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Pandan Coconut Jelly Dessert

Thai pandan coconut jelly deserved served on a black dish.

Pandan coconut jelly dessert is my favorite way to beat the heat at the street food markets of Thailand. It's a sweet and refreshing no-bake dessert that's perfect for hot summer days.

Thai pandan coconut jelly deserved served on a black dish.

This recipe comes together with a blend of creamy coconut milk and fragrant pandan leaves, two staple ingredients in Thai desserts.

If you manage to find pandan leaves, you should definitely get some extra and make some of my favorite Thai dessert recipes later, like khao lam, bua loy, and agar agar jelly recipe with fruits.

Before we dive into the instructions for making this refreshing jelly dessert, let me tell you a bit more about it.

What is pandan coconut jelly dessert

Pandan coconut jelly is a refreshing Thai dessert, blending fragrant pandan leaves with creamy coconut milk. This gelatinous-like delight is a staple in Thai cuisine and a popular item at Asian food markets.

Coconut pandan jelly cake

Thai dessert has a fun, jiggly texture that makes it fun to make and eat. I love preparing it with my young niece and nephew – we're the biggest fans of sweet treats!

We often get together in the weekends and whip up classic desserts like this pandan coconut dessert, khao taen, and khanom chan, a Thai layer cake.

The top layer has a firm structure that's simply irresistible, packed with rich coconut flavor from coconut milk. Hands down, it's my favorite part of this layered dessert. Sometimes I even whip up a single layer dessert using just coconut.

Three slices of Thai pandan coconut jelly dessert ready to eat.

The bottom layer has a soft, jelly-like consistency and a beautiful green color. It's made up mostly out of water and fragrant pandan leaves.

Both layers get their gelatin structure from agar-agar powder, a common ingredient in the world of jellies, puddings, panna cotta, and mousses.

What is agar-agar powder

Agar-agar powder is a staple in many Southeast Asian desserts. This vegan ingredient comes from the red algae, and it's used as an alternative for gelatin. It forms a jelly like structure when combined with boiling water, taking just about 5 minutes to dissolve completely.

Package of agar-agar powder with agar powder in glass cup.

Unlike gelatin, it doesn't need to be chilled in the fridge to set, letting it rest at room temperature does the trick.

When agar is used in desserts, it gives them a firmer structure compared to those prepared with gelatin. For this traditional dessert, it's important that the agar-agar is fully dissolved before continuing with the next step in the recipe.

Backside of a large black plastic spoon with traces of agar-agar powder.
Check the back of your spoon for traces of agar agar.

You can check whether the agar powder is dissolved by dipping a spoon into the boiling liquid containing agar. If the spoon still contains traces from agar, then you need to cook for longer. With this tip in mind, you’ll have an easy time cooking with agar-agar.

Pandan layer ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients for pandan layer: pandan leaves, agar-agar powder, white sugar, and water.
  • Pandan leaves - Pandan leaves are used in many Southeast Asian desserts. They give this jelly cake a fragrant aroma and a hard to resist green shine. If you don't live in a tropical country, you can look for frozen pandan leaves in an Asian supermarket or simply use pandan essence.
  • Agar-agar powder - Agar is a vegan-friendly thickening agent that assures a firm, jelly dessert.
  • White sugar - Feel free to adjust the sugar levels in this coconut and pandan dessert to your liking. To replicate the exact flavors in this recipe, use white and not brown sugar or palm sugar.
  • Water - Water is crucial for the soft texture in the pandan layer.

Coconut layer ingredients

All ingredients you need to make this pandan coconut jelly dessert can be found at your local Asian market or Asian grocery store.

Ingredients for coconut layer: coconut milk, agar-agar powder, white sugar, and salt.
  • Coconut milk - Full-fat coconut milk is key for a rich flavor and smooth texture.
  • Agar-agar powder
  • White sugar
  • Salt

Cooking instructions

Pandan layer

Step 1: Start by thoroughly mixing the agar-agar powder with 1/2 cup water in a small bowl. Afterward, let it rest for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Cut the pandan leaves into 1-inch sized pieces.
Step 3: Toss the sliced pandan leaves into a blender, add the remaining water, and roughly blend.
Step 4: Next, pour the fresh pandan juice into a bowl and use a cheese cloth to catch the blended leaves. The finer your filter, the smoother your pandan layer will be.
Step 5: Simmer the filtered pandan juice in a wok, skillet, or cooking pot over low to medium heat for 1 minute. Then, add the agar-agar mix from step 1, but first give it another stir.
Step 6: Cook and stir until the agar-agar powder is completely dissolved, no longer than 5 minutes. The agar has to be fully dissolved before moving on. Dip a spoon and check the back to see if there’s still traces of agar.
Step 7: Once the agar-agar has dissolved, it’s time to add the sugar. Keep cooking and stirring until the sugar has also dissolved.
Step 8: Gently pour or scoop the pandan layer into a baking mold, cup, or any bowl you like. Let it rest at room temperature to become firm for about 30 minutes until it firms up.

Coconut layer

Step 9: Next, we can make the coconut layer. Just like in step 1, combine the agar-agar with 1/2 cup water in a bowl and stir. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Step 10: Wait 15 minutes and then pour the coconut milk into a pan or skillet and simmer it gently over a low to medium heat. Once the edges start to bubble, add in the agar mix. Let it cook until the agar-agar powder is completely dissolved, no longer than 5 minutes.
Step 11: Add sugar and salt, cook until the sugar is fully dissolved (2 min) and remove from heat.
Step 12: Use your finger to check if layer 1 has firmed up. When firm, use a large spoon to gently layer on the creamy coconut mixture.
Step 13: Let the jelly dessert rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. After that, you can dig in straight away, or pop it into the fridge to enjoy it chilled later.

Perfecting Thai jelly dessert

Fully dissolve agar powder: While cooking, make sure that the agar-agar powder is fully dissolved before continuing with the next step.

Firm pandan layer: Make sure the pandan layer is firm enough before adding the coconut layer on top. If this is your first time making a double layered jelly dessert, you can use a small cup as a "test cup".

Stir agar mixture: Before adding the agar-agar and water mixture to your dessert, give the mixture another quick stir.

Layering: This jelly is often seen with multiple layers. 2, 4 or 6, anything is possible. I suggest starting out with 2 layers if this is your first time making jelly.

Green color: If you use older pandan leaves, you will get a beautiful dark green pandan layer. If your pandan leaves are still young, you can add a drip of green color liquid to make the bottom layer look darker and more visually appealing. You can add green color liquid after blending the pandan leaves. You can also use pandan essence, this will not only enhance the green color, but it will also add more pandan flavor and fragrance.

Use a fine cheese cloth to catch the blended pandan leaves.

Two hands holding a cheese cloth.

Pandan dessert serving tips

Enjoy it immediately after preparation, or enjoy it chilled by letting it rest in the fridge overnight. I like it best when it's cold and refreshing. I'm a big fan of using a round or square baking mold to pour in the layers, and I like to slice the jelly into equally sized pieces right before serving.

This make ahead dessert is perfect for serving after a family dinner, or for simply cooling down on a hot summer's day.

Thai coconut pandan jelly dessert served.

Storing pandan jelly with coconut milk

This Thai jelly dessert is best stored in your refrigerator, it will remain fresh and firm for up to 5 days (but I doubt it will last that long).

Authentic Thai dessert recipes

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Ratings 5 from 2 votes
Cooking Method
Cuisine
Courses
Time
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 30 min Rest Time: 1 hour Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Servings 6
Calories 319
Description

This recipe makes a delightful double-layered jelly dessert, with a fragrant pandan base topped with a sweet layer of creamy coconut.

Ingredients
    For the pandan layer
  • 1 tablespoon agar-agar powder
  • 1/2 cup water (for the agar-agar mixture)
  • 8 pandan leaves (cut in medium-sized pieces)
  • 3 cups water (for blending)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • For the coconut layer
  • 1 tablespoon agar-agar powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
    Pandan layer
  1. Start by thoroughly mixing the agar-agar powder with 1/2 cup water in a small bowl. Afterward, let it rest for 15 minutes.

  2. Cut the pandan leaves into 1-inch sized pieces.

  3. Toss the sliced pandan leaves into a blender, add the remaining water, and roughly blend.

  4. Next, pour the fresh pandan juice into a bowl and use a cheese cloth to catch the blended leaves. The finer your filter, the smoother your pandan layer will be.

  5. Simmer the filtered pandan juice in a wok, skillet, or cooking pot over low to medium heat for 1 minute. Then, add the agar-agar mix from step 1, but first give it another stir.

  6. Cook and stir until the agar-agar powder is completely dissolved, no longer than 5 minutes. The agar has to be fully dissolved before moving on. Dip a spoon and check the back to see if there’s still traces of agar.

  7. Once the agar-agar has dissolved, it’s time to add the sugar. Keep cooking and stirring until the sugar has also dissolved.

  8. Gently pour or scoop the pandan layer into a baking mold, cup, or any bowl you like. Let it rest at room temperature to become firm for about 30 minutes until it firms up.

  9. Coconut layer
  10. Next, we can make the coconut layer. Just like in step 1, combine the agar-agar with 1/2 cup water in a bowl and stir. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

  11. Wait 15 minutes and then pour the coconut milk into a pan or skillet and simmer it gently over a low to medium heat. Once the edges start to bubble, add in the agar mix. Let it cook until the agar-agar powder is completely dissolved, no longer than 5 minutes.

  12. Add sugar and salt, cook until the sugar is fully dissolved (2 min) and remove from heat.

  13. Use your finger to check if layer 1 has firmed up. When firm, use a large spoon to gently layer on the creamy coconut mixture.

  14. Let the jelly dessert rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. After that, you can dig in straight away, or pop it into the fridge to enjoy it chilled later.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 6


Amount Per Serving
Calories 319kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20.2g32%
Saturated Fat 17.9g90%
Sodium 404mg17%
Total Carbohydrate 38g13%
Dietary Fiber 1.9g8%
Sugars 36.2g
Protein 1.9g4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note
  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
Keywords: pandan coconut jelly, pandan coconut jelly dessert, coconut jelly

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