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Chè Thai is the refreshing Vietnamese version of a fruit cocktail. Coconut meats, tropical jelly, and a variety of canned tropical fruits are soaked in a rich bath of coconut milk and served chilled over bright red water chestnuts. Yum!
It’s a hot day and you just finished indulging in a tasty meal full of Vietnamese classics such as Lemongrass Pork Meatball Lettuce Wraps. You are full but you want something sweet and refreshing to cap it all off. Enter Chè Thái.
This colorful, chilled soup-like dessert is packed with tropical fruits that will have your taste buds dancing with delight. Throw in a bit of crunch (and color) in the form of showy, bright red water chestnuts and a pop of texture from juicy coconut meats and cubed ai-yu jelly and you’ve basically transported yourself to a white sand paradise. I don’t know about you, but my mouth just started watering.
What is Chè Thái?
Chè Thái is a soupy Vietnamese dessert similar to our fruit cocktail. It is comprised of a variety of jellies, canned tropical fruits, coconut meat, and coconut milk. The after-dinner delight is commonly complimented by “red rubies” (water chestnuts colored red with food coloring) that are mixed in to add a bit of color and crunch. It is a light, refreshing dessert perfect for a crowd.
Why You’ll Love this Vietnamese Fruit Cocktail
There’s a lot to love about this quick, easy Vietnamese dessert. Let me share some of my favorite things about it.
- Easy to put together. Honestly, all it takes is a little fussing with water chestnuts (you get to color them red!), some slicing and dicing of various canned fruits, and mixing it all together in a big bowl. It is perfect for any level of culinary mastery.
- Great for a crowd. Because this recipe is so easy to put together and to make a lot of, it’s the perfect choice for a crowd. Satisfy the sweet tooth of every guest at your next gathering with minimal effort.
- So refreshing. Vietnamese fruit cocktail is full of tropical fruits and cool coconut milk. It is ideal for those warm summer days that require a refreshing dessert that won’t weigh you down.
You are about to encounter an ingredient list more packed with canned tropical fruit than you could ever imagine. Here is everything you will need to make Chè Thái. Scroll to the recipe below for details on measurements and how to prepare each ingredient.
- Water chestnuts
- Red gel food coloring
- Tapioca starch
- Canned ripe jackfruit in syrup – You will want to drain this one.
- Canned lychee – Keep the syrup here.
- Canned longan – Drain the longan.
- Canned ai-yu jelly – Again, you will drain the ai-yu jelly.
- Canned toddy palm seeds – Drain the toddy palm seeds.
- Canned young coconut meat in syrup – Keep the syrup here.
- Full-fat coconut milk – You can use half and half or heavy cream instead.
How to Make Chè Thái
This recipe is so simple (and fun!) to make. In just a couple of easy steps, you will be on your way to a refreshing, flavorful dessert that is perfect for your next warm-weather gathering.
- Prepare the red rubies. Dice the water chestnuts, pat them dry, and add them to a bowl with a few drops of red food coloring. Stir to coat.
- Add the tapioca starch to the water chestnuts and toss to coat.
- Boil and chill. To a pot of boiling water, add the colored water chestnuts and stir. Simmer until they float to the top before transferring them quickly to an ice bath. Allow them to chill in the ice bath for 10-15 minutes before draining. Set aside. Do this in two batches.
- Slice and dice the canned tropical fruits, and jellies as prescribed in the ingredients list. Add everything to a large bowl.
- Put it all together. Add the coconut meats, coconut milk, and red rubies to the bowl and stir to combine.
- Chill. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours.
One cool thing about Chè Thái is that it is quite flexible in the sense that you can feel free to experiment with different fruits, flavors, and textures. Here are some ideas that you might want to play with.
- Try different fruits. I think it would be fun to add canned rambutan or pineapple but feel free to play around with other options and let me know what your favorites are.
- Try a different jelly. You can add pineapple jelly or coconut jelly to the mix either in place of the ai-yu jelly or in addition to it.
- Introduce some texture. Adding boba to Chè Thái really takes it to the next level. The chewy texture is a welcome addition.
Can I Make Chè Thái in Advance?
You can! In fact, it is best that you do. Chè Thái is best served chilled. So go ahead and make it a few hours in advance and store it in the refrigerator covered in saran wrap. If you need to prepare this dessert even further in advance, refer to the section below regarding proper storage.
Can I Store Extras for Later?
This dessert will be delicious even several days after it is prepared. Store the whole batch (if preparing in advance) or any leftovers you might have in an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to five days. Note that the red rubies will lose some of their crunch and the jelly will dissolve a bit as time goes on. So it is best to consume sooner rather than later.
For a cute, grab-and-go, single-serve option, divide the Vietnamese fruit cocktail between 8-ounce mason jars and store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
More Vietnamese Recipes to Try
I am a big fan of all things Vietnamese cuisine. The Chè Thái is a delightful dessert, but allow me to share with you some of my other favorite recipes from Vietnam.
- Chicken Summer Rolls
- Lemongrass Chicken Rice Noodle Bowls
- Lemongrass Pork Meatball Lettuce Wraps
- Asian Pork Meatballs
Chè Thái Recipe (Vietnamese Fruit Cocktail)
- 10 oz (284 g) water chestnuts, diced into ¼” pieces
- 3-4 drops red gel food coloring
- 1 cup (120 g) tapioca starch
- 20 oz (567 g) can ripe jackfruit in syrup, drained and sliced into thin strips
- 20 oz (567 g) can lychee, sliced in half (reserve syrup)
- 20 oz (567 g) can longan, drained and sliced in half
- 20 oz (567 g) can ai-yu jelly, drained and cubed
- 20 oz (567 g) can toddy palm seeds, drained
- 15 oz (425 g) can young coconut meat in syrup, reserve the syrup, sliced thinly
- 13.5 oz (383 ml) can full fat coconut milk
The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
- Dice water chestnuts into small (¼”) pieces and pat dry to remove any excess moisture. Add to a bowl, then add in a few drops of red food coloring and stir until evenly coated.
- Add in tapioca starch and toss thoroughly to coat. Sift out any excess flour through a colander.
- Bring a few inches of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
- In two batches (or more if using a small pot), use a slotted spoon to add the water chestnuts to the boiling water. Stir to prevent sticking. Simmer until they float to the top, then use slotted spoon to transfer to the ice bath. Repeat with remaining batch.
- Let the red rubies sit in cold water for 10-15 minutes before draining.
- Prepare all of the fruit and add to a large bowl.
- Whisk together the coconut milk and reserved syrup from the coconut. Taste. If it’s not sweet enough, add some of the reserved lychee syrup to reach desired sweetness.
- Pour the milk mixture over the fruit. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serve in a tall glass or a bowl.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.