When you're out to dinner and in the mood for something sweet afterward, the expectation is that dessert can be ordered. In China, dessert takes on quite a different appearance and flavor than anywhere else in the world, and it's also served differently. Desserts usually come out with main dishes and starters, as the food comes out in the order in which it's cooked. Therefore, it's not uncommon to be sharing desserts while also sharing the main course, according to China Highlights

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The desserts one might order there look incredibly different from many around the world, as well - cakes and ice cream aren't likely to be on the menu but you will find things such as jelly and soup dumplings. More often than not, China's sweet treats are entirely unfamiliar to someone who has never been to the country but one thing is for sure... You'll never forget them, and you'll probably be craving them after you leave.

Egg Tarts

Egg tarts, otherwise known as custard in other parts of the world, are popular in many countries. Not surprisingly, this dessert was introduced to China by Portuguese colonizers, and it's a dish that stuck around.

They can be found most commonly in Cantonese restaurants and are served warm, with a sweet, slightly browned crust that adds texture to this custard-based dish. They can also be found pretty easily in grocery stores, where they're eaten while on the go.

Red Bean Bun

Red bean paste is popular throughout Asia and they're found very often in sweet dishes. Red bean buns, in particular, are a popular dessert in China, filled with a sweet paste that most people can't get enough of.

These are the sweet version of steamed buns which are a popular savory form of dim sum, or small plate. They're mostly found in Northern China, and they're a must-try if you happen to find them on a restaurant menu.


If you're a fan of candy apples, then this dessert is fr you. Tanghulu can be quite a show stopper when you're walking through China's many street vendors due to its unique appearance. Skewers of fruit look as though they've been frozen solid in ice but it's actually hardened sugar!

This sweet street food is found all over China but is particularly common in areas where toursits frequent. You can find almost any berry or fruit at these vendors but the most common include strawberries, kiwi, and melon. Tanghulu is delicious in a stick-t0-your-teeth kind of way, and they're great for splitting between friends or eating while out exploring.

Pumpkin Pancake

Believe it or not, while tanghulu seems sweet, it's said that China's pumpkin pancakes are even sweeter. This dessert is seasonal and appears most commonly in the winter, making them a comforting treat that exudes that warm, fall feeling.

Those who have big sweet tooths will be even more appreciative of their sweet flavor, and while they're called pancakes, they're almost more akin to donuts. Deep frying is the most common way to cook them before finishing them with a bit of roasted sesame seed. Travelers can find these in Sichuan-style restaurants which is also where the pancakes originated.


Also known as sweet soup balls, these are an interesting twist on soup that not many are familiar with. The soup itself is served warm and has the subtle sweet flavor of rice wine, which is the perfect balance to the rice dumplings that float in the middle of it.

The rice dumplings are sticky and also slightly sweet, and sometimes come in various colors which adds a fun aspect to this sweet soup. Traditionally, tangyuan is eaten during the Lantern Festival, with the rice balls being reminiscent of the first full moon of the Lunar Calender.

Deep-Fried Durian

This normally stinky fruit is something that's well known throughout Asia, but when it's deep fried and the smell is gone, it's heavenly. The fruit is tender and delicious when fried in a light batter, and it's a bold yet worthy dish to try.

Plus, it's a great way to experience durian without having to peel it with your bare hands!

Grass Jelly

Despite its name, grass jelly does not have pieces of grass in it. The dish gets its name from the 'fairy grass' from which its derived, which is actually a mint-like herb.

The herb is boiled with baking salt and starch, and is served either by itself or in a bit of condensed milk.

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