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
Nashville, TN: Ate’s
Portland, OR: Tambayan
Los Angeles, CA: LA Rose
New York, NY: Lumpia Shack
San Francisco Bay Area (San Bruno): Patio Filipino
San Diego, CA: Erlinda’s Filipino Cuisine & Ice Cream Parlor
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.
- 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)
- Put the shaved ice in a tall glass and pour all the milk on it.
- Add all the other ingredients one by one and top with the ice cream.
- Mix your halo halo with a long spoon and enjoy!
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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.