Desserts

25 Traditional Mexican Desserts

Fantastic foods for any fiesta.

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
Learn more about me
Updated July 16, 2022

Bring the taste of Mexico to your kitchen with these extra sweet authentic Mexican desserts.

When you think of Mexican desserts, you probably think of the traditional delicious recipes: churros, caramel flan, sopapillas, or tres leches cake. Others, however, are tasty creations inspired by Mexican flavors.

Traditional mexican dessert churros with chocolate sause

Beyond these staples hide a fascinating history. The Aztecs, the Indigenous peoples living in Mexico before the conquistador’s arrival, used simple ingredients for their “postres” (desserts). Nuts, coconuts, milk, cacao, and sweeteners such as honey or fruit were used because of their locality.

When the Spanish conquest began, soldiers brought European baking traditions and ingredients, including oil. With the introduction of oil, fried treats like churros or fried plantains were born.

Absolute favorite desserts are coyotas, jamincillo and so much more.

01. Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars

This is one of those recipes that experiments with Mexican flavors and creates something new and delicious. Even better, the ingredients and steps are really simple.

You make the filling from sweetened cream cheese and an egg. And then you layer that with crescent roll dough and cinnamon sugar.

Bake it all together, and you have little creamy, crunchy squares of heaven.

02. Fried Ice Cream

Ice cream, cornflakes, eggs, and tortillas…what meal is this for?. While the ingredients may look jumbled, they all come together to create an elegant dessert.

Tortillas are an easy way to create thin, crispy tart shells. And when you coat them in cinnamon sugar, they could be a dessert on their own.

But then you dip scoops of ice cream with egg whites and crushed corn flakes, deep fry them, and pop them in the shells. It’s heaven.

This recipe requires multiple chills, so make sure you leave yourself enough time.

03. Sweet Mexican Corn Cake

These little cakes may seem simple, but they pack a corny punch. That’s because there are three types of corn in them: masa, cornmeal, and sweet kernels.

While these cake balls are savory enough to serve as a side dish, they’d also make an excellent dessert. And you can dress them up with powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, or even chocolate syrup.

04. Mexican Sweet Bread

“Concha” means “shell” in Spanish. And that’s just what these little buns look like.

They’re very popular for breakfast to go with café de olla (traditional coffee). But they also make a delicious dessert.

Vanilla and chocolate are common options, but you can use whatever flavorings you like for the topping.

Also, these are yeasted buns, so make sure you leave time for the dough to rise properly.

05. Arroz con Leche

This dessert is basically Mexican rice pudding. The name means “rice with milk,” and in this case, it has three types of milk: regular, evaporated, and sweetened condensed milk.

All of the milks make this Mexican dessert very rich and creamy. And the hint of cinnamon adds a delicious warmth.

Arroz con leche is a very versatile dish, and it works as a dessert, breakfast, or afternoon snack. Plus, you can serve it hot or cold.

06. Mexican Sweet Corn Tomalito

Corn is a staple of Mexican cuisine, and it works for desserts too.

The texture of this tomalito is like a cross between American cornbread and tamales. It’s just a little bit sweet, but totally addictive.

It also makes a great side dish, and you can add diced jalapeños if you want a little kick. But for dessert, top it with powdered sugar or just eat it with a spoon.

07. Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

This may not be an authentic Mexican dessert, but it’s a delicious way to use Mexican flavors. Swirl dulce de leche into the top of your cheesecake filling for a hit of sweetness and a beautiful design.

One classic Mexican dulce de leche is called “cajeta,” and it’s made with goat’s milk. My favorite is the “quemada” version which literally means “burnt,” but just tastes really caramel-y.

As a variation, you could make a graham cracker crust instead of one with vanilla wafers.

08. Vanilla Ice Cream

This vanilla ice cream is anything but plain.

Some of the best vanilla in the world comes from the state of Veracruz in Mexico. So, take advantage of the incredible flavor of these pods when you make ice cream.

This ice cream only has 5 ingredients, so try to use high-quality ones. You’ll really taste the difference.

Also, if you can’t find a vanilla bean pod (or it’s too expensive), just increase the extract to 1 tablespoon.

09. Tres Leches Cake

Tres leches cake is a traditional Mexican dessert. It gets its name, “three milks,” from the three dairy products for soaking the cake: heavy cream, evaporated milk, and condensed milk.

The base of this recipe is a light and fluffy sponge cake, so make sure you beat your egg whites to the right consistency.

Also, this cake is wonderful topped with the homemade whipped cream recipe at the bottom of the page.

10. Mexican Sweet Buns (Conchas)

This recipe is another version of sweet buns, or “pan dulce,” called “conchas.” But this one jazzes up the bread with bright colors.

Also, try scoring the tops of the buns in different patterns to make different types of shells. The images in this post show you how to cut the sugar paste in a variety of designs.

11. Crescent Rolls

While these crescent rolls aren’t on the list of authentic Mexican desserts, they are definitely worth making. And you do find similar desserts in bakeries, called cuernos (“horns”) or bigotes (“mustaches”).

These homemade crescent rolls taste so much better than the ones in a can, but they still remind me of popping open the tube with my siblings on a Saturday morning.

You can make these plain or stuff them with your favorite fillings, sweet or savory. Try sticks of chocolate, almond paste, or ham and cheese.

12. Churros with Chocolate Sauce

This is one of my favorite Mexican desserts to make — and eat. I love to deep fry at home so that I can eat the goodies when they’re still hot and crispy.

To make the classic churro shape, use a piping bag with a star-tip nozzle. Or, experiment with different nozzles for other designs.

Also, the two-ingredient chocolate ganache is a delicious way to elevate churros for a dinner party. I always steal spoonfuls when I make it.

13. Pineapple Empanadas

These empanadas make a handy snack if you’re craving something sweet and crispy. They’re also delicious for dessert — especially if you dip them in sweetened condensed milk or chocolate sauce.

In addition to pineapple, you could use cherry or apple pie filling for some variety. Or, fill them with your favorite flavor of jam, caramel sauce, or chocolate spread.

14. Caramel Flan

Flan is a very popular Mexican dessert, but you can find it all over Latin America and Spain, too.

It’s similar to a French crème brûlée, but rather than burning the sugar on top, you bake a caramel syrup into the flan. When you flip the flan out of its baking dish, you get a sweet layer of melted caramel on top of the creamy custard.

Make sure your caramel is dark enough to be flavorful, but not burnt. If you burn the first batch (we all do it.), toss it and try again.

15. Mexican Buñuelos

These golden disks of fried dough remind me of trips to the fair. But in Mexico, buñuelos are usually served around Christmas.

They’re so delicious that I eat them all year round. And they’re a great treat for a Cinco de Mayo party or to end a Mexican meal.

You can store these buñuelos for about 3 days on the counter, but I doubt they’ll last that long.

16. Horchata

For a hot summer day, nothing quenches my thirst like a cold glass of homemade horchata. This drink is a classic “agua fresca” (“fresh water”), and everyone has their own version.

This recipe makes the preparation especially easy with sweetened condensed milk. Rather than adding milk and sugar separately, just stir in 1 ingredient.

While horchata is traditionally flavored with cinnamon, you can also add other ingredients. Sliced strawberries or cantaloupe chunks are delicious.

17. Fresas con Crema

Some pour heavy cream and sugar on top of fresh strawberries in the summer. But this easy dessert is even better.

The creamy sauce has whipping cream, condensed milk, and Mexican crema in it. But if you can’t find crema, use Greek yogurt or sour cream for a tangy alternative.

This dessert is so popular in Mexico that you can even find it pre-packaged at grocery stores and ice cream parlors.

18. Dulce de Leche Cream Pie

You don’t want to waste this cream pie by throwing it in someone’s face. It’s too delicious.

While you can make this pie in advance, the author suggests adding the whipped cream as close to serving as possible. That way, it will be light and fluffy instead of deflated.

This recipe has you make your own dulce de leche and graham cracker crust. But if you’re in a rush, you can use pre-made versions of both.

19. Champurrado (Mexican Hot Chocolate)

This thick, rich chocolate drink is often sold on the street for breakfast. But it also makes an amazing substitute for any time you’d drink American hot chocolate.

Champurrado is a type of atole, or sweetened beverage made with masa. The corn flour thickens the drink to give it more body.

It’s traditionally sweetened with piloncillo, an unrefined sugar. But you can substitute brown sugar if you can’t find these cones.

20. Fried Plantains

Plantains are a versatile starch in Mexican cuisine. And when you fry them, they’re heavenly.

You can cook plantains when they’re yellow for salty dishes. But if you wait until they fully ripen and the skin turns mostly black, they’re sweeter and better for dessert.

For dessert, drizzle the plantains with condensed milk. Or, if you want a more savory option, top with Mexican crema and sprinkle with queso fresco.

They’re delicious either way.

21. Coyotas Cookies

These yummy cookies come from the state of Sonora in northern Mexico. You can find them stuffed with all sorts of sweet fillings, but this one features brown sugar.

Originally, the cookies would use piloncillo, the unrefined Mexican sugar that comes in cones. But brown sugar is easier to use, and it tastes just as good.

You make a cinnamon syrup, which you use to flavor the dough. Then you add more sugar in the middle, and bake until they’re golden. Yum.

22. Jamoncillo de Leche

With only 4 ingredients, this tasty milk fudge is a breeze to make. You don’t even need a candy thermometer.

This classic Mexican candy uses condensed milk and butter for richness, and a little vanilla extract for extra flavor. You make it over the stove, and the hands-on time is about half an hour.

It’s a wonderful after-dinner treat or an after-school snack. Or, add some to your holiday cookie exchange for a sweet surprise.

23. Mexican Sweet Corn Cake (Pastel de Elote)

Perfect for tea time, this corn cake is light and fluffy. And when baked in a bundt pan, it’s an elegant dessert for a party.

This simple cake has a light corn flavor, and it’s delicious with a variety of toppings. Try it with caramel sauce or cajeta, strawberries and powdered sugar, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

Any way you slice it, you’ll love it.

24. Chocoflan Impossible Cake

This cake may seem impossible, but it’s actually very easy. It’s simply impossibly delicious!

When you put the dessert in the pan to bake, you layer caramel, then cake batter, and finally custard. Then, the magic happens!

When you take the pan out, the layers have flipped! So you have rich chocolate cake on the bottom and creamy flan on the top. It’s a showstopper!

25. Snowball Cookies

These little snowballs are also called Mexican wedding cookies. And they’re perfect for elegant celebrations because they’re dainty little morsels that melt on your tongue.

The traditional recipe uses chopped pecans, but you could swap your favorite nut. Almonds or macadamia nuts would be delicious, too!

Plus, it takes less than 35 minutes to make them. So, what are you waiting for?

25 Traditional Mexican Desserts

Directions


  1. Choose your favorite Mexican dessert recipes.

  2. Get busy in the kitchen.

  3. Share your creations at the next fiesta.

  4. ¡Buen provecho.

Mexican Desserts Pinterest