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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

Read More From Delishably

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.

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