Vietnamese Snowballs – Banh Bao Chi

Vietnamese Snowballs - Banh Bao Chi

These delicious little Vietnamese Snowballs are one of the best Asian treats I have ever had. Each snowball has a soft, sweet centre wrapped in a chewy outer layer that is covered in desiccated coconut. In this post we have included recipes for both mung bean and coconut fillings, which are easily the most popular flavours. My family’s recipe is a cheat version that is much quicker and easier than traditional methods.

Tet (lunar new year) is only a few weeks away and mum is beginning preparations for our family festivities! For those of you who don’t know, Tet is the day of celebration and more importantly li xi (red envelopes filled with lucky money). In my younger years, I remember this being very lucrative since I was part of a very big family. All you had to do was wish the adults a happy and prosperous new year in Vietnamese (this was actually a massive challenge for most of us) and you received your li xi. Easy money!

Vietnamese Snowballs - Banh Bao Chi

Today, as nature intended, MOST kids of my era have grown up (some have proudly became man child’s) and now have to give back. This is quite alarming since every year the kids are multiplying! It is for these very reasons that I wish my extended family would show a little more restraint! Adding to this the drop in house prices, the state of the stock market and the influx of cheap “knock offs” the future looks very bleak. I am trying to stay positive but it is hard when mum recently tells you that the rules stipulate that you now have to give your adult sister LI XI! Life sucks sometimes.

One of our little family traditions for Tet is that mum always makes these snowballs for dessert. Over the years, mum has made a few adjustments to her original recipe that has made it much quicker and simpler. One of these improvements is to cook the dough in the microwave instead of boiling it. This saves a heap of time cooking and cleaning.

Another great short cut we have included is greatly reducing the soaking time needed to prepare the dried mung beans. Many recipes online will tell you to soak overnight for best results. For me, if I have a craving for something, waiting overnight is simply not gonna cut it. So, with this method, I can make these snowballs in under an hour.

Vietnamese Snowballs - Banh Bao Chi

My Tips for Success

  1. Do not spend too much time perfecting the snowball shape. The cupcake wrappers will hide a lot of the imperfections.
  2. Mini cup cake wrappers work best since they won’t dwarf the snowball.
  3. Desiccated coconut works better then shredded. This is because they stick better to the dough and gives a more even coverage.
  4. I suggest having a few practice runs. After making one, cut the snowball in half to calibrate how much dough to use to evenly cover each snowball.
  5. This recipe will require some practice to perfect. Wrapping the dough around the filling looks easy but it is a bit fiddly.

Creating the Dough and Filling!

Other Vietnamese Cakes and Dessert Recipes

Making the Vietnamese Snowballs!

Show Us Your Creations

If you try any of our recipes, Steph and I would love to see your creations! Please share it with us on Instagram using #scruffandsteph and @scruffandsteph! We would also appreciate any likes / shares / follows on our  Facebook page, Pinterest and Instagram. Thank you for your support!

–  Scruff

Vietnamese Snowballs - Banh Bao Chi

Vietnamese Snowballs – Banh Bao Chi

Course Treat
Cuisine Vietnamese
Keyword Snowball
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 22 – 24 Snowballs
Author Scruff


Coconut Filling (approx 22 – 24 balls)

  • 80 gm desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 70 gm white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp glutinous rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed

Mung Bean Filing (approx 22 – 24 balls)

  • 100 gm dried peeled split mung bean
  • 70 gm caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp canola oil, (or any neutral oil)
  • candied winter melon / mut bi dao, cut into small cubes (Optional but highly recommended)(available at Asian groceries)

Dough Mixture (approx 22 – 24 balls)

  • 250 gm glutinous rice flour
  • 100 gm white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp canola oil

Presentation (approx 22 – 24 balls)

  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 24 cupcake wrappers
  • black sesame seeds (optional)


Coconut Filling (approx 22 – 24 balls)

  1. In a fry pan on medium heat, add the desiccated coconut, salt, sugar and water.  Cook and stir for 7 mins. 

  2. Add 1 tbsp glutinous rice flour and cook for a further 3 mins.

  3. Turn off heat and add the vanilla extract, sesame seeds and crushed peanuts. With a spoon, combine thoroughly. 

  4. Measure 1 heaped tsp and mold into balls with your hands. (approx 3 cm diameter)

Mung Bean Filling (approx 22- 24 balls)

  1. In a large bowl, soak the mung beans in boiling water for 15 minutes. 

  2. Strain the mung beans and cook in a pot with plenty of boiling water on medium heat. Once the water starts to boil, cook for 10 minutes.

  3. Strain the mung beans and put back into the pot with 2 tbsp of hot water. Cook on low for another 5 minutes with the lid on. (Note 1)

  4. Puree the mung bean in food processor or with a rolling pin. To do it with a rolling pin, put the mung bean into a freezer bag and push out all the air. Leave the bag open and roll it with the pin until smooth. (Note 2)

  5. In a fry pan on medium heat add sugar, vanilla extract and oil. Combine with a spatula and cook for until the mung bean mixture is the texture of soft play-dough. This may take anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes.  

  6. Once the filling is at the right consistency, take off the heat and allow to cool down. Once cooled put 1 heaped tsp of filling into your hands,and wrap it around a cube of candied bitter melon. Roll them into a ball with a diameter of roughly 3 cm.

Dough Mixture (approx 22 – 24 balls)

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all the dough ingredients together with a whisk. The water must be warm, not hot or boiling. 

  2. Grease the sides of the plastic microwave-safe bowl with a neutral oil and pour in the dough mixture. Cook on high for 7 minutes. (Note 3)

  3. With a spoon stir the dough mixture until it is uniform. 

Making the Snowballs

  1. Prepare a small bowl of cold water and a flat plate of desiccated coconut. 

  2. Spoon a heaped tbsp of dough mixture and lay it on the desiccated coconut. To get the dough out, use the tbsp like you would a cookie cutter and cut into the dough with the edges of spoon. Please refer to the progress pictures for help. 

  3. Drop the filling ball on top of the dough and push it into the dough mixture. 

  4. Wet your finger tips in the bowl of water and slowly pull the dough mixture up over the sides of the filling ball.  (Note 4)

  5. Roll the ball in the desiccated coconut and smooth it into a sphere. Don’t worry if it is not perfect since you can hide a lot in the cupcake wrappers. (Note 5)

  6. Repeat until done.

Recipe Notes

  1. If you have accidentally burnt the mung bean, do not peel it off the bottom of the pot. 
  2. Results can vary at this stage. Do not be alarmed if mung beans are already squishy. You will have to compensate by cooking it on the fry pan for a little longer to get the right consistency. 
  3. Plastic bowls work best for this. Every other material tends to stick.  
  4. If your fingers are sticking too the dough, dip them into the desiccated coconut. This step can be quite difficult and it will take you a few goes to get it right. 
  5. If there is too much dough on the snowball,  gently pull on the dough and cut off the excess with a pair of scissors. Then reseal the snowball. 

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