53 deliciously Asian ice cream flavours
Oh, and we've added some delicious popsicles, too!
Asian cuisine is nothing if not flavourful and exciting, and the soft serve culture is no exception. From Taiwanese snow ice and mochi balls to Thai ice cream rolls, the ice cream trend in Asia is ever evolving.
For us Asians, cold desserts aren’t just an afterthought, they can make for the main attraction.
Here are our mouthwatering favourite Asian ice cream flavours!
The sweetness of red bean paste is a staple of East Asian cuisine, so it comes as no surprise that the same taste has found its way into an array of Asian desserts, like red bean ice cream and mochi balls.
Though one of the weirder Asian ice cream flavours, squid ink can be quite a treat, if you like subtle creaminess.
Don’t let the dark colour of this ice cream fool you, it does not taste bitter at all. In fact, some have likened it to chocolate and salted caramel.
Intrigued? Get your fix at food stalls across Japan or South Korea.
You can find this flavourful soft serve in both Japan and China. It’s creamy, nutty, and a great sweet treat after a hearty meal.
Sampaguita ice cream, which is a tribute to the Philippines’ national flower, is just as fragrant as the sweet-smelling bloom itself. A type of jasmine, this flower has been used in Asian cooking, mostly in salads. Now you can savour its floral flavour in soft serve form.
Also popular in the Philippines, this cheese-flavoured ice cream is creamy and sweet, with just the right amount of saltiness that truly hits the spot.
This flavourful fruit, which can thrive in most countries in Southeast Asia, has a pleasantly sharp aroma, chewy texture, and some even have said this fruit tastes like pork. As an ice cream, it’s still just as flavourful, but creamier and simply unique.
One of the most divisive flavours in Asian cuisine is durian. You either love it or hate it, but durian ice cream will likely make anyone a fan!
Who says teh tarik only makes for a good early morning pick-me-up? Teh Tarik can also become a great after-meal palate cleanser, as a distinctly Asian ice cream flavour. Well, in Malaysia, at least.
This soft serve is truly a crowd pleaser, because the love for the sweetness (or sourness) and creaminess of mangoes is a universal feeling, even beyond Asia.
This unusual and interesting flavour can be found in—where else, but—Malaysia. It has all the flavours of the popular dish that inspired it: the hints of coconut, anchovies, peanuts, and of course, chilli flakes! It’s not as hot, though, but it’s not without its spiciness.
This earthy and creamy frozen treat is a concoction of both India and the middle east. If you’re into subtle sweetness and fragrance, then saffron ice cream is worth a try.
A popular snack in the Philippines, green mango with shrimp paste has also been reimagined as a dessert and the results are surprisingly delicious! Curious? Just imagine a cold, tangy ice cream tempered by some saltiness.
Also known as green tea ice cream, matcha soft serve is a good choice if you’re looking for a light, cold dessert that is not overly sweet or creamy. Some variations even leave a bitter aftertaste, if that’s your thing.
This particular flavour, which has been likened to pears, strawberries or grapefruit depending on its ripeness, has been gaining popularity in India and beyond as an ice cream flavour. Much like the other Asian ice cream flavours, you can find a wealth of recipes to make your own online.
This is one of the Asian ice cream flavours worth trying! It’s a refreshing take on soft serve with a sharp, spicy flavour that’s offset by just the right amount of creaminess.
Who says ginger is just meant to liven up broth and savoury dishes?
Naturally sweet and citrusy, pomelo-flavoured sorbet is a must try for those looking to explore the most unforgettable Asian ice cream flavours. Top with mint leaves for added fragrance.
Most of us think of lavender as more of a scent than a taste, but it’s precisely its fragrance that boosts the flavour of Asian dishes, like savoury dishes and baked dishes, as well as ice cream.
Note though that culinary lavender has to be used in moderation due to its strong flavour. When used in ice cream, it’s often paired with honey and even lemon.
I’ve had the pleasure of trying this sour, sweet and creamy concoction at an Asian restaurant in the Philippines and though I was skeptical at first, it did not disappoint. It was served with a honey dew syrup to infuse sweetness, but the soft serve itself was a standalone winner.
This fun, tropical flavour is made more enjoyable in soft serve form. It’s tangy and sweet and super refreshing.
And it’s not just pineapple ice cream that’s worth a try if you love this flavour, you can get your pineapple fix from an array of desserts across southeast Asia, like pineapple smoothies, sorbets, cakes, and tarts.
Though lemongrass is a familiar flavour to those who love Asian cuisine, not everyone realises that it also works as one of the most distinct and memorable Asian ice cream flavours. Lemongrass ice cream tastes a lot like lemon, but more subtle and herby than citrusy.
Looking for a luscious and refreshing dessert? Then you would might like to try coconut ice cream, which you can get across Southeast Asia, for a way to cool down during a warm day. It’s creamy and rich with just the right amount of sweetness. Think huge dollops of thick coconut milk. Sold yet?
Also known as chocolate porridge in the Philippines, champorado ice cream topped with salty anchovies (dilis) is quite the revelation. I’ve had the pleasure of trying this rich, creamy treat in Manila and it became an instant favourite.
Anyone’s who ever had Japanese food is familiar with the distinct texture and flavour of wasabi. Some would say it’s like spicy mustard while others describe it as a a pungent spice.
When used in ice cream, wasabi retains that unique, sharp flavour but the heat of the spice is offset by the coolness and creaminess of soft serve.
Papayas are packed with nutrients as well as flavour. So it makes sense that its subtle sweetness works for ice cream and sorbets as well. Since papayas have a natural sweetness, they’re a healthier ice cream ingredient option, as they do not require added sugar.
For those who love tender and juicy corn, this flavour will surely be a hit. Imagine the sweetness of corn kernels infused into a luscious soft serve. Drooling yet?
Also known as soursop, guyabano boasts a lot of health benefits. It’s not only packed with nutrients like fibre and vitamin C, it also has a distinct, citrusy flavour that’s hard to miss.
Otherwise known as yam or sweet potato, ube is a popular ice cream flavour in the Philippines, but it has recently gained popularity in the international food scene, where purple yam flavour is used in cakes, cookies, chips, and jams.
Milo dinosaur is a popular drink across Asia, specifically in Singapore, so it’s pretty exciting that the beloved milky and chocolatey flavours have been translated into ice cream form. Have your fill in Malaysia, Singapore, or even the Philippines.
Tofu is an indispensible part of Asian, particularly Chinese and Thai cuisine. Depending on how it’s cooked, tofu (or bean curd) can be enjoyed soft or chewy and even crispy. But there is one other way to enjoy tofu, and that’s as a tasty kind of soft serve!
For ice cream lovers in Singapore, kaya is not just a sweet, nutty jam that goes well with toast. It also works as a creamy soft serve topped with toasted bread, of course!
The salted egg trend—chips, cakes, etc.—shows no signs of slowing down, so it’s no surprise that this beloved flavour has been infused into soft serve. The coolness of ice cream makes it even more flavourful, if you can believe it!
Just like the beloved Filipino street food, taho ice cream is similarly soy-based and just as tasty. When drizzled with sugary, coconut syrup and topped with tapioca, it becomes an even more refreshing treat. Though instead of the texture silken tofu, expect a creamier, less chewy bite.
Sweetness isn’t the only flavour ice cream lovers crave in Asia, because flavours that are sour are a hit, too! Like Tamarind ice cream, which is popular in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. There is even a tamarind chilli variation, which makes the tanginess even sharper.
Also known as calamondin or the Philippine lime, the calamansi fruit is citrusy and sour. A popular ingredient locally, calamansi is used in both savoury dishes, baked goods, and healthy smoothies, now it’s been made even more refreshing as a soft serve dessert.
Though not exclusively used in Asian cooking, Taro is a starchy, edible root that’s an integral part of our food culture. Though its meaty flavour is used in savoury dishes, it’s also been used to make ice cream. The results? A velvety and nutty soft serve that’s not overly rich.
The fragrant flavours of pandan is a staple of Asian cooking, from adding a pleasant aroma to rice to flavouring curries, it’s one of the most easily recognisable herbs.
In the Philippines, pandan is combined with coconut for a pleasantly creamy and tasty dessert.
Also known as lolly fruit, santol is a seasonal, nutritious fruit beloved in the Philippines. When made into ice cream, the results are a velvety dessert that’s both sweet and sour. Santol sorbet can be found in Davao and other regions in the Philippines , when in season, of course.
If you’re looking for a spicy but sweet ice cream fix and you’ve had your fill of wasabi, why not try curry ice cream, which is often sold in Japan. When made at home, some like adding mint or coconut to their curry ice cream to offset the spiciness.
Dragonfruit is one of the more popular ice cream flavour in Malaysia. This refreshing and brightly coloured fruit is often enjoyed in popsicle form. It’s naturally sweet and delectable. Some even drizzle it with lime, when prepared in soft serve form, for a tangy boost!
Lychee ice cream is just as juicy and delectable as the flavourful fruit it’s derived from. Since lychees are naturally sweet, they make for the perfect soft serve ingredient. When combined with coconut or matcha, for instance, lychee becomes even more delicious.
Mildly sweet with a light citrusy flavour is the best way to describe pears. When infused in ice cream, it results in a fresh, delicate soft serve that’s as refreshing as it is flavourful.
Crab ice cream isn’t for everybody, but it’s worth a shot, particularly for the more adventurous. From chilli crab ice cream in Singapore and Kani aisu in Japan, crab ice cream is described as having a sweet, umami taste, while other say it has a bisque-like flavour.
Similar to the lychee, as it has white flesh with a big seed, longans differ in that it has a more tart flavour, while lychees balance tartness with natural sweetness. But they both make great ice cream flavours!
In the same family as lychees and longans is the rambutan fruit. Though it has the same white flesh within, it differs in its spiky outer layer as well as rich, sweet flavour.
Plums have been an integral part of east Asian cooking for centuries. So it’s natural for this popular fruit to be used in a beloved dessert like ice creams and sorbets. If you stumble upon plum ice cream on your travels, expect a sweet, tangy, and tart taste as well as a dessert experience you won’t soon forget.
The beloved boba has been taken one step in the right direction with this dessert. Milk tea ice cream, which I had the pleasure of trying in Manila, can range from being toffee to caramel flavoured, with just the right amount of sweetness from brown sugar.
The healthy fats in avocado make for a rich ice cream experience. Just like the other Asian ice cream flavours on this list, recipes of how to make this abound online. But you can get your fix when travelling across Asia, particularly in the Philippines and Malaysia.
This mild-tasting creamy fruit has been one of my favourites since childhood. It is believed to have originated in Indonesia, where it is fondly known as the ‘queen of fruits.’ Though the store-bought kind is available in certain parts of Asia, you can easily make your own at home.
Much like plums, passion fruits have a naturally tart flavour and appetising fragrance. Some liken it to a more sour orange or mango. As such, it’s often paired with something sweet or creamy, which makes it an ideal candidate for luscious ice cream.
Another Filipino snack food that’s been turned into a dessert is turon. The flavour of turon ice cream lies in both its caramelized cone, that recreates the taste of fried turon wrappers, and banana ice cream.
You can probably get this elsewhere, but it deserves a spot on this list because it is undeniably one of the best Asian ice cream flavours. It lends itself well to variety of dishes, like crepes, and as mentioned earlier, Philippine turon ice cream.
An indispensable spice in Asian cooking, cardamom also makes for one of the most enticing Asian ice cream flavours. Much like cardamom pods, the ice cream form is herby, fragrant, and minty.
Aside from being one of the healthiest vegetables around, moringa can be a delicious, guilt-free ice cream flavour. It can be combined with a variety of flavours, too, like vanilla, chocolate, and mint for added richness. You can get this across southeast Asia, in Indonesia and the Philippines, but you can also whip up your own at home.
Did we miss out on your favourite Asian ice cream flavours? Let us know in the comments!