8 Recipe Ideas for Kaya (Coconut And Pandan Spread)

The word “kaya” has two meanings in Malay – it can mean “rich” as in “wealthy”, or it can refer to a coconut and pandan jam that’s universally loved by Malaysians.

Making kaya at home properly can be laborious and time-consuming – back in the old days you would cook it in a double-boiler and stand over the stove for hours stirring the coconut cream, pandan, egg and sugar mixture until it thickened up into a custardy consistency. 

Nowadays here in Australia you can easily find jars of Malaysian kaya in Asian grocery stores; they might look caramel-coloured or green-tinged, or something in between. Some might be labelled Serikaya, Nyonya Kaya, Melaka Nonya Kaya (not a typo; Nyonya is sometimes spelled Nonya), Pandan Kaya, Hainanese Kaya, Original Kaya, Hainanese Pandan Kaya or simply Coconut Jam – as long as they’re made in Malaysia, they basically mean kaya.

How do you use kaya? Well in Malaysia it’s most commonly served on toast with a thick slice of butter.

Back in the day when I first introduced kaya to my customers at my market stalls, I served it spread on roti canai, aka roti prata. At the time (we’re talking decades ago, because I’m that old) I was the only person I knew who served kaya that way; some ten years after I started doing so, I visited a Malaysian restaurant in Boston and saw that they had kaya plus roti canai as a dessert on their menu, served exactly the way I did it; I’d like to think they got the idea from me (just kidding). 

Another fun fact was that when I started selling homemade kaya from my market stalls, my Australian customers asked to buy frozen roti canai to go with it because that was the only way they knew how to use kaya thanks to yours truly.

So, to all my former market stall customers, here are some more kaya ideas for you to explore –

Watch the video here >> https://youtu.be/qxbvb0ynXXE

  1. Peanut butter and jam sandwich – spread one side of the bread with peanut butter and the other side with a generous amount of kaya and serve.

2. Kaya toast – toast two slices of white bread, place a thick slice of butter on one and spread lots of kaya on the other; kaya toast is typically served with the crust removed but that’s up to you.

3. Burnt cheesecake

This recipe is adapted from Kuali.com


500g cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs+1 egg yolk
1 cup double cream
1/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup kaya


  1. Combine all ingredients except the kaya in a mixer, divide into two portions, and transfer the first portion into a baking tin.
  2. Stir kaya into the second portion, then add to the tin.
  3. Bake at 200C for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 180C and bake a further 30 mins.  Allow to cool before cutting.


4. Croissant with kaya – cut warm or toasted croissant in half, spread with butter and a thick layer of kaya and serve.

5. Kaya French toast (inspired by Rivertenkitchen‘s take on this) – beat up an egg with milk, spread a thick layer of butter on a piece of bread, spread another slice with kaya, bring them together and dunk in the egg, then fry up in a pan with butter. Serve on its own or sprinkled with icing sugar.

6. Kaya pie – I’m using shortcrust pastry here but puff pastry would work just as well. First, beat an egg to use as egg wash, then cut the softened dough sheet into 9 squares. Place some kaya in the middle of each, fold into  triangular or rectangular shapes – pinch the edges using a fork and brush with egg wash. Then bake in the oven according to the pastry instructions; there you go, a quick and easy snack anyone can prepare at home.

7. Kaya Shake – in lieu of caramel, add some kaya to your milkshake, or simply spoon some kaya over vanilla ice cream for a rich, coconut & pandan touch.

8. Kaya steamed buns –


Simple Bun Recipe –
400g low gluten flour (or superfine/HK/pao flour)
200ml water
5g instant yeast
20g oil
30g caster sugar

1 cup kaya


  1. Combine all ingredients except the kaya and knead into a soft dough.
  2. Transfer into a bowl and cover until doubled in size. In the meantime, portion dollops of kaya and chill or freeze to make it easier to handle.
  3. Divide the dough into small portions, roll into rounds, fill with kaya and seal. Place on squares of baking paper, then steam for 10 minutes or until done.


This is part of my Malaysian Ingredients Made Easy 2.0 series produced in partnership with the Malaysian Agriculture Counsellor Office, Sydney . Don’t miss the exclusive recipes and additional tips I’ll be sending to my email subscribers – sign up at MalaysianChefs.com/Recipes.



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