Filipino desserts are known for their refreshingly delicious nature, often made from starch crops and rice.
Much like Filipino cuisine in general, the desserts of the culture tend to focus on both the sweet and the savory, or a combination of both base tastes.
If you are looking to expand your cooking horizons to different parts of the world, Filipino cuisine is a great place to start, particularly their tasty desserts! With this in mind, we are going to be looking at 26 recipes for Filipino desserts (see also ‘21 Mexican Dessert Recipes‘). Let’s get started.
This deliciously sweet and simple dessert is incredibly popular in the Philippines thanks to how easy it is to make. There are only five ingredients in Biko: brown sugar, coconut milk, water, kosher salt and glutinous rice, otherwise known as sticky rice.
Rice is a major part of Filipino cuisine and this applies to the desserts too, as demonstrated by the popularity of Biko (and many of the other desserts that we are going to talk about here!
Often sold by street vendors in the Philippines, Turon is a dessert version of Filipino spring rolls, otherwise known as Lumpia Shanghai.
Turon is made of a fried, crunchy, thin and crepe-like exterior. This is deep-fried until it becomes golden and crisp before it is coated with a caramel glaze. In terms of the filling, turon is traditionally filled with sweet saba banana along with jack fruit slices.
These soft and sweet Filipino sponge cakes are relatively small in size, usually baked in small molds.
Also known as torta or torta mamon, there are variations on the recipe which includes a rolled version called a pianono, sponge fingers called broas and a large loaf version of the mamon called taisan.
The lightness of the mamon gives it a fluffy texture, making it a dessert choice that is not too heavy on the stomach.
Halo-Halo is an incredibly popular shaved ice dessert from the Philippines, made from coconut milk or evaporated milk with crushed ice and various other ingredients which can include soft yam cubes, fruit preserves, sweetened garbanzo or kidney beans, gulaman, sago, boiled taro, pinipig (crispy rice) and more!
Halo-Halo is usually topped off with a scoop of mango ice cream or ube ice cream (ube being a Filipino purple yam).
This is another relatively quick and easy dessert (see also ‘28 Easy Desserts Sure To Leave Your Guests In Awe Of Your Cooking Skills‘) to make that is as delicious as it is simple. Karioka are sweet and sticky deep-fried rice balls that are covered with a caramel sauce
The rice balls are made from glutinous rice, whilst the dough that covers the balls is made from a coconut milk dough mixture. The balls are usually served on skewers and then dipped into the sauce, making for a convenient fried dessert snack.
6. Leche Flan
This traditional Filipino sweet treat is highly popular, and for good reason! This custard flan is known for its creamy and smooth texture, which blends perfectly with the richness of the golden caramel topping.
Leche Flan is usually served up as a dessert during special occasions, such has at fiestas or parties. The flan is also used as a topping for other desserts, such as the previously mentioned halo-halo.
Made from a custard mixture of condensed and evaporated milk with egg yolks, and topped with a layer of sugar that has been caramelized, the flan is either steamed on a stove top or baked in the oven before it is refrigerated so that it can set and chill.
7. Buko Salad
A refreshing Filipino dessert, Buko salad is made from fruits- such as palm fruit- along with condensed milk and all-purpose cream.
The most important ingredient of the salad is the buko itself, which refers to young coconut. Young coconut is the juice and the soft, jelly like meat that is found within a coconut that is harvested before it reaches full maturity.
This is one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines thanks to the distinctive contrast of softness and crunchiness.
These delicious cookies are considered a sweet and decadent dessert treat in the Philippines, thanks to its combination of French buttercream and cashew meringue cookies.
The sweetness doesn’t end there, though, with the cookies being frosted with more buttercream before they are coated with cashew and cookie crumbs. The silvanas are then frozen and eaten cold, making for a sweet summer treat.
Translating to “cat’s tongue” due to the shape resembling that of a feline tongue, these homemade butter cookies originated in Baguio City in the Philippines.
Known for their buttery taste, these cookies are crisp, crunchy and melt in the mouth thanks to their light and thin nature. Despite being Filipino treats, the Lengua de Gato was inspired by Spanish cookies (see also ‘27 Amazing Traditional Spanish Desserts‘).
10. Mais con Yelo
This layered dessert is a refreshing and sweet treat that is perfect to snack on in the summer.
Much like halo-halo-, mais con yelo is also a shaved ice dessert, though it is different in that it is made up of crushed or shaved ice alongside sweet corn, sweetened condensed milk (see also ‘33 Simple Condensed Milk Desserts‘), evaporated milk, corn flakes and corn ice cream.
The dessert can also replace the ice cream with corn cheese ice cream- known as mais queso- or cheese ice cream, called queso.
This dessert has been embraced by the entire world, but it is the coconut variation that is most popular in the Philippines.
Most countries will use flaked or shredded coconut for their macarons, but in the Philippines, desiccated coconut is the main ingredient. This creates an airiness to the texture as well as a softer taste.
12. Egg Pie
A traditional dessert in the Philippines, Filipino egg pie is a custard pie that has been slowly baked and features a buttery, flaky crust.
These pies are usually made with eggs, milk, sugar and sometimes brightened up with some calamansi zest or juice. The pies are popular at parties and are often sold in Filipino bakeries.
13. Ube Jam
As mentioned above, ube (see also ‘20 Colorful Ube Recipes You Have To Try‘) refers to Filipino purple yams, which are sweet and have a vanilla taste that is a bit nutty. Ube jam is quite simply jam that is made from these purple yams.
Ube jam is very simple to make as it only has a few ingredients. As well as the mashed and boiled purple yam, ube jam can also be made with condensed milk, evaporated milk (see also ‘33 Great Recipes For Evaporated Milk‘) and full fat coconut milk. You’ll also need some salt, lemon juice butter, sugar and vanilla extract.
14. Cassava Cake
Made from the tuberous and starchy root that is cassava, cassava cake is another traditional Filipino dessert that features a combination of nutty, cheesy and buttery flavors.
Cassava cake is known for its melt in the mouth nature despite its firm and chewy texture.
Cassava cake features grated cassava along with condensed milk and coconut milk, topped off by a custard layer.
15. Suman Malagkit
Suman Malagkit is a sticky rice cake often eaten as a dessert or snack in the Philippines, but it is also considered a Filipino delicacy.
The dessert is made from glutinous rice that is cooked in sweet coconut milk (see also ‘33 Easy To Make Coconut Milk Recipes‘) and some salt before it is either steamed or boiled until the texture becomes chewy and soft.
Suman tends to be served with other sweet foods, such as caramel sauce, mangoes, brown sugar or latik.
16. Putong Bigas
Also known as rice puto or putong puti, this steamed rice cake is another Filipino delicacy.
The method of making putong bigas is an interesting one, with rice grains typically being soaked in water overnight before they are ground with stone mills. This creates a smooth rice batter known as galapong.
The galapong goes on to be steamed within a banana leaf liner or a banana lined bamboo platter. The result is a moist and fluffy rice cake that is often used for a dessert as well as a snack.
Polvoron is a kind of Filipino shortbread which is made up of butter, sugar, toasted flour and powdered milk. The result is a buttery and sweet biscuit that can be changed up with a wide range of different flavors should you so choose.
The traditional Filipino version of polvoron tends to feature ube, pinipig, cashews, or strawberries.
A well known sweet snack in the Philippines, taho is a silken/soft tofu that features sago pearls- similar to tapioca pearls- and arnibal, which refers to flavorings and sweeteners, which usually comes in the form of syrup.
Taho is a street snack that is simple to make thanks to only including those three ingredients. It is popular in various other neighboring Asian countries as well, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Another simple recipe that only needs three ingredients, Minatamis na Saging translates directly to “sweetened bananas” and is made up of either cooking bananas or plantains alongside water and brown sugar.
Some extra ingredients that are often added include milk or tapioca pearls.
20. Buko Pandan
Similar to the buko salad, the buko pandan is made with young coconut and has visual similarities to the salad, though its ingredients are different.
The buko pandan consists of pandan leaves, tropical palm fruits and gulaman cubes alongside shredded young coconut in a sweetened cream. Sago, kaong, tapioca pears or nata de coco also tend to be added.
21. Sapin Sapin
This multi flavored and multi colored dessert is a layered sticky rice cake made from galapong, which is mixed with sugar and coconut milk.
The dessert is then layered into three sections, one plain, one of puréed corn and one made from purple yam. Each of the three layers are steamed until they are firm before the next layer is added.
When Sapin Sapin is ready to serve, it is finished off with either sweetened and toasted grated coconut or latik.
22. Maja Blanca
Another recipe that incorporates generous amounts of coconut and corn, maja blanca is a popular coconut pudding often used as a dessert food in the Philippines.
Maja blaca has a consistency that is similar to thick gelatin alongside a delicate and soft flavor. It is also another dish that is pretty simple to prepare. All you need to do is heat a mixture of cornstarch and coconut milk over a low flame and keep stirring. Once the mixture has thickened up, pour it into serving dishes and let it cool.
Some common variations on the ingredients of the maja blanca include adding sugar, corn kernels and milk to the mix.
Banana fritters are another popular sweet treat across the world, and the Maruya is a Filipino take on the dish. For Maruya, battered saba bananas are fried until crisp and brown and then sprinkled with a generous helping of sugar.
Maruya can easily be made at home, but they are also a popular choice when it comes to Filipino street food.
This steamed and lightly sweetened rice cake is traditionally made with galapong and are incredibly versatile, which has led to all kinds of different versions of them with different flavors, textures, shapes and sizes.
They have a neutral flavor too, which has led to them become popular with both sweet and savory dishes in the Philippines.
Another dessert made from sticky rice, Palitaw is a small and flat sweetened rice cake. Palitaw are boiled in water before they are rolled in sweet sesame seeds and grated coconut.
This is another dessert dish that is easy to make thanks to only having three key ingredients: sugar, rice flour and coconut.
Last but not least, we h26. ave the bibingka. This dessert is a cake made from sweet coconut milk and rice flour, offering a soft and unique fluffy texture.
The bibingka cake is often sold by street vendors around Christmastime in the Philippines, and it has a simple pour and mix batter that is made up of that aforementioned coconut milk and rice flour.
The cake can sometimes be finished off with salted eggs or shredded cheese, combining both sweet and savory flavors, as is common with Filipino cuisine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is Rice A Staple Food In The Philippines?
You might have noticed that a good portion of the desserts that we have talked about here feature rice as a key ingredient. This is also the case with Filipino cuisine in general. This is because rice is part of the culture of the Philippines itself, as well as the food.
Rice has always managed to remain as a constant in the Philippines, even with the changing regimes, acting as a symbol of the unity of Filipino culture as well as a symbol of sustenance for the country.
Important to the economy as well as the agricultural development and- of course- as a reliable food source for the people, rice is a staple in the Philippines as much as it is for many Asian countries.
What Makes Filipino Desserts And Cuisine Unique?
Filipino food is quite easy to tell apart from other kinds of food from around the world thanks to its unique nature, but what makes it so unique?
A fair amount of the cuisine from the country features distinctive colors, aromas and flavors thanks to the creative combination of ingredients. Sweet and savory are often intertwined within both dessert and dinner dishes, making for some interesting mixtures of flavors and aromas.
The Philippines is also rife with diversity when it comes to ingredients such as a tropical fruits, seafood, spices, herbs and vegetables, which are often mixed and matched in popular Filipino dishes.
This willingness to combine different ingredients to create different tastes and textures is what gives Filipino cuisine its unique vibe.
What Is The History Of Filipino Cuisine?
Made up of cuisines that have a root in both Eastern and Western culture, Filipino cuisine features food that has been handed down over generations from ethnic groups throughout the Philippines.
Over time, the cuisine has gained a somewhat indigenous Austronesian base, but it also takes many influences from Southeast Asia and countries such as America, Spain and China.
This history- featuring a mixture of different inspirations and influences- has led to a cuisine that is as varied and multifaceted as it is possible to be.
The food from the Philippines is the perfect definition of East meeting West, creating a cuisine that represents the multicultural heritage of the country and its people.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Ingredients In Filipino Cuisine?
There are several ingredients that are commonly found in Filipino cuisine, so let’s take a look at a few:
Rice: As mentioned, rice is a staple in Filipino cuisine. Rice is often used as a main ingredient as well as a side dish for every meal.
Chili Peppers: There are two kinds of chilies used for cooking in Filipino cuisine, the smaller, spicier Siling Iabuyo and the larger, less spicy Siling Haba.
Coconut: Both mature and young coconuts are a key ingredient in many Filipino dishes, but it isn’t just the juice of the coconut that is used.
The meat of the coconut is also commonly used, both raw and cooked. Coconut flesh is also often processed and turned into coconut gel- known as nata de coco- which is used commonly, too.
Calamansi: This small fruit is native to the Philippines and features an aromatic and tangy flavor that makes it popular as a marinade or as a dipping sauce.