Mexico has one of the most beloved and famous cuisines in the world. Some of the most popular Mexican desserts are Tres Leches and Churros, but it has so much more to offer. In this post, we will explore some traditional Mexico desserts.
Mexico’s desserts are creative and a fusion of different flavors and textures. It has a wide variety of sweets that use various ingredients. Spanish, Arabian, and indigenous cultures influence these desserts. Plus, each region has there specialty.
We gather the most popular and appreciated desserts from Mexico to help you choose which to try on your next trip to Mexico.
20 Popular and Traditional Desserts in Mexico
#1 Pan de Muerto
Pan de Muerto is one of Mexico’s most famous desserts. It is a delicious sweet bread that is traditional in the Dia de los Muertos festivities during October and November. The pan de Muerto is one of the “oferendas” (offerings) people give to their deceased loved ones. They have them displayed on the home altars and gravesites.
They are made with flour, sugar, butter, orange zest, juice, and anis seeds. And decorated with a bone-shaped phalanx and covered with sugar or sesame seeds.
There is a wide variety of the Pan de Muerto. For example, in Oaxaca, it is called Pan de Yema. Which is similar, but the decoration is different. It is decorated with little faces (“caritas”) made of wax.
Churros is a Mexican dessert of Spanish origin. You will find it everywhere in Mexico, especially in churrarias, a specialized shop that sells churros and hot chocolate.
Churros are crunchy but soft inside and made of fried dough covered with sugar and cinnamon. They are served with hot chocolate so that you can dip them. They are so addictive you can eat them anytime, for breakfast, afternoon snack, you name it.
Conchas are typical Mexican Sweet bread. The name conchas mean shell in Spanish, as they look like shells. They are fluffy and delicious.
Concha is made with flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and milk. It is topped with confectioner sugar, flour, and aromatizers. It can have different colors and flavorings. They are the perfect combo to have with hot chocolate or atole.
#4 Mexican Flan
Flan is a silky and creamy dessert covered with caramel. Nearly every country has its version of flan, including the Spanish, Portuguese, and other Latin American countries.
This simple but delightful dessert is made with eggs, condensed milk, and caramel, cooked in a bain-marie. It is topped with caramel. You will find this dessert in restaurants or street food vendors all over Mexico.
Chocoflan is known as the “impossible cake.” It is a dessert that combines chocolate cake and flan topped with caramel or cajeta. The chocolate cake is at the bottom, and the flan is on top. It is luscious, combining soft cake and creamy flan.
You will find chocoflan in restaurants and cantinas all over Mexico.
#6 Gorditas de Nata
Gorditas de Nata are fluffy, thick pancakes made on a comal (heavy cast iron used in Mexico) and sold by street vendors. They smell so good and are very tasty. You usually eat them for breakfast or as a snack.
Gorditas are made with flour, clotted cream (nata in Mexico), sugar, and cinnamon. They are pretty thick, thus the name which means fatty. They can be served with Nutella, cajeta, and jam.
There is a salty version of gorditas, but they are thinner and stuffed with meat and salsa.
#7 Pan de Elote
Pan de Elote is a cake made with sweet corn (elote means sweet corn in Mexico). It is a moist and light cake that is very satisfying. It usually is sold by street vendors, and you buy a slice of the cake. You can also find them in most supermarkets.
It is made with fresh sweet corn, flour, milk, egg, butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Some recipes use condensed milk instead of milk. It is a staple Mexican dessert that you should try. Be aware that it is very different from cornbread.
Marquesitas is a traditional Yucatan dish. It is made of a crepe filled with a sweet ingredient and cheese and rolled like a burrito.
It is similar to a French crepe, but it is crunchy. The filling can be a variety of ingredients: chocolate, cajeta, condensed milk, jam, or Nutella, which you choose according to your taste. But the Edam cheese is a mandatory ingredient. In Mexico, it is known as queso de bola.
According to what is said, the origin of this dessert comes from an ice cream vendor who created this dessert in winter when the sales of ice cream decreased. So he made a dessert suitable for that season. He named it Marquesitas in honor of the daughters of a Marquis that loved his dessert.
You will find this dessert in every big city in Mexico: Merida, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Oaxaca… There are several street vendors at night in all popular areas.
#9 Raspados Mexicanos
Raspados Mexicanos is a fresh ice dessert made with scraped ice, sweet syrup, and fruit pulp, or other toppings. It might sound simple, but it is so freshening and delicious. And Mexicans being Mexican, know how to be creative and elevate this humble dessert.
Raspados are also known as granizados. They are sold by street vendors with a push cart or pulled by a bicycle. To do raspados you need the scrap ice into a cup and add sweet syrup and other toppings. The most simple raspados use seasonal fruit and syrup. The most complex have condensed milk and vanilla extract. But there is an endless variety of combinations to try and experiment.
One of the most famous raspados are the chamoyada made with frozen mango, chamoy salsa, and chili powder.
Just go crazy and try different combinations.
Nieves are ice creams/sorbets in Mexico, and you find them everywhere. They are also known as nieve de garrafa, which is the container’s name that stores the ice cream.
There are two types of nieves, water-based, which is basically a sorbet, and milk base similar to ice cream. There is a wide variety of flavors, and they are simply fantastic. You have the standard lime, mango, coconut, guava, and avocado flavors, but you can find more exotic ones like mamey, jamaica, horchata, and many more.
It is impossible to go to Mexico and not eat a nieve de garrafa.
#11 Alegria de Amaranto
Alegria de Amaranto is a traditional Mexican candy. It is made with amaranto (amaranth) seeds, honey or sugar syrup, and other roasted seeds like pumpkin and peanut. Amaranto is a native plant in Mexico that has been used since prehispanic times.
You need to puff the seeds of amaranth in a hot pan without oil to do this candy. Then join the puffed amaranth with honey and other nuts and mold it into your desired form.
This candy is especially traditional in Mexico City. It is even declared Intangible cultural patrimony of the City of Mexico. Fun fact, the name of the candy Alegria means joy in Spanish because it is a joy to eat them.
#12 Cajeta de Celaya
We have talked about cajeta before, as it is used as an ingredient in many other sweets.
It is similar to dulce de leche, but dolce de leche is made of cow milk, and cajeta is made with goat milk. Besides being used as a spread there’s also candy made with cajeta.
Cajeta de Celaya is made with goat milk, sugar, and vanilla essence cooked until brown and thick. It is used as a spread on bread, churros, and biscuits, as a filling, or even as an ingredient in puddings. It is a specialty of the city of Celaya in the province of Guanajuato.
#13 Tres Leches Cake
Tres leches cake is one of Mexico’s most famous desserts. It is a fluffy vanilla sponge cake soaked in 3 different kinds of milk. They are frequently eaten at important events like birthdays, weddings, and graduations.
Tres leches cakes are traditional in other Latin American countries like Peru, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico. Its origins are uncertain, some claim Mexico, and others claim Nicaragua. What is certain is that the Mexicans love it.
It is a cake made with flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and milk. After cooking, it is soaked in three kinds of milk (thus its name): condensed, evaporated, and whole milk. It needs to soak for a few hours or overnight. Then it is topped with whipped cream and fruit. It is decadent and creamy.
Buñuelos are thin deep-fried dough covered in sugar and cinnamon. They are crispy and delightful. And traditional during Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
Buñuelos are influenced by Spanish cuisine. However, Spanish buñuelos have a different format and may have other ingredients. In Mexico, Buñuelos are thin and round, like the shape of a tortilla. They are deep-fried until crispy and coated with cinnamon and sugar. And can be served with Piloncillo syrup, made with piloncillo sugar and spices.
Although, there are different types of buñuelos depending on the state. There exist buñuelos of sweet potato, pumpkin, or almond.
#15 Mexican Wedding Cookies
Mexican wedding cookies are soft, crumbly, and traditional in Mexico at weddings and during the holiday season. In Spain, they are known as polvorones.
They are simple cookies with few ingredients, pecans or walnuts, flour, butter, and powdered sugar. The pecans are grounded to a powder. After being cooked in the oven, they are coated in powdered sugar.
These cookies have a nutty flavor and melt in your mouth.
#16 Sweet tamales
Tamales are a Pre-Columbian dish made and eaten by the Mayans. It is made with nixtamalized corn paste called massa, which is steamed in banana leaves or corn husks. Tamales can be salty or sweet.
In Sweet tamales, you must add sugar, butter, and sometimes food coloring to the corn dough. Then they can be filled with various combinations: raisins, pineapple chunks, shredded coconut, dried fruits, berries, prunes, and fruit jams. They can have different flavors and colors.
Usually, tamales are comfort food and are eaten as breakfast or dinner, usually accompanied by a hot atole.
#17 Carlota de Limón
Carlota de Limón is a popular Mexico dessert. It is a home-style dessert, simple and easy to do but packed with flavor. It is fresh, sweet, acidic, and crunchy at the same time.
It is made with Maria cookies (a popular Mexican and European cookie), lime juice (or lemon), evaporated milk, and condensed milk. Quite simply, you need to mix the ingredients and intercalate layers of the cream and the cookies. Then let it sit in the refrigerator for some hours or overnight.
It is a frequent dessert in Mexican restaurants. We were lucky to buy it from a women selling desserts in the street.
#18 Arroz con Leche (rice pudding)
Arroz con leche is a classic dessert that smells like home and typically was done by the grandmothers. Nearly every country in the world has its version of rice pudding. In Portugal and Spain, the arroz con leche is similar to the Mexican, but it has egg yolks and doesn’t use condensed or evaporated milk.
The essential ingredients of this dessert are rice, water, milk or condensed milk, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest. There are various recipes for arroz con leche. Some cook the rice with water and add the milk others cook the rice with the milk. But the result is similar, a creamy, silky dessert that can be eaten hot or cold, according to your preference, and is topped with cinnamon powder.
You can find this Mexican dessert in restaurants all over the country, but also in supermarkets.
#19 Mexican jello (Gelatina de Mosaico)
Gelatina de Mosaico is a colorful fun dessert and is very popular in Mexico. You will find it frequently in street vendors. Plus, it is mandatory for any birthday party in Mexico.
This dessert consists of a mixture of gelatines with different flavors and colors. First, you need to do the different flavor gelatins, let them solidify, and cut them into small squares. To the squares of gelatine, you must combine the white gelatine made with three kinds of milk (whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk). This will combine everything. Let it solidify, and you get a mosaic jello. It sounds more complicated than it really is.
In Mexico, it is common to find Mexico jello with the colors of the flag red, green and white. It is a refreshing and fun dessert to try.
#20 Dulces Típicos de Puebla
Dulces típicos de Puebla are traditional Mexican confections produced in Puebla. In the past, they were created in convents, particularly the Convent of Santa Clara. The sweets are influenced by Arab, Spanish, and indigenous cuisine.
It is said to be over 300 different sweets in Puebla. There even exists a street, the Calle de los Dulces, dedicated to selling the different varieties of Puebla’s sweets. So the best thing to do is stroll the street and try the most you can.
Some of the most important and traditional are:
- Camotes – made from sweet potatoes
- Tortitas de Santa Clara – cookies made of pumpkin seeds and milk
- Mostachones – made from dulce de leche
- Los Borrachitos – made from sweet potatoes and rum
- Jamoncillo de Pepita – made sweetened milk and ground pepitas
* Cover photo by agcuesta1 via Depositphotos