Treat Yourself to 12 of Our Best Filipino Desserts

Ube Panna Cotta
Photo: Allrecipes Photo

When you're in the Philippines, any time's a good time for dessert. In addition to after-dinner sweets, a ritual daily snack called merienda is also when you might reach for a little sweet something to tide you over from breakfast to lunch and from mid-afternoon until dinner time. Here are a dozen of our favorite Filipino sweets, featuring the flavors of a rich and diverse multi-cultural heritage, including Asian, Spanish, Malaysian, European, and Western flavors, just to name a few. Enjoy these sweet treats for dessert or merienda, the Filipino way.

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close up of four biko on a plate

This popular baked dessert made from soaked glutinous rice, coconut milk, and sugar has a dense, creamy, chewy texture. Reviewer Beya says, "This recipe came out tasting better than the biko I buy at the Filipino store. Follow these steps to make it authentic: I used only 2 cups of rice (makes plenty) & soaked it for a couple hours in 3 cups water. Make sure you use glutinous rice! Cooked it with half the can of coconut milk and soaking water. Cook it just like rice till it gets soft and mushy. For topping:instead of preserves,I used macapuno strings (4 tbsp) or more. When you remove the biko from oven, it will be slightly soft and a little liquidy. But, when it cools it sets. The finishing touch is brown coconut jam spread on top. I will never buy biko again!"

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Halo-Halo Especial

halo-halo filipino dessert
sergio amiti/getty images

Halo-Halo means "mix-mix" in Tagalog, which is a perfect definition for this fun-loving Filipino dessert that invites you to mix up the many different flavors and textures that go into it. Everyone loads up their halo-halo differently, and this version includes the mandatory shaved ice along with canned jackfruit, sweetened adzuki and white kidney beans, evaporated milk, and ice cream. For an extra colorful and flavorful halo-halo, use ube ice cream instead of vanilla.

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Purple Yam and Coconut Mochi (Ube Bibingka)

looking down at purple yam and coconut mochi
Allrecipes Magazine

"Purple yams bring brilliant color to these sweet and chewy coconut mochi cakes," says recipe creator Yana Gilbuena. "For an extra flourish, you can top them with diced fresh mango. Candied pineapple or dried papaya are also good toppers."

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Easy and Delicious Purple Yam (Ube) Cookies

close up on a few purple yam cookies
Buckwheat Queen

In this recipe, powdered ube gives these easy cookies a pale lavender tint and a hint of fruity flavor. "These taste awesome!" says recipe creator Marvincent Acuna (Vince). "They're very soft and cake-like in texture. These are dome-shaped once they bake. You can flatten them as desired. This is a flexible recipe. You can add a teaspoon (or more) of baking soda instead of baking powder if you want a thinner cookie."

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Mamon (Sponge Cakes)

filipino mamon sponge cake
Fuirz Jesuh Zuick Kentt

Reviewer claire_issa says, "My Lola loved these, and she usually only likes what she makes herself. I followed the recipe exactly and the cakes came out light and fluffy. I brushed the tops w/ melted butter & added a little bit of sugar and cheese. Delicious!"

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Ube Panna Cotta

ube panna cotta

Recipe creator Diana Moutsopoulos says, "Ube is purple yam, a popular sweet treat in the Philippines that's made into jam, cookies, and more. Here I've taken ube and made a delicate panna cotta that not only tastes divine, but is shockingly gorgeous thanks to its natural purple hue!"

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Maja Blanca

looking down at a whole maja blanca
karen cindy devera

"Maja blanca is a Filipino favorite kakanin (dessert or snack.) This dish is sweet, delicate, soft, and creamy," says recipe creator laarni. Cream-style corn is cooked with coconut milk, sugar, and cornstarch to make the pudding-like base; the topping is coconut milk cooked with sugar until the liquid is dissolved and the coconut turns brown and crumbly.

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Karioka Sweet Rice Balls

looking at a bunch of karioka sweet rice balls

Think of these as little coconut doughnuts. Rice flour, coconut, and coconut milk get mixed into dough balls and fried until golden brown, then topped with a sweet coconut glaze. You can serve the rice balls on skewers to avoid sticky fingers, if you wish.

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Barquillos (Wafer Rolls)

looking down at three barquillos

"Very delicate & delicious!" says reviewer crysZ1977. "It is a very FANCY sugar cookie. I had made these for a childrens' fundraiser and they sold out! Another helpful hint, use parchment paper! Lift off perfectly and with great ease! This is essential since you must work quickly to lift off pan and then roll before they cool."

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Banana Lumpia

close up on a few banana lumpia
Baking Nana

Ripe bananas are coated with brown sugar and rolled in lumpia wrappers and fried until brown and crispy on the outside. Serve with ube ice cream.

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Leche Flan

flan with caramel
Annabelle Breakey/Getty Images

Recipe creator Hannah says, "My mom would always make this Filipino leche flan for dessert for me and I always loved it."

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Purple Yam Jam

looking at two ramekins of purple yam jam
Buckwheat Queen

You can spread this purple jam (called halayang ube in the Philippines) on toast or eat it all by itself. Reviewer YesJAMS! says, "Delicious recipe! Will definitely make again! I cannot stress enough that the instructions are accurate and should be followed closely. Such as, when it is mentioned that you should remove the yam mixture from the heat after 15 minutes, you should remove the yam mixture. A word of caution, be vigilant in checking on your boiling yams, it is very easy to overcook them making them more difficult to grate. Apart from this, it is an amazing recipe that is very rewarding. I have no doubt that you will soon be saying YES to this jam!"

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State of Home Cooking

State of Home Cooking

We're serving up and celebrating the biggest home-cooking trends from the most enthusiastic cooks we know: our community. We crunched the data from 1.2 billion annual visits and 2.5 billion annual page views. Then we dug even further, surveying Allrecipes cooks about what's in their carts and fridges, on their stovetops and tables, and on their minds. Filipino food is just one of the topics they're most curious about. See more of the "State of Home Cooking" special report.

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