These six (6) must-try Liberian African sweets not only include something for those who want the local experience. But those who want cute, authentic African food that doesn’t disturb their food preference and comfort too. You’ll find popular street food any traveler would love. Of these Liberia foods, you can decide which of these West African snacks fits your needs. In this sweet treat article, we share recommendations that diasporan Liberians are afraid to tell you about. Unless they are too busy enjoying them to share, lol.
Liberian African sweets for the adventurous foodie
1. Sugar Palm-nut(s)
Sugar palm nut is a popular street food/dessert among Liberia foods. I’m not sure why diasporic Liberians do not boast about this authentic African food to foreigners though. Are they shy because it is too ethnic/primitive? Anyway, locals make sugar palm nuts with the ingredients in their name: caramelized sugar and palm nuts (Liberians swallow the ‘S’ in palm nuts 😊). Remember what we said about certain Liberian foods for the 1%? Well, sugar palm nut is one of those West African snacks made for and loved by the 1%. Not many Liberians go out of their way to create it at home, but we will buy it from street vendors. Thus making it a popular street food.
Photo credit: The Liberian influence
Wondering what sugar palm nuts taste like? They taste creamy thanks to the fatty-oily palm nut fruit that becomes juicy when boiled. From palm butter soups to palm nut candy, can you tell we love palm nuts? Authentic African food uses palm nuts in many ways. Here are some tips when eating sugar palm nuts: First, eat them one at a time, and as you suck on the sugar palm nut, separate the palm-kernel seed from the orange-fruit part. Next, spit out the palm-kernel seed and proceed to suck on the sugar palm nut fruit. This is the best part. Chew it until you are satisfied and all the sugar is gone from the palm nut. Do not swallow the straw part or the kernel seed. Note: We buy sugar palm nuts despite the seed being included. I don’t think Liberians would trust it if the kernel seeds were not included. Funny huh? Liberia foods have a sense of humor. Stay tuned for the gist of what we use the kernel seeds for.
2. Liberian Butter Cookies
Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand. On this journey of eating plant-based, we don’t tamper with authentic African food that is cooked traditionally with real cow butter so it may not be suitable for vegans. Except for Ghee butter, I have not found a plant butter that can withstand the cooking temperature. Moving on, we love that Liberian butter cookies are crumbly, buttery, and filling. Adventurous foodies can find Liberian butter cookies in downtown Monrovia Liberia or along the ELWA junction if you are lucky. African sweets like Liberian butter cookies are loved and known abroad as one of the top Liberia foods because they fit most people’s comfort levels. We all love cookies! Searching for this popular street food among Liberia foods is not easy though, since food vendors patrol (vendors do not stay in one location, they visit different areas to sell all their products). So, I highly suggest finding it at C.W. Brumskine School (before you get to Ducor Hotel). Note that few vendors sell this popular street food.
3. Liberian Milk Candy
From any list of African sweets, you must try milk candy. Another popular dessert/snack among Liberia foods. Most people love this authentic African food. The way Liberians shape theirs can make you hesitate to eat it. But, fear not, it tastes like a milky- caramelized toffee candy. Locals call it ‘rock my jaw’ food. Good for any adventurous foodie. Since it is a popular street food in Liberia, some vendors try to lure customers in by adding a bit of nutmeg.
4. Kanyan (pronounced KHAN-YAN)
As mentioned in another post, Kanyan is one of the original tried and true Liberian snacks that is loved by most foreigners who taste it for the first time. Among African sweets, Kanyan is one of the healthy Liberian snacks you want to eat regularly. It tastes peanutty, sweet, filling, and crunchy. A foodie’s wet dream! We believe Kanyan is popular because it is the classic sweet treat people don’t feel guilty for eating. This is thanks to its wholesome ingredients (peanut butter, cassava gari, and sugar).
5. Colored coconut candy
Aunty, we never said this list of African sweets was all healthy. Colored coconut candy is definitely not healthy but worth tasting. It is a good ‘rock my jaw food’ and the high sugar content will definitely lift your spirits. If not, the colorful shredded coconut candy will do the trick. West African snacks like this one are for those with a hyper-sweet tooth.
6. Sesame seeds candy
Last but not least, is sesame seeds candy. It is another good ‘rock my jaw’ food that is readily available on the popular street food scene in Liberia. Some vendors make changes, like adding a few peanuts, while others keep it plain (sesame seeds and sugar). It is kind of a healthy African sweet, but don’t count on it; some vendors add lots of sugar.
From this list, name which Liberian West African snacks you’ve tasted. Are there other African sweets we didn’t mention that should be included among these Liberian foods? Comment below. To be notified monthly about new African lifestyle content, subscribe! And check out our Instagram page for real-life inspirations 😊.