A bowl of halo-halo
Place of originPhilippines
Main ingredientsShaved ice, milk, various fruits
Halo-halo made in San Diego County, California.
Halo-halo made in San Diego County, California.

Halo-halo, also spelled haluhalo, Filipino for "mixed", is a popular cold dessert in the Philippines made up of crushed ice, evaporated milk or condensed milk, and various ingredients including: ube, sweetened beans, coconut strips, sago, gulaman (agar), pinipig rice, boiled taro or soft yams in cubes, slices or portions of fruit preserves and other root crop preserves, flan, and often topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. Halo-halo is considered to be the unofficial national dessert of the Philippines. The term "halo-halo" literally means "mixed [together]" in English. By extension, this spelling has come to describe any object or situation that is composed of a similar, colorful mélange of ingredients.


The origin of halo-halo is traced to the pre-war Japanese Filipinos and the Japanese kakigōri class of desserts. One of the earliest versions of halo-halo was a dessert known locally as mongo-ya in Japanese which consisted of only mung beans (Tagalog: monggo or munggo, used in place of red azuki beans from Japan), boiled and cooked in syrup (minatamis na monggo), served on top of crushed ice with milk and sugar. Over time, more native ingredients were added, resulting in the creation and development of the modern halo-halo. One difference between halo-halo and its Japanese ancestor is the placement of ingredients mostly under the ice instead of on top of it. The original monggo con hielo type can still be found today along with similar variations using sweet corn (maiz con hielo) or saba bananas (saba con hielo).[1][2]

Some authors specifically attribute halo-halo to the 1920s or 1930s Japanese migrants in the Quinta Market of Quiapo, Manila, due to its proximity to the Insular Ice Plant, which was Quiapo's main ice supply.[3]

The spelling of "halo-halo" is considered to be incorrect by the Commission on the Filipino Language, which prescribes "haluhalo". The word is an adjective meaning "mixed [together]" in Tagalog, a reduplication of the Tagalog verb halo "to mix".[citation needed]


There is no correct set of ingredients for halo-halo as the ingredients can vary widely, but the dessert usually includes sugar palm fruit (kaong), coconut sport (macapuno), saba plantains cooked in syrup (minatamis na saging), jackfruit (langkâ), agar jellies (gulaman), tapioca pearls, nata de coco, sweet potato (kamote), sweetened beans, cheese, pounded toasted young rice (pinipig), and ice cream. The ingredients are placed in specific positions; the fruit, beans and other sweets are placed at the bottom, followed by shaved ice and is then topped with either a combination of leche flan, ube halaya (mashed purple yam) or ice cream. Evaporated milk or condensed milk is poured into the mixture upon serving.[citation needed]

A similar Visayan dessert binignit is also referred to as "ginataang halo-halo" in Tagalog ("halo-halo in coconut milk"), commonly shortened to "ginataan". It is made with mostly the same ingredients, although the latter is usually served hot.[4][5]

In popular culture

Halo-halo was featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown when its host Anthony Bourdain visited a Jollibee branch in Los Angeles. Bourdain praised the dessert and posted a photo of the dessert on his Twitter account, which he captioned, "oddly beautiful."[6][7]

Halo-halo was also featured as a Quickfire Challenge dish in the seventh episode of the fourth season of the American reality television series, Top Chef. Filipino-American contestant Dale Talde, prepared the dessert which featured avocado, mango, kiwifruit, and nuts. Talde then was named as one of the top three Quickfire Challenge dishes by guest judge Johnny Iuzzinni of Jean Georges. Talde also made the dish in a later episode.[8]

Buko halo, a combination of halo-halo and buko salad, usually served directly on coconut shells
Buko halo, a combination of halo-halo and buko salad, usually served directly on coconut shells

The dessert was featured on a Delicious Destinations edition episode of Bizarre Foods.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Ocampo, Ambeth R. "Japanese origins of the Philippine 'halo-halo'". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Halo-Halo Graham Float Recipe". Pinoy Recipe at Iba Pa. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  3. ^ Crisol, Christine (2006). "A Halo-Halo Menu". In Zialcita, Fernando N. (ed.). Quiapo: Heart of Manila. Manila: Quiapo Printing. p. 321. ISBN 978-971-93673-0-7. Today, many non-Quiapense informants in their forties and older associate the Quinta Market with this dessert. Why did this market become important in the invention of this dessert? Aside from its being a Japanese legacy in the area [...] of all the city markets, the Quinta was closest to the ice.
  4. ^ Merano, Vanjo. "Ginataang Halo-halo Recipe (Binignit)". Panlasang Pinoy.
  5. ^ "Ginataan Halo-Halo". Filipino Food Recipes. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  6. ^ News, ABS-CBN (2013-04-22). "Anthony Bourdain tries Jollibee halo-halo". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  7. ^ Flores, Helen. "Jollibee in LA gets thumbs up". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  8. ^ "The Restaurant". Taldebrooklyn.com. Archived from the original on 2014-07-18. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  9. ^ Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern#Season 18 - Delicious Destinations (Season 3.29

Further reading