Halo-Halo is a popular and deliciously refreshing Filipino dessert made with mixed fruits, sweetened beans, milk, and shaved or crushed ice topped with either caramel flan, purple yam jam or ice cream! Simply mix everything in a bowl or glass before eating. The combination of all these ingredients makes Halo Halo a very yummy concoction! So popular during the hot season, this cold dessert can cool you down during summer’s scorching days!
One ultra-popular dessert in the Philippines during the summer season is a sweet dessert/beverage/concoction called Halo Halo. This Filipino word – “halo” – literally means to mix. You simply mix all the ingredients together and what comes out is one of the most amazing refreshing and delicious summer desserts! It is so fabulously yummy that we had to say the word twice – halo-halo or mix-mix!
You can literally find this dessert everywhere in the Philippines and in any Filipino restaurants or eateries here in the US. A Filipino, like me, though uprooted from my country, will need to have halo halo at least once a year! We never fail to order halo halo when we go to Queens in New York City whenever we eat at a Filipino restaurant there.
Though it can be made any time of the year it’s even more popular during the hot summer months. It’s the cold and refreshing taste that makes it so good. Best of all it’s the combination of all these fruits and beans and sweet topping that give this dessert its unique and unforgettable flavor.
There is no limit to what type of sweet ingredient you can use for halo halo. In fact, you’d only be limited by the size of your receptacle. Hence, this dessert is usually served in either a tall clear glass (so you can see all that goodness going into it!) or a clear bowl. The ingredients in the photo above are not meant to limit your choices but are simply suggestions. Trust me, I haven’t even exhausted half of the ingredients you can use. I was simply limited by what I found in the Asian store when I made this. But don’t worry, even if you can only get 5 of these – you’re good to go. It’s a very versatile recipe that way. You may even add your favorite fresh fruits to the mix – like fresh mangoes!!! Yes!!!
There are essentially three major components to this dessert beverage – the sweets (they go to the bottom), the liquids (middle to top), and the toppings (where else would it go?).
Below is a list of the sweet ingredients you can choose from in no particular order. Choose at least 5 of these plus the crushed ice, evaporated milk, and your choice of topping and you’re good to go!
- Canned or sweetened jackfruit
Sweetened cooked bananas or plantains
- Ripe mangos, sliced
Cooked tapioca or sago pearls (with a little of their syrup)
Sweetened beans (any variety or color)
- Caramel Flan (or Leche Flan)
Nata de coco (preserved sweet coconut)
Rice Krispies or pounded sweetened rice
Gelatin (any flavor or color)
Vanilla Ice Cream or fruity ice cream (like mango)
Make sure you have some:
Evaporated milk (full fat)
Shaved ice or crushed ice (very important!)
TOPPING OPTIONS: (1 or a combo)
Leche Flan or Creme Caramel – click on the highlighted name for the recipe if you need one. Any good Mexican bakery or Filipino store should have this, too.
Purple Yam or Ube Jam – click on the highlighted name for the recipe if you need one. It may also be purchased at Asian stores.
Ice Cream (flavor of your choice – but maybe stick to vanilla or a fruity one so it compliments the other ingredients) In the Philippines both ube and mango ice creams are favorites for this!)
Can you actually find the above ingredients? Yes, yes, yes! Simply make a visit to your local Asian store which sells Filipino products and you’ll find these and perhaps more!
How do you make it?
Place about 5-7 of the above sweet ingredients (in any order) in a tall glass or medium bowl. Typically, a tablespoon of each should do depending on how big your glass or bowl is. No need to add sugar as these are all sweetened already. Yay, sugar-free! (well, not really!!!)
Then top with ice shavings and your chosen topping(s). Pour the milk over. Grab a long spoon (if using a tall glass) and mix, mix, mix!
Eat and drink the dessert (once you’ve eaten all the sweet ingredients and your left simply with a sweetened milky liquid (don’t waste it!). Enjoy!
How to make Halo Halo (Filipino Shaved Ice Dessert with Mixed Fruits and Sweet Beans)
- 1 tablespoon sweetened beans
- 1 tablespoon cubed gelatin
- 1 tablespoon sweetened jack fruit
- 1 tablespoon nata de coco
- 1 tablespoon sweetened tapioca or sago pearls, cooked
- crushed or shaved ice, as needed
- 3 tablespoons evaporated milk, or as needed
- 1 scoop leche flan or creme caramel, as needed
- 1 scoop ube jam, as needed
- 1 scoop ice cream, vanilla, ube or mango or flavor of choice
- In a tall clear glass or a medium clear bowl, add each chosen sweet ingredient in no particular order. Depending on the size of your glass or bowl, fill it until you reach about half or just a little above half of the receptacle.
- Spoon the crushed ice or ice shavings into the glass or bowl until it comes up to the top. Tightly pack the ice in using your hands or a spatula/spoon. Pour in the milk until the liquid flows into the middle part of the glass (simply eyeball this). Add the topping of your choice. You can alternate this by adding the topping first before pouring the milk in. It's up to you.
- Then, simply grab a spoon and mix everything and enjoy all that halo-halo! This may be tricky to do at first as the ingredients are all tightly packed in but once the crushed ice starts melting it becomes so easy. And, that's all part of the fun in eating halo halo!