Ube Halaya

Ube Halaya

If there’s one thing I love it’s a double duty recipe that is absolutely stellar on its own, but can also be used as a component in other dishes. And this Ube Halaya, also known as purple yam jam, falls in that category. Ube Halaya hails from the Philippines and is enjoyed as a rich, creamy, jam-like dessert. It’s like a minimalist sweet potato casserole: a flavored creamy delight that you can eat warm, room temperature, or cold.

But it is also used to flavor a vast number of sweets and baked goods, everything from ice cream to pancakes to cookies. You’ll fall in love with the gorgeous violet hue; but the enchanting flavors of coconut and vanilla will truly captivate you!


What is Ube?

fresh ube

Maybe you’ve been seeing ube pop up in all sorts of products lately (I’ve lost count of how many ube offerings there are at Trader Joe’s this summer) but you’re not entirely sure what it is? Ube is a yam that is grown throughout Southeast Asia, with a rough bark like skin and purple flesh. Not to be confused with purple sweet potatoes though, as yams are moister than sweet potatoes, making them ideal for baking. While you might have luck finding them fresh at a well stocked Asian market, I use ube that has been conveniently grated and frozen. This makes creating Ube Halaya a breeze.

Making Ube Halaya

I start by defrosting the frozen ube overnight. Forgot to take it out of the freezer? No problem, just use the microwave’s defrost setting (but don’t go overboard, a little cold or frozen is better than cooked!) and you’ll be ready to proceed.

At first the texture is crumbly and rough but as the ube cooks, the texture will become smoother and creamier. Make sure to mix the water and ube well as it cooks so you do not have big lumps of cooked ube. Continue stirring as it cooks to keep it from sticking to the pan and scorching.

water ube

Once the ube is cooked, add the fresh lemon juice and mix it well to incorporate. You can also add some white distilled vinegar instead. Ube tends to spoil quickly, particularly in warm climates where it is often eaten, and this is used as a natural preservative to extend the shelf life.

stirring ube prevent sticking


milks ube

Continue to cook and stir for a few minutes until it’s thoroughly combined.

It’s totally optional, but if you want a really vividly colored and traditionally flavored Ube Halaya, you can add some purple ube extract. Since ube is a natural product the shade can vary in intensity and a little extract can add oomph, both in color and a caramel-like malty flavor:

adding dye

Make sure to thoroughly incorporate the extract so the Ube Halaya will be a consistent shade.

The Ube Halaya can be served chilled, topped with shredded coconut or toasted nuts as a simple, not too sweet dessert. It’s also a key ingredient in the shaved ice desserts at our Halo Halo Snack Shack.

I wanna hear all about how you plan to use this Ube Halaya! Are you using it to make ice cream? French toast? Frosting? Let us know, we love hearing from you!  And watch this space, as we will be showing more ways to share the ube love…


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recipd card ube

Ube Halaya

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: sweets
  • Cuisine: Filipino


  • 1 package ube
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice from ½ lemon
  • 4 Tablespoons condensed milk
  • 4 Tablespoons evaporated milk (any other milk including dairy-free can be substituted)
  • 4 Tablespoons coconut milk
  • 6 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Defrost the ube overnight in the package or in the microwave unwrapped on the defrost setting. Shoot for a cold, even slightly frozen ube if microwaving.
  2. Put the ube in a heavy bottom saucepan with the water and mix it together using a whisk or spoon. Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes. The ube tends to stick to the pan as it thickens and cooks, so be sure to mix it often.
  3. Once the ube starts to bubble like thick lava, it will be cooked. Stir in the lemon juice. 
  4. Add the sugar, salt, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and coconut milk. Stir and continue cooking for another couple minutes, making sure to scrape the sides of the pan to get everything well mixed.
  5. Cool the ube puree to room temperature and then transfer to a container and store in the fridge until ready to use. It will thicken to a thick paste as it cools.


*This ube halaya freezes well. Put it in a freezer safe container and store for up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge overnight or microwave on the defrost cycle before using. Stir before using.

*I know I’m asking for a lot of different milks to be used. If you opt to only use 2, I would say choose the condensed milk and the coconut milk for the most flavor or condensed milk and any other milk you normally have in your home. All of the remaining milks can be frozen if you do not have a ready use. You can use evaporated milk for any other milk use, coconut milk in any Thai style recipes, and condensed milk for sweet milk uses, as a simple dessert sauce, or even spread on toast as Filipinos do.

Keywords: ube, purple yam jam, ube halaya, sweets, fililpino,

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