5 September 2018 / Luke Charny / Chiang Mai

9 Thai desserts you simply can’t miss

  • Author
    Luke Charny
  • Category
    Chiang Mai
  • Date
    5 September 2018

Thai cuisine is world renowned. Spicy, sweet, sour, and bitter, Thai restaurants serving up this punchy cuisine are found in almost every city in the world. Most will be familiar with the likes of pad Thai and tom yum soup, but less are in the know about the South East Asian country’s kaleidoscope of colourful, sticky desserts, other than perhaps kluay tod, the deep-fried bananas which sit at the bottom of most Thai restaurant menus. If you plan to visit Thailand, be sure to look out for these sugary treats.

tour of chiang mai food

Khanon Krok – Coconut Custard Pudding

Let’s kick off with khanom krok. Coconut milk, rice flour, and a little palm sugar are mixed cook in a hot metal dimpled pan until crispy on the outside and squidgy and unctuous in the middle. It may seem strange to those from the West, but the addition of corn, spring onions, or coriander makes this dessert. Every local has their favourite stand, and you’ll have no problem finding these in Bangkok’s markets.

Khao Lam – Bamboo Sticky Rice

White or black sticky rice is stuffed into hollow bamboo tubes along with coconut milk, a little sugar and salt, and red beans, then plugged on both sides with banana leaves. These tubes of coconuty goodness are grilled over a barbecue, allowing the rice to become gelatinous as it steams in the milk, before being prised open to reveal an almost cake like dessert. They’re tricky to find in Bangkok, but common on the streets of Chiang Mai and Issan province.


Khao Niao Mamuang – Mango and Sticky Rice

Arguably the most famous dessert on our rundown, khao niao mamuang is another sticky rice dessert. Slices of sweet ripe mango sit next to a mound of sticky rice cooked topped with luscious creamy hot coconut milk sweetened with a little sugar and balanced with a pinch of salt. It’s popular, so you won’t have difficulty finding it, but the quality varies immensely. Look out for an alternative which uses durian instead of mango. If you’re going to try one dessert in Thailand, make it this one.


Khanom Sot Sai – Coconut Cake

Khanom sot sai is an ancient Siam dessert once solely eaten at wedding ceremonies and festivities. Now, the dessert made from flour, coconut cream, coconut flesh, and palm sugar steamed in a banana leaf, is eaten all year round. It’s the nearest thing to a cake, albeit stickier and more squidgy. Look out for little wrapped banana leaves on street stalls.


Khanom Buang – Thai Crispy Pancakes

One of our favs, khanom buang are crispy little pancakes made from mungbean and rice flour folded over a filling of uncooked meringue and shreds of sweetened duck yolk. That might seem like a strange combo, but trust me, it works. The recipe dates back hundreds of years, at least since the 17th century. It’s impossible to buy just one of these little morsels, they’re just too cheap and too good. Found on almost every street corner across the land.

phuket old town food tours (1)

Thai Rotis – Sweet Flat Bread

Ah, where would Thai desserts be without these crispy flat breads. A staple of backpackers, the Thai roti is a Muslim treat made from wheat flour dough which is impressively hand pulled until wafer thin and then fried in butter before being topped with condensed milk, slices of banana, and even egg. Queue up with the rest of the travelers, you’re not going to want to miss this one.

Bua Loy Nam King – Sesame Dumplings in Ginger Soup

To try this one, you’re going to have to get yourself down to Bangkok’s Chinatown. It’s essentially a peppery ginger soup served with floating dumplings stuffed with black sesame paste. Like many Thai dishes, its roots lie in China and was brought over my immigrants in the early 20th century. There are other versions which include silky tofu curd instead of dumplings. Equally as delicious.

food tour chiang mai sweet

Tong Yord – Sweet Egg Yolks

Poke your head into any market and you’ll spot little bags of orange tong yord balls. Thailand rarely uses egg in their desserts, but this is an exception to the rule. The yolks of chicken or duck eggs are mixed with sugar and flower water, before being cooked in palm sugar syrup. Be warned, they are as sweet as they are addictive.

Mamuang Nam Pla Wan – Green Mango and Sweet Fish Sauce

To the uninitiated, mamuang nam pla wan seem a little terrifying. Tart unripe mango slices served with a dip made from sweetened fish sauce, chilies, and dry shrimps is enough to put even the most hardened of street food veterans off. The brave who do try it are never disappointed.

Heading to Thailand soon? Want to discover what Thai desserts are all about? Why not join us on our epic nightly food tours in Bangkok or Chiang Mai.

Featured tours

Chiang Mai food tasting tour
$ 59
Lanna Kingdom - Chiang Mai Food Tour
tour feature banner chiang mai food tour
$ 59
Chiang Mai Northern Food Tour by Truck
Explore the back alleys of Old Bangkok on our chef-designed food tour
$ 59
Bangkok Backstreet Food Tasting Tour

More stories

Where to have a Michelin star meal in Singapore header image

Where to have a Michelin star meal in Singapore

Read more
Follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Colombia header image

Follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Colombia

Read more
Best spots for a proper Malaysian breakfast in Kuala Lumpur header image
Kuala Lumpur

Best spots for a proper Malaysian breakfast in Kuala Lumpur

Read more