My Vietnamese upbringing has a huge impact on me. Whether it was the attitude, work ethic, lifestyle, or food, it shaped me into the person that I am today. An important aspect of the Vietnamese culture for me was food, because it was the thing that brought my entire family together. When it came to food, I was given two options: either starve or eat what was in front of me. I chose the latter. Growing up, I often thought that Vietnamese food was weird, because the only people I knew who ate it were members of my family, or of other Vietnamese families. 

When it came to school, it felt even weirder, because I had a fear that kids would tease me for the food that I ate. Unlike other kids whose packed lunches included Gogurt, Teddy Grahams, and Gushers, I was often packed traditional Vietnamese desserts consisting of glutinous rice or bean pudding. I sometimes felt embarrassed because my desserts were so different than the ones all of my friends had.

Since my elementary school days, I have developed a deeper appreciation for Vietnamese food and now embrace my culture more by enjoying the delicious cuisine. While there are countless delicious Vietnamese desserts, here are the best of the best.

1. Bánh Tiêu

The word bánh in Vietnamese translates to cake and can refer to ones that are sweet or savory. Bánh tiêu are hollow donuts. They are fluffy and airy, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Often times, they are rolled in sesame seeds. 

2. Bánh Kẹp lá Dứa

One of my favorite Vietnamese desserts has to be pandan waffles and my friends love them too. Bánh kẹp means waffle in Vietnamese and lá dứa means pandan. Pandan is a sweet, tropical herb native to Asia and can be compared to vanilla. It gives these waffles their signature green color and enchanting aroma. They are often served plain, or sometimes with ice cream, but I always used to slather these waffles with whipped cream and strawberries. 

3. Bánh Khoai Mì

Another one of my personal Vietnamese desserts growing up was bánh khoai mì. It is sweet and sticky, made from cassava, a root vegetable commonly used in Asia and Africa.  While cassava may seem like an unusual ingredient to include in a cake, its what makes this cake so delicious and gives it a crisp crust. It also has a rich, coconut flavor thanks to condensed or coconut milk. This dessert is usually baked, but can sometimes be steamed. 

4. Bánh Bò

The literal translation of this dessert's name means cow cake, as it resembles cow udders. The cake is made from rice, giving it a chewy, soft texture. You can make it with coconut or pandan, the herb used in the green waffles above. Like the cassava cake, it is often times baked, but can also be steamed. Though it is often eaten as dessert, it is sometimes eaten as a side dish with meals. 

5. Chè Trái Cây

Chè is undoubtedly one of the most popular and well-known Vietnamese desserts. From chè chuối (banana pudding)

to chè ba màu (three-colored bean dessert), there are so many different types to choose from.

One of my favorite chès is chè trái cây, because it has fruit. While it depends on where you get it, most chè trái cây has a base of coconut milk with fruits such as lychees, longans, toddy palm, tapioca pearls, pandan or grass jelly. It is a sweet, refreshing dessert that is perfect for hot summer days. 

6. Bánh Bao Chỉ

Bánh bao chỉ are very similar to mochi. They are made from glutinous rice flour and often filled with a sweet mung bean paste and rolled in coconut shreds. Sometimes, you will see them colored pink.

7. Bánh trung thu

Often served at the Mid-Autumn Festival, these mooncakes can be filled with a savory or sweet filling. The sweet fillings are typically made from lotus or red bean, while the savory ones contain egg yolks. Depending on where the cakes are made, the crust can be flaky, soft, or chewy. 

8. Bánh Chuối Hấp

This cake is similar to banana bread, but with a softer texture. Unlike the other desserts, this cake is not super sweet or rich because it does not contain coconut or condensed milk. Similar to the cassava and cow cakes, there are two preparations of this dessert: baked or steamed. 

9.Bánh Tai Heo

The direct translation of "tai heo" from Vietnamese to English is "pig ear." The brown part of the cookie is usually made with chocolate, but can also be made using five-spice powder. Unlike traditional American cookies, these ones are fried until they are crisp and have a less sweet flavor.  

10. Sữa Chua

The last dessert you have to try is Vietnamese yogurt. While I personally prefer Greek yogurt, I do like that it is sweet and tangy at the same time. This yogurt is typically eaten with fresh fruits, but can also be eaten plain. It is sometimes eaten as a dessert, but most people eat it for breakfast.

Vietnamese desserts may have seemingly unusual ingredients in their recipes, but that does not mean they are not delicious.  If you have adventurous taste buds or are a dessert fiend, be sure to put these 10 Vietnamese dishes on your dessert bucket list!