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25 Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets to Try

Those with sweet tooth will be thrilled to know that there’s a huge variety of traditional Mexican desserts to satisfy any cravings you may have.

Mexican cuisine is renowned all around the world, and most of you have heard of and tried tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. But there’s a lot more to Mexican food than tacos – and this is especially true when it comes to the world of desserts and sweets in Mexico.

From the world-famous dulce de leche to the lesser-known jericalla, traditional Mexican desserts truly surprise with a huge variety of flavors. Most of them are made with typical staples like milk and chocolate, but you can also find some prepared with surprising ingredients like coconut, corn and corn. Here, we bring you a list of traditional Mexican desserts and sweets worth trying!

Mexican Desserts and sweets

Mexican Desserts Guide

The Most Popular Mexican Desserts

Mexican desserts stand out from other sweets from Latin America for their variety of flavors, textures, and colors. These delicious recipes often use Mexican staples as ingredients, such as peanuts, guayaba (guava), corn, and cocoa.

The best place to try Mexican desserts is in locals’ homes. Abuelitas (grandmas) know how to make the best traditional Mexican desserts. But you can also easily try them in the markets and streetside stands. Almost every restaurant will have at least one of these desserts in their menu.

Mexican Flan - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

25 Best Mexican Desserts

If you have a sweet tooth like I do, you can’t miss the chance to taste these delicious desserts and sweets of Mexico.

1. Flan

Flan is one of the most famous desserts in Mexico. While it originally hails from Spain, it’s been adapted to the Mexican taste. With its silky texture, this bouncy cake has a sweet flavor that contrasts with the bitter touch of liquid caramel.

Flan is made with eggs, milk, and vanilla (some also add brandy) and cooked with steam in a mold. It’s served cold and covered in caramel. There are some restaurants where you can ask them to cover it in coffee liquor or Irish cream if you want your sweet with a kick.

Flan - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

2. Tres Leches

Pastel de tres leches (three-milk cake) is a dessert that has existed since the XIX century and there are different versions of it across Latin America, but the Mexican one is the most famous.

This cake is soaking wet in a mixture of three different types of milk and covered in white frosting. It’s unique texture and super sweet flavor is out of this world. Some recipes may include pieces of peaches, strawberries, pineapple, or some other fruits.

Tres Leches - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

3. Dulce de Leche & Cajeta

Dulce de leche is a sweet sauce used as an ingredient in many Mexican desserts. It’s made by boiling milk and sugar until it becomes a thick paste with a rich flavor.

Cajeta is another version of dulce de leche but it is made with goat milk, which gives it a more complex touch of flavor, and it’s traditional from Celaya in Guanajuato state. Dulce de leche and cajeta are used in cakes as a topping or filling, but you can also have it on a slice of bread for breakfast with your coffee.

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Dulce de Leche & Cajeta - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

4. Churros

Even though churros originally hail from Europe, they’re one of the most popular sweets in Mexico. They consist of a fried dough in a long shape, covered in sugar and cinnamon powder.

You can also find churros rellenos filled with jam, chocolate, custard cream, or cajeta. Churro sellers usually stand outside of churches in Mexico, and people get them after mass. Churros are super sweet, so have them with a cup of coffee to start your morning with energy.

Churros - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

5. Pan de Muerto

Day of the Dead, one of the most important holidays in Mexico, is famous for its vibrant colors and celebrations. One of the most popular Dia de Muertos traditions is eating the sweet bread shaped like a skeleton, pan de muertos.

Pan de muertos is sweet and aromatic as its recipe uses orange blossom water and butter, and you’ll recognize them for having a top resembling a cross made of “bones”. Every patisserie in Mexico will be baking these fresh in the oven in October and November.

Pan de Muerto - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

6. Paletas Heladas

Paletas heladas, or popsicles, are a huge thing in Mexico especially in the hot summer months. There’s a wide variety of flavors; from water-based popsicles made with fruits to milk-based ones made with creamy preparations.

If you crave something exotic and very savory, we recommend you try a “diablito” (devil) or “chamoy” (a condiment made with pickled fruit); it’s sweet and citric with a spicy kick. One of the most famous places you can get popsicles is La Michoacana which also sells tasty drinks. 

Paletas Heladas - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

7. Jericallas

Jericallas are a combination of a flan and a creme brulée with a Mexican touch; it’s very similar to the European natilla from Spain. They were invented in Guadalajara, and you can find them in most restaurants in the city. They’re made with eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon; the ingredients are shaken and then baked in small molds.

Jericallas - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

8. Alegrías

Amaranth seeds have been consumed in Mexico since ancient times, and they’re the main ingredient of this candy. To make alegrías, amaranth seeds are toasted and mixed with sugar, honey, and water. They are then pressed in a mold and left to dry and harden. Besides amaranth, alegrías usually include other ingredients like nuts, fruits, and chocolate; they’re a tasty and nutritious snack.

Alegrías - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

9. Capirotada

Capirotada is a traditional dessert of the Lent season in the northern states of Mexico like Sinaloa, Durango, Baja California, and Chihuahua. Essentially it consists of slices of bread, baked with brown sugar, peanuts, almonds, raisins, and cheese, it can also include bananas, and even tomatoes and onion. It’s not easy on the eye, and the combination of ingredients may not be for everyone, but the people who enjoy it don’t just like it but love it.

Capirotada - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

10. Arroz con leche

This is also one of the most famous desserts in Mexico, even though it’s also very common in other Latin American countries. It’s essentially made by cooking rice with milk, vanilla, and sugar until it gets soft and creamy.

Arroz con leche can be served hot or cold, with cinnamon powder sprinkled on top. Arroz con leche is one of the most typical desserts grandmas made in Mexican homes. It’s so easy to make, anyone can learn to prepare it for their kids.

Arroz con leche - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

11. Pan de Elote

Pan de elote is the perfect example of the Spanish baking techniques combined with a typical Mexican ingredient: corn.

See also  25 Mexican Breakfast Dishes to Try

This bread is made with corn kernels, eggs, butter, and sugar, and it has a unique texture and a sweet and buttery flavor you’ll love as a dessert. The recipe can change according to the region in Mexico you’re in.

Pan de Elote - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

12. Buñuelos

Buñuelos is one of the most popular Mexican Christmas desserts, and they’re another combination of Mexican and Spanish cuisine from the colonial era. They consist of disc-shaped fried dough covered in sugar and cinnamon.

They’re normally served with honey made with brown sugar which is sprinkled all over the warm fried dough. Eating buñuelos is one of many Christmas traditions in Mexico; if you’re spending the holidays in this country, you have to try them.

Buñuelos - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

13. Torrejas

Also known as the Mexican version of French toast, torrejas are pieces of bread soaked in milk and/or liquor and eggs, and then fried on a pan and covered in honey, sugar, or cinnamon powder.

This recipe came from Spain, and it’s very common to have it as a dessert during the Lent and Semana Santa, especially in Puebla. 

Torrejas - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

14. Cocadas & Alfajores

Cocadas are another sweet that combines elements of different cultures. In general, they’re drum-shaped pastries made of coconut and brown sugar. They’re baked until they get a tanned color.

Cocadas have many shapes and even different names, like the Mexican alfajores, which are white and hot pink squares you’ll find everywhere they sell traditional Mexican sweets.

Cocadas & Alfajores - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

15. Mazapán

Mazapán is a sweet you’ll find in all candy stores and supermarkets in Mexico, the most famous being de la Rosa. This candy is made of compressed peanut powder. It’s sweet and salty and super fragile. People in Mexico have a saying that if someone can unfold a mazapán without breaking it, they will treat your heart with the same delicacy.

Mazapán - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

16. Marquesitas

Marquesitas can be summarized as “sweet tacos”. They’re made with a dough similar to a French crepe and rolled around some type of sweet like hazelnut cream, peanut butter, dulce de leche, or fruit jam.

They’re a traditional sweet from Yucatán; one of the best things to do in Merida is trying marquesitas in the main squares at night. You’ll find plenty of marquesita stands all over Yucatan, but those in Merida are said to be the best.

Marquesitas - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

17. Coyotas

Originally from Hermosillo, Sonora, coyotas and they consist of a wheat-made pastry, traditionally filled with a sweet concoction made of brown sugar.

You can find coyotas with different fillings like guayaba (guava) or apple jam, dulce de leche, pumpkin paste, and many other types of sweets. This pastry has the right amount of sweetness and goes perfectly with a glass of milk.

Mexican desserts - Coyotas
Credit: De Glane23

18. Calabaza en Conserva

October and November are also pumpkin season in Mexico, so this is a typical dessert eaten during Day of the Dead.

Also known as calabaza en tacha, this dessert is made by stewing pumpkin pieces with brown sugar and cinnamon until it caramelizes. Once served, you can pour some milk over it and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.

Calabaza en Conserva - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

19. Nieve de Garrafa

This is a particular type of artisanal ice cream created in Oaxaca. It is similar to a snow cone and it is made in wooden buckets.

You can have it in many flavors, including some exotic ones like tequila, mazapán, or avocado. So, be sure to try a nieve de garrafa when you’re next in Oaxaca!

Nieve de Garrafa - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

20. Ate de Guayaba

This sweet pronounced “a-tay” comes from Mexico’s colonial era and it consists of a concentrated paste made with the pulp of the guayaba fruit.

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Many Mexican holiday celebrations will include ate. The Rosca de Reyes (a ring-shaped cake eaten on Epiphany Day) often features big slices of ate on them. You can find ate made with other fruits like pumpkin, mango, and apple.

Ate de Guayaba - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

21. Glorias

Glorias are made with milk and nuts and they’re one of the most popular sweets in Mexico’s traditional candy stores.

They were created in Linares, Nuevo León during the 1930s, but people are not sure if their name comes from the idea of them tasting “glorious” or if it was because of the name of the creator’s granddaughter.

22. Palanquetas

Palanquetas are like ancient energy bars. They’re made of peanuts, pumpkin seeds, or other kinds of nuts, covered in brown sugar caramel or honey.

Its name comes from the náhuatl word papaquili which means happy. Palanquetas are one of my favorite sweets, just be careful when you bite them as they’re quite sturdy.

Palanquetas - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

23. Pan de Mujer

Pan de mujer or woman’s bread is traditional from the northern state of Sinaloa. This is a soft round loaf of bread with a smoky flavor, filled with a sweet type of honey made of brown sugar called piloncillo or panocha.

A typical Mexican breakfast is often made up of pan de mujer with refried beans or dipped in a cup of milk.

Pan de Mujer - mexican desserts and sweets

24. Chamoy

Chamoy is a sweet and sour (and sometimes also spicy) sauce made with citric fruits, sugar, salt, and different kinds of chili pepper.

The original recipe for this concoction came from Japan many years ago, and it was transformed into a Mexican sweet with time. Chamoy is something you can have as dressing for fruit like mango or on some snacks like chips or peanuts.

Chamoy - Traditional Mexican Desserts and Sweets

25. Alfeñiques

Alfeñiques are another traditional sweet for Dia de Muertos. It consists of a mixture of sugar and lemon juice to form a paste and then make a shape with it.

People make small fruits or other shapes with the paste, using food coloring to give it a more “realistic” look. The sugar skulls you’ll see on the altars of the Day of the Dead are also alfeñiques

Credit: By Gzzz

Craving for Mexican Desserts

If you have a sweet tooth like I do, you’ll need to try these traditional Mexican desserts on your next trip to Mexico. Most restaurants will serve the typical desserts like flan, arroz con leche and dulce de leche; but you’ll easily find the other Mexican sweets in markets and on streetside stands.

Traditional Mexican Desserts

What Are Your Favorite Mexican Desserts?

Thank you for reading this far! I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of traditional Mexican desserts. Which of these Mexican desserts and sweets do you like the most?

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below. I’ll be more than happy to answer them!

For those who are planning to travel more in Mexico, check out some of these articles:

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Mexican Desserts and sweets

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