Che Thai Recipe – Tropical Fruits Dessert

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Che Thai recipe. Vietnamese recipe. Vietnamese dessert. Writing with chopsticks.

This Che Thai recipe is for quite possibly the most requested dessert I have ever made.  If you’re looking to impress anyone who loves tropical fruits, this is a surefire way to do it!  Che Thai is a mix of your favorite canned tropical fruits, combined with bright and chewy pieces that festively resemble pomegranate seeds, all of which are melded together in a sweet, liquid sauce.  Read more below about how to make the best Che Thai you’ve ever tasted, or just  click here to jump to recipe.

I have to credit my sister, who shared this Che Thai recipe with me over 10 years ago after it was the hit of a birthday party she hosted.  Since then, I’ve used this Che Thai recipe dozens of times.  My husband’s aunt jokes that I’m not invited to family gatherings unless I bring this dish with me.  Well, at least I think she’s joking.

I’ve seen this dessert at some restaurants and events, but there’s always something off.  The part that many people seem to miss the mark on is the liquid sauce.  Getting the sauce right makes a world of difference, and let me fill you in on a little secret — the sauce is the distinguishing part of this recipe, and it’s also the easiest part!

So what will set this Che Thai recipe apart from others?  Are you ready?  Here goes:  At the end of this recipe, you’ll pour a container of hazelnut flavored coffee creamer, dilute it with 1.5 C. of ice, and stir.  That’s it.  You’d be amazed how many people try other flavors, or use plain half-and-half, or use coconut milk, always to miss the mark.  This flavored creamer is the secret to making your Che Thai the wow factor at your next event.

A few pointers for this Che Thai recipe:

  • Use a combination of the canned tropical fruits you enjoy the most.  Lychee, rambutan, toddy palm seed, etc.  If you like it, try it in this recipe!  You can also play around with the amounts of tropical fruit below – if you love coconut gel like my family does, add more of those addictive little cubes. Sure, we’ll pretend coconut gel is a fruit today.
  • Take your time chopping up the water chestnuts.  You want uniform pieces each about the size of a pomegranate seed, since that’s what you’re trying to replicate.

The most time-consuming part of this recipe involves chopping up the fruit and water chestnuts.  I usually have to double this recipe because it’s such a big hit, so I’ve been known to delegate the chopping part to my husband.  The trade off is he gets to enjoy Che Thai for dessert, so it doesn’t take much to twist his arm.  Win!

che thai tropical fruits dessert
Assortment of prepared tropical fruits for Che Thai.

Seeing the transformation of chopped water chestnuts into chewy little red pieces that resemble pomegranate seeds is fun, so if you have kids, they’ll love watching that process (from a safe distance, of course).  Chop, generously coat with tapioca starch, boil in a pot of red-dyed water, and voila!  Watch that red food color though. I’ve learned the hard way to have a few paper towels on hand when adding the red food color to the saucepan, to prevent ending up with bright red fingers.  Out, damned spot!  If you forget to have the paper towels ready, it’s a guarantee that the next morning is when you’ll end up needing to shake (red) hands with someone.

Che Thai recipe. Vietnamese recipe. Vietnamese dessert. Writing with chopsticks.
Water chestnuts coated in tapioca starch for Che Thai.
Water chestnuts transform into chewy red tapioca, resembling pomegranate seeds for Che Thai.
Prepared fruits and “pomegranate seeds” for Che Thai.

I highly recommend you give this recipe a try the next time you’re asked to bring a dish to a potluck.  Just be ready for requests for seconds.  And thirds.  Enjoy this culinary adventure!


Che Thai - Tropical Fruits Dessert
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hr

A refreshing mix of tropical fruit in a simple sauce, this dish is sure to be a hit at your next get together.

Servings: 8
  • 1 (20 oz) can longan fruit in syrup
  • 1 (20 oz) can jackfruit in syrup
  • 2 (17.6 oz) jars coconut gel in syrup, unflavored
  • 1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, sliced
  • 3/4 C. tapioca starch
  • 4 C. water
  • 1 large bowl water
  • 1 Tbsp. red food coloring
  • 1 (32 oz) container hazelnut flavored coffee creamer
  • 1.5 C. ice
  1. Using a large colander, rinse and drain the longan fruit, jackfruit, and coconut gel.

  2. Cut the longan fruit pieces in half and place in an extra large, serving bowl.

  3. Cut the jackfruit into small strips and add to the same serving bowl.

  4. Place the coconut gel into the same serving bowl – no need to cut these into smaller pieces. Set fruits aside and proceed to next step.

  1. Finely dice the water chestnut into small pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.

  2. Add 1/4 C. of tapioca starch to the water chestnuts and mix well.  Repeat two more times to use a total of 3/4 C. tapioca starch.

  3. Heat 4 C. of water in a medium saucepan using high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. of red food coloring to this pan of water.

  4. Separately, fill a large bowl halfway with water. Place that bowl next to the stovetop for use below.

  5. Once the water in the saucepan boils, turn heat down to medium. Gently sprinkle 1/4 of the coated water chestnuts into the boiling water. Use a large slotted spoon to gently loosen the water chestnuts from the bottom of the saucepan so they float to the top.

  6. About 30 seconds after the water chestnuts float to the top, use the slotted spoon to transfer the cooked water chestnuts into the reserved bowl of water on the side.  Repeat to finish cooking the rest of the water chestnuts.

  7. Pour the cooked water chestnuts into a colander to drain. Once drained, pour these “pomegranate seeds” on top of the serving bowl of prepared fruit.

  1. Pour the hazelnut flavored coffee creamer over your fruit and “pomegranate seeds.” Add 1.5 C. of ice. Stir. Serve chilled and atop one or two cubes of ice.


Do you have any questions or comments about this recipe?  Please post them below. Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

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Ginger A
Ginger A
7 years ago

What is the time preparation for the Che Thai? Thanks, Ginger

6 years ago

I tried three recipes – one that called for coconut cream and milk, another with half and half and coconut cream, can i just say THANK YOU for this recipe!!! especially for the note about the hazelnut creamer!!??? It was SPOT on!! I did add a little coconut milk to give it that hint of coconut and had to dilute a bit with nonfat milk because the hazelnut was so strong but it worked!! Thank you!!!!

2 years ago

Can this be doubled? Also if I double it can I do 32 oz hazelnut creamer and 32 oz half and half or 32 oz milk? What would taste best? I’m not a huge fan of hazelnut so I just want it to be a subtle hazelnut flavor.