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Halo-Halo: A Classic Filipino Dessert

Updated on April 5, 2015

Halo-Halo is so popular among Filipinos that if you ask anybody about it, they would surely know about this dessert. The term halo-halo literally means 'mixed together.' The base of this treat is shaved ice and evaporated milk. Various fruit and sweet ingredients are then added and mixed together with the ice and milk. Though there are many variations on the Halo-Halo nowadays, there are still these ingredients that are considered as classics. Here are some of the popular "sahog" (local name of the ingredients added to the ice and milk base) which are added to this dessert.

The classic Halo-Halo topped with a scoop of ice cream
The classic Halo-Halo topped with a scoop of ice cream | Source

Red Kidney Beans

These beans are named as such due to their similarity in shape with a kidney. The red kidney beans are known to absorb the flavor of a dish it was added to, making the dish richer in flavor.

Kaong (Sugar Palm Fruit)

The fruit of the sugar palm tree is a sweet jelly-like fruit. It has a mild flavor to it which makes the halo-halo sweeter and at the same time, healthier because it is rich in vitamins and minerals.

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzos have been proven to give more satisfaction when included to a dish. They are also rich in fiber which makes this dessert healthier.

Nata de Coco

The nata de coco is a Filipino dessert which is made from fermented coconut water. It is a jelly-like product which is transparent and more chewy than the common jelly.

Nata de Coco is a jelly-like product which is transparent and more chewy than the common jelly.
Nata de Coco is a jelly-like product which is transparent and more chewy than the common jelly. | Source

Macapuno (Coconut Sport)

Macapuno is a fruit of a tree that is very similar to a coconut. Compared to the coconut, the flesh of the macapuno fruit is softer and more gelatinous. It is commonly cooked in sugar syrup when added to the halo-halo.

Minatamis na Saging

Minatamis na saging are bananas caramelized in sugar. The bananas used are the local produce originating from the Philippines, the saba. It is a hybrid kind of banana which is commonly used for cooking rather than being eaten raw.

Langka (Jackfruit)

The jackfruit is primarily grown in the Southeast Asian countries due to their tropical climates, where these fruits are adapted. The flavor of the fruit is said to be comparable to a combination of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana. The langka could be added to the halo-halo raw or if it isn't sweet enough, it may be caramelized in sugar.


Pinipig is actually rice that hasn't matured enough yet to be cooked. These grains are then pounded until they become flakes. This gives the halo-halo a crunch that makes it more satisfying.

These grains are then pounded until they become flakes.
These grains are then pounded until they become flakes. | Source


Gulaman is a bar of dried seaweed which is used to make jelly or other desserts. Commonly, green or red bars are used if it would be added to the halo-halo. Gulaman is boiled in water and then the liquid is sifted and set aside to harden.

Tapioca Pearls

Tapioca pearls are small, round, starchy substance which are added to the dessert. They are bead-like and opaque when uncooked. To cook them, they are simply boiled until they soften and become slightly translucent.

Leche Flan

Leche Flan is another popular Filipino dessert. It is made with eggs, milk, and sugar. This is the Filipino version of caramel custard. It is traditionally steamed in an oblong-shape tin container.

Leche Flan is made with eggs, milk, and sugar.
Leche Flan is made with eggs, milk, and sugar. | Source

Kamote (Sweet Potato)

The sweet potato is a root crop which is very similar to the ordinary potato but has a sweeter and more distinct taste. The sweet potatoes are caramelized in sugar and are then added to the dessert.


The cheese gives the halo-halo a milky and more balanced flavor. Any kind of cheese could be added but cheese which is more creamy is preferably and commonly used.


Sugar is added to the halo-halo to suit your taste. If the dessert is not sweet enough, a desirable amount of sugar could be added.

Ube (Purple Yam)

The purple yam is a root crop which is native to Southeast Asia. The Ube is made into a jam which is then added to the dessert.

The root crop Ube is made into jam.
The root crop Ube is made into jam. | Source

Ice Cream

To top the dessert, add some ice cream. There is nothing better than ice cream mixed with the evaporated milk. This makes the milk of the halo-halo rich in flavor. The most common flavors being used are ube and vanilla ice cream.

The Halo-Halo is a versatile dessert and you could get creative to suit your taste. This treat is not only a dessert but could be also considered as a snack (or merienda in Filipino) due to its variety of ingredients. Some prefer a more simple dessert and only adds a few of the sahog but still, nothing beats the classic and traditional iced dessert with the complete ingredients.


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      3 years ago

      Yum! My fave dessert :P


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