ube crinkle cookies

About These Ube Crinkle Cookies

Ube crinkle cookies are a beautiful, Filipino-American twist on the classic crinkle cookie! But first—what is ube?

Ube is a purple yam frequently used in Filipino and other Southeast Asian desserts. It is naturally purple in color, with a subtle flavor that tastes like both pistachio and vanilla. These ube crinkle cookies get their vibrant color and flavor from both ube halaya jam and ube extract!

Although I make ube crinkle cookies for the holidays almost every year (the tradition started in 2016, and has been going strong since then), this year, they are extra special. Why? I typically spend Christmas with my family in the Philippines. And Christmas in the Philippines is a really special time! You can read more about my tropical Christmas celebration in my blurb for these cookies in The Kitchn. They recently featured this recipe in their “Quarantine Cookies” series!

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, I will be skipping the 16+ hours flight to Manila. But these ube crinkle cookies will at least bring a bit of the Philippines to my kitchen in Portland, Oregon.

Is ube and taro the same?

A lot of folks get ube confused with taro. Not only do they taste pretty similar, but taro also can come in a light lavender color (although it mostly comes in white). But they’re actually just completely different plants. Although both ube and taro are tubers, taro is cultivated from the taro plant. Unlike ube, it’s not classified as a “yam”. In the Philippines, taro is often used in savory cooking, while ube is reserved for sweets.

And finally, it’s important to note that both ube and taro are also different from the different varieties of purple sweet potatoes available. And it turns out that some of those sweet potatoes, like the Okinawan sweet potato, aren’t even technically sweet potatoes either. It’s confusing, I know. So for the purposes of this recipe, I’ll keep it simple: these ube crinkle cookies are made with UBE. Not taro, and not any kind of purple sweet potato, lol.

ube crinkle cookies

Why You Should Make The Recipe

Here are all the reasons to make this ube crinkle cookie recipe:

These ube crinkle cookies are a unique twist on a classic, holiday cookie recipe.

These soft, cakey cookies have a slightly earthy, subtle flavor from the ube. If you are looking for a change from butter or chocolate cookies that are popular this time of year, make these cookies. You won’t regret it!

Additionally, their vibrant purple color is really unique and special. Every time I share these ube crinkle cookies, people always compliment their color first. These cookies truly are showstoppers and will stand out in a box of goodies.

The cookies store well.

These cookies deepen in flavor the longer they sit. The ube flavor becomes even more pronounced the day after it’s made. In fact, the ube in the cookies means that the crinkle cookies stay soft and flavorful for days. These ube crinkle cookies would work well as a homemade present delivered over mail!

The cookies are inspired by the New York bakery, Brooklyn Kolache.

When I lived in New York City, I befriended Autumn, the owner of Brooklyn Kolache, a bakery in my neighborhood that specialized in kolaches. Her bakery sold UBE kolaches. It turned out that her husband Dennis is Filipino. He had gotten her hooked on ube. So much so that she developed an ube crinkle cookie recipe to sell at his bar, Swell Dive.

To this day, I maintain that her cookie is one of the best ube crinkle cookies I’ve ever eaten. So I was eternally grateful when she shared her recipe with me. It’s become a tradition for me to make them for the holidays. And every time I do, I get flooded with folks asking me for the recipe. I get it! It’s hard to resist the the call of the ube crinkle cookie, lol. Unfortunately, Autumn made me swear not to share her bakery’s recipe with anybody else. And I refuse to break her promise.

But eventually, I decided to develop my own recipe. And that’s the one I’m sharing with you guys today. These cookies are very, VERY similar to Autumn’s original recipe. Autumn’s cookies are very soft and cakey. My ube crinkle cookies are slightly chewier and denser. Are Autumn’s better? Oh, absolutely. But mine are still pretty darn good. I promise.

ube crinkle cookies

Ingredients and Substitutions

Now that I’ve convinced you to make these ube crinkle cookies, here’s your shopping list for the recipe:

Shopping List for Ube Crinkle Cookies

  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • kosher salt
  • unsalted butter
  • large eggs
  • ube halaya (ube jam)
  • purple food coloring
  • ube extract
  • pure vanilla extract
  • confectioners’ sugar

And let’s talk about some its key ingredients and their substitutions:

Ube Halaya (Ube Jam)

You need ½ cup ube halaya (ube jam) to make ube crinkle cookies.

What is ube halaya?

Fun fact: it is actually really hard to buy fresh ube (that is, ube still in its tuber form). That’s because ube is really hard to process: it needs to be peeled, boiled for a long time, then grated and mashed into its signature texture. So typically, most ube is bought frozen or processed into a powder, extract, or jam. In the Philippines, the jam is called “ube halaya” and is typically what people mean when they say “ube” in recipes.

Where To Buy Ube Halaya

Ube halaya jam is typically found in the “Filipino” aisle of any Asian supermarket, close to jars of preserved jackfruit, macapuno (a coconut hybrid much beloved in the Philippines), and other fruits commonly found in the country. In the US, the brand I most commonly see is Monika. It’s what I use anytime I make anything ube (Portlanders—Monika ube halaya is available at Fubonn, H-Mart, and Uwajimaya). You can also buy ube halaya (as well as its powdered counterpart) on Amazon, but I don’t recommend doing so. They are much more expensive than they should be, especially the jam!

I can’t find ube halaya. Can I still make these ube crinkle cookies?

Sadly, no. Ube halaya is a key ingredient to making these ube crinkle cookies. Without it, the cookies wouldn’t be ube at all. It would be a bit like making chocolate cake without any chocolate or cocoa powder. Or banana bread without any bananas. Or blueberry muffins without any blueberries. Okay, I’ll stop now (lol).

Can I use fresh ube to make these ube crinkle cookies?

Yes! However, you’ll need to process the ube before you use it in the recipe. To process the ube, peel it and boil it until soft. Then, puree it into a jam texture. It’s similar to the process you would undertake if you wanted to make pumpkin puree from scratch as opposed to buying it canned.

Can I use powdered ube to make these ube crinkle cookies?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know. Powdered ube is really hard to find where I live! As a result, I’ve never used it in any of my baking recipes. I don’t have much experience with it at all. So if you do make these ube crinkle cookies with powdered ube, please leave a comment telling me how you did it!

Purple Food Coloring

You need 1 teaspoon purple food coloring to make ube crinkle cookies.

What kind of purple food coloring did you use for your ube crinkle cookies?

For these cookies, I used a purple from this “Nifty Fifty” Americolor food coloring set. You can also buy as an individual bottle online.

Do I really need to use purple food coloring to make ube crinkle cookies?

Technically, you don’t need to use purple food coloring to make these cookies. But your cookies won’t come out the same color as mine. In fact, they won’t be purple at all!

That’s because although both ube halaya and ube extract are purple, they don’t have enough natural pigment to really dye the cookies purple. So you definitely need to boost the cookies with food coloring. Without it, your cookies will turn out a very light brown color with purplish tones.

Okay, but what if I just *can’t* with food coloring? Can I skip it anyway?

Hm, it depends. Are you skipping it because you don’t want to source food coloring? If so, go ahead and make the cookies! Just know that, while they’ll be plenty tasty, they won’t look anything like mine.

But are you skipping the food coloring because you’re allergic/sensitive to food dye? If so, I have bad news: don’t make this recipe. Almost every brand of store-bought ube halaya jam and ube extract use purple food coloring, too.

Help! I couldn’t find purple food coloring. What can I use instead?

No worries! In the United States, this food coloring set by McCormick is readily available at most major supermarkets. The set typically consists of four colors: red, yellow, green, and blue.

You can make your own purple food coloring by combining a few drops of red with a few drops of blue in the cookie dough. Play around with it until you get a shade of purple similar to the purple of the ube jam and extract. Pinterest typically has really awesome charts with exact recipes for getting the colors you want.

Ube Extract

You need 1 teaspoon ube extract to make ube crinkle cookies.

What is ube extract?

Ube extract is similar to vanilla extract. However, instead of flavoring baked goods with vanilla, it flavors them with ube! Pretty cool, right? Most ube baked goods rely on ube extract for flavor. That’s because ube on its own is so subtle—you really need the extract to boost the flavor.

And in addition to giving baked goods ube flavor, the ube extract also helps color them. Most ube extract is dyed with purple food coloring. This food coloring in the extract helps enhance your baked good’s purple color.

The Best Ube Extract for Baking

In the United States, there’s only a handful of brands that make ube extract. McCormick and Butterfly. I’m partial to McCormick because they’re a huge company that also makes other high-quality spices, herbs, and extracts. I’ve never used the Butterfly brand, so I can’t personally vouch for it.

Where To Buy Ube Extract

Although most McCormick spices and extracts are available in most supermarkets, you need to go to a specialty Asian market to source the ube extract. Most Asian supermarkets have a baking aisle. In this aisle, you’ll find extracts for “Asian” flavors like coconut, durian, jasmine, and ube.

If you don’t have an Asian supermarket in your city, you can buy ube extract online on Amazon.

And if you live in my city of Portland, Oregon, get excited. You have a lot of options! Both McCormick and Butterfly ube extract is available at Fubonn and the H Mart on Belmont.

I can’t find ube extract. Can I still make these ube crinkle cookies?

You technically can. However, I don’t recommend it. Why? I mentioned earlier that ube has an incredibly subtle flavor. Without the extract, I think you’d find these cookies bland! Yes—even if you used ube halaya jam.

ube crinkle cookies

How To Make Ube Crinkle Cookies

Here are the basic steps to make ube crinkle cookies from scratch:

  1. Prep the ingredients. (Prep Time: 5 minutes)
    Unless you’re making ube halaya jam from scratch, prep for this recipe is fairly easy! Simply measure out all the ingredients. Make sure that they’re all at the temperature needed for the recipe, too. That’s it!

  2. Make the cookie dough. (Work Time: 10 minutes)
    This ube crinkle cookie recipe follows most standard cookie recipes. First, cream the butter and sugars, then add the egg, ube jam, extracts, and dry ingredients.

  3. Assemble the cookies. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    Use a 3-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion out the dough quickly and evenly. In the recipe, I instruct you to scoop the dough balls directly into a shallow bowl of confectioners’ sugar. That’s because the dough will be fairly soft! Scooping it directly into the sugar helps prevent your hands from getting too messy.

    But if you find that the dough is *TOO* soft and difficult to work with, no worries! Simply refrigerate the dough for an hour before scooping and baking.

  4. Bake the cookies. (Bake Time: 12 minutes)
    The ube crinkle cookies need 12 to 15 minutes in the oven. When done, the edges should be set. However, the centers will still look a little soft. That’s normal! In fact, that’s the secret to a perfect cookie with a chewy center.
ube crinkle cookies

Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ

FAQ: Troubleshooting Unexpected Results

Help! My ube crinkle cookie dough was too sticky. It was hard to assemble the cookies. What did I do wrong?

Don’t panic! You probably didn’t do anything wrong. The cookie dough can come out too soft if your ingredients were too warm. While it won’t be an issue to bake them as is, they can be a little difficult to assemble with soft dough. Simply cover the bowl with the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to firm up the dough.

Help! My ube crinkle cookies came out patchy. They don’t look anything like yours! Instead, they absorbed a lot of the confectioners’ sugar while baking and have big purple spots. What did I do wrong?

Ah, yes. To get the signature crinkle cookie look, you need to coat the ube crinkle cookies in a LOT of confectioners’ sugar. Like a lot, lot. There should be no visible purple spots. You should be uncomfortable with the amount of confectioners’ sugar around each dough ball! This is the secret to the classic crinkle cookie look!

FAQ: Storing The Cookies

How To Store Ube Crinkle Cookies

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Can you freeze ube crinkle cookies?

Yes! You can freeze ube crinkle cookie dough.

To freeze the ube crinkle cookie dough, follow the instructions to scoop the cookie dough into balls. However, don’t drop them into the confectioners’ sugar! You won’t freeze them coated. Instead, scoop them onto a lined quarter sheet pan. If you’re not planning on baking them right away, there’s no need to space the dough apart.

Loosely wrap the sheet pan with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour, or until the cookie dough balls are solid. Place the frozen cookie dough balls in an airtight container or zip-top bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.

When ready to bake, there’s no need to thaw the dough balls! Simply place on a lined sheet pan to thaw slightly as you preheat the oven. Then, once the oven is preheated, toss each cookie dough ball in the confectioners’ sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still soft.

Best Recipe Tips

Best Ingredient Tip

  • Most baking recipes instruct you to sift confectioners’ sugar before using in the recipe. Confectioners’ sugar tends to clump when stored; sifting removes these lumps. However, you don’t need to sift the confectioners’ sugar for these ube crinkle cookies. Why? I find that the lumps in the confectioners’ sugar help coat the cookies more thoroughly. The lumps also break up into interesting crinkles when baked!

Best Technique Tips

  • In the recipe, I instruct you to scoop the cookie dough with a cookie dough scoop. I then instruct you to drop the dough balls directly into the confectioners’ sugar and toss to coat. Don’t skip this step! If you drop the dough onto a sheet pan without coating them first, it’s likely that they’ll stick to the sheet pan. If you don’t plan on coating them immediately, I recommend chilling the dough for an hour first. Chilling the dough will make it easier to work with.

  • Coat the cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar. I mean it. Ideally, you don’t want any purple spots showing on the cookie dough balls. These show up as “bald spots” on the cookies, ruining their crinkle effect. Additionally, the cookies will absorb some of the confectioners’ sugar as they bake. So err on the side of caution and cover them with a THICK layer of confectioners’ sugar!

Video Tutorial for Ube Crinkle Cookie Recipe

Use the video player below to watch my Instagram Story tutorial on how to make ube crinkle cookies! The arrows to the left and right of the frame allow you to skip through the different recipe steps. You can also hit the “pause” or “enlarge” buttons on the upper right hand side of the frame to pause or enlarge the frames accordingly.


Alternatively, head to my Instagram profile to watch these Stories on mobile! The circles underneath my bio indicate saved Instagram Story highlights for various recipes. Click on one of the circles to play the video tutorial for the recipe. You may need to swipe left or right to find this ube crinkle cookie recipe.

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Get the Recipe: Ube Crinkle Cookies Recipe

Ube crinkle cookies are a beautiful, Filipino-American twist on the classic crinkle cookie! Ube is a purple yam frequently used in Southeast Asian desserts. It is naturally purple in color, with a subtle flavor that tastes like both pistachio and vanilla. These ube crinkle cookies get their vibrant color and flavor from both ube halaya jam and ube extract!
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Ingredients

For the Ube Crinkle Cookies

  • 1 ¾ cups (7.85 ounces or 223 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (7 ounces or 198 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) ube halaya jam, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon purple food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon ube extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) confectioners' sugar

Equipment

  • a 3-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop

Instructions
 

For the Ube Crinkle Cookies

  • Prep your oven and pans. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Make the cookie dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. Beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the mixer to low and add the egg; beat until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the ube halaya jam, purple food coloring, ube extract, and vanilla extract, beating until combined and completely purple, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Coat the cookies. Place the confectioners' sugar in a medium, shallow bowl. Use a 3-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the cookie dough into balls, dropping them directly into the bowl with confectioners' sugar. Toss until the cookie dough balls are completely and generously coated. Place the cookie dough balls at least 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pans.
  • Bake the cookies. Bake one pan at a time for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still soft.
  • Serve and store. Serve warm, or at room temperature. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Notes

  • Most baking recipes instruct you to sift confectioners’ sugar before using in the recipe. Confectioners’ sugar tends to clump when stored; sifting removes these lumps. However, you don’t need to sift the confectioners’ sugar for these ube crinkle cookies. Why? I find that the lumps in the confectioners’ sugar help coat the cookies more thoroughly. The lumps also break up into interesting crinkles when baked!
  • In the recipe, I instruct you to scoop the cookie dough with a cookie dough scoop. I then instruct you to drop the dough balls directly into the confectioners’ sugar and toss to coat. Don’t skip this step! If you drop the dough onto a sheet pan without coating them first, it’s likely that they’ll stick to the sheet pan. If you don’t plan on coating them immediately, I recommend chilling the dough for an hour first. Chilling the dough will make it easier to work with.
  • Coat the cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar. I mean it. Ideally, you don’t want any purple spots showing on the cookie dough balls. These show up as “bald spots” on the cookies, ruining their crinkle effect. Additionally, the cookies will absorb some of the confectioners’ sugar as they bake. So err on the side of caution and cover them with a THICK layer of confectioners’ sugar!
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
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Weeknight Baking:
Recipes to Fit your Schedule

Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.

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