Exploring the Delicious World of Southeast Asian Coconut Desserts

Coconut is a household ingredient in Southeast Asian countries, often used in both savoury and desserts in Southeast Asian cuisine. The versatile fruit is a staple in the region’s culinary landscape, and its unique flavour and texture have made it a favourite ingredient in many traditional dessert recipes. In this article, we’ll be exploring some of the most popular coconut desserts in Southeast Asia that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

1. Ruam Mit: The Thai Street Dessert

Ruam Mit is a popular Thai dessert that is a must-try for anyone visiting the country. This sweet treat is a colourful mix of starchy noodles, coconut milk, sugar, tapioca pearls, corn, lotus root, sweet potatoes, beans, and jackfruit, among other ingredients. Each street vendor has their own unique recipe, so you’ll never get the exact same dish twice. This rich dessert is often consumed on a scorching day, topped with shaved ice. And the best part? It’s one of the cheapest street desserts you can find in Thailand.

2. Kolak: The Indonesian Fruity Dessert

Kolak is a simple yet refreshing Indonesian dessert that is perfect for any time of the year. It’s typically made with a sweet base of coconut milk and sugar flavoured with pandan leaves, and the main ingredient varies by variety. The most popular forms use plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, pumpkin, jackfruit, or tapioca. The fruit and vegetables can be eaten on their own, but they can also be combined to suit personal tastes. Traditionally, Kolak is offered during Ramadan, but it’s so delicious that it’s enjoyed year-round.

3. Espasol: The Filipino Rice Cake

Espasol is a popular coconut dessert in the Philippines. This chewy rice cake is made from toasted glutinous rice flour and grated green coconut that is cooked slowly in coconut milk. The mixture is cooked until it reaches a soft pliable consistency that is shaped into cylinders or triangles before each cake is coated in rice flour. Espasol is a local delicacy of the Laguna region, where it may be found at restaurants, supermarkets, and street vendors.

4. Kuih Lapis: The Malaysian Layered Pudding

Kuih Lapis is a traditional dessert from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. It’s made from rice flour, tapioca flour, water, sugar, coconut milk, pandan leaves, and red, green, or pink food colouring. This dessert is steamed, and the finished product resembles a layered pudding. Kuih lapis should be cooled completely before cutting and serving.

5. Coconut Kheer: The Indian Twist on Rice Pudding

Kheer is one of India’s most popular desserts, usually made with white rice, milk, sugar, and a few dry fruits. But who says you can’t play around with it a little to make it even more delicious? This kheer combines coconut, coconut milk, and coconut cream, as well as a variety of aromatic spices like fennel powder, cardamom powder, and cinnamon powder. The result is a creamy, coconutty dessert that will leave you wanting more.

6. Sago Gula Melaka: The Malaysian Sweet Snack

Sago Gula Melaka is a simple yet satisfying Malaysian sweet snack that comprises sago, coconut milk, and Gula Melaka syrup. The proportions of each component in this dish must be exact. If they are not, the dish can go from delicious to mediocre in no time. The dessert has such a refreshing flavour that you may eat two or three of them.


Coconut desserts are an essential part of Southeast Asian cuisine, and these six desserts are just the tip of the iceberg. They’re easy to make, delicious, and perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing dessert to cool down on a hot day or a rich, creamy treat for a special occasion, there’s sure to be a coconut dessert that fits the bill. So, why not try one of these delicious treats today?