Halo-Halo: a Filipino sundae unlike any other

halo halo

What is halo-halo?

Halo-halo (pronounced: ha-loh ha-loh, not hey-low hey-low) is a colorful traditional Filipino dessert that resembles an ice cream sundae.  It literally translates to “mix mix” which is appropriate since it is a combination of several Filipino ingredients that are mixed together when eaten.  This dessert usually consists of: shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans, coconut, jackfruit, sago (similar to tapioca) and gulaman (sweet jelly) topped with ube ice cream and pinipig (young toasted rice).

Halo-halo originated in the Philippines but was likely derived from kakigori, a Japanese dessert with shaved ice and red beans introduced by Japanese immigrants back in the 1800s.

Although this rainbow-colored dessert has been a staple in Philippine culture since the early 20th century, it has gained exposure in the US in the 2010’s (nearly a century after its invention) thanks to TV shows like Top Chef and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

Where can I get halo-halo?  

Halo-halo can be found in most Filipino restaurants including popular chains like Jolibee and Goldilocks. However, the best halo-halo is usually found in independent mom-and-pop type Filipino restaurants…

Chicago, IL: Isla Pilipina

photo: @islapilipina on Instagram

Nashville, TN: Ate’s

photo: @atenashville on Instagram

Portland, OR: Tambayan

photo: Tambayan on Facebook

Los Angeles, CA: LA Rose

halo halo
photo: LA Rose on Facebook

New York, NY: Lumpia Shack

photo: Lumpia Shack on Facebook

San Francisco Bay Area (San Bruno): Patio Filipino

halo halo (taken by Glutto)
photo: Margie Villanueva

San Diego, CA: Erlinda’s Filipino Cuisine & Ice Cream Parlor

photo: Erlinda’s on Facebook

Looking for more places that serve halo-halo?  Take a look at this interactive map to find locations that serve this Filipino dessert near you!

How can I make halo-halo? 

Halo-halo is really easy to make.  The most complicated part is making sure you have the right ingredients, which can usually be found online or at your local International/Asian market.  Here’s a straightforward recipe that you can modify as desired.

halo halo Filipino ice cream sundae dessert

halo halo


  • 1 cup ice (shaved/blended)
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 jar halo halo mix, or get the ingredients separately for more distinct flavors:
  • - 2 tablespoons kaong (sugar palm seed)
  • - 2 tablespoons sweetened langka (jackfruit – cut into strips)
  • - 2 tablespoons macapuno (coconut sport strips)
  • - 2 tablespoons red mongo beans
  • - 2 tablespoons saba (sweetened plantains)
  • - 2 tablespoons ube (purple yam jam)
  • - 2 tablespoons leche flan (crème caramel custard)
  • 2 scoops ice cream (best with Filipino flavors like: ube, mango, macapuno)


  1. Put the shaved ice in a tall glass and pour all the milk on it.
  2. Add all the other ingredients one by one and top with the ice cream.
  3. Mix your halo halo with a long spoon and enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

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Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.
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