This post is all about the list of the best Indian desserts and sweets recipes that you can easily make at home for any festival, special occasion, or dinner party.
Indian sweets and desserts
Indian sweets, also known as mithai or Indian treats, are diverse, with a wide range of delicacies that have different textures and flavors prepared using flour, milk, desi ghee, sugar, nuts, and cardamom or saffron.
India is a land of festivals, and the best part about these festivals is that they are celebrated in the community by sharing and eating sweets or mithai and lots of them 🙂 The variety of sweets prepared in India is countless, and each sweet recipe has several regional variations to it.
Some sweets are given in the form of gift boxes or mithai boxes during festivals like Diwali, and Raksha Bandhan, while other sweets are offered to a god in the form of Naivedyam during Navratri, Ganesh Chaturthi and then distributed as prasadam.
In this post, you will find some traditional, authentic, popular, and fusion Indian desserts and sweets that can be made ahead of time or some sweets that can be made in less than 30 minutes, all from North Indian and South India for Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Raksha Bandhan, Karwa Chauth, Holi, Diwali, 9 days of Navratri, Ram Navami, Yugadi, Eid, Shravan (sawa), Varamahalakshmi vratam etc.
If you want to check out the list of Indian sweets and desserts based on geographic locations, read this post. (Src: Wiki)
What are the most popular desserts in India?
Numerous Indian desserts are enjoyed across the county. The most popular or famous Indian sweets names are gulab jamun, rasgulla, jalebi, any variety of barfi, ladoo, halwa, peda, soan papdi, and Mysore pak.
Halwa / Indian Pudding
Halwa (halva) is a no-bake Indian pudding dessert that comes with different flavors and textures based on the ingredients used. Some popular halwa flavors include wheat (atta) halwa, carrot halwa, suji (semolina) halwa, banana halwa, besan halwa, moong dal halwa, Bombay karachi halwa, etc. Don't miss to check out the halwa poori chana prasad prepared during Navratri as prasad and naivedyam.
Laddu / Ladoo
Laddu, also known as laddoo or ladoo is a round-shaped Indian dessert recipe prepared using coconut (nariyal), besan(chickpeas), wheat (atta), along with sugar, ghee, and nuts. The popular laddu or mithai includes besan laddu, wheat ladoo, motichoor laddu, rava ladoo, coconut laddu, dry fruit ladoo, urad dal ladoo, etc.
Barfi / Burfi
Barfi or Burfi is a favorite rich and fudgy Indian dessert recipe made using milk, milk powder, condensed milk, khoya (mawa), and paneer(cottage cheese) as key ingredients. Some popular burfi flavors include plain white milk burfi, besan barfi, coconut burfi with sugar or jaggery, khoya barfi, kaju katli or cashew burfi, badam barfi, gajar burfi.
Check out the complete list of Indian fudge or barfi sweet recipes.
Kheer / Payasam
Kheer or Payasam is a rich, classic, and royal Indian dessert that is made using milk, and sugar along with rice, semolina dal like moong dal, chana dal, vermicelli (seviyan), makhana, dates, etc. Some popular kheer includes rice or chawal ki kheer, chana dal kheer, moong dal kheer, sabudana kheer, vermicelli payasam, makhana kheer, nei payasam, ada pradhaman payasam, etc.
More Traditional sweets
These traditional sweets include those desserts or treats that are authentic but are not included in the categories like halwa, burfi, ladoo, or payasam. They are Indian desserts with milk like gulab jamun, rasgulla, rasmalai, basundi, rabri, shahi tukda or other sweets like nankhatai, jalebi, kulfi, kala jamun, soan papdi, kalakand, chikki, etc.
Healthy Indian sweets
If you are looking for low calories healthy Indian sweets, then try sugar-free dry fruit ladoo, dates kheer, oats pudding, ragi, or finger millet pudding, moong dal halwa, apple halwa, or South Indian coconut burfi with jaggery.
Fusion Indian Desserts
Fusion desserts are some of the best creations where Indian sweets are combined with international cuisines. Some of the popular ones now at the bakeries include gulab jamun cheesecake, mango saffron panna cotta, tiramisu with masala chai, coconut ladoo truffles, a donut with jalebi, mithai cheesecake, paan ice cream, motichoor ladoo parfait, rasmalai tiramisu, carrot burfi ice cream, cheesecake jars with burfi.
Yes. The majority of Indian sweets are vegetarian. Indian desserts are mainly prepared using milk, nuts, desi ghee (clarified butter), and flavoring like cardamom or saffron.
Indian desserts are enjoyed year-round, but they have importance during special occasions, festivals like Diwali, Holi, and Raksha Bandhan, and as naivedyam or prasad during religious pooja and vrat like Navratri, Ram Navmi.
Some Indian desserts, like ladoo and burfi, made using chickpea flour or kheer, made using rice and sabudana, are naturally gluten-free. However, there are sweets made using flour, and thus check the ingredients before consuming if you have celiac disease or glucose intolerance.
The shelf life of Indian sweets and desserts will vary based on the ingredients added. Desserts like kheer or milk-based sweets taste the best when consumed within a few days, while nankhatai, carrot pudding or halwa, dry fruit laddu, and kaju barfi last longer when stored in airtight conatiner.
Indian is a diverse country with different states and regions, each having its own variations. For example, South India is famous for payasam, Tirupati ladoo, sweet pongal, Mysore pak etc.; Chhena poda from Odisha, Bengal is famous for Sandesh, rasgulla, or Modak in Maharastra and milk-based sweets in North India.
Some Indian sweets that are good for health include dry fruit ladoo, coconut ladoo or burfi with jaggery, date rolls or kheer, and ragi manni (finger millet custard), banana rasayana.
Traditional Indian sweets prepared during festivals include burfi or burfi, laddu, payasam or kheer, sandesh, ragulla, rasamalai, mysore pak, halwa, and jalebi.
This list includes the best, easy, and most authentic Indian sweets and desserts that you can make at home. I have more recipes under the desserts and sweets categories like ragi nankhatai, peach mango halwa, khoya burfi, poppy seeds kheer, sweet rice appe (paniyaram or paddu), malpua, etc. Let us know your favorite from our sweet list.
More Indian festival recipes
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Easy Indian Desserts | Best Indian Sweets
Indian Carrot Dessert (Popular Gajar Halwa or Carrot Pudding)
- 3 cups Carrot peeled and grated
- 4 tablespoon Ghee
- 4 tablespoon Whole milk
- 6 tablespoon Condensed milk
- ¼ Cardamom powder
- Nuts roasted for garnish
- Heat ghee in a pan. Add grated carrots and saute for 5 to 8 minutes or until the carrots are soft and tender and the moisture evaporates.3 cups Carrot, 4 tablespoon Ghee
- Add milk and saute until milk dries out.4 tablespoon Whole milk
- Add condensed milk and cardamom powder and cook on medium-low flame until halwa reaches thick desired consistency. Keep stirring to avoid burning from the bottom.6 tablespoon Condensed milk, ¼ Cardamom powder
- Garnish with nuts. Serve and enjoy.Nuts
- This Indian carrot dessert or halwa can be made on your Instant Pot. Read the full instructions.
- The shelf life of Indian sweets and desserts will vary based on the ingredients added. Desserts like kheer or milk-based sweets taste the best when consumed within a few days, while nankhatai, carrot pudding or halwa, dry fruit laddu, and kaju barfi last longer when stored in airtight conatiner.
Note: We originally posted this recipe in Aug 2018. It has now been modified in July 2023 with Expert Chef Tips, FAQs, Storage Instructions, etc.