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Cebu Delicacies: How to Make Ube Halaya

Ube halaya is a Filipino dessert made from ube or purple yam that is popular among Cebuanos. Read on to know how to make your own ube halaya.

Cebu delicacies are a regional treasure with its wide variety and diverse ingredients sourced from indigenous parts of the island. Among them is a treat for the sweet tooth whose color and that of its base ingredient is a Prince-worthy shade of purple: ube halaya and ube, respectively.

You may have seen ube halaya in several Instragram trending hipster posts, and its popularity can be attributed to its photogenic pastel color and its association with several other camera-friendly desserts. And anyone who has ever tried it surely remembers it with fondness and is looking forward to the next time their taste buds are to be blessed by its sublime, velvety goodness.

But first, let’s talk about ube, its principal constituent.

What is ube?

Ube is the purple royal of Philippine gastronomy. Also called purple yam, ube is a starchy root crop that is widely-used in the country for making pastry and desserts. It has a nutty texture and tastes a bit sweet with hints of vanilla. When purchasing ube from the market or grocery stores, make sure that the skin is a deep shade of purple and with no wrinkles, soft spots, and too many fine roots.

It is not to be confused with taro whose flesh is more lavender and white in color, and sweet potatoes that have a darker purple color and is sweeter and starchier. All three are tubers.

What is Ube Halaya?

Ube halaya is – presumably – every ube fan’s favourite incarnation of the beloved tuber. It is purple yam jam where the ube is cooked, mashed, and recooked with additional ingredients such as coconut milk, sugar, and others to create a buttery, pudding-like dessert. It is usually topped with cheese or coconut curds (a.k.a. latik) and served in llanera molds or small jars. It is also used in bread, cakes, halo-halo, and ice creams.

How to make Ube Halaya

Making ube halaya requires time, patience, and some muscle power to get the perfect consistency.


  • ½ kilo of ube / 1 package (16 ounces) frozen grated ube
  • 1 can (14 ounces) condensada
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 to 3 drops ube extract (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • Another cup of cheese or 1 cup of latik for toppings


  1. Option #1: Steam or boil the ube until fork-tender. Mash it until smooth and free of lumps, and then put it on the pan.
    Option #2: Use the frozen grated ube package and put it on the pan.
  2. Combine the ube with coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, condensada, butter, and sugar to form a thick, sweet concoction. Prevent it from burning at the bottom.
  3. Let it boil with occasional stirring until you reach the right, spreadable consistency.
  4. This is optional, but you can add ube extract to help boost color, aroma, and flavour.
  5. Lower heat and continue stirring for about 30 to 40 minutes until a soft doiugh forms.
  6. Add the cheese and continue to stir for another 10 to 15 minutes
  7. Grease the llanera mold with butter and pour the halaya into it. Spread and flatten evenly using a spatula.
  8. Garnish with cheese or latik toppings.
  9. Place in the fridge to cool.

Other ways to serve ube halaya

Apart from serving it as it is, ube halaya can also be added in or made into:

  • Halo-halo
  • Ube Ice cream
  • Ube Pandesal and other sweet breads and pastries
  • Sapin-sapin
  • Candies
  • Ube Champorado
  • Cake
  • Hopia
  • Buchi 
  • Milk tea
  • Pudding
  • Ube flan

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