Looking for typical Filipino desserts? This is your ultimate list for must-try traditional desserts in Filipino cuisine!
As a travelling foodie, I love trying the local cuisine and traditional desserts when visiting destinations.
Born and raised in Manila meant growing up and learning about many delicious Filipino foods, which I’m so grateful for because it’s one of the best Southeast Asian cuisines.
As I travel the world, I noticed that Filipino cuisine isn’t widely available compared to other Asian cuisines like Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai.
And when Filipino cuisine do get recognized, it’s usually for savoury dishes like Adobo and Lechon, and not so much for desserts except for halo-halo and ube.
But Filipino desserts are so good!
They’re actually one of my favourite cuisines for desserts especially compared to other Asian desserts.
This food guide will give you a tour of popular and traditional Filipino desserts for your trip to the Philippines, when visiting Filipino restaurants, or if you want to make them at home.
Traditional Filipino Desserts
Filipino desserts draw inspiration from Malay, Chinese and Spanish desserts, using glutinous rice, coconut and condensed milk as key ingredients for creamy and sweet delicacies.
The Philippines offers a variety of unique and delicious desserts, influenced by different cultures and Filipino taste.
After having some delicious Filipino food, it’s time for desserts!
Forget the usual donuts and cakes, and try these amazing Filipino desserts instead.
Bibingka is a Filipino baked rice cake that is customarily prepared in a clay oven lined with banana leaves and served for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack, particularly during the Holiday season.
It is often enjoyed during the Christmas season in the Philippines, especially after attending the dawn mass called Misa de Gallo.
This is one of my favourite traditional Filipino desserts especially when you enjoy it freshly made.
The aroma that comes out of Bibingka when you open the banana leaves already wets the appetite for something special.
Bibingka is even better as a Filipino street food where you often see it charcoal-baked instead of electric baked in restaurants.
Biko is a smooth and sticky rice cake that is cooked with coconut milk and brown sugar.
This traditional Filipino dessert has a sweet and nutty flavor that is enhanced by latik, a coconut topping that can be either crunchy or syrupy.
Biko is also called bibingkang malagkit, sinukmani, or kalamay in different regions of the Philippines.
It is a festive kakanin dessert that is served on special occasions, such as birthdays, fiestas, and Christmas.
I love having Biko slightly heated up in the microwave because then it becomes moist, soft and chewy.
Biko is usually presented on a round bamboo tray called a bilao, decorated with banana leaves.
Buko Pandan is a creamy and refreshing Filipino dessert made with young coconut strips, pandan-flavored cream, and green jelly cubes.
The jelly cubes are cooked with coconut juice and pandan extract or leaves for extra flavor and color.
This is one of the popular traditional Filipino desserts during holidays and celebrations, and best enjoyed cold or frozen.
I’ll be honest, I actually prefer Buko Pandan over Halo-Halo.
Don’t @ me!
Ensaymada is a Filipino pastry that traces its origins to the Spanish ensaïmada, a bread made with pork fat.
However, this traditional Filipino dessert uses butter instead, and adds custard filling, cheese, and sugar toppings.
It is a soft, fluffy, and creamy dessert that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.
Though some people eat it cold, I love eating Ensaymada heated so that the cheese on top has melted and fuses with the sugar.
It is widely available in bakeries and pastry shops in the Philippines, especially during Christmas.
Ginataang Bilo Bilo
Ginataang Bilo Bilo is a Filipino dessert of sticky rice balls, tapioca pearls, and fruits and tubers in sweetened coconut milk.
The rice balls can be plain or colored with ube or pandan.
The fruits and tubers vary, but often include bananas, sweet potatoes, jackfruit, and ube.
This traditional Filipino dessert is rich and creamy, and can be enjoyed hot, warm, cold, or frozen.
I typically enjoy this warm, and remember having this as a merienda (mid-afternoon snack) quite often, growing up in the Philippines.
Ginataang Bilo Bilo is a simple and delicious way to enjoy the tropical flavors of the Philippines.
Considered as the unofficial national dessert of the Philippines, Halo-Halo consists of shaved ice, condensed milk or ice cream, and various fruits, nuts, and sweets.
Some of the common ingredients in this iconic Filipino dessert are saba bananas, sugar palm fruit, jackfruit, sweet potatoes, red mung beans, agar gelatin, pinipig rice, tapioca pearls, sweet corn, purple yam jam, and leche flan.
The shaved ice is layered over these ingredients in a tall glass or bowl, and usually topped with ice cream, which is typically ube flavour.
Halo-Halo means “mix-mix” in Filipino, and the dessert is meant to be stirred well before eating.
It’s one of the most popular Filipino desserts especially in the summer since it’s like eating a cold shake with lots of toppings.
Some restaurants in Manila and the Philippines like Kamayan have a Halo-Halo bar or station so you can build your own Halo-Halo with the available toppings.
Halo-Halo is a refreshing and delicious treat that showcases the diversity and richness of Filipino cuisine.
Also Read: Best Filipino Restaurants in Toronto
Kutsinta, or Puto Cuchinta, is a steamed rice cake that has a jelly-like and chewy texture.
This traditional Filipino dessert is made with tapioca or rice flour, sugar, and lye, and colored with yellow food coloring or annatto extract.
It is topped with freshly grated coconut meat and served with puto, another type of rice cake.
Kutsina is one of the popular “Kakanin” desserts in the Philippines and is actually my favourite Kakanin because of its unique taste and texture unlike any other.
Kutsinta is a popular snack in the Philippines, especially during mid-day or festive occasions.
It can also be enhanced with latik, a caramelized coconut sauce, for a sweeter flavor.
Leche Flan is a creamy and decadent dessert that is made with eggs and milk and topped with soft caramel.
It has a smooth and silky texture and a rich and sweet flavor.
Inspired by the Spanish creme caramel, Leche Flan is a popular Filipino dessert where it is often served during celebrations and holidays.
It is easy to make and can last for several days in the refrigerator.
I love having Leche Flan with black coffee to balance the sweetness.
Leche Flan can also be used as toppings for other desserts such as Halo-Halo or Leche Flan cake.
Pastillas de Leche
Pastillas de Leche are a type of Filipino candy that are made from milk and sugar.
This traditional Filipino dessert is soft, creamy, and sweet, and often coated with sugar or wrapped in colorful paper.
Pastillas de leche originated from the province of Bulacan, where carabao (water buffalo) milk was used to make these delicacies.
This sweet candies can also be flavored with citrus, ube, pandan, or other fruits.
Pastillas de leche are a simple and delicious treat that can be enjoyed as a snack or a dessert.
Puto is a steamed rice cake that is a staple in Filipino cuisine.
This traditional Filipino dessert is made from fermented rice dough and coconut milk, and has a soft and fluffy texture.
It can be enjoyed plain or with various toppings, such as cheese, salted egg, ube, or other ingredients.
This Kakanin is the most popular among Filipino desserts and can also be paired with savory dishes like pancit, sopas, or even the exotic Filipino food, dinuguan.
Puto comes in different forms and flavors, depending on the region and preference of the cook.
Puto Bumbong is a steamed rice cake that has a purple hue and a chewy texture.
This popular Kakanin dessert is made from a purple glutinous rice called pirurutong, a dark-colored rice variety that gives it distinct purple color.
The purple rice is then soaked, ground, and cooked in bamboo tubes.
This traditional Filipino dessert is served with butter or margarine, coconut flakes, and muscovado sugar on banana leaves.
Due to the time and effort of making Puto Bumbong with bamboo tubes, it is not common to find in restaurants and is quite seasonal, usually sold during the Christmas season, especially after the dawn mass.
I love Puto Bumbong and typically order it when it’s available.
Similar to Bibingka, the smell and taste of freshly made Puto Bumbong when you open the banana leaves is so good, especially as the muscovado sugar slowly melts on top.
Puto Bumbong is a festive and flavorful treat that reflects the Filipino culture and heritage.
While Japanese desserts have Dango, Filipino cuisine has Sapin-Sapin.
Sapin-Sapin is a Filipino dessert that consists of layers of steamed rice cake with different flavors and colors.
This popular Kakanin dessert is not commonly found outside the Philippines due to the effort in making them and the availability of ingredients needed.
The name means “layers” in Filipino, and the dessert is usually made with three layers: white, yellow, and purple.
The white layer is plain or flavored with coconut milk, the yellow layer is flavored with jackfruit, and the purple layer is flavored with ube or purple yam.
This traditional Filipino dessert is topped with latik, which are crispy coconut curds that add a nutty and caramelized taste.
I love Sapin-Sapin because it’s so smooth and doesn’t feel like you’re eating a rice cake.
It’s also one of the most Instagrammable desserts in Filipino cuisine.
Sapin-Sapin is a festive and flavorful treat that reflects the Filipino culture and heritage.
Taho is a Filipino dessert that consists of soft tofu, sweet syrup, and tapioca pearls.
It has a smooth and silky texture, with a chewy contrast from the pearls.
The syrup, or arnibal, is made from brown sugar and water, and sometimes flavored with vanilla or pandan.
Taho is a popular street food in the Philippines, and one of the only few Filipino desserts in which the vendors would roam streets in traffic to offer cars and residential neighborhoods to serve homes.
I remember growing up in the Philippines, vendors can be heard shouting “tahooooo” as they carry two metal buckets on a wooden pole.
One bucket contains the tofu, and the other contains the syrup and the tapioca pearls.
You can buy taho in plastic cups or use their own mugs or bowls.
To this day, whenever I visit the Philippines, I would never miss an opportunity to have taho for breakfast when the taho vendor roams our subdivision.
Also Read: Indian Street Food Guide
Tsokolate is a decadent Filipino hot chocolate made from pure cacao beans, or tablea, that are roasted and ground into a paste.
The paste is cooked in a special pot called a tsokolatera and whisked with a wooden baton called a molinillo, creating a thick and frothy drink.
Tsokolate is a traditional Filipino drink and dessert in the Philippines, especially during the festive season, when it is enjoyed with rice cakes, breads, or pastries.
It is also a drink of history and culture, reflecting the Spanish influence and the Filipino adaptation of cacao.
If you love Tsokolate, you’ll love my Chocolate Oatmeal Recipe which uses Tsokolate.
Turon is to Filipino dessert as Fried Lumpia is to Filipino food.
Often called Banana Lumpia or Lumpiyang Saging, it’s a popular street food that consists of sweet plantains and jackfruit wrapped in crispy spring roll wrappers and coated with caramel.
This traditional Filipino dessert is deep-fried in oil until golden and crunchy, and then rolled in brown sugar to create a caramel coating.
The sugar melts and sticks to the wrapper, giving the turon a shiny and crackly appearance
It is a simple yet satisfying treat that can be enjoyed as a snack or after a meal.
You can enjoy turon on its own or with a scoop of ice cream, which melts and fuses with the hot turon.
Turon is easy to make at home with simple ingredients and tools.
Ube Ice Cream
One of the most iconic dessert “thing” in the Philippines that became a global food trend is ube, which became popular due to its Instagrammable purple color.
Ube ice cream is a smooth and creamy Filipino dessert that features the distinctive flavor and color of ube, a purple yam from the Philippines.
This unique Filipino ice cream has a subtle sweetness that resembles vanilla, pistachio, or white chocolate.
Did you know? The purple color is natural and comes from the anthocyanins in the ube, which are antioxidants that may have health benefits.
It is a common ingredient in Filipino desserts like halo-halo, a shaved ice treat with various toppings.
Ube Ice Cream is a delicious and refreshing dessert that will delight your senses with its natural purple hue and rich texture.
Also Read: Avocado Blueberry Popsicles Recipe
VIDEO: Top 20 Filipino Desserts
Watch this video from Allived TV on Top 20 Filipino Desserts, some of which are covered in this guide.
Have you tried all of these traditional Filipino desserts?
Hope this list of Traditional Filipino desserts helps you decide what are the best Filipino sweets to eat when visiting Philippines, or in any Filipino restaurants in the world!
Filipino desserts are so different from usual sweet treats in other countries.