Beat the Heat: Local Desserts to Stay Cool in Singapore
Delicious ways to staying cool in Singapore’s hot and humid weather
· 4 min read
Singapore is known for many things - its impressive skyline, beautiful gardens, vibrant culture, and of course, its sweltering heat! But fear not, because when the temperatures rise, Singapore's food and drink scene steps up to the plate with an array of refreshing options to help you cool down. From icy desserts to thirst-quenching drinks, Singapore's food and drink picks are a must-try during hot days. Here are some of our top picks to help you beat the heat and savor Singapore's incredible food culture.
Old School Ice Cream
First on the list is a nostalgicl favorite – the old-school ice cream. Sure, there are lots of good creameries in Singapore that sells ice cream. But none of them will be as local (and cheap) as the good old ice cream sold in the ice cream carts or vans.
The ice cream is usually sold in slabs, and you can choose if you want it sandwiched between a slice of rainbow-coloured bread, with waffles, or in a cup. But less known to many tourists is that some ice cream uncles also sell a more ‘traditional-style’ ice cream, that are scooped into small balls instead of served as a slab. There are usually a few flavours like the classic chocolate and strawberry, but also other flavours like sweet corn or attap chee. The best thing about this option is that you don’t have to choose just a single flavour (although you can). Just tell the uncle you want it ‘mixed’ and you can get a scoop of everything they have.
Our favourite? We love the old school ice cream, especially the sweet corn and attap chee flavours. For the slabbed ones, definitely raspberry ripple in a sandwich.
Best places to go for ice cream: Well, anywhere. They don’t have fixed locations nor timings, but you will be able to catch them at hotspots like Orchard Road, Marina Bay Area, or around coffee shops near housing estates.
Although Chendol is not exactly a local dish (since it originates from Malaysia), it has been a favourite among Singaporeans for generations. In its most basic form, it is a bowl of shaved ice with green pandan ‘jelly worms’, drizzled with lots of coconut milk and gula melaka (palm sugar syrup). But chendol stalls in Singapore usually also offer variations that include other ingredients. The most commonly seen ones are red bean and sweet corn, and there are some stalls that even offer durian.
By itself, the shaved ice of Chendol usually isn’t soft, unlike the snowy-ice of Korean dessert. but with the addition of the coconut milk and gula melaka, the ice now has a slightly creamy texture. The coconut milk and gula melaka also makes this dessert very fragrant, though it could be rather sweet for those who are not used to it. Both refreshing and indulgent, this icy dessert is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth and cooling down on a hot day.
You will be able to find Chendol in most hawker centres in Singapore. Some of these stalls will sell only Chendol. But if you don’t find one that specialises in Chendol, you should still be able to get them at the stall that sells local desserts.
This classic dessert has been a favorite among locals for decades, and for good reason. In the 1950s and 1960s, ice kacang was a popular street food, and today it's still a top choice for anyone looking to cool down and satisfy their sweet tooth despite the rise of many alternatives like the trendy bingsu (Korean-style shaved ice).
But what exactly is ice kacang? This refreshing dessert is a colorful mix of shaved ice, sweet corn, red beans, attap chee, and jelly, all topped off with a generous drizzle of flavored syrup. Some shops also add grass jelly, peanut shavings, or even durian to their ice kacang. It's a feast for both your eyes and your taste buds!
You can find it at local dessert stalls in hawker centers across the island. Traditionally, the ice used in Ice Kacang is gritty and rough, but to catch up to the changes in consumer demand, some stalls have changed out their ice machines to use snow ice instead.
Cheng teng is a delicious sweet soup that's a must-try in Singapore's food scene. Not only can you get this in stalls, this is one of the few local desserts that families will make at home. Made with a mix of dried longans, barley, gingko nuts, and lotus seeds, this sweet soup is sweetened with rock sugar.
This dessert can be served warm if you would like, and even if you had it warm, the sweet soup will still leave you refreshed. But in Singapore’s sweltering heat, we recommend that you still go with the chilled version — which is actually just the same as the warm version but with shaved ice added to it.
Cheng teng is a staple at hawker centers and traditional dessert shops all around Singapore, so you're never far from a bowl of this refreshing treat.
Bonus: Sugarcane Juice
This is not quite a dessert. But sugarcane juice is the ultimate thirst quencher in Singapore's hot and humid climate. Made by extracting the natural juices from freshly crushed sugarcane, this drink is the perfect way to cool down and rehydrate on a sweltering day. The best way to have sugarcane is to have it with a slice of lemon or plum, so you will have a good mix of natural sweetness and a refreshing tinge of sourness.
Not only is it a great option when you are feeling warm, sugarcane juice is also perfect if you are looking to clean out the greasiness after a meal. You'll find sugarcane juice vendors at hawker centers and street corners all across Singapore, each with their own unique twist on this classic drink.