended with water, sugar, and crushed ice. Common additions to this dessert include ginger, ginseng, wolf berries, and pearl barley.

Other popular types of Vietnamese desserts include bâhn rau câu, a layered and shaped agar gelatin dessert cake that is flavored with elements such as pandan and coconut milk. Sinh tô, the Vietnamese version of a smoothie, is made with a variety of local fruits, condensed milk, and crushed ice. Vietnamese desserts that are also familiar in North America include battered, deep-fried bananas served hot with ice cream or syrup; bâhn flan, which is essentially a fruit flan; and daua, a sweet and tart frozen yogurt made with condensed milk.

Bâhn is a fruit flan often made with mango or papaya.
Bâhn is a fruit flan often made with mango or papaya.

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Discussion Comments


@turquoise-- There are also cakes and pastries made in Vietnam. For example, there is Banh Bo Nuong (Honeycomb cake) which is quite popular. I used to see street vendors sell it when I visited Vietnam and it's very delicious.

I actually think that coconut milk is the most common dessert ingredient in Vietnam. It is true that they prefer jellies and ice cream desserts when the weather is hot and humid. But it doesn't mean they have pastries. They have cakes and cookies and also doughnuts.


In my experience, Asian desserts tend to be very similar. I don't think that Asians are as into desserts as we are in the West. And their desserts tend to be more nutritious with the inclusion of things like beans, fresh fruits and gelatin.

Vietnam too, like other Asian countries, prefers puddings, gelatin desserts and desserts with rice, beans and Asian fruits. One type of dessert that I've learned are found in one form or another in most Asian countries is the cool, sweet soup-like dessert with sweetened coconut milk, gelatin cubes, agar-agar, glutinous rice and fruit.


I think that sticky rice dessert is the most popular Vietnamese dessert. I love Viatnamese food and have always found sticky rice dessert on the menu at Vietnamese restaurants.

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