Our 11 Best Latin American Desserts for Más Sabor

Bring some Latin flair to your final course with these dessert recipes from Central and South America

The signature vibrance of Latin American cuisine doesn’t end with the last juicy, carnitas-stuffed taco or bowl of simmering, chile-laden stew. Some of our favorite Central and South American recipes are the sweet ones, those iconic custards, cookies, and cakes that can help soothe the palate after a firestorm of peppers.

From Mexico, we love classic churros with a gooey chocolate dipping sauce and polvorones, those pecan-laced shortbread cookies that are popular during holidays. Meanwhile, further south, we’re obsessed with Chile’s ubiquitous leche asada, a baked custard, and a sweet corn milk from Guatemala, a magical land of unknown food traditions.

Ready to explore the sweet side of Latin cooking? Here are our best Latin American dessert recipes.

Cactus Ice

Like okra, cactus leaves have a gelatinous interior that lends a creamy mouthfeel to this lightly spicy, sweet-tart granita. CJ Jacobson, chef at Girasol in Los Angeles, serves it as a complement to a fruity sorbet; it also makes a great palate cleanser between dinner courses. Get the recipe for Cactus Ice »

Mezcal Chiffon Cake

Smoky mezcal and bright pomelo zest flavor this airy, eggy chiffon cake, the perfect quick dessert. Get the recipe for Mezcal Chiffon Cake »

Baked Custard with Caramel Sauce (Leche Asada)

This classic custard is ubiquitous in Chile, where it is served in cups for a quick afternoon snack or baked in a larger pan for a family-style dessert.

Crepes Cajeta

Cajeta, a homemade caramel used in traditional Mexican desserts, is a terrific sauce to have on hand for drizzling over ice cream or baked treats. Get the recipe for Crepes Cajeta »

Brigadeiros (Brazilian Fudge Balls)

You can find many versions of brigadeiros, but chocolate is the traditional flavor for these dense, chewy fudge balls rolled in sprinkles, a treasured treat in Brazil. Get the recipe for Brigadeiros (Brazilian Fudge Balls) »

Duche de Leche Cookie Sandwiches (Alfajores)

Variations on this elegant cookie can be found throughout Latin America, but alfajores are associated above all with the cafe culture of Buenos Aires. They’re served year-round with coffee, but during the holidays home cooks all over Argentina break out their trusted family recipes—each one unique but always with a decadent filling of dulce de leche sandwiched between two rounds of crisp butter cookie. Get the recipe for Duche de Leche Cookie Sandwiches (Alfajores) »
This sweet corn beverage is doled out warm in Guatemalan markets, often seasoned with cinnamon or vanilla. Get the recipe for Guatemalan Sweet Corn and Milk Drink (Atol de Elote)

Tres Leches Cake

Popular throughout Latin America, this milk-soaked cake is thought to have originated in Nicaragua. Get the recipe for Tres Leches Cake »

Churros con Chocolate Caliente (Mexican Fritters with Hot Chocolate)

Ruben Ortega, a native of Puebla and the pastry chef at Hugo’s in Houston, Texas, shared his recipe for long, fluted fritters, served with thick hot chocolate for dunking. Get the recipe for Churros con Chocolate Caliente (Mexican Fritters with Hot Chocolate) »

Polvorones (Pecan Shortbread Cookies)

Pecans, a staple on holiday tables, make an appearance in these delicate shortbread cookies flavored with cinnamon and vanilla that are a popular treat in Mexico. Get the recipe for Polvorones (Pecan Shortbread Cookies) »

Mexican Bread Pudding (Capirotada)

This satisfying dessert uses piloncillo, a type of brown sugar used in Mexican cooking. Get the recipe for Mexican Bread Pudding (Capirotada) »