We’ve got all sorts of good food in Singapore, and traditional local desserts are a part of that. Here are our absolute favourites!
Got a sweet tooth? Cookies and brownies aside, Singapore is home to amazing traditional desserts, and that’s on top of our giant list of classic local dishes. Besides our great selection of kueh, there’s a lot more to Singapore’s sweets and local desserts. From hot to cold, soupy to dry, chewy to fried, you’ll want to save some space after your meal!
Best traditional local desserts in Singapore
1. Ice kachang
Ice kachang is essentially the Asian equivalent of a snowcone. Or perhaps a Slurpee in a bowl. The king of local desserts in Singapore basically consists of a giant mound of ice dripping in sweet, coloured syrup. Within it hides bounties such as red bean, sweet corn, grass jelly and, of course, the popular atap chee (immature fruit of the nipa palm). More than just a dessert, ice kachang is also a communal experience, given how hot our climate is.
Find it at: Jin Jin Hot / Cold Dessert, #01-21, ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre, 6 Jalan Bukit Merah, Singapore 150006
2. Pandan cake
Tea time in Singapore is an elaborate affair, especially when we’ve got good traditional desserts like pandan chiffon cake. Light and fluffy with a heady dose of pandan sweetness, it pairs perfectly with a steaming mug of Milo or tea. Best of all? You can get really great ones from pretty much any Bengawan Solo outlet or traditional bakery.
Find it at: Bengawan Solo, multiple locations including Ion Orchard and Raffles City
Calling all dessert fiends! Featuring the holy trinity – coconut cream, palm sugar and pandan leaves – cendol’s main component of shaved ice is perfect for cooling off on a sunny day (which is every day). We especially love slurping up those green jelly noodles made of rice flour and their accompanying mushy red beans. Warning: cendol is usually cloyingly rich, so we suggest having it on its own or sharing it with a friend.
Find it at: Four Seasons Cendol, multiple locations including Toa Payoh and Parkway Parade
4. Tissue prata
A wafer-thin version of the popular prata, this is a sweetened flatbread that’s often presented in a towering, conical shape. It comes with the option of being slathered in sauce and chocolate is the most popular sweet one (you can even add ice cream on the side). It’s an essential must-try at Indian and Malay eateries across the island – supper snack, anyone?
Find it at: R.K. Eating House, 1 Kensington Park Road, Singapore 557253
5. Durian pengat
What’s more Singaporean than durian? If you can’t take the sticky mess of the fruit but love its taste, durian pengat is a delicious solution. A desert staple that you can find in eateries across the island, the roots of the dish come from Malay and Peranakan communities. The pengat is a rich dish that involves cooking fruits or vegetables in coconut milk and sugar, and the Singaporean twist cooks the durian until it becomes a mousse. So creamy and indulgent!
Find it at: Straits Cafe, Level 1, Rendezvous Hotel Singapore, 9 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189559
6. Tau huay
If you’ve got the late-night munchies for something sweet, nothing hits the spot quite like a comforting bowl of soya beancurd (you can have it hot or cold!). We’re pretty old school when it comes to the silky smooth pudding, so we opt for classic and traditional dessert spots in Singapore. Make sure you buy a couple of fried dough fritters (otherwise known as you tiao) to dip into your bowl of beancurd.
Find it at: Rochor Beancurd House, multiple locations including Geylang and Balestier
7. Apam balik
Apam balik, also known as min jiang kueh, is essentially a chewy Singapore-style pancake that’s folded over and stuffed with a variety of sweet fillings. Classic options include peanut or red bean paste. But, these days you can find unique renditions served with everything from Nutella to cheese.
Find it at: Pancake King, multiple locations including Bedok and Ang Mo Kio
8. Ice cream sandwich
As far as desserts go, we can’t claim ice cream as a Singaporean one. But if you grew up on the island, you probably still have a Pavlovian response to the sound of the ice cream bell. These peddlers of ice cream ride around on motorbikes with sidecar freezers and can usually be found surrounded by a crowd. If you want the authentic Singaporean experience, ask for your ice cream bar to be served between a folded slice of bread or thin wafer slices. Find these traditional ice cream carts along the entirety of Orchard Road, as well as in certain heartland areas.
9. Sugee cake
Perhaps the most iconic Eurasian dish, sugee cake is a simple cake made with butter, almonds and semolina flour to give it that grainy and slightly crunchy texture. Good on its own or topped with marzipan and fondant icing, it can be found at traditional bakeries in town.
10. Bubur cha cha
The colourful Nyonya dessert consists of steamed chunks of sweet potatoes and yam with tapioca jelly and sago swimming in a creamy coconut milk broth. Enjoy it hot or cold, available at most Peranakan restaurants.
Find it at: TingKat PeraMakan, multiple locations including Paya Lebar and Alexandra
11. Cheng tng
Local dessert stalls are ubiquitous in Singapore’s food courts, serving a variety that includes tau suan (mung bean dessert) and yam paste. But when the mercury’s rising and beads of sweat are forming on your brow, skip the hot stuff for a nice cold bowl of cheng tng. This light, amber-coloured soup is served with ice, barley, agar strips, lotus seeds and sweet syrup. You’ll have no difficulty finding it at most hawker centres!
12. Tutu kueh
There’s no shortage of colourful and unique kueh (Southeast Asia’s version of cakes) in Singapore, but one of our favourites has to be tutu kueh. This small, doughy steamed rice flour treat is served on pandan leaves and typically found at night markets. It’s filled with either ground peanut or brown palm sugar mixed with shredded coconut and makes for a great bite-sized snack.
Find it at: Tan’s Tu Tu Coconut Cake, multiple locations including Clementi and Havelock Road
13. Gulab jamun
If you’re a sucker for sugar, you will adore these brown beauties. Made from milk fats, they’re deep-fried and drenched in a saccharine syrup infused with rose water. Expect a heady sugar rush after as little as two bites. Keen to try? You’ll find ‘em at most Indian restaurants and stalls.
14. Ondeh ondeh
Round, bite-sized and green, these sweet potato or glutinous rice cakes are coated with grated coconut and filled with liquid gula melaka. Just a fair warning: they burst open with a molten core once you bite down on them, and they’re highly addictive (not to mention easy to pop into your mouth). If you ask us, the ones at old school bakeries are always worth the wait.
Find it at: Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery, #01-21, 84 Bedok North Street 4, Singapore 460084
15. Grass jelly
This is one of the first things we spring for when the weather is unbearably hot. Grass jelly, or chin chow as it’s known locally, is a dark brown gelatinous dessert. It’s made from boiling the aged stalks and leaves of the mesona chinensis plant (a member of the mint family) for several hours with a little starch. The jelly is then cut into cubes and served on ice with honey or syrup for an incredibly refreshing treat.
Find it at: Zhao An Granny Grass Jelly, #01-58, Golden Mile Food Centre, 505 Beach Road, Singapore 199583
16. Ang ku kueh
One of the first things you’ll notice about this ‘red tortoise cake’ is its brightly coloured oval shape. It’s a soft, glutinous rice cake with a sweet filling, typically mung bean or peanut paste. While the kueh has its roots in China, the ones in Singapore have Nyonya influences, which elevate the flavour and appearance of this delicacy. You can even try a variety of flavours including peanut, corn, sweet bean, coconut, salted bean and yam.
Find it at: Ji Xiang Confectionery, multiple locations include Bugis and Lau Pa Sat
17. Tang yuan
A traditional Chinese dessert made of glutinous rice flour shaped into balls, these dumpling-like spheres in Singapore are typically filled with peanut or sesame and served with hot, sweet soup. We’re huge fans of the traditional treat, which you can try in other flavours like yam, red bean or matcha.
Find it at: 75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup, multiple locations including Beach Road and Bedok
This confection is (almost) sickeningly sweet and sticky. It gets its muruku-like pretzel shape by plopping the fermented batter in a spiral motion into a pool of hot oil. Next, the crisp snack is dunked in a saffron sugar syrup for that iconic orange glow.
Find it at: Moghul Sweet Shop, #01-16, 48 Serangoon Road, Singapore 217959
19. Pulut hitam
You may not think black glutinous rice porridge could be a dessert, but this Indonesian dish sure hits the spot. The rice is boiled until soft, then made rich and sweet with sugar and coconut milk. It’s simple yet oh-so-filling and can be found at most traditional dessert stalls in Singapore.
Find it at: Ah Chew Desserts, multiple locations including Bugis and Novena
The ladoo (or laddu) is the quintessential poster boy for Indian sweets. Going to a wedding or religious Indian ceremony? You know this will be waiting for you. Plump with ghee, flour and sugar, these sweets are made from tiny drops of chickpea flour mix. They’re then fried in ghee and soaked in sugar syrup. Venture to any Indian eatery for a taste!
21. Muah chee
The ingredients are simple: glutinous rice flour, crushed peanuts and sugar. But boy oh boy is this sticky, chewy snack a delish treat. It’s like the Chinese version of mochi, and it makes for a perfect tidbit any time of the day. Find it at night markets or pushcart vendors doling out fresh and fragrant goodness.
Find it at: Hougang Muah Chee, #B1-21, HDB Hub Gourmet Paradise Food Court, 480 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, Singapore 310480
22. Durian puffs
We’ve adapted the European-style cream puff by swapping the standard custard cream for one infused with fresh durian to make a sweet, pungent treat. Like all things durian, you’ll either hate it or love it. Psst: wait till the fruit is in season to get a taste.
Find it at: Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221