Halo-Halo Recipe

Halo-halo
Stuart Dee/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Yield: 2 servings

It was many years ago when you stole my cool, you had me at Halo-Halo...

This unofficial national dessert of the Philippines is like an icy tutti-frutti on steroids, and one of my personal favorite summertime desserts. Literally translated as "mix-mix" in Tagalog, halo-halo typically combines layers of sweetened chickpeas, red and/or white mung beans, candied palm seeds, macapuno (coconut sport) strips, jackfruit, saba bananas in syrup, coconut jellies, tapioca pearls, sweet potato cubes, and of course shaved ice. It then gets drizzled with a healthy dose of evaporated milk, and sometimes topped with a scoop of ube ice cream and flan.

A kaleidoscope in a glass, the refreshing halo-halo has just as many flavors and textures as it does colors. Each component complements the other with savory and sweet notes woven together with soft, crunchy, and creamy textures and invigorating microchips of ice.

The original iteration stemmed from Japanese settlers in the Philippines in the late 1800s when they introduced kakigori, a shaved ice dessert with adzuki beans and condensed milk. In 1902, when the Americans built the Insular Ice Plant in Manila, Filipinos had unlimited access to ice. They swapped out adzuki beans for mung beans and chickpeas, and eventually added a bounty of other local ingredients creating the modern-day version of Halo-Halo.

Halo-halo is one of the easiest desserts you can make since the only thing you will need to prep is the shaved ice. The rest of the ingredients can be found in the canned fruit aisle of your favorite Asian market or your preferred online marketplace. I recommend using an ice shaver machine, but if you don't have one you can use a high-quality blender or food processor.

“I had dinner with friends who mentioned this Philippine dessert and had to give it a try. Deviously refreshing and not sweet…a perfect after meal dessert or a warm day cool-down. I am happy to have leftover toppings to make more Halo-Halo.” —Mary Jo Romano 

Halo-Halo Recipe/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sweetened red beans

  • 1/4 cup sweetened white beans

  • 4 cups shaved ice, from about 6 cups of ice cubes

  • 1 large banana, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup, drained jackfruit canned, sliced

  • 1/4 cup macapuno strips, drained

  • 1/4 cup nata de coco, drained

  • 1/4 cup red palm seeds (Kaong), drained

  • 1/4 cup green palm seeds (Kaong), drained

  • 1 cup evaporated milk, divided

  • 1/2 cup cap'n crunch with crunch berries cereal

  • 2 scoops ube ice cream, store-bought or homemade

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients and two tall parfait glasses.

  2. Place half the sweetened red and white beans at the bottom of each glass.

  3. Process about half the ice cubes in an ice shaver, blender, or food processor until it looks like snow. Then scoop about a half cup of the shaved ice on top of the beans.

  4. Add some banana and jackfruit slices, and top with another half cup of shaved ice. Add the macapuno strips and nata de coco.

  5. Process the other half of the ice cubes and add another half cup of shaved ice on top.

  6. Add the red and green palm seeds. Then add the final half cup of shaved ice to each glass, doming it slightly on top.

  7. Pour 1/2 cup evaporated milk on top of each parfait and top with a scoop of ube ice cream.

  8. Top with Cap'n Crunch cereal and enjoy immediately! Don't forget to halo-halo it with a long spoon!

Tips and Storage

  • Halo-halo cannot be premade and kept frozen, so make sure you have plenty of ice cubes on hand if you intend to eat it all summer long like me.
  • Although this is primarily a summertime dessert, don't let that hinder you. Many Filipinos eat this all year around.

Recipe Variations

  • If you don't have access to many of the ingredients listed, feel free to add fresh fruits like mangoes, strawberries, and kiwis. You can also add cubes of your favorite jello and toasted shredded coconut.
  • For a dairy-free version, try substituting the evaporated milk with 1 cup coconut milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar heated over the stovetop until dissolved and then chill completely. You can substitute the ube ice cream with coconut or mango sorbet.