Churros, flan, tres leches cake…these traditional Mexican desserts are classics for a reason. But if you’re someone looking to cut back on your added sugar intake, such treats might seem off-limits. Emphasis on seem—because it’s absolutely possible to make a sweet Mexican dessert (or any dessert, really) that won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
The proof is in the pudding—or in this case, Mexican hot chocolate sweet potato pudding. Rounded up here are seven recipes, all using very minimal refined sugar or none of it at all. Just don’t mistake the smart ingredient subbing as a compromise; they’re all sure to satisfy your cravings.
Keep reading for 7 low-sugar Mexican desserts to make at home.
Traditionally, carlota de limón is made with cookies, canned milk, and lime juice. This recipe uses Honey Nut Cheerios in place of the cookies, giving it a kid-friendly twist. You still get all the flavor, texture, and creaminess, just with a bit less sugar than in the traditional version.
Get the recipe: Carlota de limón
These homemade churros are gluten- and dairy-free while still being every bit as satisfying as the OG sweet snack. Made with oat flour and ground flaxseed, they’re full of fiber, too. While this recipe still calls for vanilla sugar, it also uses vanilla paste and cinnamon for sweetness, which cuts the amount used way down.
Get the recipe: Homemade churros
Rich, creamy, and chocolatey, this dessert is a major crowd-pleaser—and it’s 100 percent vegan. The sweet potatoes and coconut milk that serve as the primary ingredients add natural sweetness while cocoa powder, coconut sugar, and vanilla up it even more. Besides cayenne pepper, this pudding is also spiced up with cinnamon, which helps keep blood sugar levels steady.
Get the recipe: Vegan Mexican hot chocolate sweet potato pudding
Watch the video below to learn more about the health benefits of cinnamon:
As Dora’s Table creator Dora Stone shares on her food blog, marranitos are Mexican pastries shaped like little piggies. Sometimes they take the form of soft bread while other times they’re a bit firmer, like cookies. In her version, they’re a bit of both. She uses star anise, clove, cinnamon, and maple syrup to add natural sweetness instead of sugar. The end result is a dessert that’s sweet without being too candied.
Get the recipe: Marranitos
Made with sweet potato and coconut sugar, this dairy-free, low-sugar flan is absolute perfection when a craving for caramel creaminess hits. Vanilla, cinnamon, and lemon zest also add flavor without causing a blood sugar spike.
Get the recipe: Sweet potato flan
In Mexico, mangos are so abundant that many people eat them every day. Their natural sweetness makes them the perfect fruit to use in desserts, including these ice pops. They’re sprinkled with chili powder, just like the thick, sticky mango slices often sold by street vendors.
Get the recipe: Palentas de chili con mango
A sponge cake soaked in sweetened milk and whipped cream, there’s nothing quite like tres leches cake. Here, it’s given a gluten-free and low-sugar twist, made with almond flour, coconut flour, and ground flax. The topping is made with sugar-free condensed milk, so it’s still as moist and decadent as you want it to be.
Get the recipe: Tres leches cake
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