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Bua Loy: A Thai Dessert Recipe With Pictures

Om is an inquisitive foodie who likes to share recipes that everyone can enjoy.

Bua loy is a Thai dessert soup with rice-flour balls and pumpkin.

Bua loy is a Thai dessert soup with rice-flour balls and pumpkin.

Thai cuisine is famous for its great variety of spicy coconut soups, but the soup I'm about to show you how to make is actually a sweet one. Bua loy, which literally means "floating lotus," is a creamy dessert soup made with coconut milk and glutinous-rice flour. The coconut milk is simply spiced with sugar and salt, while the flour is kneaded into tiny balls with a soft but slightly chewy texture, quite similar to tapioca pearls in Boba tea.

Pairing Coconut With Pumpkin

Plus, to embrace the fall season, I'm going to add one special ingredient: pumpkin! Using pumpkin in this dish is a pretty common practice in Thailand. Some people like to mash and mix it into the flour batter, but I prefer keeping the two ingredients separate to achieve a nicer contrast in terms of shape and color. Instead of having a bunch of orange balls floating in my dessert soup, I'll have white balls and tiny orange cubes. Isn't that more visually interesting?

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

10 min

30 min

2 to 3 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups glutinous rice flour, (See comments below)
  • 2 1/4 cups coconut milk, (See comments below)
  • 1 cup pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredient Notes

  • Get the right rice flour: Make sure you buy glutinous rice flour, NOT regular rice flour. This is the brand of glutinous rice flour that I use in my kitchen.
  • Regular vs. light coconut milk: Either the regular or light version of coconut milk is fine for this recipe. I personally prefer the regular, but if you don't like your dessert soup to be very heavy and creamy, feel free to opt for the light version. Another option for those who don't fancy a super creamy soup is to use less coconut milk and add a little more water.
  • Make your own coconut milk: It is pretty easy to make your own fresh coconut milk. It takes from five to fifteen minutes to prepare, depending on whether you're using fresh coconut or packaged coconut flakes. Although it's not as convenient as the canned version, homemade coconut milk is usually much more flavorful and aromatic.


  1. Heat about 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add cubed pumpkin and allow it to cook until tender but not too soft.
  3. Drain well and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix glutinous rice flour with 3/4 cup of coconut milk.
  5. Stir together with a fork until the batter is firm and thick. Then knead it with your hands until smooth. If it's too sticky to knead, add a little more flour.
  6. Form the batter into small balls. Set aside.
  7. Place the remaining coconut milk along with sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir constantly.
  8. Add the rice-flour balls and pumpkin. Turn the heat down to low. Once the balls float up, your bua loy is done! (This process should take about 5 minutes.) Serve warm.
  9. If you don't plan to eat it all at once, you can keep your bua loy refrigerated for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.

Photo Guide

Making the rice-flour balls.

Making the rice-flour balls.

The cooked pumpkin.

The cooked pumpkin.

The bua loy with pumpkin is ready to eat!

The bua loy with pumpkin is ready to eat!

Please Rate This Thai Dessert Recipe


  • In Thailand, it's quite common to enjoy this dessert soup with eggs. To do that, simply poach eggs in syrup and add them to your bua loy right before serving. This eggy version is called bua loy khai waan.
  • If white rice-flour balls seem a bit boring, add some food coloring to your batter. You can even have pink, green, blue and orange balls all in one bowl. You can easily make your own homemade food coloring that's healthy and toxin-free.
  • For those who are not big pumpkin fans, taro root is another popular and traditional choice. You can prepare it the same way you would handle the pumpkin, though it tends to require a little longer cooking time.

The Pros and Cons of This Thai Dessert Soup


It requires just a few ingredients and is pretty easy to make.

Making little rice-flour balls can be time-consuming for beginners.

It's gluten-free and vegan.

It contains quite a bit of sugar and fat. It's not an ideal dessert for diabetics or those who are on a diet.

It's warm and comforting, which is really great for the fall and winter time.

It may appear slightly lackluster, compared to some elegant desserts like a cake or a parfait.

It's very delicious.

It might be too delicious for you to eat just a little bit.


Om Paramapoonya (author) on October 18, 2012:

@akitchner - What? You let him eat 11 sauerkraut miffins? LOL Well, now you've learned your lesson! Poor Griff. No more yummy sauerkraut muffins for him.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on October 17, 2012:

Although Griffin DOES enjoy his pumpkin and sauerkraut muffins...last year he only gobbled up 11 of them!!! OMG--what a toxic night that was and I'm surprised we didn't have lung burn from inhaling the toxic waste~ He managed to not do his biz in the house thankfully but oy vey--the fumes~ I think we both woke up with our hair standing on end and our eyes running with tears. Pumpkin is supposed to be good for dogs though--just not mixed with sauerkraut~

Om Paramapoonya (author) on October 17, 2012:

@carol7777 - Yeah, this is absolutely a nice Thai dessert to eat in the winter. Glad you're going to give it a try.

@akirchner - Hehehe no substituted tofu! Thanks for dropping by, Audrey. Hope you try this recipe sometime. It's jello-free and tofu-free, totally Bob-friendly. And maybe Griff can have some, too? Eh, probably not.

@Cardisa - Oh yeah. I think you would love it, too!

@Dr Pooja - Glad to hear you have had bua loy before. Colorful rice balls look so cute, don't they?

@viewfinders - Thanks a lot for your comment and vote!

viewfinders from India on October 17, 2012:

looks different ,its been a good recipe to try for who like to make new one's...

voted interesting and thanks for sharing.

Dr Pooja on October 16, 2012:

Remember being served the yummy dessert in Chiangmai and as you said the rice balls were colored.Must try at home

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on October 16, 2012:

Wow, this is unusual. Even with my familiarity with Asian food, I have never heard of this one. I think I would love it.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on October 16, 2012:

Wow--I don't think that looks too time consuming and gotta love anything with pumpkin and coconut~ I wonder if you substituted tofu....Bob says he's looking up that recipe right now!

Seriously---that sounds SO good--it never rains in Central Oregon and it's been pouring. Soup would be just the ticket and maybe I could keep the Griffin monster out of the pan of soup!

carol stanley from Arizona on October 15, 2012:

Well this does sound different. Sometimes when the weather is cool I love staying home and trying new recipes. So I will bookmark this until the weather cools off a bit. Thanks for sharing and voting UP.

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