Along with daily temperatures, the anticipation for summer vacation is steadily rising. There’s so much to look forward to: pool days, beach nights, afternoon picnics, and more. What I’m most excited about, though, is the annual return of my favorite Filipino summertime desserts.


It’s only right to start off with the ultimate summer classic: halo-halo. Perhaps the most notable Filipino dessert—and for good reason—this shaved ice sundae is the sweetest way to combat the Philippines' hot and humid climate. Assembling this treat is just as fun as eating it. The vast variety of toppings, from jackfruit and red beans to palm fruit and coconut strings, offer countless combinations you can experiment with throughout the warmer months. Personally, my go-to's are nata de coco (coconut gel), rice flakes, and ube (purple yam) ice cream.

#SpoonTip: For a richer version of this dessert, try ginataang halo-halo. This coconut milk-based variation also features chewy rice balls, sago pearls, taro, and plantains for a flavor and texture-packed snack.

Buko Salad

Buko salad, a fiesta favorite, is another popular dessert. It’s typically composed of shredded young coconut meat, canned fruits, and kaong (sugar palm) all enveloped in a thickened condensed milk mixture. The creamy, fruity concoction is then chilled and served cold. For a lighter take on the original buko salad, my family loves the buko pandan variation. Simply combine cubed pandan and almond-flavored jellies, palm fruit, nata de coco, and coconut milk to make this must-try summertime treat.

Mango Sticky Rice

Beyond just Thailand, mango sticky rice is well-known throughout much of Southeast Asia—the Philippines included. This dessert is the best of both worlds in several respects. Tangy and savory, creamy and chewy: Philippine mangoes paired with glutinous rice and coconut milk always make for a fresh, light breakfast. Summer is harvest season, too, so take advantage of this sweet recommendation while mangoes are at their peak ripeness.

Mais Con Yelo

Since corn is naturally sweet, it only makes sense to incorporate it into Filipino desserts. Mais con yelo—literally corn with ice—is an equally refreshing alternative to halo-halo. All it takes is shaved ice, sugar, and evaporated milk for the base, plus some sweet corn kernels for layering. Top it with corn flakes and a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a bright yellow treat fit for a day under the sun.

#SpoonTip: If mais con yelo seems up your alley, try a spoonful of mais con queso ice cream! The sweet corn and cheese delicacy might seem odd, but it’s surely worth a try (it’s also my mom’s favorite ice cream flavor!).


Last but not least, you can’t have summer without taho. A nostalgic street food, taho combines layers of silken tofu, sago and/or tapioca pearls, and brown sugar syrup. Its simplicity and smooth custard-like texture justify its title as a comfort food for many. Because taho is served both warm and chilled, you can enjoy this snack throughout the year too.

There are definitely a lot more summertime desserts to mention; however, I’m most looking forward to indulging in these once school’s out. So, take a step outside your comfort zone in the coming months and experience these unique Filipino flavors for yourself.