Che Ba Mau Recipe – Easy and Refreshing Vietnamese Dessert

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Che Ba Mau is a refreshing and eye-catching Vietnamese dessert. Also known as Vietnamese three color dessert, this popular dessert has 3 vibrant layers. One layer of red beans, another layer of mung beans and a final layer of green pandan jelly topped with coconut sauce and shaved ice. This che Vietnamese dessert is the perfect indulgent cool treat for a hot sunny day.

What is Che Ba Mau or Chè Ba Màu?

Glasses Che Vietnamese Dessert Che Ba Mau by AuthenticFoodQuest
Refreshing Che Ba Mau Dessert

Chè is the Vietnamese word for desserts and che ba mau is one of the most popular che desserts.

In Vietnamese, chè ba màu translates to “three color dessert”. It is also known as Rainbow dessert or che 3 mau in reference to its distinctive layers. 

This Vietnamese dessert shares similarities with the famous Halo Halo dessert from the Philippines. You may sometimes see che ba mau also referred to as the Vietnamese Halo Halo dessert.

Surprisingly, this che Vietnamese dessert is not as sweet as one might think. With this che ba mau recipe, you have even greater control in the amount of sugar used.

READ MORE: 14 Most Popular Vietnamese desserts to Indulge In

Che Ba Mau Pronunciation

This popular Vietnamese dessert, che ba mau is pronounced “chey bah ma-oh” or “jeh-ba-mao”. You can also simply call three color or rainbow dessert.

Discovering Che Ba Mau: Vietnamese Three Color Dessert in Hanoi

Eating Che Ba Mau in Hanoi Vietnam by Authenticfoodquest
Sharing Che Ba Mau with locals in Hanoi Vietnam

The vibrant and striking colors of che ba mau or three color dessert caught our attention while we were in Vietnam.  

To cool off from the heat and humidity, we would always see locals slurping on this colorful dessert at a popular street vendor.

One night, after dinner, we decided to join the locals and discover what the excitement was all about. 

Once it was our turn to place our order, we quickly found ourselves in a language barrier. 

 The vendor didn’t speak English and we don’t speak Vietnamese. 

Luckily, locals waiting in line realized the issue and jumped in to help translate. With their help, we ordered this famous Vietnamese che dessert.

The che ba mau was served in a tall glass mug, topped with ice. 

Visually stunning, we enjoyed the refreshing flavors and textures. Though with the heat, the three layers quickly become a multi-colored dessert. 

How to Make Che Ba Mau at Home

Che Ba Mau by AuthenticFoodQuest
Make Che Ba Mau at home

Che ba mau is popular in Vietnam and can also be found in almost any Vietnamese restaurant around the world.

This dessert consists of layers of red beans, yellow mung beans, and green pandan jelly strips. It is served with shaved ice and topped with coconut milk.

While the che ba mau recipe is fairly easy to make, there are a few steps that require soaking and waiting. This is the case for the yellow mung beans and pandan jelly layers.

In this che ba mau recipe, we make the mung bean and pandan jelly layers from scratch. We use sweetened canned red beans and also provide instructions using canned kidney beans.

Che Ba Mau Recipe – Ingredients

Che Ba Mau Recipe Ingredients by AuthenticFoodQuest
Che ba mau ingredients

How to Make Red Bean – Red Layer

Red Layer for Che Ba Mau by AuthenticFoodQuest
Sweet mashed red beans for che ba mau red layer

For the red bean layer, we used a store-bought can of sweetened red beans from an Asian grocery store in Chicago. The same brand of sweetened red beans is also available on Amazon. 

The amount of sugar in the sweetened red beans was just perfect for this che ba mau recipe.

Alternatively, you can also make your own red layer using a 16 oz can of kidney beans.

In this case, rinse out the can of red kidney beans a few times to get rid of the saltwater.

In a saucepan, dissolve ½ cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of water using low heat. 

Once the sugar is dissolved, add the red kidney beans and simmer on low heat for about 10 – 15 minutes until the beans absorb the sweetness of the sugar.

Set aside to cool.

How To Make Mung Bean – Yellow Layer

Yellow Layer for Che Ba Mau by AuthenticFoodQuest
Cooking mung beans

Mung beans are a good source of protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. They have many health benefits with some experts calling them a superfood.

Mung beans are a popular ingredient used in many Asian desserts. To cook the mung beans, wash  ½ cup of peeled split mung beans a few times to remove the coloring.

Soak the beans in about 1 inch of water for at least 4 hours though overnight is recommended.

To make the yellow mung bean layer, cook the soaked mung beans with 1 ½ cups of water until soft.

When the beans turn mushy, add 3 – 4 tablespoons of sugar and mash into a paste.

Once mashed, cook on low heat for about 10 – 15 minutes and then transfer to a dish. When the mung beans cool down, they will thicken like a pudding. 

Set aside.

How To Make Pandan Jelly – Green Layer

Making the green pandan jelly layer was exciting because it called for ingredients we had never cooked with before.

To make the green color jelly layer, mix 1 tablespoons of agar agar powder in 4 cups or 1 liter of water.

Stir constantly while bringing it to boil.

What is Agar Agar?

Agar Agar for Che Ba Mau Recipe by AuthenticFoodQuest
Agar agar powder

Agar agar powder is used in many Asian recipes in the place of gelatin. Agar Agar has no calories, no carbs, no sugar, not fat and is loaded with fiber. It’s free from starch, soy, corn, gluten, yeast, wheat, milk, egg and preservatives.

It’s vegan and dairy free–great for those with dietary restrictions.

Agar agar is used as a thickener for soups, in fruit preserves, ice cream and other types of desserts. It is also used by chefs who specialize in molecular gastronomy.

It has no taste and no particular smell.

How to Make the Green Coloring

green layer for che ba mau by Authentic Food Quest
Green layer

Once the mixture of water and agar agar comes to a boil and starts to bubble, add the sugar and turn off the heat.

Continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add ½ teaspoon of pandan paste or green food coloring. 

Stir and mix the color completely, then transfer the mixture to a baking dish and let it cool on the counter for at least one hour.  

Transfer and let it cool in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight until firm.

After the pandan jelly has set, run a knife around the edges to loosen it up.

Cut the jelly into thin slices using a bread knife. Alternatively, you can use a mandoline slicer to crinkle cut the jelly.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pandan is a fragrant plant that grows abundantly in Southeast Asia. It adds unique flavors and aromas to desserts and drinks as well as savory dishes. 

It is inexpensive with a much lower price tag than vanilla bean.

How to Make the Coconut Sauce

Coconut Sauce cooking for Che Ba Mau Recipe by AuthenticFoodQuest
Coconut Sauce cooking

To make the che ba mau coconut sauce, mix coconut cream, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. 

Add the tapioca starch and use a whisk to mix thoroughly.

Cook over medium heat for an extra one to two minutes, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding. 

Remove off the heat and cool.

Che Ba Mau or Che 3 Mau Assembly

Ingredients to assemble che ba mau by Authentic Food Quest
Ingredients to assemble che ba mau

Before assembling the che ba mau, make sure all ingredients are refrigerated. You want to have all the ingredients cold, so that you can enjoy a refreshing dessert.

Start by making crushed ice. Simply use the “blend ice” function on your blender and make enough crushed ice for 4 to 6 che ba mau desserts.

Starting from the bottom, add some crushed ice to the glass. Next, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sweetened red beans.

Follow that with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the yellow layer of mashed mung beans.

The next layer is 2 to 3 tablespoons of green shredded pandan jelly. Add another couple of tablespoons of crushed ice.

And finally, top the dessert with a heaping spoon of coconut cream sauce.

Serve cold and dig into the deliciousness of che ba mau dessert, before the ice starts to melt.

What does Che Ba Mau Vietnamese Dessert Taste Like?

Che Ba Mau also known as Che 3 Mau by AuthenticFoodQuest

Colorful Che ba Mau

Che ba mau is a wonderful medley of flavors and textures. Compared to other typical desserts, the ingredients and textures are unusual.

The red beans are the filling part of the che ba mau dessert. The mung beans or yellow layer has a grainy texture and is not very sweet.

The texture of the pandan green jelly is similar to jello and is chewy like gummy worms. The coconut sauce adds sweetness to the dessert, while the crushed ice makes it refreshing.

When you make this che ba mau recipe, you control the sweetness in the dessert. In Vietnam, some vendors add additional toppings and some use different kinds of beans.

Typically, che ba mau is served in a tall glass with a spoon and a straw.

This is a popular Vietnamese dessert and one we enjoy. It is refreshing, filling without being overly sweet.

Che Ba Mau Recipe Tips

How Long Che Ba Mau Can Last in the Fridge?

Che ba mau ingredients can last in the fridge for about one week. 

When you want to enjoy this refreshing Vietnamese dessert, simply take out the ingredients from the fridge and assemble your dessert.

More than likely, you will have pandan jelly left over. You can add the extra jelly into icy drinks for fun textures and tastes.

Che Ba Mau also known as Che 3 Mau by AuthenticFoodQuest

Che Ba Mau Recipe

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours

Che Ba Mau also known as Vietnamese three color dessert is a popular Vietnamese dessert. Made with 3 vibrant layers and topped with coconut sauce and shaved ice, it is the perfect indulgent cool treat for a hot sunny day.

Ingredients

Red Layer

  • 1 can (16oz) of sweetened red beans or kidney beans

Yellow Mung Bean Layer

  • ½ cup or (110g) split peeled mung beans, cleaned and rinse.
  • Soak with one 1 cm or ¼ inch of water over and place in fridge overnight
  • ½ cup of water
  • 4 Tablespoons of sugar

Pandan Green Jelly Layer

  • 1 Tablespoon (15g)  of Agar-Agar
  • ½  teaspoon (3ml) of pandan extract
  • 3 Tablespoons (35g) of Sugar
  • 4 cups of water

Coconut Sauce

  • Coconut Cream - 4 oz can (150ml)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Tapioca starch
  •  ¼ teaspoon of salt
  •  ¼ cup of sugar

Other

  • 4 cups of of shaved ice

Instructions

Red Bean Layer

  1. Open the can of sweetened red beans and transfer into a dish. Set aside. 
  2. If you are using red kidney beans, open the can and then drain and rinse the beans under cold water. Place in a dish.
  3. In a small pan, add 1 ½ cups of water and bring it to a boil. Once boiled, add ½ cup of sugar and stir for about 3 minutes until sugar dissolves
  4. Add the beans to the sugar mixture and mix well
  5. Set aside and let the red beans and sugar mix until the dessert is ready to be assembled.

Yellow Mung Bean Layer

  1. Rinse ½ cup of mung bean under cold running water.
  2. Place the mung beans in a container and soak with about 1 cm or ¼ inch of water over.
  3. Soak the mung beans for a minimum of four hours though overnight is recommended
  4. After soaking, cook the mung beans in ½ cup of water until they turn mushy
  5. Add 4 Tablespoons of sugar and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.
  6. Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to assemble the dessert

Pandan Green Jelly Layer

  1. In a saucepan, add Agar Agar to 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil
  2. Mix thoroughly until the Agar Agar powder dissolves.
  3. When the water comes to a boil, add 3 Tablespoons of sugar and cook on low heat for 3 minutes
  4. Turn off the heat and add ½ teaspoon of pandan paste.
  5. Mix until the liquid turns green.
  6. Pour the pandan jelly mixture into a dish and let it cool on the counter for about 1 hour.
  7. Once cool, place the dish in fridge and refrigerate for about 4 hours until the mixture is firm
  8. After the green pandan jelly is set, it should be firm and easy to remove.
  9. Cut the jelly into thin strips or shreds. You can also cut it into small bite-sized squares.
  10. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the che ba mau dessert

Coconut Sauce

  1. In a small pan, over medium heat, mix coconut cream, sugar, and salt 
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon of tapioca starch mixing carefully with a whisk. 
  3. Cook for about two minutes until the mixture thickens
  4. Remove from the heat and place in a glass bowl to cool. 
  5. When cool, place the coconut sauce in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the che ba mau Vietnamese dessert

Assembling the Vietnamese Three Color Dessert

  1. Pull everything out of the refrigerator and place on the counter
  2. Make shaved ice by blending ice cubes in a blender
  3. In a tall glass, add some crushed ice to the bottom. Then add 2 -3 tablespoons of sweetened red beans
  4. Add the next layer of 1 - 2 tablespoons of mashed mung beans
  5. Next, add 2- 3 tablespoons of green pandan jelly. Fill out your glass with 2-3 tablespoons of crushed ice 
  6. Finally, top the dessert with a heaping spoon of coconut sauce
  7. Serve cold and enjoy before the ice melts
  8. Place any remaining items in the refrigerator and enjoy within the week

Notes

Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar used in this recipe.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 414Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 246mgCarbohydrates: 76gFiber: 11gSugar: 41gProtein: 12g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information is generated by an online API and makes calculations based on serving sizes. These figures are only estimates and results may vary.

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Vietnamese Recipe Products

Food of Vietnam Cookbook

Vietnamese Fish Sauce

Bamboo Steamer

Mandoline Slicer

33 comments

  1. I’m so glad I decided to jump right in and make this yummy Vietnamese dessert! It came out beautifully and is so delicious. It’s perfect for special occasions.

    Reply
  2. I’m so glad I decided to jump right in and make this yummy Vietnamese dessert! It came out beautifully and is so delicious. It’s perfect for special occasions.

    Reply
  3. What a fun recipe! I’ve never heard of this before but it seems like a lot of fun to make and I’m definitely intrigued by the flavor and texture combinations. Can’t wait to try it out!

    Reply
  4. I love anything with coconut and I’ve always been curious about making a dessert with mung beans, like I’ve had in restaurants. This recipe looks like it will be a fun kitchen project!

    Reply
  5. What an informative post with all the info I need to make this che dessert myself! This will be perfect for a Vietnamese food night with some of my more adventurous friends. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
  6. What a unique and interesting dessert! I haven’t had it before and would love to travel to Vietnam someday to try this in person. Thank you for sharing the recipe so we can make this at home!

    Reply
  7. I got to know a new dessert recipe from another cuisine. Can’t imagine the taste but looking at ingredient it is surely a lip-smacking dessert to serve.

    Reply

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