Sugar High: 10 African Desserts That You Have To Try

Culinary dishes in Africa are as diverse as the different countries on the continent, and this goes the same for the wonderful deserts that can be found there. It’s also safe to say that people in Africa have just as much of a sweet tooth as anywhere else in the world. Thousands of years of history and cultural fusion have combined to create a lion’s share of tasty treats. From Egypt to South Africa, here are 10 African desserts that you have to try!

malva pudding


Malva Pudding

This sweet pudding is a favorite among South Africans and originated from the Cape Dutch people. The dish consists of a spongy caramelized texture, cream sauce, custard and apricot jam. It’s a common item on many South African and Namibian restaurants for a reason — it’s that delicious.

Shuku Shuku

If you like coconuts, then you’ll love shuku shuku. This dessert is super popular in Nigeria as a dessert or even just a sweet snack. It’s made with a generous amount of coconut and sugar, then rolled into a ball. The dish is simple but packs a flavor punch, especially if you make it with fresh coconuts, which are basically everywhere in Nigeria.

Koeksisters, a unique South African pastry (Shutterstock)



There are two extremely popular versions of this tasty treat, the Afrikaner version and the Cape Malay version. The Afrikaner version comes in a braid and is coated in syrup while the Cape Malay version usually comes in the shape of an oval, has a different texture, and is often is topped with coconut. While many South Africans side strongly with their favorite koeksisters, we think both are delicious.

African Fruit Pie

This dessert is popular in east Africa and is one of the most packed with flavor items on our list. The pie takes all kinds of fruits like papaya, guava, mango, banana and more to make the juicy filling. It’s then whipped into a pie and topped with coconut and peanuts.


This Egyptian pastry can be filled with beef or cheese, but we think it’s best as a dessert when it’s filled with coconut, raisins, halva, chocolate, honey or other delicious ingredients. This dessert might be the oldest on our list and dates back to when the pharoahs used it as an offering to the gods.


Photo courtesy of Jon Mounjoy


This dish is one of South Africa’s most popular and means “milk tart” in Afrikaans, if you didn’t guess that already. While it resembles a cheesecake on first glance, it’s actually quite different. The main distinction is the creamy filling that is made from eggs, flour, milk and sugar, then spread into a delicious pastry crust and topped with cinnamon.




This doughnut-like treat is popular in Kenya, especially along the Swahili coast. Although the texture is similar to a doughnut, coconut milk is often added to them to give it a sweet taste. Other varieties of mandazi include ones flavored with almonds and peanuts. While it can be eaten throughout the day, for dessert, mandazi is often served with powdered sugar and cinnamon to make it even sweeter.

pink coconut ice


Coconut Ice

Coconut ice is yet another delicious treat hailing from South Africa. It’s made from condensed milk, icing sugar, coconut and a bit of red food coloring. The end result looks like a pink ice cube coated in coconut and sugar crystals, which is perfect to nibble on as a light dessert. Chocolate ones are also pretty popular throughout the country.

Photo by Joe Kennedy

Photo by Joe Kennedy

Moroccan oranges with cinnamon

Moroccan oranges are some of the best in the world, and they are even better when served with cinnamon and a dash of honey. The oranges tend to be a bit sweeter than those from other countries, making this simple, yet potent combination a delicious and refreshing dessert that is served in restaurants around the country.

Sweet Potato Pone

This dish is popular in west Africa, particularly in Liberia. The dish consists of African sweet potatoes (often the white ones) which are mashed up, then baked until they become a bread like consistency with nutmeg, ginger, vanilla and sugar to create a delicious dessert. If you like sweet potato pie, this one is going to hit the spot.

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