A traditional Chinese pastry with rich, thick filling wrapped delicately in crust, mooncakes are the hallmark food of the Mid-Autumn Festival (also aptly dubbed the Mooncake Festival). This is the second most important holiday in China after the Lunar New Year; it occurs on the 15th of the eighth Chinese lunar month, which is usually around September or early October. During the Mid-Autumn festival, various types of mooncakes are given and received as gifts between friends and family.

With thousands of years of history behind them, mooncakes have evolved and been modified time and time again, resulting in an abundance of styles and flavors that appeal to everyone. Here are a few types of mooncake you should familiarize yourself with so you’ll know exactly which ones to grab on your next visit to the local Asian bakery.

Cantonese Mooncake

Emily Chiang

Originating in the city of Guangdong, this traditional mooncake has long been—and continues to be—a fan favorite. Cantonese-style mooncakes can be identified by the intricate designs carved delicately onto their doughy, golden-brown skin. Typical fillings include sweetened red bean paste or white lotus paste, often moulded around a salted duck egg yolk, adding a balancing burst of savoriness. The golden yellow color and round shape of the yolk symbolize the full moon, a defining characteristic of the holiday.

Suzhou Mooncake

Unlike its Cantonese relative, the Suzhou mooncake boasts a hearty filling that consists of juicy ground pork with ginger, oyster sauce, scallions, and soy sauce mixed in for extra flavor. Well known for its flaky, layered crust with a texture not unlike that of a croissant, this mooncake perfect for those looking for a savoury snack!

Mixed Nuts Mooncake

Another classic mooncake, the mixed nuts mooncake (wǔ rén yuè bǐng) is the perfect balance of savory and sweet. The filling is typically composed of pork, walnuts, almonds, olive kernels, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds, though any mixture of nuts, dried fruit, and seeds can be used. With its name being a homophone for the Chinese character for “benevolence,” the five-nut mooncake represents the valued principles of loyalty and filial piety, making it an especially popular type of mooncake among older generations. 

Snow Skin Mooncake

While it isn’t made out of actual snow as the name might suggest, its unique skin is the distinguishing feature of the snow skin mooncake. This contemporary mooncake is non-baked, setting it apart from the rest. It features a skin made of cooked glutinous rice flour that is then chilled in the refrigerator. The result is a chewy, translucent dough that comes in a myriad of colors and shapes with a texture reminiscent of mochi. Also called ice skin mooncake, this trendy treat originates from the city of Hong Kong and is a favorite among the younger generation.

#SpoonTip: Up your pastry game by pairing your mooncake with a fragrant cup of tea!

Mooncakes, regardless of the flavor or style, symbolize reunion and togetherness. We hope you'll be able to share this festive treat with your loved ones for many more Mid-Autumn Festivals to come!