Chinese desserts. If you need a Chinese dessert recipe for an upcoming potluck tomorrow, I’ve got your back. Or if you wanted it for anything else, I’ve still got your back.
I’ve been Googling for weeks to find as many Chinese desserts as possible, and I’ve come back to you with 83!
Whether you’re interested in desserts that are fruity, creamy, cakes, cookies, or have beans, I categorized each dessert for your viewing ease.
Check it out, and make one or two while you are at it!
Red Bean Bun
Red beans buns are a really popular Chinese dessert. If you are unsure of whether you like beans in your dessert, this is a good place to start. Something about the red bean filling with a soft, cushy bun just feels right.
Egg Tong Sui
Tong sui translated literally means “sugar water”, so we are off to a good start for a tasty dessert. Egg tong sui is similar to egg drop soup. So, imagine an egg drop soup, but the broth is sweet instead of slightly savory. There is also beancurd in this recipe, which is why it’s going under beans. Surprising, right?
Red Bean Soup
If you really want to jump on the bean train for Chinese desserts, why not make a soup out of it? Can’t say I have eaten red bean soup, but it sounds interesting. Show up with this at your next potluck and let everyone admire how cultured you are.
Hong Kong Red Bean Rice Cake
Also known as put chai ko, these red bean rice cakes remind me of a lollipop. Except this lollipop is rice and beans. Kind of weird at first, but the presentation seems fun. Place the lollipops on the table in a vase after people are finished with dinner and see if they figure it out.
Red Bean Cake
As you can see, this red bean cake is completely different from the previous one. No rice in this one, and it is more of an actual cake. You don’t have to add the cat face if you don’t want to.
Red Tortoise Cake
Red tortoise cakes, or angku kuih, do not actually contain tortoise. I believe they are called tortoise cakes for their appearance, but I don’t really see it. The filling in this is green bean paste, so I guess the red exterior is the shell of the tortoise, and the green filling is the delicious turtle inside.
Green Mung Bean Cake
I believe these used a mooncake mold to achieve the pretty finish, but I’m not sure if it is a mooncake or not. The green coloring actually comes from matcha powder in this recipe, as mung beans are usually yellow. Either way, these green mung bean cakes look delicious and beautiful, elegant in a way.
Sweet Mung Bean Soup
That’s right, bean soups for Chinese desserts are here to stay. The coloring of this mung bean soup kind of reminds me of mashed peas. This soup can be served hot or cold, which is nice if you have any leftover.
This Shanghai mooncake is from, you guessed it, Shanghai. The traditional mooncake has a completely different filling, with a salted egg yolk, while this one has melon seeds and red bean paste. The crust is different as well.
Shanghai is well known for their scallion pancakes, which I can confirm are amazing. These are the sweet cousin to that savory deliciousness. A red bean filling with a crispy exterior and a peanut cream dipping sauce.
These egg tarts from Hong Kong are so famous I am pretty sure I have seen them at every single Chinese buffet I have ever been to. If you knew me, you would know that’s a lot of places. If you like them at a buffet, imagine a warm egg tart freshly out of an oven.
Does a bun count as a cake? I thought it was close enough. Custard buns are common Chinese desserts at dim sum places. If you own the bamboo steamers, you can stack them and make a big batch at once. You could also fill some extra buns with bean paste for fun.
Nian gao is a glutinous rice cake made specially for Chinese New Year. These cook for a long time (10 hours) and you are supposed to wait 2-3 days before eating the nian gao. Why put in all this hard work? Nian gao makes next year even better than the last. That is why you can’t take a single year off making these puppies.
Steamed Sponge Cake
Steamed sponge cake is pretty unique. How many desserts have you made where you steamed instead of baking? That alone makes me interested in trying out this sponge cake. It’s also popular at dim sum places if you don’t want to make it yourself.
Raspberries give this cake it’s vivid color, while coconut gives the snowy appearance. If you’re allergic to raspberries, it works just as well with strawberries, mango, or blueberries. Serve cold for the best result, as there is gelatin in this cake.
Chongyang cake is eaten during the Chong Yang Festival, also called the Double Ninth Festival. The cake features glutinous rice flour as the base, with bean paste, dates, almonds, and chestnuts.
These tiny cakes are made in a muffin tin, the perfect size for snacking if you ask me. Egg cake is easy to make as well, with only 5 ingredients: egg, water, flour, oil, and sugar. A great place to start for a beginner!
Hong Kong Egg Cake
Hong Kong Egg Cake (Gai Daan Jai), also called an egg waffle, is one of the most famous street foods in Hong Kong. I have even started seeing them in the U.S. It’s only a matter of time before they make your way to your city. Crispy on the outside, and light and puffy on the inside. If you want a next level experience, try rolling it into a cone and put a scoop of ice cream inside.
Mai Lai Go
Mai Lai Go originated in Malaysia, hence the name which means “Malaysian Cake.” However, the cake made its way to Hong Kong and is now a favorite at dim sum places in Hong Kong as well as Southern China. This cake is tricky to get right, but because it is steamed instead of baked, I don’t think you can make it too dry.
I briefly mentioned mooncakes eariler, but this is real OG. Mooncakes might be the most iconic of all Chinese desserts. They celebrate family reunion day, and many families like to make them together. I hear that mooncakes are complicated. The salted egg yolk in the middle is hard to get just right. You also need a special stamp to make the beautiful pattern. Don’t worry, that isn’t done by hand.
There’s no flour in this recipe, but it has the word cake in it, so I’m putting it in the cake category. This “cake” uses osmanthus flower, which you will probably need to go to a Chinese market for. It also features water chestnuts.
Fa Gao, also called Fortune Cake, is made mostly for Chinese New Year. Unlike nian gao, this cake uses regular flour instead of rice flour. However, it is hard to get the top to rise. Don’t be disheartened if that happens to you. There’s enough sugar here to still make it good.
Originally made by the wife of a rebel general at the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the wife cake has been updated with modern ingredients. This recipe uses melon sugar! I’ve never made anything with it before, but if it tastes anything like Japanese melon bread then I am so on board.
White Sugar Sponge Cake
Also called Chinese Honeycomb Cake, due to vertical lines that run through the inside of the cake. This steamed cake can be found in some Chinese bakeries. I imagine it having a mochi like consistency, since it is made with rice flour and steamed.
Pineapple buns are a well known Chinese bakery offering. Every place I’ve ever been to has had them, all 3 places, which is a lot. There isn’t actually any pineapple in them, the name comes from the appearance of the crust. I can vouch for these buns, they are delightful.
There’s not a lot I can say about this almond cake that the picture doesn’t already tell you, but here I go. This recipe actually uses twice as much heavy whipping cream (1 cup) as sugar (1/2 cup). That makes it somewhat healthy, right? A step in the right direction at least!
Chinese 5 Spice Cake
I’m not sure if this cake is actually Chinese in origin, but it has Chinese 5 spice and ginger on top, so I’m going to allow it. Plus, it looks really good, you can’t really fault me here can you? I’m a sucker for candied ginger.
Tiger Skin Roll
The tiger skin roll gets its name from the intricate pattern on the outside of the roll. This recipe also has kiwis inside! I’m just excited because I have never baked with kiwis before, and now I know that is an option.
If you want a traditional filling with a modern exterior for you mooncake, then China has you covered. You can use any color dye you want to make the most Instagram worthy mooncake possible.
Snow Skin Mooncake
I could probably have made this article all about mooncakes. I would have needed like a 3 month trip to China to find all the modern takes on them though. This one uses a custard filling! No lotus paste or salted egg yolk here. Although, isn’t custard made from eggs? (Insert thinking emoji here)
Coconut buns are another Chinese bakery classic. These are made with milk bread, a special kind of bread that uses cream. The filling is made with butter, sugar, milk powder, and desiccated coconut. Also, if you’re like me and had to look up what desiccated means, it means dried.
Chocolate Nutella Roll
This chocolate nutella recipe also uses milk bread. Nutella isn’t exactly Chinese, but milk bread definitely is. Throw in some sliced almonds on top and you’ve got a nice pastry.
Guo kui is also called Chinese brown sugar bread. These might look like normal pieces of bread, but the inside filling is molten brown sugar. Make sure to let your guo kui cool or your tongue will regret it.
Maybe I should have made a separate category for buns. Hmmm. Oh well, too late now. This pumpkin bun recipe uses real mashed pumpkin! The recipe also mentions you can substitute canned pumpkin if you prefer. Pumpkin buns could be the perfect Chinese dessert accompaniment to your Thanksgiving dinner.
In my research for this article, I found Youtube vloggers walking through the markets of Shanghai. In those markets, they had steamed buns shaped like all sorts of animals: pigs, cats, cows, you name it. Made to appeal to the younger crowd (and it’s definitely working), these piggies are ready to go all the way home (your tummy).
Dragon’s Beard Candy
Dragon’s beard candy used to be reserved for royalty in China, but is served in street stalls to everyone. Personally, I like the version where they wrap it in a roll, with sweet crushed peanuts in the middle. This is the only recipe I could find though. I bet there is a YouTube tutorial somewhere.
This peanut brittle recipe comes from older times, when sugar wasn’t as readily available to people, so this was a special Chinese New Year treat. The recipe is simple as well. The only ingredients are peanuts, rock sugar, oil, and sesame seeds.
Candied Sweet Potato
Candied sweet potato is popular during the winter. This is the most simple of all Chinese desserts on the list. Only 3 ingredients: sweet potato, rock sugar, and oil. First, fry the potatoes. Then, pour out the oil, and mix in the sugar.
Date Walnut Candy
This date walnut candy reminds me of granola bars. Maybe that’s just because they are both rectangular. Bar form makes everything better, right? Especially candy.
This might not fit the definition of candy. It doesn’t really fit anywhere else either, but it’s still a Chinese dessert. Grass jelly gets its name from the cincau plant, which is a member of the mint family. You can cut this into cubes and put it in all sorts of things, coffee, ice cream, whatever you want.
Lotus Seed Paste
Again, maybe not exactly a candy, but it has to go somewhere. This is basically mashed lotus seeds with sugar and oil. Lotus seed paste is actually very important. It is the filling used for mooncakes, one of the most iconic Chinese desserts.
Sweet Potato Soup
This sweet potato soup uses large amounts of ginger and brown sugar, as well as the sweet potatoes. You can add red dates as well for some extra fruitiness. It is great if you have a cold too.
Candied Orange Slices
Back to actual candy. Candied orange slices even has the word candy in the name. I believe you can follow the same recipe and substitute lemons if you would like candied lemon slices instead.
Almond cookies are a common treat at Chinese bakeries. I love the perfect little slice of almond in the middle. It reminds me of an Almond Joy, which I actually used to hate as a kid, go figure.
Sesame balls remind me of a dessert my mom used to make. She calls them orange balls, made with crushed Nilla Wafers and orange juice. They look just like these sesame balls, except covered in powdered sugar instead of sesame seeds. Also, there is no OJ in the sesame balls. Okay, they are different in every way besides being ball shaped.
Wow, what a perfect cookie. I prefer walnuts to almonds actually, I don’t know if that’s a common opinion or not. Serve your walnut cookies with tea or coffee as a tasty biscuit for your guests. This recipe also calls for lard, but you can substitute butter if that scares you.
I have been writing about cookies for the past 30 minutes and now I’m starving. Pineapple tarts were introduced by the Portuguese, and due to a pun with its Chinese name, is now a popular offering during Chinese New Year. That’s pineapple jelly on the top!
Butter cookies are commonly eaten around Chinese New Year. I know it feels like I’m saying that for everything, but I am looking up the history behind each dish, I promise. Chinese New Year sounds way better than my New Year. Anyway, back to the cookie. These cookies use 2 different kinds of sugar, one for the batter and one for the icing.
Surprise, I saved the GOAT of nuts for last. That’s right, I’m a huge cashew fan. These cookies are not as traditional, but I couldn’t let lesser nuts keep cashews out. This recipe makes 28 cashew cookies, so there will be a few left for family once I’m done with them.
Cow Ear Cookie
Cow ear cookies are a biscuit snack popular in Hong Kong. I have never looked inside a cow’s ear, so I’m going to assume the swirl is right. This recipe actually uses fermented red bean curd. The lard is optional, but will result in a lighter cookie than if you use butter.
I made a pumpkin pancake recently. I didn’t look up a recipe or anything, I just went crazy and tried to deep fry some pumpkin. Through my failure, I learned that pumpkin pancakes could work, I just needed to put some more thought into it. Luckily, someone else already did the work for me.
Deep Fried Durian
If durian is the king of fruits, what does that make deep fried durian? The king of fried food? I know some people can’t stand that durian stink, but if you’re a durian fan like me, I bet frying it will make it even better.
I know you’ve seen these before. Chinese banana fritters are a little different from their American counterpart. The Chinese desserts version uses a thin batter and fries them until crispy. This method results in a lighter end product that stays more true to the original banana flavor.
Mahua are fried twirls of dough. Kind of like a doughnut, but crunchier. They look like braided ponytails. You can change the length of the fry period to adjust for a more chewy or more crunchy mahua. If you want to try one before you make it, they can be found in Chinatown.
Sachima is from Northern China. No, it’s not a rice crispy treat. It’s kind of similar to a funnel cake. Little strips of dough are fried, then mixed with melted sugar and sesame seed. The sachima is then pressed into a dish until the sugar hardens, keeping the strips of dough together.
This fried mantou recipe is fairly easy to make. Buy some premade buns, steam half of them, and fry the other half. Dip the mantou in a sweet condensed milk to mix things up between bites.
Peanut dumplings, or jau gok, are one of the special desserts enjoyed during, you guessed it, Chinese New Year. I’m beginning to think most Chinese desserts are allowed for that celebration. This recipe uses coconut as well as crushed peanuts to create a sweet, light and nutty filling.
Do Chinese doughnuts count as Chinese? They are more takeout invention than traditional Chinese desserts. However, I think they are a fun and familiar inclusion on this list. Fun story, my favorite takeout place used to give me free Chinese doughnuts. Not so fun reason. I was getting $50 of takeout. I was picking up the order for all my college buddies, but the guy at the register probably just thought I was fat.
Taro is my go to boba tea flavor. Deep fried taro must be at least as good, right? Be sure to eat it all in one go. It won’t be as good reheated as it will be fresh out of the oil.
Mangoes are my favorite fruit. Sweet and a little acidic. This Chinese dessert is best served in early summer. Mangoes are in season then! This recipe calls for heavy cream or coconut milk, but it can be made without it.
I like the simplicity of this recipe. First, you cut the top off of a pear. Then, scoop out the middle. Last, you put honey and dates in the middle and steam it. This keeps the natural flavor of the pear and makes it even sweeter. Update, I just tried this one. It’s fantastic. The sweetness is light and refreshing, not overpowering like a lot of non Chinese desserts.
Bing tanghulu are a traditional Chinese street food offering. Hawthorne fruit, which is kind of like a crab apple, is coated with caramel. So this is like a caramel apple, but instead of one big apple, you get a bunch of them. If you can’t find hawthorne fruit, bing tanghulu can be made with other fruit like strawberries.
Snow Fungus Soup
This is a tong sui, a Cantonese term for a sweet soup. Snow fungus is used as a medicinal ingredient in some Chinese dishes. The rest of the ingredients are slightly more well known: rock sugar, dried red dates, dried longan, lotus seeds, goji berries, and dried black dates.
Chilled Melon Salad
This melon salad is crying out to me. Fresh cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, and mint, covered with citrus juice, sugar, and honey. Serve when the melons are ripe, nothing makes me sadder than an under ripe melon.
Ice jelly. The name alone is strange enough to interest you. Apparently, the jelly forms from a reaction between fig seeds and water. The rest of the dish is honey, lime juice, and water. This is best served cold in the summer, and is a favorite in Taiwan.
Translated literally, tangyuan means “round balls in soup.” Black sesame is the classic filling, but peanuts, beans, lotus root, and meat all exist as well. These are most commonly eaten for the Lantern Festival, weddings (they sound like the Chinese word for union, pinyin), and the Winter Solstice Festival.
Black Sesame Roll
Recently, I went to a dim sum place in New York City. Long story short, I had a black sesame roll for dessert. I had never seen one before, no idea what it was. But I’m a fan now. Black sesame rolls remind me of fruit roll ups. I liked unwinding them with chopsticks and eating it all in one gulp. They are also called film rolls, cause they look like camera film. Yeah, I’m just old enough to remember that! 😀
Black Sesame Soup
Black sesame soup is one of the traditional Chinese desserts. I have not eaten it before, but it does seem like the perfect dessert for the upcoming cold winter nights, almost like a hot chocolate.
Sesame Balls With Plum Filling
Sesame balls, or jian dui, are one of my personal favorites. I have made sesame balls myself! Possible fillings include red bean paste, black sesame, or anything you want really. Below is a recipe I made with a plum filling.
Also called xing ren tou fu, almond tofu is a popular dessert during the summer in Hong Kong and Beijing. The recipe does call for milk. However, it can be substituted with soy milk or almond milk if you need a vegan version.
Look familiar? The process to make coconut pudding is similar to making almond tofu. However, coconut pudding uses coconut milk and dried coconut. The dessert does not have to be cubed either.
Soy Bean Pudding
The soy in this soy bean pudding comes from a lot of soy milk. Agar-agar powder is used to solidify the mixture. This recipe also has ginger in it, which I believe helps curdle the milk.
Double Skin Milk
I was right about the ginger! This Chinese dessert is really cool. Double skin milk is a traditional Cantonese dessert. Double skin? What is that? It’s exactly what it sounds like. There are two skins of milk in this, curdled by the ginger. Check it out!
Fried milk is my favorite from the Chinese desserts list. I have never had it. The just the name sounds perfect. Why didn’t Americans deep fry milk first? This dish is relatively new. There is more coconut milk than regular milk in this. That’s why the milk is able to solidify enough to coat and fry.
Taro Tapioca Pudding
I know I have seen Chinese desserts like this before. I know I have tasted it too! Where was it? I do remember the tapioca pudding had pieces of coconut in it. There is coconut milk in this recipe, but no pieces of coconut. Good news if you dislike that texture.
Everyone knows what boba tea is now right? Even if you live under a rock. It feels like a boba tea store is in every city in America now. Boba tea originates from Taiwan. According to the author, it is best to use a tea that has a strong flavor, because the milk will dilute it.
Wow. We have reached the peak of human civilization. While researching the article, I found news reports about cheese tea. Currently, cheese tea is driving up global milk prices. Why? Apparently Chinese milk demand usually isn’t very high. Dairy isn’t really present in traditional Chinese cuisine. Way to go cheese tea! Try it before we run out of milk!
Walnut Sweet Soup
This is another beginner friendly recipe. Only 4 ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, walnuts, white rice, and milk. Wow, no sugar? I mean, I’m sure there’s sugar in the condensed milk, but I thought there would be more. Actually, I just checked. There is a lot of sugar in sweetened condensed milk.
Eight Treasure Rice Congee
There is a lot of history behind eight treasure rice congee. This, like many Chinese desserts, is eaten during a festival! Guess which one? Wrong, not Chinese New Year. Eight treasure rice congee is eaten on the Laba Festival. It is called eight treasures for the eight fruits and nuts in it.
How is aiwowo different from mochi? To be honest, I have no idea. Looks like mochi to me. Of course, there was a lot of cultural exchange between China and Japan. The Japanese alphabet came from China! So, I have no clue if aiwowo is the chicken or the egg.
Banana Mochi Rolls
Alright, I Googled it. Mochi was invented in China, where glutinous rice flour was first developed. Mochi was originally only eaten by the emperor. There is no actual banana in this recipe. It calls for banana flavoring instead. Where do you get that? No idea.
What is nuomici? A coconut gluttonous rice dumpling. What’s the filling? Now that is the better question. The filling is made with sweetened crushed peanuts. Throw some desiccated coconut on the outside for good measure.
This is just cool. Zongzi is eaten during the Dragon Boat festival. It can be savory instead of sweet! The style of zongzi varies from region to region of China. This recipe shows you 2 different options! Exciting! On the left is pork belly and mushrooms. On the right is red beans. Guess which one is the dessert?
Did I miss anything? Comment below with your suggestions! If I hit it all, just tell me which Chinese dessert is your favorite. Maybe I’ll put my own spin on it in the future!