Chinese Desserts: 33+ Sweets People from China (Actually) Enjoy

Updated:

Silas & Grace

I love Chinese desserts and I’ve loved them since I was a young teenager.

I remember frequently going to Wonder Bakery in Chinatown LA and having jasmine tea with a lotus seed mooncake.

Or enjoying sweet buns, mango pudding, and almond cookies at restaurants.

It was all delicious and I really wanted to make a list of tasty Chinese sweets that you should most definitely try. 👌

BUT I wanted to actually make this a list of sweets people from China were actually enjoying.

So I went on 6 different Reddit groups and asked this question:

“If you’re from China (or your family is) – what are the top desserts you and/or your family eat?

And the answers honestly didn’t disappoint!

In fact, they made me hungry. 😂

So here’s an honest and tasty list of Chinese desserts you should try as SOON as you have the opportunity!


Related: 40 Popular & Traditional Chinese Dishes to Try THIS Week


How to Actually Enjoy Chinese Sweet Recipes

A hand holding two Hong Kong egg tarts.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

Here are some ways to make sure you get the most out of these amazing Chinese desserts:

  1. Make sure to read through the personal notes the people have: Don’t just look at the names of the desserts, you’ll also see great ideas + tips for enjoying them. 👍
  2. Have fun with the new ingredients: Some Chinese desserts have ingredients you’re probably not familiar with, and they’re not common in Western sweets. So if you’re feeling unsure about them, just see it as a new fun way to expand your palette. As someone who’s had plenty of them, I promise you they’re very good! 😊
  3. Pairing with tea or coffee: Some of these desserts go great with tea or coffee, so I’d highly suggest trying it out! Example: A mooncake would go great with some jasmine tea (personal opinion).
 

33+ Chinese Dessert Ideas You Should DEFINITELY Try

I really have a huge love for traditional Chinese desserts; they’re not too sweet and they’re ridiculously good. And I hope this list helps transfer my love of them over to you.

Chinese desserts that PERFECTLY demonstrate the country’s diverse (and tasty) cuisine:

Mochi-Like Desserts

1. Nian Gao

The Chinese dessert, Nian Gao, in glass bowls.
PHOTO: SRI WIDYOWATI/SHUTTERSTOCK

“If you wanna go for something easy then I recommend nian gao, which is brown sugar mochi. I also recommend slicing up the finished product and then pan fry it in butter for a crispy and more decadent dessert.” – Darwin343

Side Note: This is also described as a sweet rice cake, and it’s eaten around New Years. Also, the one in the photo of above was steamed in coconut milk which sounds perfect 👌.

2. Tong Yun

Chinese Tong Yun in a bowl.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

“If you like mochi, I would suggest Tong Yun. It’s like mochi, a chewy rice ball, except that it’s boiled in sugar water, served hot, and usually filled with black sesame paste or peanuts. I don’t drink the sugar water (it ironically feels very not Asian, too sweet), but you can always add only a little sugar, and I’ve seen some places add osmanthus flowers which give it a really nice but light floral scent and flavor.” – burnt—–toast

汤圆 (Tong Yun) – can be eaten plain, with fillings, and can be savory or sweet. Con96

 

Chinese Puddings

3. Steamed Egg Pudding & Ginger Pudding

Chinese ginger pudding in a white bowl.
PHOTO: VICHIE81/GETTY IMAGES

“A dessert that can be made at home is steamed egg pudding, or its cousin the ginger milk pudding. Growing up, my dad would occasionally make egg pudding for dessert as a treat. It’s relatively simple and easy to make with ingredients you likely have at home already.” – The99thRedBalloon

4. Mango Pudding

The Chinese dessert, mango pudding, in a glass dessert cup.
PHOTO: JREIKA/GETTY IMAGES

“We [family] also like mango pudding topped with evaporated milk but both these things are mostly for when we eat out at a Chinese restaurant.” – JennieRae68

“Mango pudding is a favorite! Even with non-Chinese guests.” – Bunnyeatsdesign

Personal Note: Can confirm. It’s very good and creamy. 👍

5. Baked Tapioca Pudding

“At banquets though it’s more common to have the dessert soups along with harder to make/more expensive sweets like osmanthus jelly or baked tapioca pudding with red bean filling.” leemky

I need to try this one. I looked up the recipe (check out the link), and it looks so comforting and delicious!

 

6. Douhua (Tofu Pudding)

A bowl of Chinese Douhua.
PHOTO: INSJOY/GETTY IMAGES

“How could I forget!!! DOUHUA I’m 🤦‍♀️ that I forgot. I was alwaysssss wanting/getting (dependent on whether the restaurant had it) it at dimsum w/ heaps of ginger syrup.” – myheadspacethoughts

“Tofu/soy pudding or “dou hua” – can be sweet, savory, hot, cold.” – harmoniousbaker

Tarts

7. Don Tat (Egg Custard Tart)

A hand holding an egg tart.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

“I would suggest don tat, an egg custard tart that I think was originally influenced by the Portuguese pastel de nata?” – burnt—–toast

Egg tarts came up QUITE a bit in a lot of people’s answers. They look tasty and they’re made with vanilla, butter, and sugary goodness. It’s kind of hard to go wrong. 🤷‍♀️

Dessert Soups

8. Red Bean Soup

A bowl of one of the Chinese desserts, Red Bean Soup.
PHOTO: MA-NO/GETTY IMAGES

“I’m Cantonese so I love all the soupy ones: red bean soup 红豆糖水, mango pomelo sago soup 杨枝甘露. Honestly anything with red bean is good, 红豆冰. – therawrpie

“Red bean soup with dried orange peel and rock sugar. That is my drug.”grahamaker93

 

9. Black Sesame Soup

“芝麻糊 – black sesame “soup” is one of my favorites. You can also mix in some other nuts like peanuts depending on taste preference.” – Con96

10. Mango Pomelo Sago Soup

Chinese Mango Pomelo Sago Soup in a bowl.
PHOTO: PERFECT LOOP/GETTY IMAGES

This one came up MULTIPLE times, and it looks so creamy and delicious.

I mean you have fresh mango, small tapioca pearls, creamy coconut milk, and a citrus fruit called pomelo. Honestly sounds very refreshing and tasty!

Mango Pomelo Sago Soup Recipe – Try it! It looks so good!

11. Mung Bean Soup

The Chinese dessert, Mung Bean Soup, in a bowl.
PHOTO: KRITCHAI CHAIBANGYANG/GETTY IMAGES

“My family from central China liked to make 绿豆汤 mung bean porridge. It’s also called “mung bean soup” but if you Google for this term you also get a totally different curry-like dish in your results. The one I mean is super simple, made using only the beans and no other ingredients, except optionally sugar or honey etc. You can also turn it into ice lollies / popsicles.” – snake5k

“I’m gonna go for a super traditional one… 綠豆湯 mung bean soup. Served cold. On a hot summer day.” – leesan177

“Cold mung bean soup is one of the best summer dessert, they have popsicles similar to that as well.” – imahobolin

Personal Note: Mung bean makes for a great dessert ingredient. Definitely give it a try!

12. Warm Tapioca Soup

“American-born Chinese here: fruit and warm tapioca soup or red bean soup is common after a Chinese banquet dinner-” DeedaInSeattle

 

Other Dessert Soup Recommendations

Jiuniang, sweet wine rice with black sesame balls.” markbrabancon


A bowl of Chinese Jiuniang.
PHOTO: IKA RAHMA/CANVA

“I love peach gum soup with red jujube dates and white mushroom, I eat it with black sesame to try and keep myself looking young. Don’t know if it’s working, but it certainly is delicious.” – huevos

Side Note: Peach gum is the resin the comes from a peach tree. Sounds nice. 😊

“Does bird’s nest soup count? You can definitely make it sweet by cooking it with dried longan, jujube, wolfberry, and rock sugar. That’s how we eat it. Birds nest too expensive? Snow fungus or peach gum it is then.” – jinsoulia

Here’s a version of sweet bird’s nest soup you can try. 🙂


The Chinese sweet dessert, snow fungus lotus seed soup, in a bowl.
PHOTO: INSJOY/GETTY IMAGES

“I’d say 银耳红枣莲子汤 (snow fungus lotus seed soup?) my family always making this when we are getting together.” Buyer-Song

 

Ice Cream

13. Sesame Ice Cream

Someone holding a cup of Chinese Sesame Ice Cream.
PHOTO: ZOE VALLADARES/GETTY IMAGES

I love black sesame-flavored desserts, and sesame ice cream sounds so good.

You’re going to be getting something that’s creamy, nutty, and has a uniquely satisfying flavor. It’s worth trying. 👍

14. Mung Bean Ice Cream

The Chinese dessert, Mung Bean Ice Cream, in popsicle form.
PHOTO: BADBOYDT7/GETTY IMAGES

As I said earlier, mung bean is a great ingredient to use in desserts.

It has a very subtle flavor that works in sweet recipes, and if you’re curious, then The Woks of Life has a nice looking mung bean popsicle recipe that you can try!

 

Fried Desserts

15. Jin Dui

A hand holding up a Chinese Jin Dui.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

One of my favorites!

Jin Dui are fried sesame balls that have a red bean filling. I love the crispy exterior of this Chinese dessert and enjoyed getting them hot and fresh as a street food snack!


Related: 40 Popular & Traditional Chinese Dishes to Try THIS Week


Dessert Bao

16. Liu Shao Bao (Egg Custard Buns)

A hand holding the Chinese sweet, Liu Shao Bao.
PHOTO: NYMPHOENIX’S IMAGES/CANVA

This dessert also got mentioned a lot. I used to get them when I would eat at the Din Tai Fung in Taiwan.

They’re steamed buns (bao) filled with this egg yolk sugary buttery creamy filling, and they’re to die for. 👍

Liu Shao Bao Recipe

 

17. Gai Mai Bao

“Chicken tail buns (“Gai mai bao”) filled with sweetened coconut or airy baked buns filled with lightly sweetened cream filling and sprinkled with coconut! 🥰💕” – DeedaInSeattle

Other Bao/Bun Recommendations

Trays holding different Chinese dessert buns.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

“Buns (like BBQ/taro/custard/lotus) but this one is dual use due to dim sum is also a meal.” – AsianEiji


“On specific holidays we’d have lotus paste buns.” – knitwithchopsticks


Fried Chinese Mantou on a plate.
PHOTO: GEERATAD THAIPRASANSAP/GETTY IMAGES

“We also consider fried bun dipping with condensed milk a kind of dessert.” – take7pieces

The Chinese dessert recipe she’s talking about is called Fried Mantou, and it looks so good!


A hand holding a Chinese pineapple bun.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

Reddit user, iamck, recommends pineapple buns and cream buns.

Can’t go wrong there! Also, you’ll see the pineapple bun I got above. Very good! 👍


A woman's hand holding a Chinese red bean dessert bun.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

And lastly, user starrhaven thinks red bean buns are great, and I completely agree!

 

A hand holding a Chinese lotus seed bun.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

I’m gonna put in my own personal recommendation here!

If you go to a Chinese bakery and you see a lotus seed bun (like the one I got above), then I highly recommend getting it!

It has a wonderful texture and flavor and it’s not too sweet!

Also, I feel like it would pair great with a hot drink, but that’s just me. 🙂

Fruits

18. Tanghulu

Sticks of Chinese Tanghulu.
PHOTO: PHILIPPE LEJEANVRE/CANVA

“When I lived in Beijing as a kid, I loved tanghulu. It’s more of a snack than a dessert, but it’s very sweet.” – justicecactus

Basically, Tanghulu is a Chinese snack consisting of Chinese hawthorn fruit coated in rock sugar on a bamboo stick. It looks REALLY good, and it’s on my list of sweets to try when I visit China.

Tanghulu Recipe

19. Asian Pear

Cut up Asian Pear for a Chinese dessert.
PHOTO: AFRICA IMAGES/CANVA

“People there eat desserts for brunch or tea rather than after dinner. Fruit is eaten after dinner (Asian Pear is king)-“SquirrelofLIL

20. Oranges

“Fruit that’s in season. Oranges are best🍊!!!”

Other Fruit Recommendations and Tips

“At most, it’s just fruits like watermelon, pear, dried dates 30 min after dinner eating while watching TV.” supermonkeyyyyyy


Longans, a common fruit eaten for Chinese dessert.
PHOTO: ISAAC N.C./UNSPLASH

I asked Reddit user, creepycrystal, what fruits were usually eaten after they had mentioned them. Their response: “Usually what is in season. Oranges and mandarins, cherries, grapes, bananas, longans, sometimes dried fruits.”


“ABC [American Born Chinese] here, definitely fruit is most common. A childhood treat would be dessert soup, like red bean (adzuki not pinto) or melon with sago tiny tapioca pearls. Or almond jello with canned fruit cocktail. Definitely fruit forward and on the lighter texture side.” – MonkeyMom2


“Dessert? Asians love their fruits.

Entry level dessert. A washed fruit or one that you have to peel yourself, an apple or an orange.

Next level dessert. Fruit that is washed, peeled, quartered.

Going all out? Fruits that aren’t in season where you are. New year in Jilin and someone brings out a cantaloupe or watermelon? Or fruit like durian that you gotta order from Thailand.

Edit, also China is huge with a lot of ethnic Chinese diasporas. I grew up poor and from a less developed part of China (Jilin), so my perspective of desserts is probably very different than other parts of China.” xComponent


“Fruit bowls – sometimes glazed sometimes not.” AsianEiji


“Some people are crazy for watermelon. My wife loves apples because she comes from an apple region in the northeast. Hami melon (similar to cantaloupe but better) is available in my region of California while it evokes the famous crop of Xinjiang province. That’s a good one that we eat in summer.” GooglingAintResearch

 

More Asian Dishes to Try

39 Thai Food Dishes That Are Authentic + VERY Tasty

51 Foods from Japan to Try: Your (Traditional) Food Guide


Cakes

21. Mooncakes

Chinese mooncakes of different designs.
PHOTO: RIMMABONDARENKO/CANVA

Mooncakes, specifically like lotus seed paste fillings.” Zagrycha

Personal Note: Lotus seed filling is king 👑, but red bean is also good!

22. Bai Tang Gao (Steamed Rice Cake)

“I’m half-Chinese and I grew up eating steamed rice cake.” actuallywasian
Here’s the recipe she links to for Bai Tang Gao. It looks REALLY fluffy and delicious!

23. Pumpkin Cakes

“I also love pumpkin cakes, they’re fried pumpkin purée mixed with mochi flour.” – actuallywasian

You NEED to check this one out, it looks amazing.

24. Mung Bean Cake

Chinese mung bean cake on a plate.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

Mung bean cake 绿豆糕 being eaten at dragon boat festivals.” supermonkeyyyyyy

Personally LOVE mung bean cakes (photo of mine above). Wonderful texture, nice flavor, and lightly sweet.

25. Chinese Sponge Cake (Chiffon Cake)

Chinese sponge cake on a serving plate.
PHOTO: NELEA REAZANTEVA/GETTY IMAGES

One person asked, “Does anyone here have the childhood memory of making a very sticky lightly sweet cake? I think maybe out of rice flour?”

Response: “Yep, white sugar sponge cake in English. Holy moly, they are sweet. I tried them again as an adult and couldn’t do it.”

DeedaInSeattle also said, “Fancy bakery cakes, made with light chiffon cakes and lightly sweetened whipped cream as frosting with chopped fresh fruit—this is what my half-Chinese daughter requested for her wedding cake, and it was a huge hit—so light and refreshing!”

It honestly sounds SO good! Also, here’s the recipe to this Chinese bakery sponge cake!

Other Chinese Cake Recommendations:

“There are also some stereotypical bakery desserts like wife cake -whipped cream cake, sponge cake.” SquirrelofLIL


Fruit rolls (mochi based rolls, durian mochi rolls sells like hot cakes). – sponge cake i.e. malaigao – roll cake (cream roll, can be basic or have fruit).”AsianEiji

Personal Note: She talks about malaigao and I’m pretty sure this is the same as the brown sugar cakes I would get on the street in Taiwan. They’re amazing and so fluffy and warm!

Hong Kong pancakes on a plate.
PHOTO: GORCHITTZA2012/GETTY IMAGES

Hong Kong Pancakes: COMPLETELY different than what I thought it would be. It’s basically a crepe filled with mango and fluffy whipped cream. Looks amazing and can’t wait to try!

 

Dumplings

26. Sweet Zongzi

Chinese Sweet Zongzi with sugar being put on top.
PHOTO: JIYI/GETTY IMAGES

Sweet Zongzi 粽子 (sticky rice dumplings filled with red bean paste wrapped in bamboo leaves).” supermonkeyyyyyy

I’ve had Zongzi before, but never the sweet red bean kind. VERY jealous right now. 😤

27. Dumplings/Spring Rolls with Tasty Fillings

“One popular unconventional dessert I’ve seen is fried red bean paste dumplings/spring rolls, served with condensed milk as a dipping sauce. I’ve also personally made fried Nutella + crushed peanut dumplings before for a party, big hit and a nice play on the conventional concept of a dumpling.”JinterIsComing

Love the creativity, might try when I have the time. 👌

Other Dessert Dumpling Recommendations:

PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

“-yam or potato desserts like yam dumplings (yu yuan).” starrhaven

I had this when I visited Jiufen! I would recommend giving the Chinese dessert, 九份芋圓, a try. It’s very satisfying. 😊

 

Chinese Jellies

28. Grass Jelly

Chinese Grass Jelly in a glass.
PHOTO: AFRICA IMAGES/CANVA

“American middle class Chinese. Dessert was rare and we usually just had fruit. But on very special occasions we would get almond jelly or grass jelly with canned fruit cocktail.” – MerryAntoinette

“Grass jelly with coffee.” – tkxb

“Grass jelly with sugar.” – realmozzarella22

29. Almond Jelly

The Chinese dessert, Almond Jelly, in a bowl.
PHOTO: LCC54613/GETTY IMAGES

“When I was a kid my mom would make almond jelly topped with fruit cocktail. That was always special!”

30. Guilinggao (龜苓膏/Turtle Jelly)

Cut up Chinse Guilinggao on a leaf.
PHOTO: IMAGEHIT/GETTY IMAGES

Guilinggao (龜苓膏/turtle jelly) is my favorite. It’s an herbal jelly, but much more bitter than the bubble tea stuff because, as the name suggests, is made from turtle. I like the contrast with the sweetener.” – chr15c

“Guilinggao (tortoise jelly) with just a bit of condensed milk.” – JimmyRavenEkat

31. Osmanthus Jelly

The Chinese sweet, Osmanthus Jelly, on a plate.
PHOTO: ISIMPLE/GETTY IMAGES

This jelly looks so pretty! It’s made from the osmanthus flower, and has a nice golden color.

Also, being light and floral, it’s apparently one of the most popular desserts at Hong Kong dim sum restaurants!

Osmanthus Jelly Recipe

 

Sweet Congees

32. Tapioca Congee

“-tapioca congee with sweet corn, it’s what we ate in HK growing up as kids. Thanks for the food memory. :)” – reelfishybloke

“If I had to say one, it’s probably tapioca congee with coconut milk and some fruit.” – supermonkeyyyyyy

33. Eight Treasure Congee

Chinese Eight Treasure Congee in a bowl.
PHOTO: JARVNA/GETTY IMAGES

“I am gonna go with 八宝粥, eight treasured congee. Since no one has mentioned it yet. What’s good about this dessert is you can find it in any chinese market in the west.” – EternalObi

More Chinese Dessert Recommendations

PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

“Sometimes we eat a sticky rice mound with dried cherries and orange peel on top which is yummy.” – creepycrystal


“For us it is usually 酒釀芝麻湯圓 or fermented rice wine with sesame rice balls? I think that’s the best translation for it I guess. One of my favorite desserts from Jiangsu.” – IamGuava


“Back in China would be mostly fruits or light refreshing like Bingfeng.” – chenyu768


“my childhood favorite is a red bean float…classic Hong Kong cuisine, fusion of western dessert with Chinese ingredients.” – dommiichan


A bowl of the Chinese dessert, Jiuniang.
PHOTO: ROBERT WAY/GETTY IMAGES

Rice stuffed Lotus root! And Jiuniang, sweet wine rice with black sesame balls.” – markbrabancon


“At this time of the year [fall] you would be eating candied yams with a hard crunchy candy coating, candied Hawthorne, dehydrated persimmon, and sweet porridges for breakfast that have dried jujubes (similar to dates) or split green mung bean (lentils).” SquirrelofLIL


“Usually we just have some fruit and all kinds of nuts after dinner (瓜子 melon seeds especially, it’s the most common thing people have in China. Always a top on shopping list for Chinese New Year).” Mountain-Tailor-2032


“If you can withstand spicy food, “辣条” (La Tiao) spicy stick is the favorite dessert among most Chinese people. I think many people in their childhood have eaten this thing.” – suxiaobei


“No one mentioned my favorite: 芋泥 (O-Ni, Sweet mashed taro, a signature Teochew (Chaoshan, 潮汕) dessert.” – xJamxFactory


Yam paste – we only have it on special occasions, tho.” – renegade_wolfe


Other Honorable Mentions:

A man making Hong Kong egg waffles.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

These are Chinese desserts that some of the people mentioned in passing, but gave no description. So I looked them up myself (or I’ve personally had) and they all sound so good!

  • Honey Cake: I love honey cakes, so I’m definitely up for trying the Chinese version!
  • Almond Cookies: I used to get these all the time at Chinese restaurants! They’re softly sweet cookies that are firm, but not too firm. Honestly, they’re a great dessert to have with tea.
  • Egg Waffles: A popular Hong Kong street food, it has a unique honeycomb shape and looks delicious!
    Personal Note: Just had it yesterday (photo below). Highly recommend! Super warm, fluffy, and delicious! Total comfort food!
A woman's hand holding a Chinese egg waffle with ice cream in it.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES
  • Milk Bread: Super soft and fluffy-looking bread, that looks kinda fancy. Worth trying!
  • 茶冻 (Tea Jelly): Couldn’t easily find a written recipe for this one, so I found a YouTube tutorial on how to make it. It’s made with fruit tea and crystal jelly powder which sounds so nice!
  • 炸牛奶 (Fried Milk): Apparently you can get them at some dim sum restaurants, and they have a pudding-like filling. I could probably eat 50 of these and not regret it.
Fried milk stacked on each other.
PHOTO: LUNA WANG/UNSPLAH
  • Water Chestnut Cake: A super simple-looking dessert recipe, you’ll need chestnut flour for this one. Also, it just looks so good!
  • 驴打滚 (Rolling Donkey): Being similar to mochi, you’re getting dark brown sugar, peanut powder, red bean, and a few other ingredients. It sounds like a great Chinese dessert recipe to try!

Chinese Cookbook People Kept Recommending

Hong Kong egg tarts in a bakery.
PHOTO: CHASING FOXES

One last thing!

If you wanna get good at making different Chinese desserts yourself, then the cookbook, Mooncakes and Milk Bread by Kristina Cho, comes highly recommended by the people in the Reddit groups.

Haven’t personally bought or used it yet, but I thought I should let you know. 😊


And that’s it!

Lots of tasty Chinese desserts for you to try the next time you go to a bakery, a dim sum restaurant, or at home.

(Or you can just order them online 🤷‍♀️)

But however you have them, I hope you enjoy these sweets!

 
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Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

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Silas & Grace

Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

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