Everything You Need To Know About Using Ube

Learn how to use it in recipes.

The obsession with ube as a global trend has yet to totally die down! There are still many desserts out there that use the ube as its favorite purple-hued ingredient

However, if you have ever tried to use ube halaya or ube jam in a recipe and failed to do it justice, there may be a few reasons why it didn’t work out. 

One of the things you have to understand with the ube is that it’s a starch. It’s a pretty colored starch that would make a fantastic ingredient in your dessert, but this quality can make your dessert dry, tough, and dense.

If you’re planning on using ube or ube halaya for your dessert recipes, here are a few things you should know before you do:  

Photo by Trixie Zabal-Mendoza

1 Check the consistency. 

When buying store-bought ube halaya, you can’t really check what the texture is like before opening the jar. However, once you do have your ube, you will have to check the consistency of the ube halaya because if your jam is very thick and sticky, you will have to adjust your recipe to accommodate that texture. 


If your ube halaya is not very thick, you will still need to adjust but not as much. 

Photo by Zoe del Rosario

2 Taste the ube

One of the biggest mistakes people make when using ube is not tasting the ube halaya before using it. There are many ube recipes that don’t account for the subtle flavor of the ube. It’s not meant to be paired with strong-flavored ingredients because it can be overwhelmed by them. Even vanilla can be strong if you add too much of it and not enough ube

Photo by Karishma Etong

3 Use ube flavoring wisely. 

If you find that you want more ube flavor in your dessert and the ube halaya is not enough, you can bolster its flavor with commercial ube flavoring. This, however, is where you need to tread lightly. Too much of this ingredient, and you may end up with an overly earthy flavor that’s unpleasant on the tongue as well as a grayish or bluish-green color to your dessert.


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Instead, start with as little as 1/8 teaspoon before adding more. You may just find that even a little bit is enough to get the flavor and color you want. 

Photo by Riell Santos

4 Substitute some flour for the ube.  

If you’re just using a small amount of ube halaya in your recipe, up to about 1/4 cup, you may be able to get away with adding it in and not tweaking the recipe at all. However, if you’re transforming a dish into an ube dessert that uses 1/2 cup or more in the recipe, you may need to remove some of the flour and substitute it with the ube halaya. This is because the ube halaya is a starch and can interfere with your recipe ratios. 

So a good measure is about equal parts. If you use 1/2 cup ube halaya, you may need to substitute as much as 1/2 cup flour to compensate for the density of the ube in your recipe. Without this tweak, you may end up with a dense, not fluffy dessert.  


One final word on using ube halaya: it’s a great ingredient but sometimes, it just doesn’t work. When all else fails and you still want that ube flavor in your dessert, use the flavoring as you would vanilla extract instead. After all, you can always use one of our tried and true ube recipes instead: 

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