photo of jar full of purple ube halaya jam

About This Ube Halaya Recipe

October is Filipino-American month, and I’m excited to share something essential for Filipino desserts—this ube halaya recipe! Ube halaya is a Filipino jam made of ube. You can serve it plain as a dessert, or use it as an ingredient in other ube desserts and baked goods.

The ube halaya recipe below is made with just four ingredients: frozen ube, water, sugar, and salt. It comes together in 15 minutes, and can store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

You can enjoy it as a sweet spread on toast, or use it for ube desserts like this ube babkaube layer cakeube cinnamon rollsube crinkle cookies, and more! Check out the post for a round-up of the best ube recipes on Hummingbird High.

@hummingbirdhigh ubae-by, baby #ube #filipino #filipinofood #bakingrecipe #bakingtiktok ♬ Oblivion – Grimes

What is ube?

Ube, pronounce ooh-beh, is a purple yam often used in Filipino and other Southeast Asian desserts. It has a beautiful, deep purple color and is almost exclusively used in dessert recipes, where it gives the sweets a wonderful earthy and almost nutty flavor.

Ube comes in many forms. You can buy it in its unprocessed, tuber form (however, this form is hard to find in the United States). You can also buy it processed and frozen, dried and powdered, in ube halaya jam form, or as an extract.

photo of different ube products

What does ube taste like?

Think of it as similar to a sweet potato, but definitely more subtle and not quite as sweet. Some folks have even compared its flavor to a mix between vanilla and pistachio.

Is ube and taro the same?

Many people confuse ube 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 you can classify both ube and taro as tubers, taro is cultivated from the taro plant. Unlike ube, it’s not classified as a “yam”. In the Philippines, people use taro in savory cooking and reserve ube 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. It’s confusing, I know!

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.

Ube Halya For Baking Versus Ube Halaya For Dessert

There are two types of ube halaya recipes—the kind you eat for dessert, and the kind you use as an ingredient for baking.

In addition to ube, the dessert recipe usually contains ingredients like coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. It is eaten on its own, with toppings like shredded cheese, caramelized coconut milk, and more. Although you can use this in baking recipes, the additional dairy ingredients can affect the texture of your ube cakes, cookies, and more.

On the other hand, the ube halaya for baking contains minimal ingredients. It typically only contains ube, sugar, and water. Using this kind of ube halaya when baking will result in more consistent results.

photo of store bought monika brand ube halaya jam

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here’s everything you need to make ube halaya for your baking recipes:

  • frozen ube (also known as grated purple yam)
  • granulated sugar
  • ube extract
  • kosher salt

And let’s talk about some key ingredients and where to find them:

photo of simex brand frozen ube

Frozen Ube (Grated Purple Yam)

You need 1 (16-ounce) packet of frozen ube (grated purple yam) to make ube halaya.

Where To Find Frozen Ube

Frozen ube is also sometimes labelled as “Grated Purple Yam.” You can typically find it in the frozen fruit aisle OR the Filipino desserts aisle of any major Asian supermarket.

My favorite brands include Simex (pictured above) and Tropics. But really, any of these brands will do!

Can I use fresh ube instead?

Yes, but you’ll need to roast the ube until fork-tender. After they’ve cooled, grate or rice them before using in the ube halaya recipe below.

Ube Extract

You need 1 teaspoon ube extract to make ube halaya.

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.

In the United States, there’s only a handful of brands that make ube extract: McCormick and Butterfly. Both are great!

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.

photo of ube extract bottles

How To Make Ube Halaya For Baking

Here are the basic steps to make ube halaya from scratch:

  1. Cook the ube with water, sugar, and salt. (Cook Time: 15 minutes)
  2. Strain the ube halaya and add ube extract. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
  3. Cool the ube halaya before using in an ube dessert recipe or storing for later use.

That’s it!

The Best Ube Dessert Recipes For Your Ube Halaya

Here are a list of my favorite ube baking recipes on Hummingbird High:

ube crinkle cookies

Ube Crinkle Cookies Recipe

(4.93 stars) 161 reviews
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!
Get the recipe

Small Batch Baked Ube Mochi Donuts Recipe

(5 stars) 35 reviews
These baked ube mochi donuts are crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and packed with lots of ube flavor thanks to ube jam and extract in both the batter and glaze!
Get the recipe
photo of sliced ube cheesecake bars on gold wire rack

Ube Cheesecake Bars Recipe

(5 stars) 8 reviews
These creamy and colorful ube cheesecake bars are made with two types of cheesecake fillings swirled together: tangy sour cream cheesecake and ube flavored cheesecake!
Get the recipe

Baked Pon De Ring Mochi Donuts Recipe

This pon de ring mochi donut recipe does NOT require any deep frying! Instead, the donuts are baked in the oven for a "healthier" version of the Japanese treat. The small batch recipe only makes 5 donuts and allows you to easily customize the donuts with a variety of flavored glazes.
Get the recipe

Overnight Ube Cinnamon Rolls

(5 stars) 3 reviews
These overnight ube cinnamon rolls are filled with ube halaya jam, giving them their vibrant purple color and a delicious ube flavor! The rolls are made with a tangy buttermilk dough and a creamy creme fraiche glaze.
Get the recipe

Ube Babka

Get the recipe

Ube Layer Cake

(5 stars) 3 reviews
Get the recipe
a photo of hands picking up a stack of ube brownies from a wire rack

Ube Brownies Recipe

(4.97 stars) 33 reviews
These ube brownies are perfectly chewy and fudgy, with a vibrant purple color and delicious flavor thanks to ube halaya jam and extract! And just like your favorite chocolate brownie recipes, these ube brownies have a paper thin sugar top that crinkles when sliced.
Get the recipe

Now, it’s time to make your homemade ube halaya!

Get the Recipe: 8+ Delicious Ube Dessert Ideas: Ube Halaya For Baking Recipe

This ube halaya recipe comes together quickly and is made with minimal ingredients—all you need is ube, water, sugar, salt, and ube extract! Use this ube halaya jam on toast or in any baking recipe like ube crinkle cookies, ube cinnamon rolls, and more.
(5 stars) 1 review
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  • 1 (16-ounce) pack of frozen ube (grated purple yam), thawed
  • 1 ¾ cups (14 ounces or 397 grams) water
  • ¾ cup (5.25 ounces or 149 grams) granulated sugar
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ube extract


  • Make the ube halaya. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the frozen ube, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously.
    Once the mixture boils, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring continously, for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the ube halaya. Remove from the heat. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and pour the ube halaya through the sieve to remove any lumps. Add the ube extract to the strained ube halaya and whisk until combined.
  • Cool and use. Set the bowl on a wire rack and let cool completely before using in a recipe or storing for later use.
  • Serve and store. To store, pour the ube halaya into an airtight jar or container with a lid and refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
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Michelle holding Weeknight Baking cookbook covering her face.

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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.