Kueh Lapis/ Kuih Lapis

Kueh Lapis/ Kuih Lapis

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Kueh lapis is a traditional cake built up of nine layers of rice pudding. It has a wobbly and soft texture with a distinctive coconut milk flavour. The colourful steamed cake has Indonesian origins and is widely enjoyed in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Preparation 20 mins
Cooking 45 mins

Snack, Dessert

Kuih Genggang, Gao Teng Kueh, 九层糕

Malaysian, Singaporean, Malay

Nutrition per Serving

121 kcal
15 g
7 g
1 g

Kueh lapis or also spelled as kuih lapis/kue lapis is a beautiful traditional steamed cake which originates from Indonesia. The term ‘lapis’ simply means layer in Indonesian and Malay referring to the construct of the kueh. Meanwhile, the word kueh/kuih/kue brings the same meaning, a traditional cake or snack. Each layer is steamed with care making it possible to peel the layers without much resistance. That is exactly how the locals love to enjoy this kueh!

How does kueh lapis taste like?

Many often compare its texture to pudding. While it may be soft and wobbly, every bite of the kueh has a firm and springy mouth feel. It has a rich flavour of coconut milk as that is one of the main ingredients of the recipe. The light sweetness makes it very easy to enjoy the snack without feeling guilty.

Using only wheat flour

The traditional recipe uses mainly rice flour but many recipes use only wheat flour in their version of Kueh Lapis. If you do not happen to have any rice flour or tapioca flour at home, simply substitute it with wheat flour on a 1:1 ratio.

Replacing tapioca flour

Tapioca flour or starch can be substituted with corn starch or mung bean flour. However, I find the texture is not as fine as when tapioca flour is used. If you decide to use one of the two substitutes, do sieve the mixture in Step 2.

Variety of flavours and colours

This recipe uses artificial rose colouring which is most commonly found. Some food vendors add rose flavouring for the fragrance. You may also find the kueh with several colours for a rainbow-like appearance.

For natural colours, I would recommend blending pandan leaves with coconut milk for a delicate green colour. Otherwise, butterfly pea flower is another popular ingredient to create a gorgeous hue of blue.

Why the layer does not harden?

This happens when the heat is too low. It could also be that the batter is not mixed thoroughly each time before pouring it in as the flour tends to settle at the bottom after being left sitting for a while.

Why is the kueh lapis wrinkly and not smooth?

The steps to making kueh lapis is very simple but the techniques can be rather tricky. When steaming, ensure that the steamer (wok or pan) has enough space to allow the heat to circulate and cook the batter. You should also not steam it at high heat.

Additionally, there is no need to continously check on the kueh or the water droplets may fall onto the semi-cooked batter. This will create spots on the layers. To avoid water droplets from falling onto the layers, wrap the lid with a kitchen towel to absorb condensation.

Why can‘t it be removed easily?

It can be tricky to remove this traditional cake from the mould. Line your mould with oil or if you can get the food grade plastic lining, it will be easier to remove the kueh lapis. Otherwise, the kueh will look unpleasant and uneven at the bottom.

Making smooth bite-sized cuts

Cutting kueh lapis is unlike cutting a cake. It is very important to allow the cake to fully cool down before cutting. Due to its stickiness, there will be bits clinging onto the knife when slicing it. Therefore, grease the knife with a bit of oil to prevent this from happening. A plastic knife is another alternative as the crumbs will not stick to it.

How long can kueh lapis be kept fresh?

It can be kept fresh for one day at room temperature. Since it contains coconut milk, it is best to store it in the refrigerator for a shelf life up to 1 week. However, it must be kept in an air tight container or the outer layers will dry up.

Can it be kept frozen?

If you plan to have kueh lapis for later consumption, you may keep it frozen for up to 1 month. To get the soft and bouncy texture again, steam it before serving.


1 cup
rice flour
1⁄2 cup
wheat flour
2 tbsp
tapioca flour
1⁄2 cup
1 tsp
2 1⁄2 cups
coconut milk
1 tsp
red food colouring
1⁄2 tbsp

Steps to Prepare

Kueh Lapis/ Kuih Lapis Step 1

Step 1 of 4

    • 1 cup rice flour
    • 1⁄2 cup wheat flour
    • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
    • 1⁄2 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp salt

Prepare steamer over medium heat. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk or wooden spoon.

Kueh Lapis/ Kuih Lapis Step 2

Step 2 of 4

    • 2 1⁄2 cup coconut milk

Add coconut milk into the flour mixture and mix thoroughly until smooth. Ensure that there are no clumps.

Kueh Lapis/ Kuih Lapis Step 3

Step 3 of 4

    • 1 tsp red food colouring

Divide the batter into two portions. Add red food colouring into one of the portions. Mix well.

Kueh Lapis/ Kuih Lapis Step 4

Step 4 of 4

    • 1⁄2 tbsp oil

Using an 8 inch square or round mould, grease it with a bit of oil or line it with food-grade plastic. Place it into the steamer and pour 1/3 cup of pink batter into the mould. Cover with the lid to steam the batter for 5 minutes. Then, pour another 1/3 cup of white batter to steam. Repeat the process until batter is used up.

Published: August 30, 2020

5 Discussions

2 months ago


Hi, the kuih lapis texture was not smooth to taste - it's like powdery. I had to resteam the whole kuih for additional 20 minutes as the final layer was still not firm after 5mins of medium fire. How can it be improved? Thank you.

5 months ago


Can you use cake flour for wheat flour

5 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Shouldn't be any problem since all purpose flour is also used for cake.

8 months ago

phua bee

Hi, can you be more specific regarding WHEAT FLOUR please. I'm in Thailand the Wheat Flour we have is Hard, Soft, Original STONE GRIND. I find them too coarse like semolina. Couldn't find any Wheat Flour other than the above mentioned.

8 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

I assume, hard flour is used for bread and soft is for cake?

8 months ago


Hi Anyone! Would it be possible if I only use tapioca and rice flour? Wheat flour is no where to be found. Thanks!

8 months ago


All-purpose flour is also wheat flour. You should be able to find them at your local supermarkets.

8 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Yes, try looking for plain all-purpose flour, usually used for cookies or cakes. Just don't mistakenly buy self raising flour or it will be an interesting kueh lapis!!

8 months ago


Many thanks Grace & Mira. I got it! 👍😍

8 months ago


I would like recipe for kueh lapis like the one selling in Bengawan Solo Singapore. The layers are somewhat translucent. Anyone?

8 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

You may be referring to Kueh Lapis Sagu. Feel free to request for it here: www.nyonyacooking.com/requests ;)

6 months ago

Genevieve Tan

Hi! Wat if cannot find wheat flour so can replace with wat flour?

6 months ago

Genevieve Tan

I substituted wheat flour with corn flour. Overall is ok but a bit sweet to me

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