Buko salad is a staple in Filipino celebrations. Made of young coconut and a variety of tropical fruits, it’s sweet, refreshing, delicious! This Filipino fruit salad is also very easy to make and comes together in 3 easy steps.
(Buko pandan salad is another Filipino dessert salad that you can add to your holiday menu.)
Christmas prep is in full swing in the TUB household.
The tree is up, presents are waiting to be wrapped, and we’re close to finalizing the holiday menu for the parties we’re hosting this year.
Buko salad will make an appearance, of course. (Buko is coconut or young coconut fruit in English.)
It’s so popular that it’s not uncommon to have a buko shortage just before Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, which is a serious matter in a land of coconuts lol.
Every family has their own recipe for buko salad and I’m so happy to be sharing ours.
Why you’ll love this recipe
We always make this recipe whenever there’s a get-together or a celebration and hopefully you’ll enjoy making — and eating — it too.
- Easy to make. There’s no cooking and no baking, no competing for space in your oven or stovetop during the busy holiday season.
- Make-ahead. Speaking of busy, you can also make this ahead when your schedule permits, freeze, then thaw when you’re ready to serve.
- Easy to customize. We usually make buko salad with cheese and fresh apples. But you can certainly skip the apples and make it with fruit cocktail instead. You can even make it with macaroni! The possibilities are endless. I give more suggestions below.
- Festive. Most of all, this simple buko fruit salad smells like Christmas, looks like Christmas and tastes like Christmas! It always brings me back to a time of love, family and simple joys.
What you’ll need
This holiday season, this fruit buko salad recipe is probably one of the easiest dishes you’ll make. Very little prep time needed, no cooking or baking at all, just mix, chill and enjoy.
A quick note on the ingredients you’ll need:
- Shredded young coconut — we get these frozen and if you do, too, you’ll need to thaw, wash and drain. Also, remember that the weight printed on the package won’t be the actual amount of coconut meat you’re going to get in the end. So it’s best to buy extra.
- Fresh apples — when choosing apples for this recipe, I tend to go for crisp and slightly tart ones. See more on this below.
- Sugar palm (kaong) and coconut gel (nata de coco) — you can buy these in Asian stores, the international aisle of your supermarket, or online. They are usually available jarred in light syrup.
- Table cream — in the Philippines, fruit salad is usually made with Nestle all-purpose cream, which is thick, creamy and already sweetened. I haven’t been able to find it here in Canada though. The closest substitute I’ve found is thick cream (see photo) or table cream. They’re not as creamy but combined with condensed milk, tastes just as delicious.
As far as tools go, you’ll really only need a mixing bowl, a whisk and something to mix them all together.
If you’re freezing the salad, you’ll need a freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid.
How to make
This recipe has 3 easy steps:
- In bowl, mix all ingredients (except the milk and cream) together.
- In another bowl or a large measuring cup, whisk condensed milk and table cream until combined.
- Pour over fruit and stir. Chill before serving.
So easy and simple, right? Here are more tips for you.
Best apples to use
When making buko salad, I go for apples that are:
- Crisp. Apples that won’t t get soggy submerged in all that delicious milky dressing and that would also lend a wonderful texture to the salad.
- Tart. I also prefer to use tart vs sweet apples as a refreshing contrast to all that sweetness. Not as tart as Granny Smith; usually along the lines of Empire apples.
Here’s a handy apple usage guide.
Like I mentioned before, every family has their version of this recipe. I won’t claim one is better than other because frankly, the best one is the one you enjoy with your loved ones!
If you’re looking to create your own, here are delicious ways to mix things up:
- Make a pan of red and green gulaman, agar agar or gelatine, slice them into cubes and add them in. You can also add sago or tapioca.
- You can also choose to add more tropical fruits like pineapple chunks, mangoes or lychees.
- I know other families make their buko salad with corn.
- You can add more of the dressing (sweetened condensed milk and cream) as well. We like our salad to have a nice coating of dressing but others like to be able to slurp or drink that milky mixture. I can understand that, it’s delicious!
Make it as simple or special as you like.
Stored in the fridge, buko salad lasts up to 3 days from the day it was made.
I would be wary to eat it after that because coconut tends to go bad easily. Check to be sure.
It’s best served the day after it’s made — when the flavors have had a chance to come together but the ingredients still keep their texture.
This a fantastic make-ahead dish! Instead of keeping it in the fridge, place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze.
Allow to thaw before serving cold.
To store leftovers and prevent spoilage, best to store them in the freezer.
Keep in mind though that the longer this stays frozen, the more watery it gets when thawed. Best to consume within a week or so.
Other easy recipes for the holidays
Looking for more easy holiday recipes? Check these out.
Buko Salad (Filipino Fruit Salad Recipe)
- 2 cups young coconut meat grated, see note 1
- 1 ½ lbs Empire apples (3-4 apples) cored and cubed
- ¼ lb sharp cheddar cheese cubed
- 1 12-oz jar sugar palm (kaong) in syrup see note 2
- 1 12-oz jar coconut gel (nata de coco) drained, see note 2
- 1 10-oz can condensed milk
- ½ cup table cream
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients (except the milk and cream) together.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk condensed milk and table cream until combined.
- Pour over fruit and stir. Chill before serving.
- If fresh young coconut is not available, you can buy frozen grated coconut from Asian stores or the international aisle of your supermarket. Just thaw according to package instructions.
- You can also find sugar palm and coconut gel in Asian stores, the international aisle, or online.
Nutritional information are estimates only.
(Disclosure: this post was originally published on December 4, 2017 sponsored by Ontario Apple Growers. I’ve updated it to add more tips and FAQs.)