Vietnam has one of the most unique and possibly misunderstood cuisines in Southeast Asia. While many travelers seek out classic dishes like pho or banh mi, there are tasty Vietnamese desserts that food travelers should seek out too.
Ask any traveler who has been to Vietnam, and you’ll hear a thousand reasons why you should visit. From the beautiful mountains in the North and the lantern festivals in Hoi An to the magnificent beaches and caving opportunities in Nha Trang, there is truly something for everyone in this country! While everyone knows how good the food is (Phở and Bánh mì, anyone?), there is one true star of cuisine – Vietnamese desserts and sweets!
We’ve traveled to Vietnam close to a dozen times over the last 15 years and have traveled from North to South and back again. And, as much as we are not classic dessert eaters, the French influence on some of these desserts makes us seek them out more than in other countries.
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Vietnamese Sweets And Desserts To Eat In Vietnam
Unlike western culture, dessert in Vietnam isn’t enjoyed primarily after dinner. Instead, locals prefer to inject some sweetness into their every day, with Vietnamese sweets and cakes eaten throughout to boost energy.
The French occupied Vietnam for over 60 years between the 1880s and 1950s, so many traditional sweets have a European twist! From crispy, fluffy cakes to the more localized Vietnamese mung bean desserts, every dish is a new adventure for foodies wishing to expand their horizons.
If you travel to Vietnam and don’t sample the delicious sweet food, you’re missing out! Here are some of the most popular Vietnamese desserts to try during your trip.
We created this list after almost a dozen trips to Vietnam over the last decade-plus. Some of these you will find at cafes, including dessert cafes. Others you can find from street food vendors or at markets.
Learn more about Vietnamese cuisine:
Best Vietnamese Desserts And Sweets To Eat In Vietnam
We describe each Vietnamese sweet below in more detail, including where to find them. But if you are looking for a quick and easy list when traveling to Vietnam, here you go.
|Dessert Item||🇻🇳 Vietnamese Name|
|🍨 Vietnamese Ice Cream||Kem Chuối|
|Three Layer Dessert||Chè Ba Màu|
|🍰 Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake||Bánh Bò Nướng|
|🥥 🍌 Coconut Banana Pudding||Chè Chuối|
|🍌 Vietnamese Fried Banana||Bánh Chuối Chiên|
|🥜 Peanut And Sesame Candy||Kẹo Lạc|
|🍚 Sticky Rice||Kem Xôi|
|🧇 Vietnamese Waffles||Bánh Đa Kê|
|Vietnamese Custard||Bánh Su Kem|
|"Floating Dessert"||Chè Trôi Nước|
Kem Chuối – Vietnamese Ice Cream
Vietnamese ice cream is a perfect treat on a hot day. Of course, you can find all kinds of typical ice cream brands across the country. But, one of our favorite ways to eat ice cream is in some of the small alleyways in Hanoi. There are a couple of stalls that specialize in a few different flavors, including banana, coconut, and even green bean. They are sold simply in cups or as ice cream bars.
Chè Ba Màu – Three Layer Dessert
Known as the Vietnamese three-layer dessert, Chè Ba Màu is a brightly colored experience sure to refresh! A layer of red bean paste, topped with mung beans and a final layer of green pandan jelly combined with icy coconut cream come together to create the perfect warm-weather dessert or snack.
Mung beans are a type of bean common in many Southeast Asian dishes, and it’s not uncommon to find them in desserts too. That’s one thing that makes Vietnamese desserts so different from in the US. You are not likely to find beans in a dessert in the US the way you will in Southeast Asia. But, don’t be alarmed. The first time I tried beans in a dessert in Malaysia, I loved it! They are sweetened a bit to make them pair with dessert much better.
You’ll find Chè Ba Màu in many Vietnamese cafés and restaurants. In Hoi An this popular Vietnamese mung bean dessert is sold during the famous lantern festivals from street vendors.
Bánh Bò Nướng – Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake
Vietnamese bakeries are famous for their brightly colored cakes and pastries, and none more so than Bánh Bò Nướng. Known as ‘Vietnamese honeycomb cake’, Bánh Bò Nướng gets its moniker from the honeycomb-like shapes that appear when gas bubbles form during cooking.
While you’ll find this Vietnam cake in many different flavors, the most well-known is pandan. Pandan is a plant that is used to flavor and color a lot of desserts in the region.
The distinctively green color and unique flavor are a local favorite, and you may have to arrive at patisseries early to secure a slice! Keep an eye out for this green Vietnamese dessert in restaurants and cafés
Chè Chuối – Coconut Banana Pudding
While many Vietnamese desserts are served cold, chè chuối is one sweet food that does not fit the mold. Coconut cream, tapioca pearls, and bananas are combined, then served warm with chocolate syrups in a tasty, sticky mess of flavor.
While some street vendors will sell chè chuối cold, tapioca can create an unpleasantly gummy texture once cooled – look for the hot versions if you can!
Bánh Chuối Chiên – Vietnamese Fried Banana
Banana plays a huge part in Vietnamese dessert culture, and Bánh Chuối Chiên is one of the unique dishes made with this starchy fruit! Slices of sweet potato, coconut, and, of course, banana, are coated in a flour-based batter, then deep-fried in vegetable oil until golden brown.
The result is a kind of hash. You can eat the slices, or cover them in icing sugar, coconut sauce, or even vanilla ice cream for the perfect afternoon treat. If you can’t get hold of Bánh Chuối Chiên from a street vendor or market while in Vietnam, you can easily make your own at home using standard pantry ingredients.
We used to eat a lot of fried bananas when we lived in Bali, Indonesia. There was a woman who sold them on the corner of our street and we would ride up on our motorbike to grab a bag before heading home. The Vietnamese fried bananas are a little different because they often are paired with other ingredients, like sweet potato.
Kẹo Lạc – Peanut And Sesame Candy
Many Vietnamese desserts are steeped in tradition and celebration, and Keo Lac is no exception. This crunchy, fragrant peanut and sesame candy is well-known in the south and is often gifted during Lunar New Year as part of the Vietnamese Tet tradition.
Families will make unique versions of Keo Lac with younger children, and ingredients such as butter and coconut oil are often added to create fattier, creamier textures. If you’d like to trial these Vietnamese sweets yourself, night markets in major cities will often sell them in the month leading up to Lunar New Year, so time your visit appropriately!
Kem Xôi – Sticky Rice
Vietnamese sticky rice is a must-try during your stay, and Kem Xôi is the best way to get your fix! Topped with rich ice cream, Kem Xôi combines three of Vietnam’s most beloved dessert elements – sticky rice, pandan, and toasted coconut flakes. The result is a deliciously chewy, creamy dish sure to make you want for more!
Kem Xôi started its origins as humble street food in Northern Vietnam but has now spread across the country into upmarket cafés and restaurants. You’ll find fancy variations of this classic Vietnamese dessert on the menus in expensive hotels and resorts in Nha Trang.
Bánh Đa Kê – Vietnamese Waffles
If you like thin, crispy waffles, then you simply have to try Bánh Đa Kê! Made using pizelle waffle irons, these delightful Vietnamese sweets can be found all over the country and are a quick and easy way to sate a sweet tooth on the go.
Bánh Đa Kê comes in many different flavors – the most popular are the vanilla and pandan varieties, commonly found in street food markets in Ho Chi Minh City.
Chewy, sweet, and oh-so-moreish, this Vietnamese street food is sold in cups and often topped with fresh fruit or syrups. The best versions are found in the river markets along the Mekong – this is one Vietnamese dessert you don’t want to miss out on!
Bánh Su Kem – Vietnamese Custard
Vietnamese desserts take many cues from French cuisine, and Bánh Su Kem is no different. Crispy, puffy, and filled with custard, Bánh Su Kem has been a mainstay in Vietnamese dessert culture for years – you may know them as profiteroles! Many countries have their own version of this choux pastry, but the Vietnamese iteration remains true to its French roots.
Bánh Su Kem can be found in patisseries across major cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, and are delightfully light and fluffy! Look for versions with pandan, chocolate, and fruit fillings – and of course, the classic vanilla cream custard!
Chè Trôi Nước
Known as Chè xôi nước in Southern Vietnam or Bánh chay in Northern Vietnam, this dessert’s name means ‘floating dessert wading in water,’ and is a local favorite no matter where you go! Glutinous rice balls are served with a simple, sweet ginger syrup, making for a uniquely comforting Vietnamese New Year treat.
As the balls absorb the ginger, they become chewy, soft, and sticky-sweet, and are usually topped with rich coconut sauce and toasted sesame seeds to add texture and flavor. Filled with mung-bean paste, Chè xôi nước have a grainy, melt-in-the-mouth texture that you won’t soon forget! Keep an eye out for these traditional treats during Vietnamese New Year in night markets, though many restaurants will add them to their menu as a seasonal delight.
Explore Vietnamese Desserts One Dish At A Time
While these desserts are unforgettable, they are only one piece of the Vietnamese gastronomical scene! Follow the spicy with the sweet, pair the warm with the chilled, and add these wonderful, easy treats to your at-home recipe books! Made with common ingredients and traditional techniques, Vietnamese desserts may soon find a way into your regular cooking regimen!
FAQs – Vietnamese Desserts
Vietnamese cuisine features a wide range of tasty desserts. One of the most popular desserts in Vietnam is Kem Chuối, or Vietnamese ice cream.
The Vietnamese eat a wide range of desserts. From sticky rice to ice cream to delicious and creative cakes, there’s something for everyone.
You better believe it. Not only are there desserts in Vietnam, but they are also amazing. One of the results of the French in Vietnam was the introduction of baking, desserts, and other delicious treats.