Halo-halo is eaten year round in the Philippines, but it’s a favourite during summer for cool relief when the weather is particularly hot and humid. There are no strict rules for halo-halo; it’s designed to be flexible and made to an individual’s taste. I’ve pared back my recipe and included freshly made coconut gelato, which provides an intensely refreshing flavour.

Dominic Smith is the senior food assistant on MasterChef Magazine. Born to Filipino parents, Dom grew up with his Filipino mother and Australian step-father in the mid-north coast of New South Wales, but remembers the food of the Philippines through his mother’s cooking.






Skill level

Average: 4.8 (6 votes)


  • 1 x 340 g jar halo halo mix (see Note)
  • 1 x 340 g jar sweet buko string (see Note)
  • 1 x 340 g jar sweet macapuno balls (see Note)

Coconut gelato

  • 75 g (1 cup) shredded coconut
  • 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 250 ml (1 cup) coconut water or water
  • 1 x 410 ml can coconut milk
  • 1 litre (4 cups) coconut cream (we used Kara brand)
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time overnight

To make coconut syrup for ice-cream, preheat oven to 180°C. Place coconut on an oven tray. Roast in oven, tossing occasionally, for 3 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Combine sugar and coconut water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring, for 3 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Add coconut milk and cook, stirring, until mixture comes to the boil. Pour mixture into a heatproof bowl and add roasted coconut. Stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight to infuse.

Strain mixture through a course sieve into a bowl, and, using the back of a large spoon, press shredded coconut to extract moisture. Discard shredded coconut.

To make the gelato, add coconut cream and lemon juice to coconut syrup and whisk well to combine. Pour half the mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn until frozen. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze overnight or until firm. Repeat with remaining mixture.  

To assemble halo halo, spoon 1 tablespoon each of halo halo mix, sweet buko string and macapuno balls between bowls and top with scoops of coconut ice-cream.


• Halo halo mix contains a mix of sweet preserved beans and fruits, and jellies. Buko string and macapuno balls are variations of coconut meat that have been macerated in syrup. All these ingredients are available from Filipino and Asian grocers.