45+ Easy Indian Sweets and Desserts that are a must-try

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Looking to celebrate a special occasion with Indian sweets? Check out this extensive list of 45+ easy dessert recipes from all over India. They are perfect for dinner parties, festivals, or for days when you are just craving something sweet.

A collage of images with caption 45+ easy Indian sweets and desserts
Indian sweets and desserts

What is the difference between sweets and desserts?

Sweets include cakes, cookies, pastries, ice creams, puddings, and candies, as well as Indian ones such as laddoos, halwas, barfis, kheer, etc. In short, anything that is sugary in taste can be categorized as sweet.

Dessert is a meal course served after the main course. Usually, most folks serve something sweet for dessert, but it may also include cheese and even beverages such as wine and liqueur.

In a nutshell, sweets can be had at any time, but dessert, which may or may not include a sweet, is served after a meal.

Importance of sweets in Indian culture

While in most cultures, sweets are served as a dessert during the last course of a meal, in India, it is often served with the meal. Actually, scratch that – the fact is that you don’t even have to wait for a meal to have sweets. On birthdays and during festivals like Diwali, we start our day with sweets 🙂

To Indians, sweets signify happiness, prosperity, and new beginnings, and that’s why we celebrate any and every occasion with something sweet. From graduations to weddings to buying a new house – all our special moments are marked with making and sharing sweets or mithai, as we call it in Hindi.

In fact, all Indian festivals are celebrated with sweets, be it Diwali, Eid, Pongal, or Holi). Sweets are also offered as prasad (or holy offerings) to deities.

What’s unique about Indian sweets

Indian sweets are known to be irresistible and drool-worthy, and some may even call them exotic. They come in various textures; for instance, barfis are soft and crumbly, kheer and halwas are moist, and some, like gulab jamuns and rasgullas, are soaked in sugar syrup.

Many Indian desserts are made from powdered nuts, while some are garnished with them. Sometimes Indian sweets are decorated with edible silver leaf, also called varq.

Their uniqueness is partly due to the ingredients used and the cooking method.

Ingredients used in Indian sweets

India is a diverse country with forty languages and roughly 1600 dialects. The diversity is reflected not only in the languages spoken but also in the cuisine, which has been heavily influenced by invasions, religion, and of course, what ingredients are locally available.

That’s why every state and, sometimes, even cities in India is known for its own set of unique sweets.

Indian sweets are typically made from the following ingredients –

  • Milk or milk-based products – milk powder, khoya / mawa (reduced milk solids), condensed milk, etc.
  • Roasted and ground grains and pulses – wheat, semolina, Bengal gram, moong dal, etc.
  • Dry fruits/nuts – figs, dates, raisins, apricots, almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc.
  • Fruits/vegetables – apples, carrots, pumpkin, etc
  • Spices/spice powders – Cardamom powder is often added to sweets to make them aromatic, while saffron is included for its color and fragrance.
  • Essences such as kewra, saffron, etc., are also used to make the sweet more aromatic and enticing.

But one thing that is common with most Indian sweets is that they are mostly cooked in homemade ghee (also called desi ghee). Some store owners may use alternative fats like dalda vanaspati (made from hydrogenated vegetable oils) to cut costs, so that’s why homemade sweets are the best for you since you know what goes in them.

Cooking method

Indian sweets are more often than not made over a stovetop, unlike desserts in other countries, which are typically baked in an oven.

For instance, sweets like jalebis and gulab jamuns are deep-fried, while others, such as halwas, laddoos, and barfis, are cooked and stirred in a wok until the mixture thickens and while there are a few that are steamed like modaks and gattis (Mangalorean sweet). One of the few exceptions would be the plum or fruit cakes made during Christmas that are baked in the oven.

Note: With the advent of the Instant Pot, many recipes have now been modified to be made quickly in this electric pressure cooker. Check out this collection of 20+ Instant Pot desserts (which includes quite a few Indian recipes)

Even folks who’ve lived all their lives in India haven’t tried all the wide varieties of sweets made across the country. With this blog post, I have attempted to capture the 45+ most popular Indian desserts and sweets I thought you’d enjoy making.

I would love to hear from you what your favorite Indian sweet is and which one from this list you can’t wait to try.

If you are looking for recipes for popular sweets like Gulab jamun and jalebis, along with Diwali favorites such as barfis and ladoos, you’ll find all the popular Indian dessert recipes in the first three sections.

Gulab jamun

One of the most popular Indian desserts, gulab jamun is a round, milk-based sweet that is made by deep-frying balls made from milk solids. These balls are then soaked in flavored sugar syrup, which is what gives this Indian dessert its melt-in-the-mouth texture and its distinctive sweetness.

India's most beloved dessert and a favorite at Indian buffets! Here's an easy and fail-proof recipe to make these melt-in-the-mouth Gulab Jamun at home.

Jalebi

Jalebi is a spiral-shaped sweet made from all-purpose flour. Just like gulab jamun, it is first deep-fried in oil or ghee and then soaked in sugar syrup. Fun fact: Jalebi is often served as breakfast, accompanied by milk. In Gujarat, it is served with fafda (a savory snack) and with sweetened curd in North India, and some parts of India serve it with Rabdi.

This Jalebi recipe will convince you how easy it is to make this delicious Indian sweet at home.

Rasgulla

Rasgulla is a popular milk-based sweet treat that originates from the state of West Bengal.  It is prepared from paneer or chena (Indian cottage cheese), which is achieved by curdling the milk. Fresh paneer is drained thoroughly and mashed until smooth.

This smooth dough is then shaped into balls and cooked in saffron-infused sugar syrup. The end result is rewarding –  melt-in-mouth soft and spongy rasgullas.

Homemade soft and spongy Rasgulla (Cottage Cheese Dumplings) cooked in sugar syrup! A gluten free delicious dessert!

Rasmalai

Rasmalais are these soft, melt-in-your-mouth dumplings made from Indian cottage cheese that are soaked in sweetened thickened milk flavored with saffron & cardamom. They are truly irresistible.

Looking for a fail-proof, soft rasmalai recipe? Try this tried and tested recipe and impress your family and friends.

Sandesh

Sandesh is a delectable Bengali sweet made from milk that needs only a few ingredients. Lightly flavored with cardamom, this is an easy sweet to make during the festive season!

Sandesh, the popular Bengali sweet is an easy treat to make at home during the festive season! Made with milk and sugar, this takes less than 30 minutes!

Kaju katli (barfi)

Kaju Katli or barfi is this delicious Diwali dessert made from cashew nuts that are characterized by their diamond shape. Learn how to make this Indian sweet that looks and tastes just like the ones from the store.

Kaju Katli – This delicious Diwali dessert is a hot favorite with people of ages. Learn how to make this sweet dish in less than 10 minutes.

Badam katli

A delightful Indian sweet, this Badam Barfi is a wonderful unison of a soft fudge-like texture and luxurious flavors.

This festive season try Badam Katli with almond flour made in 20 minutes! This delightful fudge-like Indian sweet is also called Badam Barfi.

Milk peda

You’ll love this quick and easy version of milk peda that takes only 5 minutes to cook in the microwave.

Learn how to make this delicious milk peda in a microwave in about 5 minutes!

Mathura peda

Traditionally, Mathura peda takes hours to make, but not this recipe! Leverage storebought mawa and make these pedas in less than 30 minutes.

Mathura Peda is a classic Indian sweet made with roasted mawa (milk solids) and sugar and flavored with cardamom. These are done in less than 30 minutes!

Instant Shahi Rabdi (Rabri)

The traditional shahi rabdi takes over an hour over the stovetop with constant stirring involved. That’s why I came up with this instant recipe where you need just about 15 minutes, and this dish is ready before you know it!

This instant shahi rabdi (rabri) is a quick and easy spin on the classic Indian dessert that takes hours to make! Check out this 15-minute recipe that you'll want to make over and over again.

Malpua

Malpua is basically a fried pancake dunked in sugar syrup. This traditional Indian sweet is crispy from the edges and soft at the center. Learn how to make it at home.

Crispy fried pancakes dipped in a flavored sugar syrup, this Indian mithai’s taste is to die for.

Basundi

While the traditional recipe over the stovetop takes 1.5 hours, this recipe shares an instant method that will help you make this creamy dessert in under 30 minutes.

Basundi is a traditional Indian dessert famous in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and some parts of Karnataka. It is basically thickened milk flavored with nutmeg, cardamom, and saffron.

Shrikhand

If you are craving shrikhand and just don’t have the patience to wait, then, this recipe is for you. Made with Greek yogurt, this instant shrikhand recipe is ready in a jiffy.

Shrikhand – this addictive sweet dish made from yogurt takes all of 5 minutes and can be served as a dessert or as a delicious accompaniment to pooris.

Double ka meetha

Double ka meetha or shahi tukda / shahi tukra is a popular dessert from Hyderabad. Think of it as a sweet Indian bread pudding with fried bread slices soaked in saffron and cardamom powder-infused, thickened milk which is then served topped with chopped nuts.

Barfis

Barfis are fudge-like Indian sweet that is typically made using milk solids and sugar. It is flavored in different ways, as you’ll notice in the recipes below.

Kalakand

This milk-based sweet traditionally takes hours to make, but this quick microwave version made with ricotta cheese takes less than 30 minutes! Try this easy kalakand or milk cake recipe today.

This delicious Kalakand recipe is everyone’s favorite sweet to feast on during Diwali. It is perfect for potlucks or for a large crowd since it comes together in under 30 minutes.

Mango kalakand

Love mangoes? Then this mango kalakand recipe is a must-try in my book! Cooked in the microwave, this recipe needs only 30 minutes.

Mango kalakand is a delicious spin to the popular Indian dessert – kalakand. This crumbly melt-in-the-mouth sweet is perfect for potlucks and dinner parties since 30 minutes is all it takes!

Anjeer barfi

If you like to try a new variation of kalakand, make this anjeer barfi or kalakand. It is a good way to use up any figs lying in your pantry, and the best part – this melt-in-your-mouth dessert needs only 30 minutes!

Anjeer Barfi is a delectable sweet from Rajasthan. Learn how to make it quickly in half the time using Ricotta Cheese.

Chocolate barfi

If you love chocolates, then this recipe is for you. All you need is a few ingredients, and in ten minutes, this chocolate barfi is ready to be set in the refrigerator.

This 2 layered Chocolate Barfi recipe is sure to steal your heart. Follow this fail-proof and easy recipe to make this Chocolate Barfi in a microwave.

Coconut barfi

What’s not to love about a recipe that satisfies your sweet cravings and gets done in less than 15 minutes, isn’t it? This coconut barfi recipe does just that. Try it today, or save it for when you need a quick dessert.

Craving something sweet? Try this 15-minute recipe Coconut Barfi – a perfect recipe for when you want something sweet and satisfying without spending hours in the kitchen.

Mohanthal

Mohanthal is an Indian sweet made with besan (gram flour), ghee, and sugar and flavored with cardamom and saffron. It has a grainy texture and is made for festivals like Diwali!

Mohanthal is a sweet fudge made by roasting besan with ghee and flavored with cardamom and saffron. Perfect treat for the festive season!

Mysore pak

Mysore pak is a traditional South Indian sweet made with gram flour (besan), sugar, and copious amounts of ghee. There are two different versions of Mysore pak, one that crumbles like a cookie and the other one which is soft and fudgy. This recipe teaches you how to make the soft, melt-in-your-mouth Mysore pak at home.

This softer, melt in your mouth version of Mysore Pak is super easy to make. It needs only 3 ingredients and tastes delicious!

Laddoos

Laddoo or ladoo are sweetened round balls usually made from powdered grains such as wheat, semolina, rice, etc. They are sweetened by either using sugar, sugar syrup, or jaggery. Whole and ground nuts are often added to the sugary grain mixture before they are rolled into balls.

Laddoos are not just reserved for festive or special occasions; they are often fed to kids as an after-school snack or as a sweet treat.

Rava (sooji) laddoo

Rava ladoos or Sooji ladoos are balls made of semolina (rava or sooji), sugar, and ghee. This recipe will teach you how to make perfectly crumbly laddoos in no time!

Follow this video recipe to make crumbly, melt in the mouth Rava ladoo. (And the best part – you don't have to shape these into balls when it is piping hot!)

Motichoor ladoo

Motichur ladoo is one of the favorite Indian desserts and a quintessential sweet offered to gods as prasad (holy offering) during festivals and auspicious occasions. Follow this easy recipe to make it at home.

Motichoor Ladoo truly exhilarates the aura of any celebration or festivity. This step-by-step recipe will teach you how to make it at home.

Boondi laddoo

Made from tiny, deep-fried besan balls soaked in sugar syrup, this boondi laddoo is a popular dessert for every occasion – from weddings to all major Hindu festivals. Most South Indian temples also offer this sweet to god, which is then distributed as prasad. Here’s a step-by-step recipe for you to make it at home.

Lipsmacking delicious and heavenly Boondi Laddu or Boondi Ladoo recipe with detailed step-by-step pictures!

Besan ladoo

This delicious treat, while popular during festivals, is often made at home whenever the heart desires a quick sweet treat. Popular with people of all ages, this besan laddoo comes together easily with a few pantry ingredients.

Besan laddoo – made from chickpeas flour is a delicious treat that you pull together in under 30 minutes.

Chocolate nariyal laddu

These decadent chocolate coconut balls (ladoo) are perfect for days when you want a quick treat. Make this easy dessert with your kids – all you need is three ingredients!

Looking for a quick dessert? Make these decadent chocolate coconut balls! Needs only 3 key ingredients, and it comes together in about 30 minutes.  

Godi /Wheat laddoo

Made with whole wheat flour, this laddoo comes together rather quickly. All you need is 30 minutes and a few ingredients from your pantry.

This aromatic and delicious laddoo is a perfect after-school snack for kids! Learn how to make this sweet treat in less than 30 minutes.

While Diwali is the festival of light (and sweets), there are many other Indian festivals, like Pongal, Holi, Sankranti, Eid, etc., where sweets take center stage. This recipe collection wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share these treasured sweet recipes.

Sweet pongal (sakkarai pongal)

If you like South Indian desserts, then you’ll fall in love with sweet Pongal – a beautiful brown-colored porridge made from rice and moong dal. Cooked in ghee, sweetened with jaggery, and garnished with cashews and raisins, this dessert recipe is absolutely divine.

Learn how to make this authentic-tasting Sakkarai Pongal or Chakkara Pongali (Sweet Pongal) in under 30 minutes using an Instant Pot.

Til chikki

Crispy and crunchy Til Chikki or sesame crisps are made with roasted sesame seeds, sugar, laced with floral cardamom, and a hint of salt. In India, these irresistible crisps are specially made during the Sankranti festival, celebrated in January.

No-fail 15-minute recipe to make homemade, crunchy Til Chikki or Sesame Crisps with roasted sesame seeds, sugar & cardamom.

Gujiya

Gujiyas are sweet fried dumplings that are filled with a mixture of milk solids (mawa/khoya) and nuts and are often made during Holi and Diwali. These mawa gujiyas are the perfect festive treat; the addition of coconut makes them so special!

Fried sweet dumplings filled with milk solids, nuts and raisins. Gujiya is a traditional Indian sweet often made during the festival of Holi.

Ukadiche modak

Ukadiche Modak is a Maharashtrian delicacy made with steamed rice flour and a sweet coconut filling laced with nutmeg, cardamom, and saffron that is often made during the Ganesh festival. Check out the detailed recipe with all the tips and tricks to help you make modak like a pro!

Make perfect Ukadiche Modak! Steamed dumplings made with rice flour dough, stuffed with sweet coconut, jaggery, nutmeg, cardamom & saffron.

Fried modak

Fried Modak is a festive Indian sweet made with a delectable filling of coconut with aromatic saffron & cardamom wrapped in a thin layer of dough. These bite-sized dumplings are then deep-fried to a crisp golden brown perfection.

This recipe for delicious homemade fried modak will teach you how to make this sweet treat with 3 different filling options!

Nankhatai

Nankhatai is very popular during the festive season, especially during Diwali. These are flavored with ghee, cardamom, and saffron and will melt in your mouth!

Eggless Indian Shortbread Cookies, these Nankhatai will melt-in-your-mouth!

Puran poli (holige)

Chapati-like but with a flaky crust and a sweet lentil filling, puran poli is a favorite dessert made in Maharashtra and Karnataka during festive occasions such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, and weddings. This recipe leverages the Instant Pot to make the filling and makes the whole process so much easier and hands-free.

Puran poli – This traditional Indian dessert goes by a few names – holige, bele obbattu, or puran poli. Chapati like but with a flaky crust and a sweet lentil filling, puran poli is a favorite throughout India and you’re about to learn why.

Gatti

Gatti, or steamed rice dumplings, is a Mangalorean dish made of brown rice, jaggery, and coconut. This sweet dish is usually made during Diwali, but I can pretty much eat this every single day!

Kheer / Payasam

Kheer or payasam, also called Indian pudding, is a sweet dish usually made with a grain like rice or lentils (moong dal / green gram dal), whole milk, and sweetened with sugar or jaggery. It can be served hot or cold, depending on your preference. Check out a few of the popular varieties of kheer originating from India.

Rice kheer

Making Rice Kheer just got a whole lot quicker with this easy Instant Pot Kheer recipe. This Indian rice pudding comes out creamy and flavorful without spending hours in the kitchen. This rice recipe is very similar to the popular arroz con leche recipe with just subtle differences.

Rice Kheer is a sweet and creamy Indian Rice Pudding. This dish is often served hot or cold and makes a delicious side dish or dessert.

Sev payasam/vermicelli kheer

Semiyan payasam or vermicelli kheer makes use of sev or vermicelli, that’s made of wheat semolina. Most commonly served during festivals or as offerings to God in temples. I am not sure what’s the best aspect of this dish – its mind-blowing taste or the ease at which you can make it.

Seviyan kheer or Semiyan payasam is a creamy and delicious dessert that you can put together in a cinch. That is why it is perfect for potlucks. Make it in an Instant Pot or a slow cooker and all you need is less than 5-minutes of prep time.


Moong dal payasam

If you are looking for an easy, fail-proof recipe to make payasam at home, try this Instant Pot moong dal payasam recipe with coconut milk. It is ready in 20 minutes and requires very little hands-on time!

In a Mangalorean household, festive celebrations are incomplete without a delicious serving of this creamy moong dal payasam or payasa. Learn how to make this traditional South Indian dessert in half the time without compromising the taste.

Sheer khurma

A rich and delicious traditional milk sweet made during the festivals of Ramadan Eid-ul-Fitr, and Eid-ul-Adha. It is prepared by simmering milk with nylon vermicelli, dates, dry fruits, and sugar.

Best Hyderabadi Sheer khurma recipe step by step. Sheer Korma is a delicious traditional Mughlai dessert made on festive occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. It is made by simmering milk with nylon vermicelli, dates, nuts and sugar.

Kesar phirni

Phirni (Firni, Indian Rice Pudding) is a rich & creamy traditional Indian dessert made by slow-cooking ground rice with whole milk and flavoring it with saffron and cardamom. Slivered nuts are added to it for a lovely crunch.

Phirni (Firni, Indian Rice Pudding) is a traditional Indian dessert that is made using milk and rice. This Mughlai sweet is a treat to eat and is very easy to make.

Halwa

Halwas are said to have originated in Persia and made their way to India through the Middle East. There are two popular variations – one that is fudge-like (Bombay halwa), typically reserved for special occasions, and the other one, which is almost porridge-like, made from grains, veggies, fruits, or lentils as a main ingredient, and cooked in ghee and sugar. Here are a few of the popular halwa recipes from India.

Carrot halwa or Gajar ka halwa

Gajar halwa, or carrot pudding, is a delectable dessert made from grated carrots, milk, and sugar. Learn this (almost) hands-free approach to making one of India’s most beloved desserts using an Instant Pot.

Make this mouth-watering Gajar Halwa or Carrot Halwa in around 30 minutes. No more toiling in the kitchen for hours!

Moong dal halwa

Moong dal ka halwa is a famous (and addictive) North Indian dessert that many people enjoy during the winter months. It is very time-consuming to make over the stovetop; that’s why you’ll love this almost hands-free Instant Pot recipe.

Popular in North India, moong dal halwa is a delicious way to use lentils and ghee, typically on special occasions like weddings or Diwali. This homemade version is reminiscent of what you'd find in India, but made quick and easy in the Instant Pot!

Sheera / suji halwa

Ghee-roasted semolina is combined with milk (or water), sugar, and cardamom powder to make this crumbly sweet dish.

Atta halwa (wheat halwa)

Atte ka halwa is a popular sweet in India because not only is it delicious, but also it is made from pantry ingredients and comes together very quickly.

A simple Indian dessert, atta Halwa is made with 3 basic ingredients- wheat flour, sugar, and ghee. It’s best enjoyed warm and comes together in 10 minutes.

Summer desserts

Indians cool themselves down with a variety of drinks during the summer, but when it comes to desserts, kulfis, and faloodas are a hot favorite. While there are many variations to both these desserts, I am sharing the two most popular ones.

Malai kulfi

Creamy malai kulfi is a delicious summer treat! Made with simple ingredients, this eggless Indian ice cream is flavored with cardamom, dried milk solids, and nuts!

Creamy and delicious Malai Kulfi is the perfect homemade treat! This eggless Indian ice cream is flavored with cardamom, dried milk solids and nuts!

Royal rose falooda

Summer’s best treat, Rose Falooda, is a dessert drink with rose syrup, crunchy plump, sweet basil seeds, silky noodles, and milk topped with vanilla ice cream. Optionally garnished with nuts or rose petals, this cooling drink can be assembled within minutes, making it the easiest yet most stunning dessert ever!

Impress everyone with this EASY-to-make royal rose flavored drink dessert with cool sweet basil seeds, silky noodles, & milk topped with creamy vanilla ice cream!

Other recipe collections to check out

  • 10+ Indian chutney recipes – These authentic and tantalizing Indian chutney recipes are just what you need to elevate your meals. Check out this collection of 10+ popular chutney recipes that are perfect with Indian breakfast, snacks, and main courses too.
  • 35+ Best Indian breakfast recipes – Running out of ideas on what to make for breakfast? Here’s a list of easy Indian breakfast recipes for your inspiration so that you are never bored eating the same things over and over. 
  • 25+ Rice side dishes – Check out this round-up of 25+ best rice side dish recipes you can pair with curries or meat such as chicken, pork, etc
  • 30+ Authentic Indian curry recipes – Learn all you need to know about Indian curries and get some easy and authentic recipes that’ll get you cooking in no time.
  • 35+ Popular Indian side dish recipes – If you love Indian cuisine, here are a few easy-to-make, popular Indian side dish recipes to get you started. Stop doing takeouts and make your favorite restaurant-style side dish at home.

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