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Ube Halaya Recipe (with step-by-step photos)

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Ube halaya recipe that’s authentic and easy to make. You just need a few ingredients and a little patience to make the most delicious ube halaya that compares to your favourite ube jam from back home; and definitely way better than the ube jams you can find in the stores here.

Ube Halaya Recipe

Ube is my jam. 

I bake a lot of ube desserts — from ube cake to ube cheesecake, from ube cupcakes and ube muffins to ube crinkles. I also make delicious ube bread, ube ice cream and ube pies

One thing they have in common: ube halaya (Filipino purple yam jam or simply, ube jam) is a main ingredient.

I’ve always had a steady supply of Good Shepherd Convent ube from my family in Manila. If you’re a Filipino, you know Good Shepherd ube halaya is it. There’s nothing better. 

So when my ube halaya (also called halayang ube) supply ran out and the travel restrictions hit, I was stuck. I’ve tried the ube jams available to me here and frankly, they make me want to cry.

But a little hiccup won’t stop us ube fans, right? So I set out to make my own ube jam, both nervous and excited because I’ve become such an ube snob. My standards are hilariously high.

I gotta tell you though. This ube jam, it’s pretty darn close to Good Shepherd if I say so myself. It’s not the same, of course. But if you’re 10,000 miles away from home, this is as good as it gets. 

So forget those ready-made, generic ube jams at the store. Make your own ube halaya jam and you won’t look back.

How to make ube halaya

Ube Halaya Recipe

Making Filipino ube is actually very simple. It just takes a lot of stirring. And I think the stirring is the one thing that discourages people from making homemade ube jam. 

But it’s really not that bad. Just think of it as toning your arms. And if our grandmas can do it….

Anyway, if you google how to make ube halaya, you’ll discover that there are a 101 ways to make it. It differs by region, by province, by family.

Some recipes include condensed milk, some don’t. Some include coconut milk, some don’t. Some cooks add a teaspoon of ube extract. Some even add cheese to theirs.

My recipe for ube halaya doesn’t contain coconut milk. When I was recipe testing, I found that coconut milk tends to overpower the flavour of ube and I wanted my halaya to be ube, pure and simple. 

My final recipe also doesn’t include ube extract; I use fresh ube (called purple heart yams here) and it doesn’t need it at all. But you’ll definitely need extract if you can only find frozen grated ube just to pump up the ube flavour. 

The traditional way to make halayang ube is to grate cooked ube but you know me, I’m a really lazy cook so I mash mine instead. There are pros and cons to mashing vs. grating. Read the FAQs below for more info.

Ube halaya recipe

For the detailed recipe, scroll to the bottom of the page for the printer-friendly recipe card with nutritional information.

On to making ube halaya we go!

1 Boil ube

First you deal with your fresh ube (if using frozen grated ube, see FAQs). They’re irregularly sized so cut them into pieces to fit your pot. Fill your pot with water to fully cover all pieces then bring to a boil. Cook until a fork goes through the ube with little resistance (cook time about 30 minutes).

2 Peel and mash ube

Fish them out and allow them to cool (about 10 minutes). I like to peel them when they’re still a little warm. That way, I can mash them when they’re still a little warm too. I find it’s easier that way (if you prefer to grate your ube, see FAQs).

3 Combine ingredients

In a large non-stick skillet or wok on medium heat, combine and stir evaporated milk and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Then add mashed yams, condensed milk and salt.

4 Stir until thick

Begin stirring until the halaya thickens considerably. And by stirring I mean no stopping to check Instagram or Facebook or YouTube. Otherwise your halaya will burn. Don’t be tempted to switch to high heat either. Medium heat is the hottest you should go. Slow and steady does it. 

5 Add butter

Once your jam thickens (around the 20-minute mark), add butter and stir some more until the butter melts and is incorporated. You know your ube is done when your jam pretty much stays in place when you drag your spoon down the middle of  your pan (around 30 minutes). 

6 Enjoy

Whether you continue stirring after this is up to you; it depends on how thick or spreadable you want your jam to be.

I usually stir until it becomes almost difficult to stir, about another 10 minutes, because I prefer ube that’s a little bit firmer, the way my lola used to make it.

If you prefer it thinner and more spreadable, stop stirring sooner. Just remember that the halaya will continue to set and thicken as it cools and when it’s chilled in the fridge.

Once you get the consistency you like, transfer to a heat-proof container, allow to cool, enjoy!

Ube halaya ingredients

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To make homemade ube halaya, you’ll need:

  • Fresh ube or Filipino purple yam (if not available, frozen grated ube will work in a pinch)
  • Evaporated milk
  • Brown sugar
  • Condensed milk
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter

Tools you need to make this ube jam recipe

You don’t need special tools to make ube at home. 

I use our potato masher to mash the yams. If you prefer to grate them, you’ll need a cheese grater. Other than that, you only need:

  • A mixing bowl
  • A pot
  • A non-stick skillet or wok
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Easy, right? See below for more tips to make the best ube halaya every time.

How to make the best ube halaya every time

Ube Recipe

Grated ube or mashed ube — which is better

The traditional way to make halayang ube is to grate the ube. I prefer to mash it. 

Mashing is easier and takes no time at all. And while the halaya remains creamy, mashed yams result to a chunkier consistency, which I like. 

The only caveat is you will see (and sometimes feel in your mouth) strands of fibre in the ube.

We don’t mind this at all though. They’re soft and we don’t notice them 90% of the time.

However if, for example, you’re giving these away for Christmas and you want your homemade gifts not only to taste perfect but to look perfect too, grating might be the better option for you.

Grating will add at least another 30 minutes to your prep time but you have a better chance of getting rid of those fibre strands. Not all, but most.

What you want to do is allow the ube to cool then grate them using a cheese grater.


PROSCONS
Mashed Ube HalayaQuick and easySome fibre strands left behind
Grated Ube HalayaGets rid of most fibre strandsAdds at least 30 minutes to prep time

Whatever method you choose, your ube will taste delicious.

Can I use frozen grated ube when making ube halaya

Ube Halaya Recipe

Nothing beats the taste of fresh ube but I’ve made ube jam using frozen grated ube and they’re good too. They’re also more widely available. Add a teaspoon of ube extract to enhance the ube flavour. 

The only thing I don’t like is the consistency of the jam — it feels slightly gummier compared to fresh ube. But that’s a personal preference and the consistency might not bother you at all.

What matters is your cooking time will reduce by half an hour. You simply thaw the frozen grated yam and use like grated or mashed fresh yams. That’s it!


PROSCONS
Fresh UbeAmazing flavour
Naturally vibrant purple colour
Not always available
Needs to be cooked prior to using
Frozen Grated UbeQuick and convenientLacking in real ube flavour
Gummier consistency

If given a choice though, I will always pick fresh yams.

Why does my halaya take longer to cook

Like ovens, stoves differ too. Medium heat on my stove might only correspond to low-medium heat on other stoves. 

Don’t give up and just continue stirring. It should come together in about an hour or so.

Why does my ube jam look lumpy

Ube Recipe

Whether you use fresh ube or frozen ube, the mixture will look grainy and lumpy while cooking. I like to mash big chunks of yam on the sides of my pan to help things along but it still won’t look like thick soup.

Just keep stirring. The jam will become smoother and creamier as it cooks, cools and sets.

In the old days, to get that really fine consistency for ube, they would sieve the grated yams through a sinamay, a kind of fabric made from abaca that’s used in making baskets and hats. 

I’m not sure where to find sinamay but if you really want a fine consistency, I think a mesh sieve will do just as well. I haven’t tried this though; I like my ube jam more chunky, less jammy.

How long does ube halaya last

Ube Recipe

Ube halaya — whether homemade or store-bought — needs to be refrigerated.

Ube jam made from scratch doesn’t last as long as store-bought ones but will last for up to a week in the fridge. Make sure the container you use is properly washed and airtight.

Can ube halaya be frozen

Ube halaya can also be frozen. 

Place it in a freeze-safe container, place cling wrap right on the surface of the ube (to prevent icicles from forming) then cover. It should last for 3-4 weeks.

To serve, thaw in the fridge or simply microwave for a few seconds.

What to eat with halayang ube

Ube Halaya Recipe

Now the most important question of all — how do we eat our homemade ube jam? 

I usually just eat it straight out of the container. We also usually eat it like, well, jam, and spread it on bread like pandesal and ensaymada.

Ube halaya is amazing on ube pancakes and ube waffles too.

Filipinos also like to serve it on a platter on special occasions like Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving.

You can also bake with it like me; it’s a delicious ingredient.

However you want to enjoy ube jam, I hope you enjoy it fully. Sweet, creamy, delightfully purple. Thoroughly addicting. 

It’s a beloved ingredient and delicacy in the Philippines and I’m so happy the world is getting to know it now too.

Ube Halaya Recipe

Ube Halaya Recipe (with step-by-step photos)

Author: Jolina
Ube halaya recipe that’s authentic and easy to make. Just a few ingredients and a little patience for the most delicious homemade ube halaya.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 48 tbsp
Calories 42 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2.2 lbs fresh ube or purple yam see notes
  • 1 10-oz can condensed milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened and cubed

Instructions
 

  • Cut ube or fresh yams into pieces so it fits your pot. Fill your pot with water to fully cover all pieces then bring to a boil. Cook until a fork goes through the ube with little resistance (about 30 minutes).
    How to Cook Fresh Ube
  • Fish yams out and allow to cool (about 10 minutes). While still warm, peel then mash yams with a fork or a potato masher (see notes).
    How to Cook Fresh Ube
  • In a large non-stick skillet or wok on medium heat, combine and stir 1 can evaporated milk and 1/2 cup brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Then add mashed yams, 1 can condensed milk and 1/2 tsp salt (see notes).
    Recipe Halayang Ube
  • Begin stirring until the halaya thickens considerably. Stir constantly otherwise your halaya will burn. Don’t be tempted to switch to high heat either. Medium heat is the hottest you should go. Slow and steady does it. 
    Recipe Halayang Ube
  • Once your jam thickens (around the 20-minute mark), add butter and stir some more until the butter melts and is incorporated. 
    Recipe Halayang Ube
  • You know your ube is done when your jam pretty much stays in place when you drag your spoon down the middle of your pan (around 30 minutes). See notes.
    Recipe Halayang Ube
  • Transfer to a heat-proof container, allow to cool, enjoy!

Video

Notes

  1. This recipe yields a generous 3 cups (48 tbsp) of ube halaya.
  2. If using frozen grated ube, use 2 454-g packs. Thaw before using. Skip steps 1 to 3.
  3. If you prefer to grate your yams, simply run each piece through a cheese grater.
  4. If you see big chunks of yam, smush them on the sides of your pan.
  5. Whether you continue stirring after the ube jam is cooked is up to you; it depends on how thick or spreadable you want your jam to be. I usually stir until it becomes almost difficult to stir, another 10 minutes. Just remember that the halaya will continue to set and thicken as it cools and when it’s chilled in the fridge.
  6. See post for the complete step-by-step photos as well as cooking tips.

Nutrition

Calories: 42kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 27mgPotassium: 173mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 58IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 6mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information are estimates only.

Keyword Authentic, Christmas, Easy, Holidays, Thanksgiving
Tried this recipe?Tag @iamtheunlikelybaker I’d love to see your creations!

Happy stirring!

Did you make this recipe for halayang ube? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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Recipe Rating




Carol McIntyre

Monday 10th of May 2021

When I buy purple yams I bake them, peel them and put them through a ricer so I have a smooth consistency. Them I measure the ube into 1/2 cup portions and freeze them. After they are frozen I transfer the individual portions into a vacu seal bag and pop them back into the freezer. When I am baking I can just take out however many cups I need. This recipe only states how many pounds of the yam before cooking them. Do you know approximately how many cups of mashed yam you'd need to be equivalent to the 2.2 lbs? I really excited to make this. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Janet

Sunday 21st of March 2021

Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I recently discovered your blog, and I love the way you write. You explain the steps and things in a straightforward and understandable manner. First time making Ube Halaya, and this recipe is a keeper. It is not overly sweet. The only change I made is added vanilla paste. I plan to make your Ube bread. Thanks again and take care!

Jolina

Monday 22nd of March 2021

Thanks for the lovely words Janet! I appreciate it :) Enjoy ube halaya and all the ube goodies you can make with it!

Ann

Friday 30th of October 2020

Thank you for the recipe! What is the consistency of this compared to Good Shepherd? I made this and it turned out kind of gummy/gelatinous in texture, I'm thinking because of the condensed milk? Is this normal?

Jolina

Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

Hi Ann, when I use fresh ube, the consistency is not gummy at all. It's closer to chunky but creamy mashed potato. It's when I use frozen ube that I get that gummy consistency. See the post for more cooking tips.

Claudette

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

THANK YOU JOLINA! I've always wanted to make ube jam but most of the recipes I find include ube extract, and it's out of stock here for a long time. This is my first time making ube and ITS SO DELICIOUS. I mashed it too and I like the consistency. I love it!! Looking forward to make your other ube recipes.

Jolina

Wednesday 9th of September 2020

That's awesome Claudette! Isn't chunky ube jam the best :) I've had several readers tell me about the ube extract issue as well. Hope it becomes available where you are soon. Enjoy ube!

Marysa

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

I haven't had ube before, but I am familiar with what it is. It would be fun to be able to cook with it!