This Filipino shaved ice dessert is layered with coconut, jackfruit, sweetened bananas, tapioca, and nata de coco.

Ice cream is great and snow cones are good, but for me the ultimate summer dessert is halo-halo. The refreshing, multi-layered, shaved-ice-based Filipino dessert is packed with incredible flavors and textures โ€” icy, creamy, chewy, crunchy, sweet, syrupy.ย 

What Is Halo-Halo?

Halo-halo is a popular dessert in the Philippines thatโ€™s a combination of shaved ice layered with a variety of different ingredients: tropical fruits, ice cream, gelatin-based candies made from coconut water, and so much more. The frosty treat is the perfect antidote to the hot, humid weather.

Building Your Halo-Halo

Feel free to use whatever mix-ins you like best. In the Philippines, there are seemingly infinite halo-halo combos. Beans, such as garbanzo, adzuki, or mung beans, in syrup show up, as well as corn treated in the same way. Adding diced mango, diced sweet potato, large tapioca or sago pearls, and plain sliced bananas are also common. However you fill up your glass is up to you. When assembling, the measurements are arbitrary. I include them here as a guideline but feel free to add more or less of anything. As long as it tastes good to you, youโ€™re doing it right!



  • 1/4ย cupย small tapioca pearls (optional)
  • 3ย saba bananas, or 2 regular bananas
  • 1ย cupย water, plus more for the pearls
  • 3/4ย cupย packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4ย teaspoonย kosher salt
  • 1/4ย teaspoonย vanilla extract


  • 1ย (20-ounce) canย jackfruitย in syrup
  • 2/3ย cupย canned full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3ย tablespoonsย evaporated milk
  • 3ย tablespoonsย sweetened condensed milk
  • Minatamis na saging and tapioca (recipe above)
  • 4ย scoopsย coconut or ube ice cream
  • 1/2ย cupย macapunoย (coconut sport strings)
  • 1/2ย cupย ube halaya
  • 1 1/2ย cupsย nata de coco
  • 4ย cupsย shaved ice, plus more


  • Medium saucepan
  • Fine-mesh strainer
  • Paring knife
  • Large saucepan
  • Medium bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Cutting board
  • Shave Ice Machine



  1. Cook the tapioca (optional).ย Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup small tapioca pearls, stir to combine, and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer until the tapioca is al dente (translucent with small white centers), about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh strainer.
  2. Slice the bananas.ย Peel and slice 3 saba or 2 regular bananas crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
  3. Make the syrup.ย Place 1 cup water, 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a large saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the bananas.ย Add the bananas and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and tapioca if using, and stir to combine, breaking up any clumps. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.


  1. Cut the jackfruit.ย Remove the jackfruit from a 20-ounce can, leaving the syrup behind. Coarsely chop the jackfruit into bite-sized pieces. Return the jackfruit back to the can.
  2. Make the milk mixture.ย Place 2/3 cup coconut milk, 3 tablespoons evaporated milk, and 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and stir to combine.
  3. Assemble the halo-halo.ย For each serving, layer the ingredients in a 16-ounce glass in the following order: 1/3 cup minatamis na saging, 1 scoop coconut or ube ice cream, 2 tablespoons macapuno, 2 tablespoons ube halaya, 1/4 cup jackfruit and syrup, and 1/3 cup coco de nata. Top with 1 cup shaved ice and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the milk mixture. Add more shaved ice to fill the glass if needed.
  4. Serve and enjoy.ย Serve with a long spoon and mix it all up before eating.