Pakistani desserts are a necessity on every occasion. The locals are fond of the traditional sweets of Pakistan no matter how many calories they contain. You will find traditional Pakistani sweets at the end of every dinner.
The natives here are not only great foodies but they also have a sweet tooth. Pakistanis have a separate room for desserts regardless of how much they eat during lunch or dinner.
What Is Special About The Sweets Of Pakistan?
Pakistani desserts include sweet puddings, dairy confectionaries, ice creams, and fried and baked delicacies. They are an important part of traditional Pakistani food and therefore a must-have in social gatherings and happy occasions.
People serve desserts in Pakistan like local ice creams, rice puddings, and carrot puddings at birthdays, weddings, and other important events. Fun fact about Pakistan; some of these celebrations can go on for days with lots of dancing, so a sugary boost is always welcomed.
Sweets in Pakistan can be found at local bakeries, sweet shops, and restaurants. However, natives prefer cooking desserts at home during special celebrations.
Most Famous Pakistani Sweet
Gulab Jamun (Rose Water Berry Or Rose Berry)
Gulab Jamun is brown, soft, and delightfully sweet with a heavenly taste. These cute round balls are the national sweets of Pakistan. It is the most demanded, and thus common dessert at every event.
The word Gulab jamun means Rose Fruit. It got its name from a fruit called jamun (java plum) because they have almost the same color and shape.
Gulab Jamun is traditionally made from khoya (milk reduced to a soft dough). Modern recipes replace khoya with powdered milk, butter, and cream. The dough balls are fried deeply in hot oil and then soaked in cardamom and rosewater-scented syrup.
You can enjoy both cold and warm gulab jamuns. The warm ones are served hot with a lot of sweet syrup called sheera. Both servings are topped with almonds and pistachios.
Most Famous Pakistani Dessert
Kheer (Rice Pudding)
Kheer is a sweet and aromatic rice pudding. It is one of the most iconic Pakistani desserts that you must try. Kheer is served on Eid, religious events, and other social gatherings.
This rice pudding is made by boiling milk, sugar, and rice. The flavors are enhanced with desiccated coconut, cardamon, raisins, and saffron.
There are different varieties of rice puddings that you can find globally, but Pakistani rice pudding might have the best taste of all. It has a sweet and citrusy flavor and a rosy smell. This is also one of the popular Pakistani street food that locals enjoy.
Most Famous Pakistani Cookie
Nankhatai (Shortbread Cookies)
Nankhatai is a cookie made from shortbread. You can grab a bite of this flavorful snack from any Pakistani bakery. Nankhatai is made with flour, sugar, and ghee and flavored with nutmeg and cardamom.
It is a local Pakistani cake-like cookie that you can easily find in every bakery. But the authentic taste is only delivered by small candy shops and local vendors.
Traditional Sweets Of Pakistan
Jalebi (Funnel Cake)
Jalebi is a crunchy and juicy Pakistani sweet dish and a perfect evening snack. It has a bright orange color which is very attractive and gives a glassy appearance.
Jalebi is made with a batter of gram flour and all-purpose flour. The batter is poured into the hot oil in a spiral shape. They are fried until crispy and crunchy jalebis are prepared and then dipped in sweet syrup.
There are many sweet shops and bakeries throughout the country where you can enjoy this crispy and sugary Pakistani cake. As jalebi is a famous Pakistani street delicacy, you can also find it in small streets.
Barfi (Dense Milk Based Sweet)
Barfi is a milk-based confectionery in Pakistani sweets. The name barfi is given to the sweet for its white color that looks like barf (snow).
It is made from milk powder, curd, clarified butter, and sugar. The ingredients are mixed well to give a creamy texture.
Barfi comes in different colors and flavors. Sometimes, you might get a pink or brown barfi, but the taste would be the same as the ordinary one. Make sure to ask the seller if you are buying the right flavor.
The most common barfi flavors you can easily find in any Pakistani bakery are chocolate, pistachio, cashew, and coconut. There are some rare varieties of barfi, like paneer, gram flour, maida, mango, and fig, which you can get from fancy Pakistani bakeries.
Sohan Halwa (Dense And Sweet Confectionary)
Sohan halwa or habshi halwa is a winter treat amongst Pakistani desserts. The name habshi halwa is given to the brown color of this confectionery.
You can find two kinds of sohan halwa in Pakistan. The first one is a sticky and chewy Pakistani cake with a grainy texture. However, the other one is like hard and crunchy caramel candy.
The most famous sohan halwa is Multani sohan halwa made in Multan. The authentic sohan halwa is prepared with only four ingredients, including wheat, sugar, milk, and ghee. It is topped up with pistachios and almonds to enhance the taste.
Chum Chum (Milk-Stuffed Sweets)
Chum chum is a sibling of Gulab Jamun, but instead of brown, this sweet has a white, pink, yellow, or orange color. It has a soft texture that feels like a sponge.
Chum chum is a Bengali sweet but has the same popularity in Indian and Pakistani sweets. The sweet gets its name “Chum chum” for its glossy surface.
Chum chum is made from milk, flour, cream, and sugar and sprinkled with coconut and pistachio flakes. You will find that Chum Chum is sometimes served with sugary syrup, that sweet dish is now called Rasgulla (syrup-filled rolls).
Motichur Laddu (Crumbled Pearl Sweet)
Motichur laddu is actually not among the common sweets of Pakistan. Natives usually distribute this delectable sweet to relatives and friends on the birth of a baby boy. Sometimes, it is also prepared for wedding events.
If it is not that popular, you might wonder why this sweet is on this list? Simply because it is worth trying. Motichur laddus have a very unusual taste of cardamom and saffron.
These laddus are big round balls made from gram flour and clarified butter. This Pakistani dessert also contains other flavourful ingredients like semolina, coconut powder, and nuts. The laddus have an eye-catching orangish-yellow color.
Balu Shahi (Glazed Donuts)
Balushahi is a crispy not so sweet dessert unlike other Pakistani sweets. It is a layered ball-shaped flaky donut with crushed almonds in its center.
This unique confectionery is prepared from all-purpose flour and clarified butter. The fried donuts are soaked in a sugary syrup to give a sweet outer layer.
It is soft and flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside. Balu shahi is a perfect Pakistani snack for every cultural event and celebration.
Amrati (Sweet Pretzels)
Amrati is a Mughlai confectionery. It was invented to satisfy the sweet craving of Jahangir Badshah when he was bored eating regular sweets.
This is another one of the traditional Pakistani sweets that you can enjoy along with rabri (sweet thickened milk). Amrati has a bright organ color that is quite enticing.
The dessert delivers a subtle sweet taste. So, it gets its name Amrati from the word Amrat, which means sweetened water. Amrati has a flower-like shape and looks like a jalebi.
The royal sweet is made from wheat flour-based batter. The batter is deep-fried and then dipped in amazingly delicious sweet syrup to make it juicy and sticky.
You can taste this crispy-sweet treat from any local Pakistani bakery.
Kalakand (Pakistani Cake)
Kalakand is a Pakistani cake that looks like a cheesecake and is made of sweetened condensed milk. It has a semi-hard texture and tastes something between a cake and a fudge.
Kalakand is extremely sweet, so it is perfect if you love very sweet confectioneries. It is largely eaten throughout the country. The dessert is loaded with khoya and chopped nuts, especially pistachio and almond.
There is hardly any Pakistani dessert without the addition of almonds and pistachios. The nuts in kalakand deliver a grainy texture over the palate.
Traditional Pakistani Candy
Till Patti (Jaggery and Sesame Sweet Candy)
Till patti is a hard and caramel-flavored Pakistani candy. It is popular among Pakistani adults and kids.
Till patti is a sugary candy made from jaggery and topped with sesame seeds. It is available in local general stores and candy shops in Pakistan.
The reason for adding this simple candy to our list is that you can hardly find it anywhere outside Pakistan. So if you visit Pakistan, don’t forget to give this candy a try.
Meetha Petha (Sweet Pumpkin)
Meetha petha or petha holds a special place among Pakistani sweets. It is a sweet and juicy soft Pakistani candy loved by both kids and adults. Petha is a popular winter snack enjoyed with peanuts and other dry fruits.
Meetha petha is made from ash gourd vegetable (white pumpkin). It can be enjoyed both dried or dipped in sugar syrup (chashni or sheera). The dry form is most common and is covered with a powdery coating.
Petha comes in various shapes: rectangular, cylindrical, and square. It is translucent and feels like a soft, sweet, and chewy candy.
Patisa (Pakistani Candy Floss)
Patisa is a famous sweet of Pakistani street food. It is a fudge-based soft and creamy barfi with a stringy structure, very different from other Pakistani sweets.
There are two kinds of patisa, one is made from gram flour and the other from wheat-purpose flour. Other ingredients of patisa are sugar, milk, and ghee.
Patisa has a very technical recipe. A light dough is prepared from the flour and fried in clarified butter. It is then soaked in sugar syrup and shredded with forks. Finally, the delicate threads are rolled together on a greased platter.
Once the patisa is prepared, chopped almonds and pistachios are added. Patisa has a velvety texture and feels like a soft fudge.
Cotton candy is a universally favorite confectionery, also known as candy floss and fairy floss. In Pakistan, the cotton candy is locally known as “laccha.”
Candy floss is made from sugar and has floral and fruity notes. It has a thread-like structure that feels like a fluffy candy.
This Pakistani candy comes in various shapes and colors. Some vendors in Pakistan make colorful characters from candy floss to attract kids.
Pakistani Desserts – Ice Creams
Ice cream is an all-time favorite Pakistani dessert. You can find it on every street throughout the country. Ice cream comes in a variety of flavors and styles.
Cone ice creams are the most popular among locals, with different flavors and toppings. All the cities have their own famous ice cream points.
Chaman ice cream, Chaudairy, Savour, and Lal Qila serve some of the best local ice cream flavors.
Kulfi (Dairy Ice Cream With Nuts)
Kulfi is a frozen Pakistani dessert eaten throughout the country. This creamy and dense dairy ice cream represents true Pakistani flavors.
Kulfi is considered a healthier version than other local ice creams. It is also added to the falooda (a noodle dessert), complementing the soft noodles.
This refreshing and sweet treat is made from thick condensed milk, sugar, and natural flavors. It is topped with nuts and khoya and served on a stick.
Crunchy almonds and the subtle flavor of cardamom further enhanced the taste. The best falooda can be found in the dairy shops of Lahore.
Gola Ganda (Snow Cone)
Gola Ganda is a colorful Pakistani dessert, locally known as barf ka golla (snowball). It is popular among Pakistani kids and young girls.
Karachi beaches have some remarkable varieties of these snow cones. It is usually made by shaving the ice. The shaved ice is layered with rainbow-colored sweet syrups and then served on a stick.
Some sellers also spread ingredients like condensed milk, cherries, chocolate chips, and pineapple chunks on top of the snow cones.
Pakistani Desserts – Puddings
Gajar Ka Halwa (Carrot Pudding)
Gajar ka halwa is a traditional Pakistani dessert that people love to eat during winter. Locals also cook this heavenly dessert at home for guests and special events.
This healthy pudding is made of fresh carrots, milk, cardamom, and sugar. The pudding has a very appealing bright red color and a blended smell of sweet milk and carrots.
It gives hints of cardamom and nuts with a strong taste of carrots. Before serving, it is garnished with khoya (curd), dry fruits, boiled eggs, and coconut shavings. You can find carrot pudding in any Pakistani bakery in urban cities.
Suji Ka Halwa (Semolina Pudding)
Suji ka halwa is a simple yet one of the most popular desserts in Pakistan. It is not only a traditional Pakistani dessert but also very popular in North India.
Semolina pudding also makes a perfect breakfast in Pakistan, paired with soft puris (flatbread) and chickpeas curry. The little grains of semolina melt in your mouth.
It is made from oil, semolina, sugar, and milk. The dessert has a sweet and roasted nutty flavor with hints of caramel. The confectionery is topped with nuts, raisins, and coconut shavings.
Although it contains a lot of oil, this Pakistani sweet pudding is light and delicious.
Pethay Ka Halwa (Pumpkin Pudding)
Pethay ka halwa is a delicious Pakistani dessert, also known as kaddu ka halwa (pumpkin pudding). It is a healthy pumpkin pudding you can find in all local bakeries.
The pudding is prepared with pumpkin, clarified butter, curd, and sugar. It has a taste like the candy “meetha petha” but it is not so sugary.
Shahi Tukray (Bread Pudding)
Shahi tukray, a bread-based Mughlai dessert, is a part of every occasion in Karachi and Hyderabad. This fancy treat is also served during Eid-ul-Fitr, throughout the country.
Shahi is a Persian word meaning royal, and tukray is an Urdu word meaning pieces. So, the dish translates as “royal pieces of dessert.”
This Pakistani pudding is prepared by frying bread slices and then soaking them in thick milk sauce. The milk sauce also contains saffron and cardamom. It is garnished with almonds, cashews, and pistachios.
A full spoon of crispy-soft bread with flavored milk tastes just amazing! You can have this royal treat from local restaurants to get its original taste.
Pakistani Desserts – Dairy Sweet Dishes
Ras Malai (Dumplings With Clotted Cream)
Ras malai is an aromatic milk-based Pakistani dessert, usually served cold. It has floral flavors with a creamy texture and a hint of spices.
This Pakistani sweet dish consists of small round cakes and sugary curd milk. These small Pakistani cakes are made from powdered milk, egg, baking powder, and oil.
To prepare saffron-milk sugar, crushed nuts, saffron, and cardamom are cooked with milk.
Rabri (Milk Dessert)
Rabri is a traditional Pakistani dessert made with full-fat milk, sugar, and nuts. It is topped with saffron and cardamom that delivers a delightful taste.
Rabri is served in a clay jar garnished with crushed pistachios and almonds. Although rabri is famous throughout the country, Hyderabad is especially known for the best taste in rabri.
Lab-e-Shireen (Fruit Custard)
Lab-e-Shireen is a modern custard and fruit-based Pakistani dessert. Muslims usually make this colorful sweet dish for iftar during Ramadan and on Eid.
The word, Lab-e-Shireen means sweet lips, as the dessert fills your mouth with sweetness. The dessert is prepared with milk, sugar, vermicelli, cream, jelly, fruit cocktail, and dry fruits.
A full spoonful of this fruit custard gives a nutty, smooth, and fruity burst of flavor. Every bite is refreshing and delivers sweet and tangy notes to taste buds.
Falooda (Cold Dessert Made With Noodles)
Falooda is another drool-worthy Mughal cuisine largely enjoyed in Pakistan. The dessert is indescribably refreshing and energizing. It is a cold version of a noodle dessert similar in taste to a milkshake.
Falooda comes in various flavors: strawberry, mango, rabri, etc. The main ingredients of vermicelli are rose syrup, jelly, milk, and sweet basil seeds. It is served with kulfi (condensed milk ice cream) and lots of crushed ice.
There are several falooda shops across the country where you can enjoy this fancy-looking Pakistani dessert.
Sheer Khurma (Vermicelli Milk And Date Pudding)
Sheer khurma is a simple yet festive dessert usually enjoyed on special occasions. It is also served as a breakfast and snack on Muslim festivals such as Eid and Shab e Barat.
Sheer khurma comes from the Persian word sheer, which means milk, and khurma means dates. The Pakistani sweet dish is prepared with thin vermicelli, full-fat milk, dates, dry fruits, and nuts.
Kewra and cardamom are also added for flavoring. This versatile dessert can be enjoyed both hot and cold.
Traditional Pakistani Rice Desserts
Zarda (Sweet Yellow Rice)
Zarda, also known as meethe chawal (sweet rice), is a well-known Pakistani rice dish. It is usually served as an after-meal dessert.
This yellow-colored rice dish originated from the Mughal era and is now a popular dish at special festivals and weddings.
The dessert gets its name “Zarda” from the Urdu word “Zard” which means yellow. It is prepared with rice, sugar, and ghee. The loaded nuts, dried coconut, raisins, and spices make zarda a luscious dish.
You can eat this flavourful Pakistani dessert from any local restaurant or bakery where they are made in cauldrons. The locals also used to distribute this dessert among the people as a traditional and cultural activity.
Phirni (Rice Pudding)
Phirni, also known as Firni, is a famous South Asian sweet rice pudding. This slow-cooked Pakistani dessert is usually made at festivals like Shab e Barat and Rabi ul awal.
Phirni is made with ground rice, milk, nuts, and sugar. Cardamom, saffron, and kewra are added for a rosy and fruity fragrance. It feels smooth and creamy over the palate.
Instead of regular plates, Phirni is served in clay pots or clay plates, which absorb the moisture and make it thick and more flavorful.
When served, it looks like kheer, but it is much creamier. Unlike kheer, Phirni is served chilled only. You can try this yummy Pakistani sweet dish from any milk shop.
Gajrela (Carrot And Rice Pudding)
Gajrela is a carrot pudding popular in Punjab province. The delightful dessert is usually enjoyed in the winter season, but it is available throughout the year.
The main ingredients of Gajrela are carrots, milk, khoya, sugar, and rice. The dessert is garnished with cardamom, pistachio, and almonds.
Many people think that gajrela and gajar ka halwa are the same, but that’s not true. Gajrela is a milk pudding that contains more milk and cream than gajar ka halwa.
Discovering Traditional Pakistani Desserts And Sweets Of Pakistan
The sweets of Pakistan have some geographical and regional influence. There are countless variations, leaving you spoilt for choice. However, nearly all of them show similarities to a great deal so don’t be afraid to just try.
Rural and tribal areas of Pakistan have their regional Pakistani sweets. This is where you can find very local and generational flavors. On the other hand, the main cities of Pakistan, like Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore, show a blend of international and traditional Pakistani desserts.