5 Chinese Desserts You Need to Try

When you eat out at a Chinese restaurant do you stick to Western desserts such as ice-cream or chocolate cake? There are so many traditional Chinese desserts to try, so it would be a shame not to give one a go the next time you're at your favourite Chinese restaurant. Keep an eye out for these delicious desserts:

Banana Rolls

This is a popular Chinese dessert that doesn't always contain banana. The name refers to the shape of the dessert. The dish consists of a sweet filling encased in a soft pastry. The pastry is made with rice flour and popular fillings include cinnamon and sugar, red bean paste or diced bananas. It's a steamed dessert that can be eaten warm or cold and is satisfyingly gelatinous and filling.

Mango Pudding

Mango pudding is often served as dim sum and is eaten cold. The dish consists of thick evaporated milk, pureed mango, sugar, and agar. The ingredients are cooked together to create a creamy, custard-like dish that's served with a garnish of fresh fruit. This is the perfect dessert for cooling off on a hot day.

Year Cake

This dessert, often listed on restaurant menus as nian gao, is served during Chinese New Year as a symbol of luck and prosperity, but it's popular year-round.  It's made with glutinous rice, sugar and coconut milk and steamed for an hour before slicing and serving, so it's a heavy and filling cake. In some parts of China nian gao is eaten plain as a snack, but in Cantonese cuisine it's coated in brown sugar and served with rosewater syrup. This is a real treat for those with a sweet tooth.

Red Bean Cake

This is a steamed cake made with rice flour, red bean paste and dark brown sugar. It's gluten-free and can be served warm or cold. Red bean paste is used in many Chinese desserts and is made by boiling aduki beans, mashing them and passing the mashed beans through a fine sieve to get rid of the skins. The paste can then be sweetened with sugar or honey. This cake is delicious with a steaming hot cup of tea.


This is a dessert for those who aren't afraid of a little culinary adventure. It's popular in Northeast China and consists of fatty tissue from frogs, rock sugar and a sweet broth. The broth is usually made with fruit such as Chinese dates or pears, and the fatty tissue is used to add texture. In traditional Chinese medicine, this dessert is said to cure respiratory problems.

The next time you visit your local Chinese restaurant (or Mrs Robinson), ask your server about their range of traditional Chinese desserts.